Darryl is watching a water polo match. Jason sits next to him and says water polo is the best sport for scoping out the really hot guys. Now Darryl is... confused.
Darryl sat watching the water polo match between Edison and Buena Vista. The score was close in a wild-scoring match, 10-8 in favor of Edison; they were much improved over last year’s team, and to beat Buena Vista was big because they were the reigning NCS champions. Darryl was interested in the match for his sports column in the Bruin’s Tale, the Edison newspaper. He was more interested, indeed very interested, in watching the players as they pulled themselves out of the pool and adjusted their packages on the way to the bench. Their small, tight Speedos were very small and very tight, and not much was left to Darryl’s imagination. Water Polo was Darryl’s favorite sport to cover. The players were hot, very hot, and they always gave him memories that he carried to bed each night.
“Damn, those guys are hot, aren’t they?”
“Yeah... uh...” Darryl turned and looked at the guy who was sitting next to him and staring at the players who were all getting out of the pool now that the match was over. Shit, with that answer he outed himself, and to a complete stranger.
The guy turned and looked at Darryl and grinned. “I love watching water polo. It’s like the best sport for scoping out the really hot guys.”
Darryl was speechless. This guy had just outed himself big-time. He couldn’t think of anything to say, he was so stunned. Turned out he didn’t have to say anything, because the guy continued talking.
“You’re Darryl Kim, right? You write the ‘Sports Focus’ column in the school paper.” He smiled, and stuck out his hand. “I’m Jason Haddon. I really enjoy reading your columns, the interviews with the players and how you can get them to tell you what they think about when they’re competing.”
Darryl shook the guy’s hand and looked at him closely. He had red hair and freckles, and green eyes. Darryl always liked red hair and freckles, and had wished he had both instead of his black hair and olive complexion. He found Jason’s green eyes very interesting.
“Yeah, I’m Darryl Kim. Nice t’meet you. I haven’t seen you around school. You’re new here?”
“Yeah, I’m a newbie, as of the start of the semester. Once again. This is my second move since I started high school.”
Darryl shook his head. “That must be tough You’re what, a sophomore? A junior?”
“A sophomore. Same as you.”
“Same as me? How’d you know that I’m a sophomore?”
Jason looked at Darryl like he was crazy or something. “You gotta start reading your own column more often.”
“Huh?” As soon as he said it, Darryl knew how lame it sounded but before he could add something Jason started laughing.
“Darryl, the byline on your column says you’re a sophomore.” He grinned and shrugged his shoulders.
Darryl felt like a real dufus. Despite that, he decided he liked Jason, and that he was cute was a huge bonus, and now he was curious to see where this conversation might lead.
“Uhh... you know, you sort of outed yourself saying what you did about the water polo players.”
“Yeah, I’m out. All the way out. If that’s a problem...”
“No! No, not at all. It’s just a bit... unusual? I don’t often have guys starting a conversation with me quite that way.”
“One of my attributes, perhaps not an endearing one but for me a very useful one, is my infallible gaydar. I have an absolutely reliable gaydar. That’s how I could tell that you’re gay.”
“Well, it’s true, like you I’m gay. Except I don’t have the gaydar part. I wish I had a working gaydar. I have absolutely no gaydar. I can’t even detect guys that I later find out are gay and out here at school. Someone has to tell me about them, or they have to tell me themselves. Until then, I have no clue. Sorta sucks, in my opinion. I’m jealous.” Darryl grinned.
“Darryl, could I ask you a question, a sort of personal question?”
“I guess so. If I think it’s too personal, then I’ll tell you and won’t answer the question. Deal?”
Jason smiled. “Deal. I’ve read what you’ve written about water polo. Seems that’s your favorite sport. One thing I like is that you really seem to know about it, especially how the players move and anticipate the ball and control their bodies in the water and react to the defenders. Are you a player?”
“Huh? Oh. You mean do I play water polo. I thought you meant something else.” Darryl started to blush, a lot.
Jason laughed, and it continued for a few seconds until he finally calmed down and was just grinning. Man, how embarrassing! Darryl decided to change the subject, whatever the subject might have been.
“Okay, about sports. I’m totally not into participating in sports. On the other hand, because I write about sports I need to know exactly how each sport works and what it involves for the guys on the team. It takes a lot of research, but the good gods Google and Wikipedia smile down on me. I’ve also gotten to know the coaches and when they see that I’m interested they give me a lot of information about how a sport works, and what the players at each position are supposed to do, they explain the different plays they use on offense and defense, and what they do to prepare the team each week. That way my columns come across as accurate and trustworthy, which is important because it helps my readers be informed. I also think it lets me get into the heads of the players. That way I have interviews that reflect what a player is actively thinking about and what’s on auto pilot during a game or match. That’s the kind of interview I like to write up and publish.”
“You do a great job. Water polo is my favorite sport too, though I’m not interested in what’s in the player’s heads, just what’s in their Speedos.” Jason grinned. “Guys who are swimmers and who play water polo are the hottest looking athletes to watch, in my opinion. Oh, yeah, and wrestlers, too. Hey, I’m curious. You never write about wrestling. How come?”
“Water polo is a fall sport, wrestling is a winter sport. Trouble is, basketball is also a winter sport and to keep my job that’s what I have to cover. Because of the way basketball games and wrestling matches are scheduled there’s no way I can cover both.”
“That’s too bad. Wrestlers are hot too, though they have a lot less skin to ogle. I like the groping and grabbing that goes on, and how some wrestlers get an interesting reaction to all that. It’s too bad there’s no one covering wrestling for the school paper, there’s only the scores and team standings each week.
“You said something about keeping your job. You get paid for what you write?”
Darryl laughed and shook his head. “The ‘job’ I have is a required part of my journalism class, and the payment I get is my grade at the end of each semester.”
“You get more than just grades. I read about the sports journalism award you won last year. That included a scholarship to San Jose State. That’s very cool. I’ll bet you’re proud of that, and you should be.”
Darryl blushed. “You seem to know a lot about me and I don’t know anything about you, Jason. What’s your story?”
“My dad got transferred, as usual, and we moved here at the beginning of August.”
“How do you like Edison so far?”
“It’s good. Better than my last school. I went to Carpenter High in Carrington. That’s in Illinois. It’s not a good place to be out, especially when you’re a freshman. I got hassled a lot, but I’m able to hold my own and when the bullies discovered that I’d fight back they found other kids who wouldn’t.”
“You were able to fight the bullies? That’s cool. How’d you do that?”
“When I was in the seventh grade in middle school I told my best friend that I was gay, and he spread it around school. Some best friend! Anyway, my dad sent me to martial arts self-defense classes and got exercise equipment set up in our basement, and I used it every day. I got strong enough and knew enough self-defense moves that I was a bad target for the bullies. And I still am, though I haven’t seen much bullying going on here.”
“The school district goes after bullies, as long as someone reports them to an administrator or a teacher. And kids here are willing to report bullying when they see it.”
“Yeah. That’s cool. So, would you like to know the real reason I came over to talk to you?”
“The real reason? Of course.”
“Are you going to the Halloween Bash Monday night?”
“Not likely. I’d have to find some girl I could ask and that would get messy with having to take her out to dinner and then dancing, especially the close dances, then after there’s the whole thing about do I kiss her at the door, and will she want to go out with me again. I’d rather avoid all of that since I’m gay and mainly because I’m not out at school.”
“How come you’re not out? Don’t your folks know?”
“Yeah, they know and they’re fine. But no one at school knows. Except now you know. I’d like to keep it like that.”
“Being out make everything else more complicated. All of a sudden I’m not just that Asian guy Darryl Kim, I’m that gay Asian guy Darryl Kim. It’s enough being singled out as Asian, I don’t need to be singled out as Asian and as gay.”
“Nonsense! The only thing you’re being singled out for is your ‘Sports Focus’ column. I don’t think you know how many people at this school are your fans.”
“My fans? You have gotta be kidding.”
“Nope. I watch guys open each issue of the Bruin’s Tale. They always turn to your column first. Then they read it, they really read it. That interview you had with Tony Westmorland was the talk of the school for a week. Here’s a guy who’s on the water polo team, isn’t a big name around campus, suddenly everyone’s reading about him, guys and girls too, and with that picture of him you took everyone recognizes him and says hi to him. He went from just another guy on the water polo team to someone people know, and he’s floating on air. Turns out he’s in my AP Geometry class, so I sat next to him one day and said ‘hi, Tony’ and we chatted a bit. I asked him how he liked the interview in your column and his grin was so wide it was infectious. He said he wanted to thank you for it but he never saw you on campus and, of course, the two of you don’t have any classes together.”
“Now you’ve embarrassed me.”
“Bullbleep? What’s bullbleep mean?”
“You know how on TV they bleep bad words? Well, this is a conversational extension of that idea. It means BS without the S.”
Darryl chuckled. “I’m gonna have to remember that. Bullbleep. Perfect!”
“Let me ask you a question. How many emails do you get about your columns each week?”
“Don’t give me that ‘a few’ crap. Tell me the number you get each week, on average. I know you must know because they come to your Bruin’s Tale email address. Your Journalism teacher keeps track, right?”
Darryl blushed and nodded a ‘yes’. “I get about two hundred emails a week.”
“Is your teacher pleased? Does he comment to you about how many emails you get?”
“I guess is total bullbleep. He must be ecstatic. That must be more than anyone else on the staff gets, right?”
Now Darryl’s ears were bright red to add to his blushing. He nodded his assent.
“Those two hundred email messages each week are from fans, Darryl. Your fans. I should know, I’ve written you several email messages and I’m one of your fans. What amazes me is that you actually answered my email messages, all of them. Do you answer all of your email?”
“Uh... yeah, I try to. Is that bad?”
“No. That’s good. That’s excellent. Amazing, actually. Do kids come up to you and tell you they like your column, comment about a particular item or interview, thank you for something you’ve written?”
“I guess... uh... yeah, they do.”
“Okay, case closed. You have the single most-read column in the Bruin’s Tale each week. You have fans. You are a great sports writer. You, sir, are going to go far if you stay with this as your major as San Jose State.”
“Alright, alright, alright! You’ve embarrassed me enough.”
“Okay. Enough embarrassment. Now. Darryl Kim, will you go to the Halloween Bash on Monday night as my date?”
Darryl grinned. “So, you’re inviting me on a date. What about dinner before?”
“How about we go to Pizza In?”
“I thought I knew all of the pizza places around here. Where’s Pizza Inn?”
“It’s at my house. Come over at seven thirty and we’ll order pizza in. Get it? Pizza In, spelled ‘i-n’. We’ll have pizza and salad and Cokes or whatever you prefer to drink. My treat, of course, since I’m the Inviter and you’re the Invitee.”
“And how do we get to and from the Halloween Bash?”
“Mom’s Transport Service. Mom being my mom, of course.”
“And how do I get to your house?”
“Shank’s mare. That’s an old saying my Canuck granma would say. It means you hoof it. But we only live three blocks apart. You’re on Juanita, I’m on Kendal. One block downhill, two blocks uphill. Or two blocks downhill, one block uphill if you're going from my house to yours. You’ll figure it out. Unless you’re totally directionally challenged.”
“It’s okay, I have a GPS app on my phone,” Darryl said, grinning. “Oh, yeah, and my answer is yes, I will go to the Halloween Bash on this coming Monday night as your date, Jason Haddon. Thank you for inviting me.”
“Remember, Darryl, the Halloween Bash is formal. You’ve gotta wear a costume. Don’t tell me what yours is, and I won’t tell you what mine is. I think I know who or what you’re going as.”
“So you have costumedar as well as gaydar?”
“You got it. Let’s see if I’m right when you get to my house Monday night.”
All the way home Darryl tried to figure out what to wear. Nothing Asian like a Jackie Chan getup. Nothing gay, nothing female. Suddenly Darryl knew exactly what costume he wanted to rent. He’d have to rent it because it would be way too expensive to buy. This was absolutely a costume that Jason’s ‘costumedar’ wouldn’t recognize.
When he got home his mom said the same thing she always said.
“Hi, Darryl. Have a nice day? How was school? Are you hungry? You want a snack?”
“Hi, Mom. Yes, good, yes, yes please.”
Mrs. Kim laughed. “We have to change this script. It’s getting a bit old in the tooth.”
“Aw, we can’t change it now. My autopilot is preprogrammed with my responses. It’ll go bonkers if we change the script.”
“How was the water polo game?”
“It’s called a match, Mom. It was good. Edison beat Buena Vista ten to eight.”
“That’s very good. Buena Vista was the NCS champion last year.”
“How’d you know that?”
“You told me this morning, Darryl. I remembered that even if you didn’t.” She grinned. “So, did you meet any cute guys at the match?”
Darryl smiled. This was going to blow her sock off because his answer was usually ‘no’.
“Yeah, I did.”
His mom’s reaction was exactly what he expected. Surprise.
“Well, tell me about him.”
“His name is Jason Haddon. He lives on Kendal, just three blocks from here. They moved here in August.”
“That must be where the Penders lived. They moved to Florida to be close to her mother.”
Darryl’s mother went on for a while about the Penders, about their former house on Juanita, about Denise Pender’s elderly mother and her health problems. Fortunately, during this discourse she fixed Darryl a snack, a dish of cut-up fresh fruit including strawberries, nectarine, and pineapple.
“So, tell me more about Jason Haddon.”
“He’s taller than me, maybe five-eleven or maybe even six feet. He has red hair and green eyes, and freckles. He’s cute.”
“Ah, I see. Young love in bloom.”
“Mom! There’s no ‘young love’ going on here. He’s just a new friend. For god’s sake, Mom, I just met him an hour and a half ago.”
“Don’t swear. So, go on. Tell me more about him. Is he smart? How old is he? What grade’s he in? What classes does he have the same as you? What do his folks do?”
“Mom! Stop! I don’t know the answers to most of those questions. Other than he’s a sophomore, and he’s taking AP Geometry so I think he’s smart.”
“Is he gay?”
That was another question that Darryl figured the answer would blow his mom’s socks off.
Again, his mom’s reaction was surprise, what he expected.
“Really! This is a first, isn’t it.”
“Yes. He sat down next to me at the water polo match and after we talked for a couple minutes he said he’s gay. He also said he figured that I was gay because of his infallible gaydar.”
“Infallible gaydar? I’ve read about gaydar, and almost every reference says it doesn’t exist.”
“I agree that it doesn’t exist, at least for me. I absolutely don’t have any gaydar.”
“As you’ve told me before. What else can you tell me about Jason?”
“He’s asked me to go to the Halloween Bash at school Monday night, as his date.”
“That’s a dance?” Darryl knew his mom was excited about the prospect of a dance, but only because it would give her an opportunity to try to get him to agree to let her teach him how to dance. Her kind of dances, old fashioned dances, unfortunately.
“It’s more of a Halloween costume party. There will be dancing, the current teen kind of dancing which I already know how to do, and food and things to drink like punch that looks like blood, cookies that look like eyeballs, burgers that look like bloody human organs, stuff like that. There’ll be a costume contest too, with prizes for the best and worst costumes.
“Now that I’ve mentioned costumes, I know exactly the costume I want to wear. It’ll have to be rented, so can you take me to the costume shop tomorrow, please?”
“I suppose you’ll also want me to pay for this costume rental, right?”
“Yes, thank you.”
Darryl’s mother laughed. “Alright. I know when I’ve been hoodwinked.”
“Hoodwinked? That’s the second strange word I’ve heard today. What’s hoodwinked mean?”
“Hoodwinked means deceived. So what’s this other word you learned today?”
“It’s actually two words, shank’s mare.”
“Oh yes, I’ve heard that. When we lived in Long Beach our next door neighbor, Mrs. Gibson, would use that. She’d say ‘My son won’t take me to the store so I guess I’ll have to go by shank’s mare.’ A shank is a human leg, a mare is a horse. So it means to walk, using your own legs as your horse.”
“That’s what Jason told me it meant. He didn’t break it down and explain each word though. I knew the mare part, but I was going to look up shank and find out what it meant. Now I don’t have to.”
“See, I tell you your mother is a better source of information than Google.”
“Yes, you do. So, do you want to know what my idea is for a costume?”
“Yes, Darryl, I do want to know what your idea is for a costume.”
“I want to go as Buzz Lightyear from Toy Story.”
“Oh, my. That sounds expensive.”
“Can we go look? If it’s too expensive I can switch to Plan C.”
“And what is Plan C?”
“I don’t know until I see it.”
Darryl’s mother laughed. “As usual, right?”
Darryl grinned. “As usual.”
The next day, Saturday, Darryl’s mother drove them to Downtown Costume Shoppe. It was the largest costume store in the area, with the largest selection of rental costumes.
“Do you think that this close to Halloween they’ll have the costume you want in your size?”
“I don’t know. Their website only lists stuff they have for sale, and there wasn’t much of a selection of Buzz Lightyear costumes. Mostly for little kids or for big adults, like 40 to 50 chest measurement. That definitely wouldn’t fit me.”
“Well, just see what they have and if that isn’t a Buzz Lightyear than you’ll have to pick something else.”
The store was jammed. Lots of adults, some little kids, and almost no teens. Darryl decided that could be a positive sign. They found a rather harried clerk and she said the Toy Story rental costumes were on aisle J all the way to the back of the store. They worked their way through the crowds to aisle J then toward the back of the store. It was a long way with lots of people obstructing their path. As they made their way further back there were fewer and fewer people to contend with. They finally got to the Toy Story costume section. There was a big sign that said they only carry licensed Toy Story costumes for rent. Darryl figured that really meant more expensive.
Darryl looked through the different Toy Story character costumes. They were in no particular order by character or size.
“Mom, I’m going to the other end of the aisle and start looking back there, and you can start looking here at the beginning of the section. Then we’ll meet in the middle.”
He didn’t have any luck. The Buzz Lightyear costumes were, as on their website, either for little kids or were gigantic. He wondered if gigantic was a men’s clothing size. Probably not, he decided. He kept looking.
“Darryl, I think I found something,” his mother called out.
He walked back to where she was standing and checked out what she was holding. It was a Buzz Lightyear costume, the size was men’s small, 36”-38” chest size.
“Try it on, Darryl.”
He pulled the top on, and it was a bit large.
“I can take it in. Temporarily, so it can be undone. Try on the pants. Put them on over your jeans.” He put them on. They had an elastic waistband so they fit snugly enough to stay up. He modeled them for his mother.
“They look great. Like Buzz Lightyear looks. They should be large, so wearing them over your jeans will be perfect. Even better, after I fix the top you can tuck that in. Now, do you want one of these helmets?”
The helmets were excellent. Darryl noticed that they didn’t have the Disney Toy Story logo, so they weren’t real Buzz Lightyear helmets, but they looked about the same and he found one that fit perfectly.
“I think this will be great. There’s lots of ventilation so it shouldn’t get too hot.”
His mom reached up and clicked a switch at the side of the helmet. A battery operated fan turned on.
“Oh my god! That’s perfect. I’ll put in a new battery and that’ll keep me cool all night. How much is the rental?”
“You don’t worry about that. Let’s go check out before everyone else who’s shopping decides it’s time to pay. And don't swear!”
After adding a ray gun and Genuine Buzz Lightyear gloves, which along with the helmet were only for sale, not for rent, the total bill came to just under seventy dollars. “I’ll pay for it. I have some money saved up from my allowance.”
“You keep it. It’s my gift for you because you’re going on your first date.”
“Thanks, Mom. You’re the best.”
When they got home and Darryl’s mother had temporarily fixed the top so it fit better, she looked at him as he modeled his outfit.
“You look exactly like Buzz Lighyear, just like you stepped out of one of the Toy Story films. What is Jason’s costume?”
“I don’t know. He said he knew what I was going to select. I’ll bet he was thinking Jackie Chan or something else Asian like Godzilla. I’m positive that he won’t ever guess I picked Buzz Lightyear.”
“Well, you’ll find out Monday night, won’t you.”
“I can hardly wait.”
“You’re walking to his house. You know, he could see you as you walk up Juanita. How about I get an old sheet and make it into a ghost costume. You can wear it over your Buzz Lightyear outfit and take it off when you’re in his house.”
“That’s a great idea. How about we get that coil of rope that’s in the garage and cut a piece of it that’ll go around my waist outside of the sheet. That’ll keep it from falling off, and it’ll confuse Jason even more. It’ll be like, am I going as a ghost or am I going as a monk. He’ll think it’s my real costume.”
So that’s what they did.
When Darryl’s father got home from work he looked at the costume and grinned as he had his son turn around several times.
“You know, the ghost costume with the rope is almost good enough. You could have avoided spending the money on that Buzz Lightyear costume.”
Darryl could see that his dad was trying to stifle a grin.
“I don’t think so, Dad.”
Sunday dragged for Darryl. He ate breakfast. He did his homework. He read a book. He watched the Raiders game on TV. He ate lunch. He took a nap. He read the Sunday comics. He watched a rerun of CSI Miami on TV.
Monday was even worse. His classes all dragged and the teachers seemed to drone on like a movie running in slow motion. Finally the day was over and he went home. He worked on his homework and had a snack. Everything seemed to take at least twice as long as normal. As the time approached seven p.m. the clock seemed to start running backwards. At least for Darryl it did. Finally it was time to get his two costumes on and get going.
“Here are two twenties, Darryl,” his dad offered. “Give one to Jason’s mother to help pay for your dinner, then keep the other in case you need it to buy something at the dance.”
“Tom!” Jason’s mom interjected, “Jason invited Darryl to be his date. It’s not stag, Jason is paying for dinner.”
“Okay, okay. It’s been so long I don’t remember how this dating stuff works. It’s especially confusing when it’s two guys going out on a date. Just keep the twenties. You might need them.”
“Thanks, Dad. I’ll see you guys later. The Halloween Bash is over at eleven thirty, so I’ll be home around midnight.”
“Alright, have fun,” his mom told him, “and remember tomorrow is a school day, so be sure to be home on time.”
“Enjoy your date,” his dad added.
Darryl almost giggled all the way to Jason’s house. Man, was he going to be surprised! On the way he tried to think what costume Jason would be wearing. He found the Haddon house. Just as his mom had told him, it used to be the Penders’ house. He rang the doorbell, and a tall man with red hair opened the door and they stood there for a couple seconds.
“You must be Darryl, since you didn’t say ‘Trick or Treat.’ Come on in. Jason is doing the final adjustment on his costume. He takes forever to get ready, no matter where he’s going.”
“I do not, Dad!” Jason shouted as he came downstairs. He was covered by a blanket that hid his costume. All Darryl could see of Jason was his green eyes peeking out through two holes cut into the blanket.
“So, I’ve written down what I think your costume is,” Jason told Darryl. “I’ve given my note to my dad who is an impartial witness. I see you wanted to surprise me, but that’s okay because I wanted to surprise you too. Did you write down what you thought I’d do for my costume?”
“No, I didn’t.” Darryl thought for a few seconds, then chuckled. “I’ll whisper it to your dad.”
Jason’s dad leaned over, and Darryl whispered, “Lady Gaga.” That made Mr. Haddon laugh.
“Okay, now you two,” Jason’s dad said, “pull off your respective sheet or blanket and let’s see who is wearing what costume.”
“I don’t believe it!” Jason shouted.
“I don’t believe it!” Darryl shouted.
The two Buzz Lighyears faced each other and busted up laughing, as did Mr. Haddon.
When they finally calmed down, Jason shook his head. “I was absolutely positive you were going as Woody. I guess I don’t have costumedar after all. What did you think I picked for my costume?”
Jason’s dad answered, “Darryl told me you were going as Lady Gaga.”
“Oh, I will so get you for that, Darryl Kim!”
The doorbell rang. “Pizza’s here!” Jason’s dad announced.
Later that evening at the Edison High School Halloween Bash there began a very long and very personal relationship between Darryl Kim and Jason Haddon. For Darryl Kim it turned out to be the best ever Halloween Bash. Not only did he go on his first date and meet the boy who became his boyfriend, he told his friends that he was gay only to discover that they had already figured it out for themselves.
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This story and the included images are Copyright © 2011 by Colin Kelly (colinian). They cannot be reproduced without express written consent. Codey's World web site has written permission to publish this story. No other rights are granted.
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This story may contain occasional references to minors who are or may be gay. If it were a movie, it would be rated PG (in a more enlightened time it would be rated G). If reading this type of material is illegal where you live, or if you are too young to read this type of material based on the laws where you live, or if your parents don't want you to read this type of material, or if you find this type of material morally or otherwise objectionable, or if you don’t want to be here, close your browser now. The author neither condones nor advocates the violation of any laws. If you want to be here, but aren’t supposed to be here, be careful and don't get caught!