Tuesday, October 5, 2010


No, I do not mean the summer's smash hit by Enrique Iglesias (sp. ?)
THAT, I like. This trend, not so much.

I mean a bothersome trend that has popped up in my school, and possibly elsewhere.

The trend I speak of is the "I like it..." trend *shudder shudder*.
This is the trend of saying "I like it (insert prepositional phrase) (insert place)" in a status.

For example "I like it in sea caves!"

I noticed this trend a few days ago, and I had no idea what it had to with anything. I thought maybe it was an inside joke between a few friends. I then noticed that almost half of the girls I know had "I like it" statuses. I finally found out what it had to do with anything earlier today.

But first...
I call this a trend because it in no way achieves its purpose of "raising awareness" as the girls of my school (and others)claim it does.

What is it trying to raise awareness of you say?

Breast cancer.

Now you might ask "Andrew, why the hell would liking 'it' somewhere have anything to do with breast cancer?"

I would respond "Oh, it has to do with purses, you know, where you like to leave it!"

"What does that have to do with breast cancer?!" You might respond annoyedly.

My female friend explained to me that it was because people who started this believe that women should raise awareness for breast cancer, and women have purses. Women leave their purses places, so they should say that they "like it" wherever they leave their purse.

That makes sense right?
Yeah! Let's make a completely asinine joke that only the girls will understand, because men are icky and they can't get breast cancer! (My friend also explained to me that this is also the rationale behind this)

Here's the thing, men can get breast cancer too, and it is more fatal in men, albeit less common (I'm not comparing, merely stating a fact here).
If you want to actually raise awareness and fight breast cancer, don't make it a gender specific and ridiculous Facebook statement.

Send in some pink Yoplait tops.
Go on one of the many breast cancer walks and get some freaking pledges.
Volunteer at a center for cancer, and if possible one that helps specifically those with breast cancer.
just make a Facebook group for awareness for god sakes, and stop cluttering our news feeds!
That is if you actually really CARE about this cause, and aren't just buying in to some silly trend that does not really achieve its purpose.

I say this because when people talk of how ridiculous this trend is, some girls will defend it by saying "well we're raising awareness, so screw you"
I can safely say that half (or more of) the girls who have put up "Ilike it" statuses don't give a flying fart about the cause they are "supporting." There are tons of women who actually do care about the cause and have devoted large amounts of time and money to it; Girls, leave it to the women to fight the good fight.

So next time, girls, that you think about putting up your bra color (oh, don't think I wouldn't reference that either, girls) or where you "like it" on Facebook, please, dear god PLEASE, do not. Well, that is unless you plan to get up off of Facebook and go sign up for a pink ribbon walk, or at least go buy an "I <3 boobies" wristband.

Endnote: I have no real animosity towards girls who participate in this ridiculous trend, I have plenty of friends who have put up an "I like it" status whom I still love dearly. I merely do not like this trend thought it an interesting topic to discuss. I'm sorry if I offended someone who does actually support this cause, and I commend you for your service to fight breast cancer.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Orange Part 6

Once we arrived at our beach house, my heart was in my throat doing somersaults and a host of other uncomfortable gymnastic moves. I wanted to race right over to Rick's house, but my parents wanted me to unpack the car. I moaned a little in protest but I helped.

I bolted to Rick's house. I knew it was right before he got back from work and I wanted to surprise him, for I had told him we would be arriving a day later.
I was lucky, the door was unlocked. I snuck in to the house and I waited for Rick on the couch.

When he arrived he was looking at something outside. I did not make a sound and when he turned around and saw me I believe I surprised him a little more than I had planned.

"HOLY SHIT-...TOM!!!" Rick said before shooting over to the couch and tackling me. "OK, so I appreciate the surprise, but for an instant I thought you were a burglar or something; my heart skipped a freakin' beat there. It's OK though, because it's not a burglar, it's you."

Rick gave his award winning smile and I just could not resist, I grabbed the back of his head and pulled him down in to a kiss. It lasted for a while longer than our first kiss, but then Rick ended it abruptly.

"Ummm, two things, what happened to 'I'm not gay' and aren't you with Elena?" Rick said a look of almost hurt confusion on his face.

"To answer those in order, I still don't know, and dear god no" I said trying to go in for another kiss.

"OK, I'm still a little confused here Tom, like a day after you kiss me you tell me you're not gay and you get back with Elena. Now you're back here and it's like everything is back where we started at the end of last summer" Rick said while pushing my my shoulder. I was not sure if that was to control me our to keep himself in check.

"Honestly I'm kind of confused too Rick. I hate to play this card again, but I dated someone for a full school year who I knew did not make me happy. I went back to a person who I knew I was not myself with. But this year when I talked to you, I was myself. I was happy. If there is only one thing I have figured out Rick it's that I really like you, and care about you"

Rick was still very close to me, so I went in for another kiss. It only lasted about a few seconds before he pushed me away. He looked very hurt, then he started to cry.

"How the hell do you expect me to just act like everything is OK, Tom? I was so happy when you kissed me last summer, and then you go and date that witch again. It's not as if I expected us to immediately have some sort of relationship, but you certainly crushed any hopes I had when you dated her again. I know that sounds very dramatic, but that's definitely how I felt...crushed"

I opened my mouth to say something, but before I could get a word out, Rick continued.

"Then of course you kept talking to me on facebook like everything was fine, and I acted like it was. It was so confusing, you were all flirty, but you were Elena. You never mentioned her. I spent most of this year feeling guilty and stupid for still wanting you, and thinking we could still. have something. You've made me feel like absolute shit, you know that Tom?"

"I...I'm sorry, I guess I didn't even think about how you were feeling" I said while bowing my head. I really had not even thought of Tom. I had been using both him and Elena to feed my selfishness. I really felt ashamed of my actions, i had spent an entire school year being an absolute dick to Tom, and then I ended the year by breaking Elena's heart, merely for revenge.

I got up and started to walk out, muttering "I guess I'll just go, I'm really sorry..."

Rick wiped his eyes and firmly but softly said, "No, I don't want you to leave, I want to talk about this"

I sort of shuffled back to the couch, still very embarrassed. It probably would have been easier to just walk away, than face with how bad I felt for hurting Rick the way I had.

We sat and we talked for hours. He told me everything that had been on his mind for the past year, and I told him everything that had been on mine. He told me of how much he missed me, and how much it hurt for me to be with Elena again. I told him about how much I hated myself for getting back with her. I knew I had come back to her out of mere convenience, but for a while I was ashamed to admit it. I skirted around the issue until I told myself I just had to say it.

I said it, and Rick was silent.

"Oh, well it's very big of you to admit that" he said after a while, very coldly. It was very unlike Rick. A year had passed and I had not been good to him, so the emotional freeze was slightly expected.

"I don't know what else to say, it sucks, but it's true" I said while bowing my head.

"I know, I'm just feeling a lot, all at once" Rick said, looking very hurt once again. I was tired of trying to console him with my words, they did not do how sorry I was justice. I just moved over on the couch and hugged him as tight as possible. I started to cry, not sure if it was out of shame, or realizing just how I missed the boy I was now holding in my arms.

I took a large shuddering breath, and softly said, "I really am sorry, hopefully I can make it up to you this summer"

"Well, I don't think that's completely out of the question..." Rick said, his smile that I loved creeping its way on to his face.

"There it is" I chuckled softly, still not letting go.

I lay down and led Rick to lie down with me, I snuggled up to him. I was tired from the trip down, and I soon fell asleep.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Orange Part 5

"OK, so about a couple nights ago, I am so, so, so, so, so, SOOOOO, sorry. I have no idea what came over me. I really like you, and I guess maybe I should have just said something instead of making you feel extremely uncomfortable" Rick spat out.

"Wait, so are you, ya know..." I tried to ask, trailing off.

"Gay? Yes, I am. I thought this would have been obvious by now..." Rick said.

"OK, that's cool" I said, not sure of what else to say. Rick sort of looked at me in a funny way and gave me a hug.

"That's the first time I've ever heard someone call being gay 'cool'. Interesting. So we're OK?" Rick said. He seemed pretty desperate to make it all good.

"Well, I mean, you freaked me out a little Rick. I noticed you giving me looks before we watched the movies. I wasn't sure what to think of that, and that's why I was glued to the armchair for the entire first movie. When I got up I told myself I didn't care whether or not you were giving me 'looks', you are my friend and there's no reason I couldn't sit on the couch with you. Then I fell asleep and I guess I put my head on your shoulder, and I woke up and your arm was around me. I moved to the floor and fell asleep and apparently you followed me there. I woke with you right behind me, with your arm around me again. It's not how I expected to wake up, and it weirded me out a little, so I went home" I said calmly. I was not mad at Rick, and I did not want him to think so. I was just confused, up until now I was convinced Rick and I were just friends, but it was clear he wanted it to be more than that.

"Oh well, I- I'm sorry, I really am, it's just, I really like you Tom...and I guess I'll get over it. I still wanna hang out like we do, but I don't know if I'll slip up again, and I don't know how comfortable it will be for you" Rick said, he looked like he was on the verge of tears. I could not bare to see him like that, so I hugged him, I did not care that I was afraid of 'leading him on' or whatever.

"Rick, it's OK, really, like I said I was just wierded out by the suddenness of it all. We can still hang out. I'm not gonna ignore you because of one awkward encounter, you're by far the funnest and best friend I've ever had" I said while hugging Rick tightly. I thought giving him a hug after all this might be a little awkward, but it wasn't. It felt...nice.

"Thank you, you're being really good about this, most guys would flip a shit, call me a fag and leave" Rick said while rubbing the back of his head.

"Yeah, I know, I'm friends with those kind of guys back home" I said with a chuckle and a grimace.

"Well not everyone can be as awesome as us" Rick said, a smile finally appearing on his face.

"Oh, so true" I said, smiling back, "you wanna go play some video games or something?" I asked.

"Actually, I'd rather go surfing, it's a beautiful day and the waves are just begging for us to ride them" Rick said.

"Well maybe begging for YOU to ride them, they're more begging to eat me alive" I chuckled, "yeah, that sounds good to me"

Rick went back to his house, I went back to mine, we both got changed and then we met out in front of his house. Rick was beaming at me as he ran towards me with our surfboards.
Despite the awkward talk before, that day was great.
And so was the rest of the vacation in Florida, but the end of July came around, and I had to go home.

Rick and I were hanging out on my porch as my parents packed the car. We both had offered to help but my mom and dad said that they would take care of it. My parents really liked Rick and they liked that he was different from most of my friends.

"This has definitely been my best vacation here yet" I said as we sat on my porch swing and slowly swayed back and forth, just like the waves I had become so familiar with thanks to Rick.

"Well I am very happy to have made it that way" Rick said quietly. It was clear that he was sad about my leaving. I was sad I was leaving too. I had to wonder if his moodiness had something to do with his crush on me. We had not really talked about it since he had apologized for that one awkward evening.

"But really, thank you for an awesome summer. Promise you'll stay in touch?" I said.

"Of course. I'll facebook chat you everyday, whether you like it or not" Rick chuckled half-heartedly. Rick looked so sad, and I did not know what to do.

Then without thinking, I did something.
I put a hand on Rick's shoulder, and another hand on the back of his head, and I kissed him.
I kissed him for a very long time.
I kissed him until I heard my parents coming out the back door.
I kissed him and it felt right.

"I, uhm, I- I'm gonna miss you" I said, desperately trying to recover from what I had just done.

Rick was dumbstruck.

"Tommy, it's time to leave honey" My mom said as she approached me from behind.

My mom and dad both gave Rick a hug before we left. I did too. It was like a hug between two zombies. We were both still very taken aback by what I had done.
Then, before I could really make sense of it, me and my family were in the car and I was waving to Rick, a smile on my face.

About ten minutes later I got a text message from Rick saying, "You kissed me = )"

I responded with, "Yeah, I did..."


"I dunno Rick, I gotta say that was not good timing on my part"

"oh so you're saying you had thought about it before? ; )"

"No, that's not what I'm saying, Rick"

"Tom calm down, I was just kidding"

"Oh, ok...I'm sorry, just really confused right now"

"Well discovering you're gay is confusing"

"Rick, I'm not gay"

"then what was with that kiss?"

"I don't know, you just looked so sad, and I didn't know what to do, then I sot of just did, and without really thinking I just, kissed you"

"but you're not gay?"

"not everyone is gay who kisses a guy Rick"

"I know that, it's just that kiss, it felt like a little more than 'just a kiss'"

"I know, I kind of felt that, but...I'm not gay"

"Ok Tom...you're not gay, I have to go to work, if you want to talk about this some more, I'll be on facebook later"

I didn't respond to Rick's last text, I was too freaked out. I could not stop asking myself "Am I gay?". Then I thought about Rick, and how I would not be seeing him for a whole year. Then out of nowhere I began to cry. They were not loud tears, not sobs. Just small sniffles. I did not want to let my parents see me crying, so I went to the back seat and turn my head in to the seats and cried. I then fell asleep.

When I woke up, we were at our hotel for our halfway stop. It was somewhere in nowheresville West Virginia. When we got to our room, I pulled out my bathing suit, changed, and went for a swim. After swimming around in the blue chlorinated water and wishing it had waves in it, I went over to the hot tub. I sat in the hot tube for about ten minutes before my phone buzzed with a text message on the glass table near the hot tub.

It was from Elena.
It was a simple three word text.
"I miss you" it said.

Like a fool I texted back, "I miss you too."

The next day after we had gotten home, I went to meet Elena at a coffee shop we always went when we could not think of anywhere else to go.

"I'm sorry, I was really stupid to break up with you. Once I had broken up with you, and you were gone at Florida, I realized how much I missed you and needed you"

That was enough to get me back. I do not know why, but she was able to get me back with just an apology and an 'I need you'.

I went back in to the person I was when I was with her, pretentious, quick to judge, cold and calculating.

Except for when I talked to Rick online, when I talked to him, I was myself and I was happy.

When the end of the year came around, it was my turn to dump Elena. My turn to break a heart. Because of the person Elena made me in to when I was with her, I was able to just tell her we were done with no explanation. I was not really happy with her anyway. I did tell her that, and that I was not myself with her. I did not like who I was with her, and it had taken me another year to realize that, again.

This did not matter though, because I was on my way back to Florida, where i would be able to talk to Rick in person again, and possibly pick up where we left off.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Orange Part 4

After I had left Rick's house I did not have much to do. I tried reading a book I had brought with me, but I could not focus. I wanted so badly to know what the adventure was that Rick and I were going on later. I was so distracted that I ended up asking my mom if she had any chores that she needed done. I figured that I should schmooze her before I asked her if I could sleep over at Rick's for a second night.

I'd say that was a mistake, if it had not worked exactly how I wanted it to.
My mother gave me a veritable mountain of chores. I miraculously finished them just a little after three.
Rick came in as I was vacuuming.

"You ready?" Rick asked, still in his work clothes.

"Not exactly, I gotta get some stuff from my room. I'll meet you at your house OK?" I shouted over the screaming vacuum.

"That's fine, I should probably change out of my work clothes anyway." Rick said.

I grabbed a change of clothes, a pillow, my backpack, a flashlight and lighter. I had no idea what our 'adventure' entailed, hence the flashlight and lighter.
Eager to find out what was going on I bolted out the door and in to Rick's house.
When I entered, Rick was nearly ready to go. He seemed to be searching around for something.

"What are you looking for?" I asked.

"A flashlight" Rick answered.

"Already got one, I figured it would be useful" I said.

"Perfect! Let's go then" Rick said, grabbing my hand.

"But where the hell are we going?" I asked.

"Some place only stupid teenagers would go" Rick said smirking.

"Ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm" was all I said before I decided to just go with the flow and not question Rick.

After jogging for about 5 minutes behind Rick we arrived at a very old, large, and decrepit building.

"Riiiiiiiiiick. I do not like where this adventure is going, more specifically I do not like the looks of that building. What is- what was it?" I said stopping in my tracks thinking that maybe I did not like where the flow was going.

"Well it used to an old insane asylum, like one of those buildings where they'd do 'experiments', if you follow." Rick said getting an odd look of wonder in his eyes.

"Yeah I do, why would you want to go in there?" I asked.

"Adventure my friend, adventure. I hear it's crazy haunted. Don't worry though, it's probably just urban legend or whatever" Rick said with a playful grin.

"I'd rather not take my chances" I said.

"Oh come on Tom, what are you, chicken?" Rick said jokingly.

I wanted to say something along the lines of "what are we five? You gonna triple dog dare me next?", but like the legendary Marty McFly, I felt the need to prove that I in fact was NOT a chicken.

"Fine" I said as I took a couple steps towards the building.

I let Rick be the first to enter the creepy building, I turned on my mammoth of a flashlight and tip-toed in behind him.

"This place is awesome!" Rick shouted.

"Yeah that's a word for it..." I mumbled.

I took a look around with my flashlight and immediately wished I hadn't, the interior of the building looked exactly like a B horror movie set. I was convinced something with a hideous face that wanted to eat my soul was going to pop out any second. All of a sudden, I heard something moving and I stopped in my tracks.

"Rick, did you hear that?" I asked, grabbing my flashlight as if it were my first born child.

"Hear what?" He asked.

"That sound, it sounded like-" was all I could get out before a large something came down on my head. Everything went black.

Next thing I knew I was looking up at an orange sky and at Rick. I had the start of a very large bump on my head.

"Thank god, I thought you were dead or something..." Rick said, rubbing his eyes, they were a little red and his face seemed to be lined with worry and shining tracks. I was too confused at the moment to realize what he had been doing while everything had been black.

"What. The hell. Happened " I asked, thoroughly confused.

"Ummm, from what I can tell a piece of the ceiling fell on your head. Maybe it was loosened by something scurrying around up there...but whatever...just happy you're OK" Rick said with a sniffle.

"Rick, are you OK?" I asked. Now that I had really come to, I was pretty sure Rick had been crying. Scratch that, I knew Rick had been crying; it was quite obvious.

"Yeah, I'm fine the dust just got me is all, allergies, you know" Rick said. Something in the back of my head told me otherwise, but I did not press, maybe it really just had been allergies. I always looked a mess when mine acted up.

"OK. Hmmmm well since our 'adventure' sort of literally fell through, what do you say we scare ourselves silly a different way?" I asked, trying to cheer Rick up a little. He looked like a kicked puppy, and no one likes wounded baby animals.

"Oh?" Rick responded, immediately perking up a little.

"How about I go grab a couple of horror flicks from my house, we make some popcorn, and scream like little girls until we fall asleep. That sound good to you?" I asked while lightly touching the bump on my head. It was not as large as it felt, but it hurt twice as much as I thought it would.

"I'd like that" Rick said with a smile. Then I smiled. That kid's smile is 100 percent infectious.

So we went quickly to my house and away from that. I told my mom I was sleeping over at Rick's. She gave me a face that said "well, I'd hoped you stay for dinner, but fine" as she nodded her head. I grabbed 'Stephen King's IT' and Pet Cemetery. Two of the most ridiculously scary Stephen King movies by far in my opinion.
This was saying a lot, because I can fall asleep while watching most horror movies.

As I perused through our collection of horror movies Rick chuckled a little and said, "It's funny how you have an entire library of horror movies and you were scared to go in some silly old building"

"Aaaah but that is exactly why I didn't want to go in to the building, I've seen several different groups of teenagers meet their untimely death by doing exactly what we did. Getting torn apart by some maniac left in the building or having my soul stolen by an ancient evil is NOT how I plan to go" I said with a stony expression on my face. When it came to my paranoia spurred by my vast horror knowledge, I was dead serious. Pun intended.

"Oh, well I'll be sure to not doubt you in the future. I also hope to not die a gruesome death plotted by a nasty screenwriter" Rick chuckled. I just chuckled back as we left the room.

"Oooooh good choices" both my mom and dad said as they noticed the two movies I had in my hand as Rick and I headed for the door. I got my morbid fascination for horror from them.

"Oh mom, Dad, do we have any popcorn?"

"Yeah honey, it's in the cupboard to the left of the sink" my mom said as she pointed to the cupboard.

I grabbed it, gave my mom and dad both hugs, and Rick and I left. As Rick I walked back to his house I noticed the moon. Big, bright, and orange, it looked like a a giant glowing pumpkin in the sky.

"The moon's beautiful tonight" Rick said. As I looked up at the moon I caught him staring at me a couple of times. I did not think much of it, but I saw something familiar in the way he looked at me. I could think of what exactly it was, but I knew it looked familiar. I tried not to think too much of it as we went in to his house.

"Pop one of the movies in and I'll start the popcorn" I said as I did just so. Rick chose IT and a smile creeped on to my face. It was the longer of the two movies, but also the better of the two movies in my opinion.

Ricks smiled back at me and gave me that look again. I stared at the popcorn in the microwave and tried to think of where I had seen that look.

My eyes widened as I realized why that look was familiar. I say familiar because I realize that I had not actually seen that look, I had had that look on my face before. It was the look I got on my face when I looked at Elena and I first had my crush on her.

Did Rick like me like that? Did I give off a vibe that I liked guys? Did I give off a vibe that I liked Rick more than as a friend?


The microwave broke what could have been an endless chain of panicked questions. I calmed down and realized I was probably just over analyzing things. Still uneasy I sat in the armchair, away from the couch where Rick was sitting. I sat there, quite stiff, for all of the first movie.

Once the movie was over I walked over to put in the second movie. I decided to stop being stupid and sat down on the couch next to Rick. He was my friend, maybe he did 'like' me, maybe he did not. Either way he had been a better friend to me than any of my friends back in New York, so I did not care.
I was not about to be one of those guys who even cringed at the thought of a guy liking another guy. It happened, and there is nothing wrong with it.

As these thoughts buzzed through my mind I started to feel my eyelids get heavy. I fell asleep before the kid had even bit the dust in Pet Cemetery.

When I awoke, the TV was glowing blue and my head was up against Rick's shoulder. Rick's arm was around me. I sat up, half out of surprise, and half just to get myself up. I went over to my backpack and got my pillow. I put myself on the floor and fell back asleep.

I awoke the next morning with Rick behind me, his arm around me. I wanted to be cool with it I really did, but I guess waking up with him holding me sort of freaked me out because I got up and went over to my house. Rick did not wake up as I left, he was still sound asleep with smile on his face.

I did not go to see Rick again that day, I figured he would be busy with work anyway. The next day Rick showed up at the door in his work clothes.

"Tom, can we talk?" he asked. Rick looked really troubled.

"Yes" I responded without really thinking. I felt a giant lump form in my throat. I had a good idea of what Rick wanted to talk about, and I was not sure if I really wanted to discuss that.

Rick took a deep breath as we started to walk down the beach, then he began.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Orange Part 3

"This entire story starts from my very birth. Both of my parents have a complete addiction to several drugs, none of them even close to legal. My mother's drug of choice during her nine months carrying me was heroin, due to this I was born addicted to heroin. It took a while for me to get healthy after my birth and my parents came very close to not keeping me. By some fluke of the justice system I stayed in their care. They both moved from the small town in North Carolina I was born in to Miami. We stayed there until I was about six when child services finally found them. After that run in, we moved to Orlando. We lived close enough to my aunt that I could walk over to house; I spent as much time there as possible. It was thanks to my aunt Rena that I actually knew what normal people were supposed to be like. One day while I was at my aunt Rena's house my parents came and said that we had to move again. My aunt Rena went up to my mom, smacked her and said 'Get out, now. Goddammit Julie you and that lump of a husband are not making this child suffer any more. I'm not letting my little brat of a sister get away with her idiocy anymore. Go, NOW, before I call the cops on you'. I will never be able to thank my aunt Rena enough for that. I was about fourteen when she set me free from my parents. I have not seen them again and I don't plan to. My aunt Rena treated me just like one of her kids, yet I never felt quite at home. This year when I turned sixteen she asked me if I wanted to get emancipated. By this time I had already gotten a job and I was making some money. She told me about Daniel, the landlord who lets me stay here at the house, and how he needed someone to look after this house. He had decided to stop trying to sell it because of something along the lines of not turning a profit. My aunt Rena comes to check in on me every day, and when she can't come in person she calls. Due to my emancipation and an agreement I have with my employer at the restaurant I wait tables at, I am able to work hours like that of an adult. The customers usually tip very well so on top of my pay, which is also quite nice, I make a good amount of money from tips. It is enough to feed me, pay my few bills, and occasionally get me things like Guitar Hero. But yeah, I've been semi-independent for about seven months now. I kind of miss living with my aunt Rena, but I know this is a better option for me. I still get to see Rena very often, especially during the school year when she helps me with my math and other schoolwork; she's really smart. Anyhow, my whole experience with life itself has made me in to who I am today...and yeah." Rick said. He tripped a lot while he was telling me this. It was clear he was not used to telling his story.

I understood him a lot better now.

He had been deeply hurt and had seen the darker sides of the world, so that is why he was so sunny all the time. Rick wanted to be that change we all strive to see in the world.

I did not know how to respond so I just hugged him, and surprisingly it was not awkward.

I was not used to hugging guys, or getting close with them.

All me and my guy friends back at home talked about was sports, music, or girls. Also we never dared hug each other; my friends were the kind of guys who would not hesitate to call you a fag just for even mentioning emotion.

All this went through my mind as I was hugging him.

"Alright, I'm OK. I'll be fine. I guess talking about it just brings back very bad memories for me. Can we just play Guitar Hero or something? It always gets my mind off of things." Rick said rubbing the back of his head, almost looking embarrassed for being sad.

"Sure man, but first I just want you to know you can talk about this any time you want with me. You listened to me gripe about my stupid problems. Not saying what you just told is stupid, or that they're problems or-...let's just rock our faces off." I said, ever so slightly failing at trying to be helpful. Rick grinned, so I knew he understood what I was trying to say.

We played for about three straight hours. I did not want to have to leave for the day so I went quickly over to my house to ask my mom if I could sleepover at Rick's. She said yes but gave me a look that sort of said 'Since when do you have sleepovers?'. I just hugged her, said thank you and that I loved her, grabbed my stuff for the night and headed back over to Rick's.

I had the best night of my life. We talked for hours about the most random things. That is pretty much all we did, we just talked, for hours upon hours. It was great. Eventually we both agreed that although we most likely could keep talking, we definitely needed to get to sleep; Rick did have work in the morning after all.

When I awoke the sun had just peered out from the horizon. Rick was already up cooking an omelet.

"Dude, how are you already cooking breakfast?" I asked, almost jumping at the resurgence of my use of the word 'dude'.

"I'm an early riser plus I gotta get to work at seven. I work seven to three as opposed to the usual nine to five. Not sure why that is, I guess it was the only shift open when I first asked for a job, and now I've just sort of stuck to it." Rick said as he expertly flipped the omelet.

I was not sure how to respond to Rick, he just continued to show me how great people could be. Despite everything he had been through he had become this completely amazing individual who worked hard, was the sunniest person I had ever met, and apparently an excellent cook.

"What's up man? You look like you have something on your mind." Rick said as he divided the omelet in to two and put them on two plates that already had toast and home fries ready.

"Oh never-mind, it's nothing; let's eat!" I said politely brushing off Rick's well intended curiosity. I'm not sure why I felt the need to hide that thought from Rick.

"So when I get back from work later we have to go on an adventure." Rick said through a mouthful of potatoes.

"An adventure? How do you mean?" I asked raising an eyebrow.

"Oh you'll find out later; for now just eat and I shall explain what I am talking about when I get back from work. My aunt Rena should be here soon to bring me to work so I'm gonna go out to the road and wait for her, but you can stay here and finish up. Please just make sure you lock up when you leave and turn any lights off or whatever else is on. See ya later, Tom!" Rick said as he grabbed a pair of sunglasses and went out the door.
Once again Rick perplexed me.
I could not wait to see what our 'adventure' would be.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Orange Part 2

Learning to surf wore me out in a way I had never experienced before. I slept like a rock that had taken three Valiums that night. I had a couple interesting dreams though, one I recall had a gray bunny with quite an odd mask fixed to its face. It would not shut up about the fourth dimension, or some ancient block of cheese that would destroy the world. I have very odd dreams.

When I met Rick at the beach I told him all about the odd dream and he just started to laugh.

"So you're telling me you dreamt of a rabbit wearing a mask talking about the fourth dimension and killer cheddar? What the hell did you eat before going to bed?"Rick said while gasping for breath. Clearly the inner workings of my subconscious were comedy gold. After a while I found myself laughing along with Rick, I just could not help it. I cannot say why, but up until talking to Rick, I took my ominous bunny time cheese dream very seriously.
I hate to keep coming back to her but I blame Elena 100%. I knew how to kid around before her. I knew what was funny. Everything had been so goddamn serious with that harpy; there was never any time for fun with her. When she was not teaching me something she was talking about what our relationship meant to me, and what it meant to her.
Thinking about it afterwords made me absolutely sick.
I realized while laughing along with Rick for almost the entire school year, I had been some person I so clearly was not. I had become a person who could not laugh in the face of the sheer ridiculousness of a time bending bunny in a masquerade talking about the muenster of doom.

While this was going on in my head I just hugged Rick. I can see no other reason for this other than his help to bring my sense of humor back.
The weirder part was him hugging me back.

"Uh...sorry. I uhm... I'm just really happy I could have a good laugh. Being with Elena sort of made everything pretty serious. The future was serious, our relationship was serious, our choice of movie from Blockbuster was serious, my choice of meat at a restaurant was serious. If I had told Elena about that dream she would have gotten out some stupid dream journal to find out what they dream meant because they are 'serious messages from your subconscious'. Hell she'd probably even have asked me what kind of cheese it was for further meaning. I guess it was nice to just laugh at something and not get all serious about it." I said rather solemnly.

"Woah dude, this Elena girl really fucked you up didn't she? I knew it was a nasty breakup, but this is serious. I've never seen a dude in such a funk over one chick." Rick said, his green eyes staring intensely at me. Once again Rick showed a quality I had never seen in any of my friends, he looked you straight in the eye when he talked to you.

"I don't really wanna talk about it now. I'd rather get my mind of it for a while and keep learning to ride the waves. I think I'd like to talk about it later though, maybe over lunch or something." I said drawing indeterminate shapes in the sand with my foot.

"Yeah that's fine, but I hope you're willing to talk about it later. It sounds like it's really getting you down, and I don't wanna see my new friend down in the dumps!" Rick said with a huge grin.

This kid was too surreal for me. I was so used to kids being superficial or moody. I just assumed all teenagers were like that and we would grow out of it or something, but Rick seemed as if he had never heard of 'the moody teenager'. His very aura made me forget that I even had any kind of woes. It must have been growing up with all that Florida sun or something that made him so, well to put it simply, sunny. I had to find out though; I wanted to know how to be more like him. I was tired of moping and treating life like some great problem that constantly needed to be solved.

Rick helped me say 'no more!' with a simple dip into the salty surf as the waves grew higher and a couple of 'choice' waves came in and tested what I learned so far.
According to Rick the fact that I even stayed on for 5 seconds showed how quick I was learning. If it were anyone else I would think that they sparing my feelings or something, but Rick looked me straight in the eye when he said it with a huge smile that no one could deny.

"Well I'm starving and it's clear you're coming along really good. I think we should go to my house, make some lunch, have a heart to heart, and then melt some faces with a couple of choice songs from Guitar Hero. I'm a big fan of grilled cheese accompanied by Misirlou, how about you?" Rick asked as we paddled back to shore.

We headed back to Rick's house, a small comfortable looking house. It was smaller than most beach houses I had seen, but it still looked very nice. We went inside and I was surprised by how quiet it was. It was fairly neat. No one was there which struck me as odd so I asked,

"Hey Rick where are your parents at?"

"I'll explain later." He said in a rather different tone; it was not quite right. I could not quite figure out what was missing from it.

"How does sharp cheddar and mozzarella sound to you?" Rick asked.

"It's cheese, in my opinion you cannot go wrong. Plus I'm so hungry you could put a rotting boar in front of me and I would most likely eat it with the help of some salt" I responded whilst rubbing my stomach.

"Perfect!" Rick explained while buttering the bread for our sandwiches. It smelled heavenly as it sizzled in the cast iron pan Rick was using. Rick came back with two perfectly golden brown sandwiches with the cheese oozing out just enough to make one want to immediately snatch up the sandwich in his jaws. Rick also handed me a bright green colored thick liquid.

"What is that?" I inquired.

"I call it Awesomejuice. Just try it. I dare you not to love it. I also ask you now to please kindly spill your guts. I do not care if it involves the girliest of tears, spill it." Rick said as he stared intensely at me.
I took a sip of Awesomejuice and I did just as Rick asked. It felt great.
"The worst thing is I worked so hard to be the guy she wanted and after all of that she goes and blames me for something being wrong with the relationship. I worked so hard, but I guess it didn't matter for I so clearly was not the person she wanted me to be." I sighed.

"So screw her! Plenty of girls would kill to be with you my friend! you are clearly very emotional, which girls dig. Plus, while I may not be a perfect judge of this, you are quite a 'hunk'." Rick said the last word in the girliest voice possible to avoid any awkwardness from what was admittedly a very nice compliment, "If she didn't like you for who you were and are, what's the point? You should be someone who sees you for exactly who you are and loves you for it. At least that's how I see it" Rick said while once again looking me in the eye. This time he was making large gestures of righteous anger.

I nodded and said,
"Yeah, you do have a point. Alright so now that I've given you my story, what's yours? What do your parents-"

"They don't live here." Rick interjected, "I didn't want to bring it up earlier because we were here to talk about your problems, but yeah I don't live with my parents. For all I know they're somewhere in California." Rick said in that same tone from before.

"Oh. Then how-"

"Can I live on my own? I'm emancipated. I take care of this house as a favor for the landlord and I work for my food, electric, plumbing etc. Oh jeez this is a long story find a comfortable spot to sit, you'll be there for a while." Rick said running his hands through his hair. He looked pained by telling me this news.
I felt very scared for Rick.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Orange Part 1

Driving in a car from upstate New York heading down to a small beach house in Orange County gives one a lot of time to think about things.
Until her I had not given a lot of thought to anything, I was very absent-minded.
But Elena changed it all for me my sophomore year. I just sort of noticed how she talked and how it made me think of things.
I really started to notice her ways in English.
She said something about motifs and how they applied to Shakespeare's Macbeth.
I had no idea what motifs were, or what she was talking about. I asked he later what she was talking about.
At first Elena thought I was making fun of her but then I said,
"No really, what is a motif? What you said sounded interesting but I had no idea what you were saying"
Later that day Elena and I headed down to a coffee shop near the school to talk about Macbeth and all the stuff in it I did not get that she did.
She was so witty and at times very funny.
She was so adorable, I could not get enough of her and her mind.
We started dating a week after that coffee stop and we dated until the end of school when she told me,

"Tom I cannot keep this going.You are so sweet, but I cannot be your teacher anymore. I do not feel like we have an actual relationship, I feel as if this year has just been me teaching everything from Motifs to the Quadratic formula. I do not want to be your tutor forever. I know that is not all I am to you but that is all I feel like now. I cannot do this anymore Tom, so I'm ending it."
Elena could not have better broken my heart then if she had ripped it out and put it in a blender.It was one shitty way for her to greet me after I had just finished my last final.
Now two weeks later I was on my way to Orange county. Just me and my parents spending a stunningly boring and long car ride to go to a long and at times very monotonous vacation.

I must admit I do like our beach house but I was in no mood at the time to be in car with my mother pointing out every single thing that she thought was pretty or interesting. On most car rides I found this quite amusing, but unluckily for me and my mother my mood was soured by my mending heart. I eventually snapped and told my mother to shut up, which did not go over well at all. Feeling defeated by myself and my bad mood I tried to sleep.
I dreamt of Elena. This helped me none. I awoke even more surly than before, but luckily I had also awoken just as we arrived at our beach home.

"Help your mother with the bags Tom." my father said.

"eh, yeah, whatever." I responded half-heartedly.
After I had done my task I slumped on to my bed.

"Tommy your Dad and I are going down to the beach, you want to come?" my Mom called up to me from the kitchen.
I contemplated not responding and pretending to sleep, but a little part of me told me to get up and go to the beach with my parents. I listened to it, slathered on some sunblock, put on a bathing suit, grabbed a towel, gathered my sunglasses and rushed out the door with my parents.
As we went out the door I noticed I left my cell phone by the door and put it in one of the pockets of my bathing suit.

The sound of the waves immediately calmed me down. The sun seemed to ebb away the sorrow I had been harboring in me. The beach was just the cure I needed for the woes of my recent breakup. Its salty spray making Elena a distant memory.

After a half our of lying in the hot sun I jumped into the water. I swam around for a couple of minutes quite enjoying myself until an awful fact dawned on me. MY PHONE WAS STILL IN MY LEFT POCKET. I yelled every expletive I knew as I raised my phone as high out of the water as possible and rushed out of the water. It was quite a display, I think I heard a kid or two running to their parents in fear of my rampage.

"Shit Doreen he's done it AGAIN" my father exclaimed as he smacked himself on the forehead.

"IMSORRYIMSORRYIMSORRYIMSORRY" I said. This was half to my parents and half to my phone.

"Don't worry champ, you know we've got insurance on that thing now." My dad sighed.

"Oh, really? I thought you said we couldn't afford it..." I said looking quite confused.

"It was going to be a surprise for your birthday next week Tommy." Mom said as she toweled off my phone.

"Oh, well I'm as relieved as I would have been surprised!" I said while plopping down into the sand. My parents just sort of grumbled. The new phone would be my fifth replacement in three years.
It then hit me that I would be without phone for a few days. This not the worst of all things, but I was already starting to feel withdrawal. My parents did not want me to start griping about my phone so they sent me on what they liked to call one of their 'Social Adventures'.
These started when we first started coming to our beach house. Their only purpose for me to walk down the beach and play with strange kids.
The condition of the Adventures were that I introduce myself to two kids on the beach and bring them back to my parents. This was just fine when I was five, especially because it kept me as an only child from becoming a socially awkward kid. It did not seem so awkward when I was younger. This was before embarrassment even existed in my mind.
Now as an angsty teen it was ever present, so I negotiated with my parents to find one other teenager and walk and talk with them and simply walk by my parents as we walked down the beach.

It took me a while to find a kid who looked my age, 16. Eventually I found a kid who was diving into the surf. I had been searching for about a half hour so I desperately jumped in after him and yelled,


"uh, hi, I'm Rick..." he responded.


"haha, sure" He said, a smile now on his face.

I explained the whole 'Social Adventure' idea my parents had for me, and why they had reinstated it.

"Yeah that's fine, you seem like a pretty chill dude anyhow, and I was as bored as hell. The waves are hella suckish today." he said while wiping off his blond mop of hair with his towel.
I almost scoffed at his usage of 'chill dude' and 'hella suckish', but I realized that was the Elena part of me speaking, the part I had to forget. I used to talk like that all the time.

So we went on and Rick told me all about his family and growing up with three siblings. I talked about being an only child. We talked about our school's. Rick gave me permission to talk about Elena and how she tore out my heart. He agreed with how I felt on the issue. I enjoyed talking to Rick so much I almost forgot to wave to my parents. I guess it was because unlike most of my guy friends he was very willing to listen. He seemed like he actually cared. This struck me as quite odd for we had just met, but none the less it seemed very genuine.
Rick and I eventually ran out of things to talk about, and we were quite silent for a while.

"You want me to teach you how to surf?" Rick offered, breaking the silence.

"Sure, but I gotta get back before sundown. I know my parents will give me hell if I don't get back before then" I responded.

"That gives us approximately an hour and a half. I can't promise you'll be fully steady by that time, but I can give you all the tools you'll need to figure it out on your own" Rick said smiling at me again like he had when I awkwardly approached him.

"Well I've got about four weeks to learn so I think our time today will be just fine." I said smiling back at Rick. His smiley demeanor was pretty contagious.
My lesson was interesting, for I was falling off my surfboard more than I was standing on it. Rick assured me this was how it was supposed to be when you first started. I was ready to give up until Rick offered to demonstrate as a large wave came in.
The way he ripped across that wave looked effortless. It was very awe inspiring, and it got me heading towards the very next wave after Rick's. He noticed what I was doing and cheered me on. As the wave came in I got up on the board and placed my feet how Rick had shown me to.
I miraculously rode the wave.
Despite all my clumsiness and all that was on my mind, I rode that force of mother nature, and I was flying.
I was free.
If just for a second.
Just in time too because as I came to shore the sun was reaching the horizon forming a blazing orange disc.

"This was really fun Tom, it's nice to find someone down here who is actually worth hanging out with" Rick said while rubbing the top of his head.

"Likewise. Hey do you want to come over for dinner? We're having mahi mahi tonight, it should be pretty good, my dad has a way with fish." I found myself saying. It was odd for I liked hanging out with people, but I had never really been social enough to take the initiative to invite someone over for dinner.

"That sounds really good, but I don't think I can, I promised my family I'd eat dinner with them tonight." Rick responded, "But how about we meet here tomorrow at eleven and have lunch at my house? If we get tired of the sun maybe we can play some Guitar Hero or something."

"Sounds like a plan man!" I said, once again smiling.