Nothing In Common / Wanna Bet?

by Grasshopper

@@ This is for my brothers out there who want it all now and are struggling to keep their heads above the water. You've got time. Hold it in the road and pick your battles. There's room for us all.

Okay, it's like have you ever been watching a movie, say: any movie with Angelina Jolie, and she's all over whatever guy, say: Brad Pitt, and you squinch your eyes almost closed and kinda put yourself in her place? I mean, how hot would that be? Mucho hotter than the str8 stuff, right?

Did you see 'Troy'? What was with Brad Pitt (sorry, but he's kinda been in the movies I've seen lately) flying around like Neo with all the jump kicks and stuff? But.........forget the temple girl they 'gave' him for a present, did you feel all the tension between Achilles and, well, just about any soldier guy that walked within ten feet? Now, that would have been a movie! All that testosterone rumbling around like a ground swell, I'm amazed the walls of Troy didn't just fall down in one huge adrenaline rush.

And there was Paris. Was he supposed to be a big str8 stud? He stole the king's wife, what's her name, and all the guys stoked up for war. I mean, he was a cutie, but he definitely belonged with Patroclus....that's if you could peel him off of Achilles (they were best friends - hee) And, when Orlando Bloom started shooting those arrows, it was déjà vu Legolas, and we all know who we were all jonesin'* for in LotRs.

And they even changed history cause Patroclus was Achilles' "cousin" in the movie, I guess to cover why they were so close, but really they were best friends. When Hector kills Patroclus, Achilles really spazzes, and lord no that we should think for a second that it was cause he loved him. Nope, they were family............right?

I guess the point is that if they could make the stories real, not just give the 'hero' a gay sidekick who generally acts like a dork, we'd see history for what it really was. Like when the 'hero' loses the girl and his 'gay friend' is right there by his side like always, does he turn those tear-filled eyes up and realize what he's got? NO....he muddles his way back to the girl, back to the flowers and the candy and all the other stuff you've gotta do to make them happy so the guy can get a little sex sometime....if he's lucky.

There's a place for everyone in movies just like in real life. On HBO and Showtime, on Bravo, there are gay characters in so many of the shows now. What do you do when you're sitting in the room with your parents or with str8 people and gay characters appear on the screen? I want to say that I sit up and feel proud and hope this will be the show that changes how my parents think...but, I don't. I cringe down in my chair and hope to God they don't kiss or anything. I want to see it so badly, but I want it to go away really fast. Do you know what I mean? It's usually when I go to get a Dr Pepper, leaving really fast, leaving a trail of 'queer' comments behind me.

So, what do we have? str8 movies (eye squinchers), str8 porn (yeah, like that really ever happens) and gay porn (sigh). Not being able to get any gay porn anyway, I settle for enduring Carson on 'Queer Eye for the Str8 Guy' to look at Kyan, trying to catch 'QAF' at 1:00 in the morning and squinching my eyes almost closed to insert myself into the hero's arms. Face it, there's not much out there for us, the kids who want to see role models. I mean, Bird Cage is funny (Agador-hee) but well. One day, there'll be movies where the characters are gay and not just flitting around rearranging the furniture, but real guys, doing normal real guy stuff.

That's another thing, I DO love color and I DO seem to know what should go where and what looks good with what, but I also know what happens when you look better than the girls. I guess you could say my closet is very tastefully decorated, but my life is a grunge mess. One day, I sigh to myself, one day. You know what television show could have had really iced gays? Sex and the City. They had everything else.

Oh, and do you ever do this? You're gonna grin. Do you ever find your head tilting as the hero goes in for the kiss? Do you ever feel your lips just do this tingly thing and you suddenly get all macho cause what was that? God, you were actually into Jude/Keanu/Johnny/Tyson/Christian/Josh/Ryan/ Tobey/Justin/Chris or Randy so deep that you forgot for a second that you can't kiss them. They have to kiss the girl. It's the law. Well, except for my not so secret crush of the world up there in that list, who would kiss me if he knew me. I gotta believe that.

Anyway, there are so many more important things shaping the world we live in: The evils of Harry Potter: Is he a Satanist? Will Brittany lose the double cheeseburger babyfat? Will Pamela Sue Anderson marry Tommy Lee again? Will Brian and Justin really get married? Will Martha Stewart remove her ankle beeper? Can Jennifer find happiness after Brad? Will OJ run for pres in '08? Who makes a better Daisy Duke?

Oh.........I have to put this in just cause. In a teen church pamphlet recently, where they yell and fuss and make you feel like crap for just having the body that God gave you, God forbid you ever touch it, there was this headline to an article:

Masturbating: the Devil's Tool

I don't know how you would have reacted, but I just sat all through the service imagining the devil and his tool. I don't think the pamphlet had the right effect on me.

There's no real point to this rant. I just see things and, if you don't laugh, or don't say it out loud, it's gonna fester in there and festering is bad for the soul. We're none of us alone even when we think we are.

The kid who reads Nifty stories late at night trying to find his identity. The boy who wants to be held and loved. The kid who truly believes there are no gay kids at his school.......there are. They're needing to laugh, just like you are. Could be you're so busy hiding your eyes, that you're not seeing what's hiding in theirs. If I could help you do one thing, I'd help you raise your eyes and look for what you want. It is out there. Maybe not today or tomorrow, but if you hang in there, stay tough, the world will find you.


***My alarm clock rang and I jumped out of bed. It was my first day at my new school. Oh, before I forget, I better tell you about my self. Hi ! My name is Rod and I'm a total stud.....six feet two inches of taut tanned flesh, and 195 pounds of solid muscle. I'm packing a 10 incher and..........***

I rubbed my itchy eyes, shaking my head. I couldn't read another one of these stories about "Rod and his Mean Sex Machine". If "Rod" had a webcam, I bet you 10 bucks, he's not quite all that. He could be packing a 10' clipboard with his Trig homework on it. That's about all.

Sighing, I turned off my computer and flopped onto my bed. My nose hit the unmade sheets and, at first, I breathed in the smell of musty sex kinda smiling. Then, I realized, with another deep sigh, that it was the smell of my musty sex and my mom was gonna smell that smell. But........if I changed them now, at nighttime, they'd just smell in the morning, so why bother? Life can be so complex. I'd just open the window before I left for school. That should do the trick.

I needed a boyfriend in the worst way. Not a friend who is a boy, but a real boyfriend. Someone to belong to, who listens and wants to be with me as much as I want to be with him. Someone who would stand up to names like 'fag' and 'queer' with a smile, knowing that the names can't really hurt. Knowing how important it is to be with me...more important than what people think.

Trouble was, there are no other gay guys at my school. I know there are supposed to be one out of every ten guys is gay, but not here. They must all go to school over in Brighton County. I wish I could transfer, but my father's job keeps us here. Stupid job!

I tested the theory in gym. I counted the guys in the locker room. 34 of them and just me. No one in that room was anything except a jock strap toting, beer drinking, girl chasing str8. I'm not sure how I'd really know, but it just seems that there'd be some vibe, some little indication. Something. They all strut around jaybird naked, flipping those towels and anything that's odd or off, someone always yells, "You a fag or something?" I always check to see who they say that to, thinking maybe, but it's always another jock.

Now, my cover story is that I'm a jock too. I really like playing ball. Not football, lord no, baseball is my game. I love to watch hockey and soccer on TV and adrenaline rushes make up for a lot of things I seem to lack.


I was sitting on the bench between the lockers pulling on my socks, and lifted my head just as Kenny Walker's dick came to a stop practically in my face. He stopped in front of me and stood, hands on his hips. I did my best to keep a straight face, no eyes bugging out, no drooling, nothing. It was a miracle cause it was right there.

Swallowing hard, I tore my eyes up to his face and grinned like an idiot. "Yep, what can I you for?"

"I need you to help me out."

Now, I've known Kenny since Kindergarten and even had a few dampish dreams about the very thing that was dangling in my face if I moved my eyes.

"How?" I kinda choked out.

"My little brother needs some help."

Now, Kenny and I are seniors. I remember seeing his younger brother around school, l but I never paid much attention cause he didn't play ball and was a year younger. His friends weren't my friends.

"How can I help your brother?

Kenny pulled his t-shirt over his head and sat down next to me. This was getting kinda uncomfortable, him with his naked bottom on the bench right next to me. Saying the 9's multiplication table usually worked.

"What are you muttering?" he asked, as I whispered, "9x9=81, 9x8=72,"

"Nothing. What's the prob?"

"Well, and this is just between you and me, k?"

"Nathan, my brother, he's not like you and me. He's kinda shy and quiet," his voice dipped lower.

I wasn't sure I was supposed to ask.

"My dad, you know my dad. You know how he can be," Kenny frowned.

Kenny Walker's dad was a big mouth, red neck, jock wannabe who lived through Kenny's football games and had no truck with anything other than 100% pure tougher 'n shit GUYS. Yeah, I knew how Mr. Walker could be. I never went over to Kenny's house after elementary school when his dad had made fun of my school crayon box that I carried everywhere. It had a picture of Peter Pan and Tinkerbelle on the top and he called it 'my fairy box'.

"Well, he's kinda getting' on Nathan for not going out for sports. It doesn't matter that he's really smart and makes straight A's."

Puzzled, I asked, "How can I help with that?"

Kenny sighed. "I know he can't play football; he's too small, but I thought maybe he could play baseball. You know, just learn to hit the ball and catch. If my dad could see him practicing, he'd get off his back."

"So, what do you want me to do?" I didn't want to go within ten yards of Mr. Walker. I didn't have that Peter Pan crayon box anymore, actually I did, but I didn't carry it around, but I still remembered the look on his face when he said 'fairy'.

"Could you maybe come by after school a few times and help Nathan look good?"

If I remembered correctly, Nathan Walker didn't need any help looking good. He was already there; soft brown hair, freckles, a wiry body that moved with grace, and round wire rimmed glasses that made him look really cute.

"I guess I could," I said slowly, "But Kenny, I'm not taking any crap off your dad, K?"

Kenny nodded his head. He understood. "I can't wait to go to college on my scholarship," he muttered. "I just hate leaving Nathan behind."

If Mr. Walker was with Nathan the way he'd been with me that day, I felt real sorry for him. Everyone can't be a jock. Everyone doesn't want to be a jock. I just do it cause I love playing baseball.....and it gives me a wall to hide behind.

"Tell Nathan I'll be around after practice today."

"Thanks, Chris. I owe you." He walked away to finish dressing and I didn't even watch his bare butt. I was thinking about poor Nathan and how I could help him shield himself from hurt.


I swung by Kenny's house around 4:30, sweaty from ball practice. I figured I was just doing Kenny a favor, no big deal.

Only Kenny's car was in the drive, so I climbed out of my pickup and knocked on the front door. He opened the door with a frustrated look on his face.

"Hey," he groaned. "I'm having a little trouble getting Nathan to cooperate."

I could hear really loud music coming from upstairs and could hardly make out what Kenny was saying.

"Just a sec," he said, leaving me in the front hall. I watched him take the stairs two at a time and bang on a closed door. He bellowed, "Nathan, open this friggin' door. Chris is here."

The door didn't open. Kenny banged louder. "Please, Nathan. Open the door."

The music stopped abruptly and the door opened. I just stood still feeling the tension in the Walker's house. I could hear them whispering furiously.

Finally, Kenny walked down the stairs with Nathan following, his body language screaming that he hated this whole idea.

"Hey, Nathan," I said, not sure what to do.

"Hey," he mumbled, pushing his glasses up on his nose, not looking at me.

"I just thought if dad saw you practicing, he might let up on you for awhile," Kenny said, looking over the top of his brother's head at me. I shrugged my shoulders.

"K," Nathan said tightly, "But I don't know why you couldn't do it. Why did you drag Chris Matthews into this?" He spoke as if I wasn't even standing there. The way he said my name hurt for some reason. He said it like I was some guy who would laugh or make fun of him.

"I asked Chris because Dad knows he's on the baseball team and it won't just be me helping you. It'll look like you're seriously into baseball."

"But I'm not," he replied, practically snarling out the words. It sounded like his teeth were clenched together.

"Guys," I interrupted, "Maybe you need to settle this between yourselves. I'll just get going and........"

"Please, Nathan," Kenny said gently. I watched a look pass between them.

Nathan seemed to just give in. His face had been closed but now it was totally shuttered. It reminded me of me when I had had enough bullshit and just shut down. "Okay, okay. I'll go out in the yard and throw a ball to Chris, but it won't do any good."

Kenny opened the front door and we walked around the side of the house. They waited while I grabbed a ball and a couple of old worn gloves from the cab of my truck, tossing one to Nathan.

I motioned with my head for Kenny to go on back inside. I wanted to talk to Nathan and ease him off a little.

The back yard was wide and deep, running on a slope down toward the woods.

"This is great. I didn't know the woods backed your house."

Nathan glanced toward the woods and then back at me. "You don't have to do this, Chris. I'm sorry Kenny asked you. I'm sorry he told you. You can go home now."

I thought I heard a soft catch of tears trying not to fall. "I don't mind a bit," I answered, looking at the ground. "We can't all like the same stuff. I know how smart you are. I know how proud Kenny is of you."

"But you're Chris Matthews. You've got better stuff to do than throw a ball around after you've just been at ball practice."

I wasn't sure how to answer that. I had other stuff to do, sure, but for some reason, this was beginning to be the most important thing right now. I was taller than Nathan by a good 5 inches and my muscular body out weighed him big time. I had this sudden urge to protect him. It was like he was in distress and I was a knight. He wasn't a damsel though....way far from it. I found myself wanting to touch his soft brown hair.

"We'll just try this out and see how it flies," I said gently. "And, Nathan... I wouldn't be here if I didn't want to help."

We tossed the ball back and forth a few times. He had a good arm and strength behind his throws. "You could play ball, you know," I said, as the ball whacked into my glove.

"I never said I couldn't. I just don't care about doing it," he answered.

Okay," I said, feeling kinda as if he had dissed me somehow.

"I didn't mean it's not good to care about playing ball," Nathan said quickly, "I just don't think it's for everyone."

"I understand," I said, smiling, "Besides, if you played, I might not be pitcher."

"Yeah, right," he laughed. "You are so the star pitcher."

He laughed and I wanted to hear it again. I had the oddest feeling that I was going somewhere I'd never gone before.

Mr. Walker drove up and walked to the back yard. "Well, you finally got some balls," he said, laughing at his own lame joke. I noticed that Nathan didn't even look at his father.

"Nathan's got a pretty good arm, Mr. Walker," I said. "Maybe we can get him to go out for the team." I watched Nathan's eyes widen and then he made a face at me from behind his father's back. I grinned back at him.

We threw a few more and then I had to go. Nathan walked me to the truck, tossing his glove in the window.

"Thanks, Chris. Did you see the look on his face, like I had finally done something right." His tone was bitter and I couldn't blame him.

"What you do is more important than what I do," I told him. "You make the grades. You'll go to college and become something great. Don't let this little bump in the road hurt you. You may feel like this is forever but you'll be gone in just a couple of years."

Nathan scuffed his sneaker in the dirt. "Thanks for saying that. I've always felt kinda different and guys like you and Kenny.......well, we don't have anything in common."

Then, he looked at me. We were standing almost toe to toe and he looked up. I finally saw what color his eyes were; a swirling gray-green the color of the ocean before a storm. I reached out my finger, my heart pounding, and pushed his glasses back up on his nose, then crammed my hands in the back pockets of my jeans.

He had said we didn't have anything in common. The look he got in those eyes when he read what was flashing in mine, had a different answer. I felt it, like a jolt of power. I thought to myself, as I fought to keep my hands in my back pockets, "You wanna bet?"


That night, I thought a lot about Nathan's eyes. He was right that we didn't have a lot in common. He was a year younger than me, I was a jock and he was a genius kid. I was tall and big where he was smaller with an almost fragile look to him. I wondered if what I'd seen flicker in his eyes was one thing we had in common. I wondered what would happen the next time I saw him.


School was the usual........boring and boring. I didn't have any morning classes

With Kenny, so I had to wait for gym to find out if the plan had worked. I wished I had a class with Nathan, but he was in all the advanced college credit ones and I was just limping along doing the best I could with what I had. I found that, thinking about it, I envied him. I could play ball and I would get a degree in something from a local college. Nathan would become something really cool because he had it in him. That extra something that set him apart. I wished now that I had looked in his eyes sooner, even if just to be friends.

"Hey, Chris," I heard Kenny call out as we finally ran into the locker room after running our laps. "Thanks again. My dad was doing pretty good last night about Nathan. I wish he'd just let up on the kid."

"I do too," I said. "I'll keep coming by for awhile and maybe your dad will calm down."

"Thanks, man. I appreciate this."

I wanted to thank Kenny. I think I was maybe getting a lot more out of this than just throwing a baseball to Nathan. Maybe I wanted to feel what I was hoping I was feeling. Maybe it wasn't really there, but I could hope.

After practice, I took a quick shower in the locker room before I drove over to Nathan's. It was a big deal now. I had to put my day old jeans and blue t-shirt back on, but I did get a chance to wash the sweat out of my blond hair and clean the dust smears off my face.

I couldn't help smiling when I saw Nathan sitting on the front steps as I drove up. His head was down, but I could see him peeking out from under those long brown bangs. He was waiting for me?


"Hey," he said, tilting his head up to look me in the face as I walked over to the steps. I sat down beside him and just let out a long sigh. I'd waited all day for this and he looked even better than I remembered.

I saw a closed drawing pad lying beside him on the step. "What ya drawing?"

Embarrassed, he raised up, shoved the pad under his butt and sat on it. "Nothing."

Now, I really wanted to see that drawing pad. "I didn't know you could draw too. That's wicked cool."

He glowed. I mean, his whole face just glowed like a light had been switched on. "Just a little," he murmured.

"Let me see. I bet it's great."

Hesitantly, he raised up pulled it into his lap and looked at me. "Don't laugh."

Expecting to see a tree or a dog or something, I opened the book and flipped through the pages. "You're really good," I smiled as I saw the wonderful textured landscapes and people that I knew. "These are terrific." I hit the last page and stared. I felt the blush rushing up my neck and flooding my face. It was me. It was a 'me' I'd never seen in the mirror. "This is me."

He hid his face and whispered, "Told you not to look."

The 'me' in the drawing was handsome, the mouth in a wide grin, the blue eyes full of laughter.

"That's how I see you," he said softly.

I didn't know what to say. The boy he saw was the boy I had waited my whole life for someone to see. There were no clouds in my eyes, no hurt, no frustration. This was the 'me' I wanted so desperately to share. I looked at his face and knew that what he saw was the 'me' I would always be with him.



"Nothing. Just Nathan."


To tell you it was easy would be a lie. I would have told the whole school and kept Nathan right by my side, but I was leaving at the end of the year and he wasn't. I could have beaten the crap out of anyone who made a comment or tried anything, but he couldn't. My parents would have been disappointed but they would have loved me anyway, but his father wouldn't. I had to think of Nathan.

Kenny told me later that he had always known about Nathan, but he didn't know about me until I fell in love with his brother. He also said he couldn't have asked for anyone better for him. That made me happy.

I graduated and decided to work for my dad for a year, saving my money for college. I was accepted at the state university and deferred for a year. I was just waiting for Nathan.

He stayed under his dad's radar, being very careful to always have a baseball when he ran out to jump in my truck. He finally graduated with honors and a full scholarship to the state university.

The day we unlocked the door to our apartment just off campus, Nathan turned to me, tiptoed up and grinned, "We made it."

I kissed him, ran my hand along his cheek and said, "You got me with those eyes. What if you hadn't looked up?"

He grinned, and I pushed his glasses up for the millionth time. "But I did, Chris. I looked out from where I was hiding and found you."


So, I guess there were at least two gay kids at my high school. We were both searching for something impossible right under our own noses. All we had to do was look.

I've been told that some of my words are not translatable across the wide Atlantic. I guess you could say you guys speak English and I speak Americanese. Here's a kinda wicked place to find out what stuff means:

*jonesin' - (v) (n) original meaning was erection, leading to the current usage of strong desire, usually sexual. It is not accepted in polite society (yeeha) (haha - why not say it then?)

I guess what I'm saying is that if we were sitting at Mickey Ds talking, I'd prolly say:

"I gotta shove. Wanna come with?"

I know that translates to "I have to go now. Do you want to come with me?" But then I wouldn't be me and what a Godzilla bunch of words.

Huge hugs - I miss you guys sooooooo much - JJ

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