I sometimes have to ask myself if I'm leading Scotty on, or if my random acts of kindness could be construed as a possible act of cruelty. It really isn't my intention at all, but if I can just get him to follow me over to Jesse's house for just one afternoon, I might actually be doing him some good. You know? That's the honorable way to go, isn't it?
I know that it's a huge gamble, just assuming that Scotty and Artie will take one look at each other and instantly fall in love. That whole scenario is a fairy tale in itself. But what if it was really that easy? How crazy would that be? Me and Scotty Lynch...double dating the cutest gay boys on Youtube together at the mall. Hahaha! Who could have seen that coming?
I don't know. I'll call Jesse later on and see if he can hang out tomorrow and drag Artie over to his house to maybe meet his future boyfriend. A guy can keep his fingers crossed and hope for the best, right?
I got back in the house and kept my promise by calling Lori up to chit chat for a while. I was actually kind of surprised to find her at home on a Saturday morning, but thankful that I wouldn't have to work to keep her focus while she buzzed around town somewhere, distracted by every squirrel that ran past her. That's always a plus.
"What's with the delay on your phone calls, mister!" She demanded, causing me to giggle out loud. "Don't laugh at me, bitch! Do you know how many times I checked to see if my phone was working last night? You were totally stressing me out."
"Hehehe, I'm sorry! Sometimes I have to...come back down to Earth before I can reclaim my ability to speak again. That's all. It's not always as easy as I'd like it to be." I told her.
"Whatever. Just give me the details, already. How did your date go?"
"Oh God, Lori...every time I think that things can't get any better, Jesse totally smacks me in the face with another surprise. I didn't think love would be this easy."
"Look at YOU, throwing the 'L' word around all freely now!" She laughed. "Where'd you guys go? What did you do?"
"Omigod, he took me to this place called 'Cheesy Pete's', and we just played video games and had pizza all day! It was awesome!" I said.
"Cheesy Pete's? I've heard of that place! I think there were a few commercials on TV or something. Wow! He took you there for a date? That's sooooo sweet." I could hear her melting on her side of the phone call, and then she asked, "Did you take my selfie pic?"
"What selfie pic?"
"C'mon, Tristan! You promised!" She whined.
"I promised? Promised what? What are you talking about?"
"I told you to take a picture of you and Jesse kissing while you were hanging out. Remember? I told you that I wasn't gonna forget."
"I never promised you that!" I grinned.
"Well, it was heavily implied that you would remember!" She said. "Awww, dude...you suck for not getting me a single picture of you two smooching."
"I wasn't thinking about taking selfies while we were kissing, Lori. I was...busy kissing! We kiss, it just sorta happens." I heard her grunt with frustration, and I told her, "Go easy on me, will ya? It's not like you're going to run out of chances to catch us kissing in the future. Hehehe, it's pretty much all we do these days."
The most delightful little whimper could be heard in the back of her throat, and Lori said, "It's so not fair that you get to totally disarm my aggravation by being so friggin' happy. You know that?"
I chuckled to myself, "I am. Totally happy."
I think we both got a little choked up for a second or two, before she said, "I know you are. And you should be. It's your time to shine, Tristan. I wouldn't wish a better reward for being awesome on anyone else."
Trying to keep either one of us from getting a bit misty eyed, I slightly deflected the sentiment. "So...Jesse and Artie might be reaching their goal of 2000 subscribers soon. That's pretty huge, right?"
"2000 Subscribers is MASSIVE, dude! That's incredible, especially without him being managed or sponsored by anybody else. Most Youtube content creators never get to reach an audience half that size, and they did it all by themselves. So they must be doing something right."
"Yeah..." I said, but she could detect the strange tone of my voice right away. It would be foolish of me to think, for one second, that she couldn't. So when she asked what was wrong, I said, "There was this 'other' Youtuber boy that showed up while we were there. Some...Jimmy...Jukebox guy or something..."
"Jimmy Jukebox??? Are you serious? The cutie with the music and stuff on his channel? Omigod!" She said. And I know that Lori loves to get excited and stuff, but I was a little thrown off by the fact that she knew who this 'Jimmy' boy was. "Did you see him in person? Was he actually there? FUCK Tristan!!! You and I are living in the wrong part of town! We need to move over to where the hot young celebrities hang out! Hehehe!"
Again, all I could say was, "...Yeah..."
There was a slight pause, and Lori asked, "Dude...what is that about? Don't tell me that you're having any stupid thoughts about this whole thing!"
"No!" I said, a bit unsure of whether ot not that was the actual truth or not. "Just...he was cute and stuff. And he's gay..."
"Tristan...for fuck's sake...!"
"No! Seriously, it's ok. We talked about it, and Jesse told me, flat out, that he wasn't interested in him like that. So...it's cool. I swear."
"Thank GOD!!!" Lori said. "I was, legit, going to find something to bash your skull in with if you started avoiding Jesse again over some teen angst bullshit. That's just getting to be a pain in my ass these days."
I snickered. "Well, I'm so sorry that my sissy emotions are such a harsh frustration for YOU, Lori! I didn't mean to tick you off by being 'me'."
"Don't you slide yourself into the victim role on me, bitch." She laughed. "I'm not going to let your overachieving thoughts talk you out of being happy. You're supposed to be my hero in all this. So act like it."
"Yes, ma'am. I will."
"Damn straight, you will! I'll hurt you if you don't!" She said. And I decided to give her a little tidbit to let her know that I was at least trying to keep my emotions under control.
"It's like...that Jimmy guy said that he watches Jesse's videos and his channel...I guess he's a fan." Ugh, why did it slightly sour my stomach to say that out loud? I really need to stop being jealous for no reason. "He said that he was going to mention him in his next uploaded video, and he'd help Jesse get to 2000 subscribers. Jesse seemed to be pretty happy about that."
"I would be too! Jimmy Jukebox is pretty big. If anybody can get Jesse some more exposure, he'd be the guy to do it. Gay teens love him. Jimmy and Jesse should combine their fanbases so they could, like, totally take over all of Youtube!" She giggled.
That's when I told her, "Well, Jesse kind of...ummm...well he asked me..." How do I say this? Fuck it, I'll just say it. "Jesse asked me if I wanted to be a part of his 2000 subscriber video."
The gasp that I heard on the other end of the line was so deep that it nearly sucked the oxygen out of my OWN lungs!
"Holy SHIT!!! Are you fucking making this up, or is this for real???"
"Hehehe, what? No. He was serious. At least, I think he was."
I heard a girlish squeal shoot through the phone and right through both of my ears like a rusty screwdriver! "Ahhhhhhh!!!! Omigod!!! What the FUCK???"
"Lori! Jesus! Calm down!"
"Calm down? Are you friggin' kidding me???" She howled. "My best friend in the whole world is about to be a part of an actual 'Jesse-101' Youtube video!!! How is this NOT a reason for me to scream my friggin' HEAD off???"
Feeling just a pinch of shame, I said, "Well, I didn't exactly say 'yes' to it yet. I mean, I kinda WANT to do it, and I told him that it might be cool, so I'd think about it..."
Lori was baffled. Maybe even a bit angry. "What is there to think about? What are you even talking about right now?"
"I'm talking about coming out to no less than two THOUSAND people, all at once, Lori!" I said. "I'm talking about a public, permanent, confession on the internet that the whole world can see. I mean...I was planning to tell my friends and family and some people that I really trusted at some point...but the whole planet? I mean, I wasn't really planning on that being a part of the 'coming out' process, you know?" I fidgeted a little bit, but tried to explain it all in a way that she might understand. "I'm kind of reaching a point where I don't mind people knowing who I really am. I mean, I even thought about telling my mom last night and maybe bringing Jesse around to meet her so we can kind of weave this web of weirdness into the rest of normality without it being a total shock to the system. But...if Jimmy is going to boost Jesse's channel to 2000 subscribers super fast and he makes that video...and he wants me to be in it...I mean...ugh! Do you get where I'm coming from?"
She said, "You're worried that everything is going to move too fast for you to be comfortable with who knows and who doesn't..."
With a hint of shame, I said, "Yeah. I think that's exactly what it is."
She paused for a moment, and she asked, "Well, I mean, would it really be that bad? It's who you are, after all. Wouldn't you prefer to just let go of the mask and be yourself? Especially if it meant having a loving boyfriend like Jesse on your arm?"
"Of course I would." I said. "And I was willing to move towards that goal, once I realized that his love and affection was totally worth it. I don't want to hide my love from the world. I want us to be together, and to kiss in public, and go on dates and hold hands without worrying about who might be watching. And I really was moving towards being more open with my sexuality so that we could be together." Then...the shame, inevitably, crept back into my heart, and sent shivers of fear up my spine. "I just....I don't know if I want the whole internet to know. I was happy just doing this 'coming out' thing at my own pace. Without rushing or any pressure. I kinda feel weird about it now." I said. "I hate myself for it, but it's the truth."
Thankfully, Lori was understanding of my position. "I get it, dude. I mean, I've never been through it, myself...but I can imagine that things are a bit different for you than they are for me." Wow...it's SO comforting to have a friend that understands me. "Listen, Tristan...I, personally, don't think you have anything to worry about. I mean, anybody who's an avid fan of Jesse-101 is probably a gay teenager themselves, and they're not gonna judge you for who you are and what you feel." Then she added, "But...if you think that things are escalating a bit too fast for you to be comfortable with it all, just talk to him about it. Be honest. I'm sure Jesse will understand you wanting to slow things down a little."
I said, "Yeah, but I feel like a jackass even asking him to hold up and wait for me, you know? I wish I could just shout it out and be done with it but...but I'm..."
She waited for a moment, and then she said, "...You're scared."
Now, NO teenage boy wants to admit to being scared of much of anything. It's almost taboo. Against the 'boy code', you know? Because I'm supposed to be stronger than this. More aware. More courageous.
But, as the emotion welled up in the back of my throat, I gave Lori my whimpered confession. "Maybe a little. Yeah."
"It's ok, babe. I get it." She said, relieving some of the self hatred that was building up within me for being so petty. "Just...take a few moments, and really take a look at yourself. Who you are and what you want out of all this. Or out of life in general. I know that it can be a bit unnerving, but...this is your golden ticket, Tristan. Seriously...I think you'd be making the biggest mistake of your life if you distanced yourself away from someone so special, just because you let your negative thoughts and insecurities get the best of you when you have all the opportunity in the world staring you right in the face." I didn't reply with anything at first, and she said, "Jesse is good for you, Tristan. He's the real deal. Just think of all the flaming hoops you had to jump through for Jason Fixx just to make that dysfunctional shit show work for as long as it did. After that insufferable piece of irredeemable self loathing TRASH...this thing with Jesse-101 should be a piece of cake! Am I wrong?"
"No..." I mumbled.
"GOOD!" She said. "Then get your shit together, figure out if you want to talk to him about being on his channel or not...and then make a decision already." Something abut Lori's brazen advice always made me feel better. She just makes life seem so simple sometimes. But, despite her best attempts to keep from sounding like she was she adding additional pressure on me, she said, "But...it WOULD be a fuckin' milestone in my life if I saw your face showing up in an actual Jesse-101 video on youtube! Just sayin'! That would easily make the highlight reel of my life to see my three favorite boys ever in existence on the same video. So...yeah...there's that." She giggled.
"Gee, you really are making my decision easy here." I grinned.
"You know I love you, right? More than anything."
"Yeah. I love you too."
"Good. So hear me out when I say that this is a good thing. Let love sweep you up and take you where it wants to take you for once. K? I've got a good feeling about this."
With a mischievous grin, I said, "Your three favorite boys, huh?" And I added, "What if I made it an even four?"
"What are you talking about?" She asked.
"Hehehe, well...I mean, this may sound silly but...I kinda talked to Scotty Lynch yesterday."
Lori laughed. "I'm sure that moment made it into his personal spank bank!"
"Ugh! Lori...don't make this any weirder than it has to be."
"You know it's true. My cute little Tristan. That boy is so head over heels for you. There's no way for you to escape the gravitational pull of that boy's relentless crush on you."
"Well, what if I was able to deflect it somehow? You know...maybe guide it in a more productive direction." I said, and when she seemed confused about where I was going with this, I said, "I just figured that Scotty was single...and he's kind of looking for somebody special. And Artie is single...and he's kind of looking for somebody special too...so I was thinking..."
The banshee like scream that came out of that girl nearly caused me to drop my phone. "Hello? Oh God, I'm sorry! Hahaha!" She said.
Still wincing a bit, I said, "That's ok. Having a sense of hearing is highly overrated anyway..."
"Are you seriously thinking about setting them up with each other??? Omigod, that would be so CUTE!!!"
I said, "I thought it might, you know...be good for him. For both of them, really. I was going over there tomorrow to see Jesse for a while, and I talked to Scotty to see if maybe he wanted to hang out for a while..." Another unexpected shriek burst from the phone speaker. "LORI!!! What the fuck? Stop it!"
"I can't help it! This is too precious! I feel like I wanna cry right now!"
"Don't start crying, ok? Seriously. I mean, I'm not even that far along yet. It's not like I have an actual game plan or anything. I'm just sort of winging this whole thing."
Thinking about it some more, Lori asked, "But wait...how are you going to take Scotty over to Jesse's house to meet Artie without...you know...letting him know that you like boys?"
"Yeah..." I said. "That might be a bit of an issue. I mean, I don't want him to feel like I tricked him or anything. But..."
"But, if you tell him you like boys, Scotty's probably going to flip out and fall for you so hard that he won't want to look at anybody else." She said.
"Exactly. I'm going to try to find a way around that if possible. I don't want him finding out that I'm gay, and I certainly don't want to discourage him by letting him know that I have a boyfriend already."
"Awwww, his little heart will be broken into a million pieces." She whimpered. "So what are you gonna do?"
"I don't really know. I just need to get them together somehow. That's step one. And, if I'm lucky, they'll just hit it off right away and by the time the realization sets in that Jesse and I are a couple...Scotty will have forgotten all about me." I said. "I mean, that sounds like a credible plan, right?"
"I take it that this isn't one of your patented 'sissy skills', Tristan." She replied. "But, for what it's worth, I hope it works. Otherwise, you might end up with a bit of a mess on your hands."
I sighed to myself. "I really am trying to do something good here, Lori. Honestly."
"I know you are, babe. Just be careful, ok? Meddling with someone's emotions, even with the very best of intentions, can be disastrous it things take a sudden left turn. And I think Scotty is really into you. You be careful with his feelings, k?"
"Hehehe, whose side are you on here?"
"Your's, Tristan. Just...Scotty's too cute to have his heart broken. You be NICE to him!"
"I AM being nice! Geez!" I said in my defense. "Look, I'm gonna take him with me tomorrow, and we'll see what happens. That's the best I can do."
"Well...let me know what happens. And take pictures! I totally 'ship' those two! Hmmm...'Scartty'? Yeah, 'Scartty'! Or...I don't know. I'll work on it."
I giggled, "I'm happy to know that you're working on the public relations aspect of this situation. Leave all the difficult stuff for me, why don't ya?"
"Ok, you're getting catty now, so I'm gonna hang up." She laughed. "Love you, Tris."
"Love you too...bitch." She gasped, but I hung up before she could curse me out. Hehehe, something tells me that I'm going to pay for that later. But I'll worry about that dumpster fire when I come to it.
Right now, I need to find a way to casually get Scotty on a bus to ride way out to the next town over without telling him exactly where he's going or why I'm doing it. THEN...I've got to get Jesse to convince Artie to get over his nervous jitters and his self conscious worries about his boyish voice long enough to talk to Scotty and really impress him with how utterly adorable he is. And...I have to do all of this without letting on that I'm gay, that Jesse's my boyfriend, and that tomorrow afternoon isn't my way of asking Scotty out on a 'date'. The last thing I want is for him to think he's finally breaking me down with his sweet comments and flair for skateboard tricks. That'll only make him more determined than ever.
And a SUPER determined Scotty Lynch is definitely a force to be reckoned with! He'll practically be humping my leg every time I leave the house.
So...what to do? I really need to get an effective strategy going here.