After Practice

After Practice 8

What really kept my brain overstimulated that night and the following morning was the vision of Dallas’ excited smile. It kept playing on repeat in my head, each obsessed, repetitive, mental picture of him being so full of joy and anticipation for his very first date with another boy...or with anybody for that was weighing so heavy on my shoulders that I was worried that I’d totall collapse under the intense pressure of it all. It’s scary to think...I’ll be his first experience with dating another boy, and I could potentially become the one person that measures every other boy against for the rest of his life. What if I fuck up? What if I end up ruining his trust and his interactions with many many other boys to come in the future? if I just suck at this, and I awkwardly stumble into a zone where he wonders what he ever saw in me in the first place? I was on my way towards charming him into giving me a perfect ‘10’ in the boyfriend material category. That seemed like such an honorable achievement in the beginning, but now all I could think about is how many points I could LOSE by not being the dream boy that he was hoping for all along. I mean, what do I do if I end up just being a total geek in his eyes? Or some kind of introvert who is too busy blushing to actually interact with him like a normal person? What happens to us if I’m anything less than….’perfect’? And if he decides to take back his affection from me...can we still be on the same soccer team as teammates?

I was getting myself ready for school...and I was already finding myself fighting off experiences of breathlessness as the thought of not living up to the legend he had made of me sunk its claws deeper and deeper into the most vulnerable of my insecurities. I kept trying to shake myself free from it all...but it wasn’t working. The fear refused to subside. So I was left confused and tied in knots over what was going to happen tonight after school, with no sense of guidance or wisdom to help me navigate my way around these troublesome emotions of mine and towards something that could really be memorable and monumental for the both of us in the end. God, help me!

] My first date. HIS first date. there anything more stressful?

When I got to school, dressed up a little nicer than usual, but casual enough to keep from looking likw I was trying to impress anybody...I happened to run into Dallas in the middle of the day. I mean, it just happened by chance, but it felt like fate that I’d cross his path and have him smile at me. It was such a soothing connection, his chocolate brown eyes and mine, connecting in the most intimate way...even from a distance. My very soul felt so relaxed in his presence. It really did.

“S’up?” He said, his voice acting as a siren’s call to me as I smiled and returned the greeting while trembling slightly from the utter brilliance of him.

“What’s going on?” I asked. “On your way to class?” Ugh...stupid! Where else would he be going right now?

“Yeah. English.” He told me, thankfully not making fun of my idiotic question. “We’re reading ‘Lord Of The Flies’. I’ve gotta take a test on the first few chapters today, so...”

He paused, fidgeting a little bit as he bashfully switched from one foot to the other in front of me. I said, “Ah...ok.”

“It’s a cool story, though. I like it so far.”

“I don’t think we’ve been assigned that one yet. So...”

Dallas smiled at me, and then he did that super cute thing where he brushes his hair back out of his eyes. I wish that I could accuse him of indulging in this sort of thing for the sake of teasing me and making me want him even more than I already do...but I really don’t think that’s the case. I, honestly, believe that Dallas is just involuntarily hot! He does stuff at random that just makes my heart flutter out of control and it’s a burden to keep it packed so far down that I can feel a little more comfortable in knowing that nobody else can see it. least, I hope they can’t.

Dallas looked around for a bit, waiting until the other students passing us in the hall were out of earshot. Then he lowered his voice to say, “Is it still cool if we, know...’hang out’ after school today?”

“Uh huh...” I nodded, now feeling even a bit more nervous from having him mention it. “At the mall, you mean, right?”

“Yeah...” He said softly, blushing as he struggled to hide his smile from me. “I wasn’t sure if you still wanted to...”

“I definitely still want to do this. K?” I insisted. “I’ve been thinking about it all day.”

“Cool.” He grinned. “Me too.”

“So do you want to just meet up after the last bell, or…?”

Dallas, “Well, I figured that I’d go home first. Clean up, maybe get a start on my homework and stuff...and then I can meet you there. Is that cool?”

Damn! Now I’m going to have to go home and change clothes again to match up to whatever fresh fits Dallas has going on today. “Ummm, yeah. That sounds cool. We can do that.”

“I mean, it’s my first date. Hehehe, I sorta want to wear something special.”

“You’re not gonna wear a suit or anything, are you? Because I’m not that high class.” I giggled.

“NO! Hehehe! Just...I want to catch your eye, you know?” He said, blushing even deeper than before.

“Trust caught my eye on day one, dude. You really did.”

The way that Dallas melted after hearing that...I was thinking that I might have to reach out and catch him before he fell down and slid to the floor. “I seriously can’t deal with you being this cute.’re killing me right now!” That’s when he realized that he was talking in a normal tone of voice, and was quick to cover his lips with his hand. “Oops! Sorry!” He snickered.

But I really didn’t mind it at all. If anything, I think it restored some of my failing courage to know that Dallas was so into me. Potential mistakes and all...I had this feeling that he’d be ok with me being less than perfect. I mean, don’t get me wrong...I wanted to be perfect for him as his very first boyfriend...but if I fell a little bit short, I was starting to feel like it might be ok.

Basically...he was making me feel down about just being ‘me’. And I don’t know if I ever really knew anything like that before.

“I ummm...I should get to class, so...” I said, grinning at the sweet and playful way that Dallas had his back pressed up against the wall, the goofiest grin spreading out on his face, cute little dimples and all.

“Me too. I” He said. “Hehehe, sorry. Ahem, I’m trying to be cool about this. But I can’t.” He straightened up a bit, even if he was still shaking. “I’ll see you later, k?”

“Alright. Later.” I said, his nervous trembling obviously being highly contagious, as the tremors began to hit me hard.

“Yep. Later.” He giggled.

“Uh huh...later...” I said, and we parted ways in that crowded hallway. But I didn’t make it very far before looking back over my shoulder to take another peek at my chosen angel. And when I did, I noticed that he was peeking back at me over his shoulder too. Feeling a little awkward at having been caught doing it, Dallas gave me the weirdest little wave with his hand, and then I saw him mentally kicking himself for being so strange and skittish about it. He quickly put his hand down, rolled his eyes in frustration, and then walked away from me. Hehehe, I guess I should feel better about the fact that he was just as awkward as I was about all this. I’d hate to think that I was the only one stressed out about this whole ‘first date’ thing.

So I had nothing to look forward to other than anxiety and paranoia to look forward during the rest of my day. Honestly, my teachers could have told me that a flying saucer full of aliens had just landed in the middle of Grant Park and I doubt that I would have had the mental ability to absorb a word of it. Like, leave me alone...I’ve got shit on my mind right now. You know?

But after school was finished, Dallas and I exchanged a few clumsy words between one another, just making sure that our plans were sort of on the same page as far as meeting up later goes...and then he was off. Possibly to come back looking even more breathtakingly stunning than he already did. It was literally causing me to panic now. My lungs felt like they were shrinking down to the size of my fist...and it was barely enough to hold any oxygen at all. What am I going to do with myself when I see him again? How am I supposed to turn a couple of slices of pizza at the mall into a memorable first date that will stay with him the rest of his life? I wish I was super rich or something. I should be taking him to Paris for our first date! I should be creating a story for him to tell people about twenty or thirty years from now, you know? That’s how I wanted it to be, anyway. Unfortunately, I’m working on a teenage skeleton budget right now. I’ll just have to get creative and make it work somehow.

Awww...he’s SO excited! I wish I could do more for him. I really do.

I got home and decided to change my clothes into something a little bit fancier than what I wore to school today. I mean, I’m usually super casual with what I wear, but I made sure to step it up a little bit for this evening. I’m sure he will too. I wonder what he’ll wear? Will we match? I don’t know, should I maybe call him up or text him to find out? No...I don’t want to do that. That might be a bit odd. I should up, right? Dammit! Why does this feel so weird? How is this so different from giving him a high five before soccer practice? You’d think that this would be a lot less stressful. We’re already friends. We’re totally cool with one another. Where is this intense pressure to be so extra coming from???

I spent extra time in the mirror before leaving the house. Looking at my clothes, examining the style of my hair, staring at my face as if I was going to find some kind of killer flaw in it that wasn’t there a few hours ago. And once I was able to gather up some courage...I shook myself out of my intimidated trance and just grabbed my house keys so I could leave. I mean...all I can do is hope for the best at this point, right? It’s not like I have any other options at this point. Well...other than ditching Dallas completely and running off to hide somewhere while trying to find a way to never talk to him again. Not that he’d ever forgive me and want to talk anyway.

I can DO this! I can do it. The cutest gay boy ever is waiting for me to be his boyfriend for the night. I’m not going to get another chance like this ever again. So let’s go. Get your head in the game. We’re going to do this, and we’re going to give it that full blown athlete’s spirit. That’s all there is to it.

Yeah...I’m focused now. I’m...I’m in it to win it.

I got on the bus, feeling my muscles tightening up and bead of sweat forming on my forehead as I tried to wipe them away on the back of my arm so I didn’t show up looking like a sweaty mess. My leg was bouncing frantically for some odd reason, and I felt this strange need to re-tie my own shoes. I don’t know, the knot a bit looked crooked or something. My palms felt a bit moist. Do palms get sweaty? I know that I head of that before, but I didn’t think it was an actual thing that happened to people. That’s not normal, is it? I’m not even doing anything ‘sweat-worthy’! I’m just sitting here on the bus! Ugh, I feel like such a pig right now.

But, uneasy moment aside, I made it out to the mall, and I saw Dallas sitting on the bus stop bench, waiting for me when I got there. Already, my heart started beating out of control, and the urge to run away from him was almost overpowering...especially when I saw him smile at me, a pink hue rushing up into his cheeks.

My legs felt like they were made of wet clay as I walked towards him, and we smiled at one another...trembling nervously in each other’s presence. “Hey. I late?” I asked.

“Hehehe, no. I was just worried that I might be late, and you’d leave. So I figured that I should show up super early, just in case.”

“Ah. Ok.” I wasn’t really sure how this whole thing should work, but I leaned in to give Dallas this really awkward hug, and he did the same. “, should we go inside, like...or…?”

“Yeah. That would be cool.” He was a bit timid, but something about it was not only super cute to me, but it sort of put me at ease to know that I wasn’t the only one feeling this way.

We walked into the mall together, and I was having a lot of trouble trying to quiet the voices in my head. I was so invested in making this an awesome night for him. So I was like, should I tell him he looks nice? Should I hold his hand? Not hold his hand? Are we going to kiss after this? DURING this? What should we talk about? He’s not closeted, so...should I talk about gay stuff? Is it even ok to talk about gay stuff? It might make me sound like I’m minimizing everything else about him if I do. You know? I was feeling so disturbed, and unfortunately it made me unnaturally silent.

Something that Dallas noticed right away.

“This feels scary, doesn’t it?” He asked me with a smirk.

“God...I’m sorry, dude. But yes. Super scary.” I said.

“I’m scared too. Hehehe! But, we can be scared together, right?”

I grinned back at him and said, “Yeah. I think I could handle that.” I told him, and then tooka chance to say, “You look really cool tonight.”

“I do?” He blushed.

“Yeah, you do.” I said. “I changed my clothes too when I got home. I guess I wanted to impress you.”

“You accomplished that mission the first day of practice. So, worries there.” He said.

“The first day of practice? Wait, you mean like, when you first joined the team?”

“What can I say? I told you that you were gorgeous. It’s not like I didn’t notice.”

“I’m not gorgeous...and that’s crazy, because I thought the same thing about you when you first signed up. It was like, ‘Wow...he’s gonna be playing with us’?”

“Hehehe, really?”

“Definitely. And then you went out there in the field, and you had some serious baller skills on top of it. So you were a major boy crush waiting to happen as far as I was concerned.”

“Plus I was gorgeous, right?” He giggled.

“Plus you were gorgeous! Yes!”

“That was definitely the right answer.” Dallas and I were walking through the mall, and this warming level of total comfort washed over me. Despite the madness that I was going through before getting on that bus and coming out here...once Dallas and I actually got together and started talking again like the friends that we were without all of this ‘first date’ pressure bearing down on us...I began to feel like ‘me’ again. Me...but with a little bit extra. An extra that I could only get from the angelic beauty of the boy walking beside me.

He’s amazing, you know that? He really is.

“Do you wanna eat now? you just wanna chill for a while?” I asked.

“Oh. Ummm, I don’t know. Are you hungry?”

“I don’t know. Are you hungry?”

Dallas thought about it for a second, then he said, “We can just hang around and shop for a little while. I mean, if that’s ok with you. I kinda wanna talk some more. Maybe get to know each other a little better?” Then he covered his face with his hand as he snickered to himself. “Omigod...that sounds really corny doesn’t it?”

I was quick to tell him, “No! It doesn’t sound corny at all. I think I kinda like that idea. I mean, we can just go somewhere and talk for a while.”

“Come on, Trey. That was a total cringe moment. I’m sorry. I’m so nervous right now.”

“You’re beautiful...” I said it without really thinking about it. I mean, it was the truth, but it came out of nowhere. It’s like my heart sent a message to my brain, and my brain sent it to my mouth without either or them asking me for permission.

Dallas paused for a moment, and then he turned into a melting glob of sugar right in front of me, his eyes glistening brightly as he fought off the need to faint right there and then at my feet. Was that, like...did I do good? It’s my very first date with another boy...and I’m thinking that was the right thing to say. Hehehe! YES! Score one for me!

“You’re, ummm...hehehe...” He blushed even harder than before. “...You’re beautiful too, Trey. beautiful.”

“Thanks!” I said with a cheeky, exaggerated, grin. “Let’s find somewhere to go and talk for a while.”

“Are you sure?” He asked. “I mean, we don’t have to talk about certain things if you want to keep that stuff quiet for now.”

“You mean, ‘boy stuff’?”

“I’m not making any judgements or anything...”

“No. I know.”

“It’s just that...I know that you’re not all the way out in the open like I am. So, if you want to keep it casual...”

“How about we just ‘talk’?” I said. “And we’ll see what happens. Cool?”

“Sounds good to me.” He said, his dimple showing up to display itself in the cutest way possible. “You lead the way.”

“Cool.” I said, and I took a moment of pride in knowing that things were going so smoothly so far. If I can keep this up, this will be a night that we’ll both remember many years from now. Which would be epic. Hehehe!