How To Be Straight

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Some Coincidence

It wasn’t until about ten years after the fact that the hilarity of Jamie’s parents sleeping over at our house began to lose its appeal.

Jamie lay on my beanbag and I slept on my bed as we always did when we had a sleepover, except this time, she wore my pajamas, and had used a new toothbrush from the drawer of our bathroom, as had each of her parents.

“This is wild.”




“You kissed me?”

She bit her lip. “Um, yes?”

I sighed, looking at her. “You can’t do this to me.”

She nodded. “I know. I’m sorry.”

She rolled over on the beanbag to face me as I said, “Don’t you like Gracie?”

She shook her head. “I don’t think so. I did, at first, but… Shay it was always about getting out, you know?”

I nodded. If anyone knew, it was me.

“It was always about getting out of New Redman, and becoming someone bigger and better. About not having to hide. About…” She closed her eyes, and I knew she was seeing the fantasy. It was the same one that motivated me, day after day. I realized it was no coincidence that she and I had the top grades in the school. We had the same mantra, and it worked. The chorus of OUT OUT OUT that never left my mind. It was all that I thought of from the moment I woke up each morning to the second I went to sleep each night. And now, with mere months left, It was gone, slipping from my fingers as easily as if it had been water.

And if it was water, I realized, then I had put a hell of a lot of energy into taking care of water.

I realized she was still talking. “... but now, I’m not even sure if that’s what I want. I half came out, by the way.”

I sat bolt upright in my bed. “You did what now?!”

She laughed nervously. “Um, yeah. So, when I got home from Baltimore…”

I listened to the story attentively; it didn’t sound real. It was too surprising, too over dramatic. I would have thought she was lying, but Jamie wouldn’t do that. I knew that she had had enough lying for three lifetimes, as had I.

“Why did we meet?” I asked suddenly when she was done.

She shrugged. “We grew up together. We were born in the same hospital 14 days apart, we were going to be friends since before we were conceived.”

I shook my head. “That’s not what I meant. I mean, I don’t even know what I meant.” We were both quiet for a second while I thought, trying to put something as abstract as thought into words. It still shocked me that I did this all day with ease, turning something formed completely in my mind into something other people could understand. But I was getting sidetracked. “I mean, we didn’t have to get-” I gestured between us, “-this close. We were friends from before either of us knew or cared whether we liked girls or boys or both, and we still stayed this close after we were and then when we realized the other one…” I trailed off, the thoughts I had prepared for public consumption having run out.

“It’s just a coincidence,” Jamie said simply.

The only answer I could come up with was, “some coincidance.”

After that, we both deemed the conversation done and went to sleep.

It smelled like pancakes. It took a minute after I woke up to remember that Jamie was here, and so were her parents. I giggled at that, and stood, finding Jamie curled on the beanbag looking up at me, holding her place with her finger in her book.

Together we stood and walked out of the room and down the stairs, both of us still wearing pajamas.

“Your birthday’s coming up. Any special plans?”

She shrugged. “Not much. The usual. Hey, wanna have a double party?”

I shrugged. “Why not?”

“My thinking exactly. We’re both on a Saturday this year, so we’ll do it on the Saturday right in between?”

I thought for a second. “Yeah, that works.” I paused. “Wow.”


“We’re gonna be 18.”

“Geez, you’re right.”

“I know I am. It’s crazy.”

“Yeah.” She seemed to not particularly want to reflect upon this at the moment, and so she asked, “so what should we do with our party?”

“Hmm, I’m not sure.”

We thought for a second, before Jamie said, “what about getting a couple of friends, renting a giant car and going to the City for a day?”

“And a night,” I added. “Staying in a fancy hotel.”

“Oooo. That sounds so fun. Who should we invite?”

“Vicky and Charlotte,” I started, “And June if she wants.”

“I want to invite Gracie,” Jamie replied. I tried somewhat successfully to hide my wince. “And Dakota and Sofie and Cecilia, and Abbey if she wants to come.”

“That’s a lot of people.”

“Is that okay?”

I feigned indifference.“It’s your birthday too.”

She nodded. “Okay. Who else do you wanna invite?”

I thought for a minute, going over the people in our grade. “I dunno.”

We turned the corner and arrived in the dining room, where both sets of parents already sat. I pulled Jamie back, putting a finger to my lips and we stood behind the door, listening to them talk, a trick I learned a long time ago; use the element of surprise. Just hesitate a second to make sure they aren’t discussing anything interesting before you would walk in as though you just got there. I listened for a few seconds before deciding that they were only talking about food and gestured for Jamie to follow me inside. Her eyes posed a question, but I silently responded that I’d answer later.

“Good morning, sleepoverees,” I said, entering the room.

“Morning, sweetie.”

“How did everyone sleep?” I asked.

They answered in a chorus of wonderfuls, and asked about us.

We bother shrugged, I saying I had slept like a rock (which was true, even if it was a weird saying.)

Jamie said she had slept fine, though she often woke up early at other people’s houses, and, once I thought about it, I couldn’t think of a single sleepover we’ve had where I had woken up before her.

We sat down at the table, which was covered in pancakes and french toast, plus some other breakfasty food. I sat down and put some fruit on my plate, deciding it was best not to question why my parents asked for so much food, or how long the cook had been working on something we would most likely not finish half of.

We ate mostly in silence, Jamie’s parents commenting that the roads were open again, and they were going home after breakfast, but that Jamie was welcome to stay here for the day, as long as it was okay with my parents, which it was.

Jamie and I introduced our idea for our birthday (emitting the people Jamie wanted to invite) and they agreed it was a good idea, as long as we had supervision, (which we silently agreed to compromise on later; we would be 18 after all.)

Jamie’s parents left around nine, hugging Jamie goodbye, which I could tell she didn’t like, but she let them do anyway.

“What do you want to do?” I asked after we were dressed.

She smiled. “Let’s go out.”

“Sounds fun. Where do you wanna go.”

She shook her head. “Nope. It’s my turn to drag you around to hell knows where.”

I shrugged, giving in way too easily. “Fair enough. Lead the way.”

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