I would never have met him, if it had not been for my parents' sudden decision to renew their vows at the end of that summer. I had never been more grateful for anything my parents had ever done.
It was Saturday – the "big day" – and just after eleven in the morning. I had been awake since eight, had had a shower, gotten dressed and eaten breakfast. I had a hair appointment at noon, sharp, at a small salon across town. Then we – Chandler Ingles, my best friend, and me – had to be at the church for two o'clock. The wedding was to begin at three. It was a lot for the two of us to do in one day, considering we were used to sitting around on our asses all day, all summer long, with the exception of the previous day, which we had had the wedding rehearsal at the church in the afternoon and the rehearsal dinner at the hall, for the whole evening. It had been a long day and night, and I had actually gone home with my parents, just after one in the morning, instead of heading back to Chandler's with him, like I usually would have. I was exhausted.
And I was still was, just merely seven hours later, when I had woken up again, to get ready for the "big day". It was August, the summer before my senior year of high school; both Chandler and mine, even though he was a year older than me. Something about him being held back in kindergarten. He tells me it was because he was a "gifted child" but no one knew it then, and they all thought he was slow. I didn't really care much. It didn't matter to me that he was a year older than me, or that he had been held back in school when he was five, or whether he had been a "gifted child" or not.
Chandler and I were both looking forward to our senior year, though for different reasons. I couldn't wait to be back in school for one reason and one reason only – the parties. And even though I had been going to the senior parties since I was a sophomore, I just knew that the parties would be better when I was finally was a senior. Chandler, though he liked the parties too, wanted to go back to school because he thought that this year would be "his year". He was absolutely sure of the fact that this year he would meet his "Mr. Right" and they would be together, happily ever after, despite the fact that I told him over and over that he was the only gay teenager in Greenwich, the suburb we lived in: population ten thousand. Or at least the only gay teenager who had come out of the closet. In my opinion, the likelihood of his little dream coming true was slim to none.
Anyway, long story short, Chandler and I had spent the whole summer just being lazy. We would sleep late – we usually crashed at his house because his parents loved me and loved when the two of us hung out there – and then we would spend the whole day laying around, watching TV or sitting out in the front yard of his – or my – house, watching the cars drive by and the people walking with their babies in strollers and their dogs on leashes. It was a good, lazy summer. Neither of us had bothered to get part-time jobs yet, mostly because our parents hadn't forced us to, and gave us money for whatever we wanted or needed to do or buy.
But that afternoon, we knew we had things to get done. Or I did, at least. The wedding was in less than three hours. After my hair appointment, we had to go and pick up Chandler's suit from the dry-cleaners and stop by the bakery to pick up the cake. And, did I mention that we had to be at the church for two o'clock? It seemed to me like we didn't have much time to get everything done, but I knew I had to do it. I couldn't let my parents down.
I called Chandler on my cell, from my car, as I was backing out of my driveway. It was only quarter after eleven. My parents – who were renewing their vows, since they didn't get to have a "real" wedding, the first time around – had already left, to get some things done. They told me that all I had to do was make sure that the cake arrived at the wedding safely, and on time. And I was okay with that.
The phone rang four times in my ear before a groggy voice finally answered, quietly mumbling curse words at me. Chandler had caller ID; he knew it was me.
"You're still sleeping?" I screamed at him. Unbelievable. Only Chandler could forget about his best friend's parents' wedding and sleep in late.
"No, no… I'm not," he flat out lied. "I'm almost ready."
"You are not! Shit! Well, I'll be there in a few minutes, so get your ass out of bed!" I end the conversation and closed my cell, throwing it onto the passenger seat beside me.
I liked the drive from my house to Chandler's. It was six blocks away and only took two minutes, but I liked it anyway. The neighborhood elementary school was on the way, as well as the library and two large apartment buildings. My car could probably make the drive by itself, without any help from me, since I drove that same route so often.
I was pretty worked up by the time I got to his house. I slammed my car door after I got out and stomped up the driveway and to the front door. I didn't even get a chance to knock, because the door flew open and I saw Chandler's father – a tall, dark skinned, bulky man – wearing only boxer shorts and smiling down at me.
"Oh, Jordan! I've been trying to get him out of bed for an hour!" he – who I just called Bill – told me, pulling me into the house.
Izzy, Chandler's mother, was standing in the front hall, with her arms open, waiting for her hug from me. "Aren't you just so excited about the big day?" she asked me.
I forced a smile and nodded, wrapping my arms around her tiny frame. I had always thought she was too small. She was only five foot, three inches, but she couldn't even have weighed a hundred pounds. She was so thin. Her dyed blonde hair was long and wavy and she was barely covered up by a small tank top and short shorts.
I didn't bother telling her that I wasn't really all that excited, since my parents were already married, and had been since six months before I was born. My parents were both twenty-two, engaged, happily, and planned to get married within a year, when they found out they were pregnant with me. Since my mom was only three months along, they decided just to get married before she started to show, since having children out of wedlock wasn't exactly accepted in those days, especially by my mother's over-religious parents. So they went to a priest and had him marry them, with no family or friends or anything. Not to say that didn't piss the hell out of both of their parents', but not as much as finding out that they had me before they were married would have. Now, my mother was seven months pregnant with twins, seventeen years later, and, out of nowhere, two weeks prior to this day, she decided that she wanted to have a real wedding with all of our family and friends in attendance, with flowers and a cake and a wedding party. And she was very excited about it.
"Is he still in his room?" I asked Chandler's parents, and they both nodded.
I went down the hall and barged right into his bedroom, without even knocking. There was my best friend standing in the middle of the room, in his underwear, quickly pulling on a pair of jeans. He looked over at me, trying to look apologetic.
"I –" he began.
"Don't even start with me, just get dressed. It takes almost half an hour to get to the salon; we have to leave now," I told him.
He nodded, doing up his pants, and grabbed a red, collared t-shirt from the end of his bed and pulled it over his head. I watched as he looked in the mirror and then squirted way too much hair gel into his hand and threw it into his short but shaggy-ish dark hair. He spun around and grinned at me.
"Luckily for us, it doesn't take me an hour to get ready."
Chandler was still your typical eighteen-year-old guy, despite his sexuality. Honestly, I often forgot he was even gay, that is until he would stop me in the mall to point out a "hot guy". It wasn't weird to me anymore. Actually, I don't think it was ever weird to me. I "knew" Chandler was gay from the day I met him, in the seventh grade, even if I didn't know what being gay was and that he didn't even know he was gay, yet. I knew he was different. When he "came out of the closet" in the tenth grade, no one was really all that shocked, not even his parents – or mine, for that matter. He's definitely not an outcast in the community, or anything like that. He's just Chandler.
The two of us said goodbye to his parents, told them we would see them later on, at the wedding, and then left the house.
We barely made it to the salon on time; it was five to one when we walked through the door, me holding my breath. Suzanna, the hair stylist, was the type to cancel appointments for no real reason, so me being late would just have given her a reason. My Aunty Carolyn, my dad's younger sister, was already there, waiting to be called for her turn. My other Aunty, my mom's sister, Alisa, was already getting her hair done. The two them, along with my mom's two best friends, Tanya and Georgia, were bridesmaids. I was, of course, the maid of honor. Alisa's six-year-old twins, Heidi and Graydon, were the flower girl and ring bearer. Everything was perfect.
"Just made it, huh, Jordan?" my Aunty Carolyn teased.
She was only twenty-seven, twelve years younger than my dad; though the gap between me and my new siblings was going to be even worse: almost eighteen years. Carolyn and I were closer in age than my siblings and I would be. It was a little weird.
"Thanks to Chandler," I laughed, sitting down next to my aunt on the cushioned bench, in the waiting area.
"Chandler," she said his name, smiling at him. "How are you?"
"I'm quite well," Chandler used his grown-up voice, the one he used when he wanted to impress people, usually members of my family.
"And you, Jordan? Excited about the big day?" she asked me.
Now, with Carolyn, I could tell her how I really felt. "They are already married. There's nothing to really be excited about."
"Tell that to your mother," she laughed. "I called her this morning, to confirm the time of the appointment, and she was just ecstatic."
"Yeah, I know."
"I think it's cool, though, that they are renewing their vows and everything, before the babies are born. It's cool that we'll all get to be there, and everything," my aunt went on, and I forced myself to nod at her.
"Who are you bringing?" I asked, changing the subject slightly.
"Like, as your date?"
"Yes, your date! Who are you bringing as your date?"
"Oh. Just this guy. You wouldn't know him."
I laughed, and so did Chandler. "Of course I wouldn't know him, Aunty. Who is he, though? How do you know him?"
"I met him a few weeks ago, at a… uh, at a work gathering, type, thing."
"You met him a party?"
She nodded, embarrassed.
"You're wicked, Aunty! Is he hot?" I wanted to know.
"Of course he's hot," she told us, as if she was surprised I had even asked.
My Aunty Carolyn had always been the way she was. She had never been married, never even been in a serious relationship, really. Everyone always thought she would just grow out of it, that it was just a phase, but it wasn't. She was never going to get married. She loved partying, raving, drinking. She loved having fun. She didn't want to be tied down, with anything.
I had always – well, since I was about fourteen – said that I wanted to be like her. I wanted to be care-free and fun, forever, just like she was. I didn't want to be tied down in a serious relationship, at least not anytime soon. And so far it had been going pretty well for me. Sure, I had had boyfriends, plenty of them, actually, but I never allowed them to last for more than a couple of months. I was known as a heartbreaker around my school, Greenwich High, but that didn't stop the guys from wanting to date me. I think it made them want to try and "break the pattern", or something. Like they all thought that they would be the one to make it to the six-month mark with me. I knew it wasn't going to happen.
Within a few minutes of us arriving at the salon, my Aunty Alisa's hair was done and Carolyn was called over for her turn. It turned out I wouldn't have been late after all; Suzanna was running a little behind schedule and her other hair dresser was home sick for the day. She was on her own.
Alisa marched over to where Chandler and I were still sitting, looking proud.
"Oh Jordan, honey, I'm so excited that my baby sister is –"
"She's already married," I interrupted.
"Well, yes of course she is, but, today will be so…" She let her voice trail off because she didn't even know what word to use.
I forced another smile. "We'll see you in a bit, at the church."
She smiled, genuinely, and nodded. "Yes, yes, of course," she mumbled before she turned around and walked towards the door of the salon, to leave.
It wasn't that I didn't like my Aunty Alisa; I liked her just fine. I liked her husband, Mark, and her twins, Heidi and Graydon, too. They were sweethearts. But Alisa wasn't fun; in fact, she was pretty boring. And, she was two years older than my mom, making her forty-one that summer. She didn't get married until she was thirty, and didn't have her children until she was thirty-five. She was too traditional for me, I think.
And so, for the next half an hour, Chandler and I waited. And waited. And got bored, and waited some more. He was flipping through magazine after magazine, pointing out good-looking male models every now and then. Sometimes I agreed with him, usually I didn't. We had quite different tastes in guys, for sure. Chandler liked neat-looking, well dressed, intelligent guys. I liked guys, in general. Not to say that I would date anyone, but there weren't many qualifications required. I especially liked taller guys with nice bodies, but what girl doesn't?
The salon was very small and privately owned and operated. You had to know Suzanna or Trisha – the other hair dresser – to make an appointment with them. My mother had gone to high school with Suzanna and they had been fairly good friends, for many years. And Suzanna was the only person she even thought about sending her bridesmaids and maid of honor to, for her wedding. So, for those reasons, I was very surprised when the salon door opened a short while later, after I had been informed that Carolyn's hair was "almost finished" and my turn was soon.
The bell on the door ding-a-linged as the person entered, and a tall, teenage-looking guy came into my – and Chandler's – view a moment later. He stopped at the desk, and dinged the bell. Then he waited for service.
I just watched him as he stood there, looking impatient. I glanced and saw that Chandler was watching him, too. He had long-ish brown hair, which fell just around his ears. He was wearing a black t-shirt with some band's name on the front, and black sweatbands on his wrists. His baggy jean shorts were nearly falling off of his fairly skinny body; I could see a good portion of his boxers from the back. And on his feet he wore flip-flop sandals with bare feet, and his toe-nails painted black.
After a few moments, and when Suzanna didn't go over to the desk, he dinged the bell again. And again. Suzanna just seemed to be ignoring it, for some reason. I was watching, intrigued by what was happening, and wondering what was really going on.
Finally, after what seemed like forever, the guy spoke, "Mama, c'mon, God! I need your services for a few minutes!"
Suzanna stopped suddenly and put down the curling iron in her hand. She took the five or ten steps over to the desk and looked up at the guy. She looked annoyed. No, she looked pissed.
"I'm worrrrking, boy. Can't you see that I'm working? Would you like it if I barged into your place of employment and asked to speak with you, just like that?" she asked him, but was smiling. I was confused.
"I work at the damn Laundromat, Mama, I'm sure it wouldn't be a big deal. Now, can I please have your help, outside, for a few minutes?" the guy asked again.
"Boy, what do you need? I have to finish this poor girl's hair and I still have to do Jordan's, there," Suzanna went on, pointing over to me.
The guy didn't even look over. Not that I cared. I looked at Chandler, and he pretended not to be listening to the conversation, too. But we both were, and we both knew it.
"My mo-ped is out of gas. If I don't get to the Laundromat in ten minutes, I'm not going to have a place of employment," the guy told Suzanna.
She let out a sigh, over exaggerating it, and then began shuffling around on the desk for a minute. Finally, she lifted up a set of keys and threw them at the guy. "Take the car, but you better put gas in it and get gas for the mo-ped after your shift."
"I will. Thanks, Mama. See you later," the guy finished and spun back around, practically coming face-to-face with Chandler and me, except that we were about ten feet away from him.
And then he left the salon, just like that. Suzanna smiled at me and told me, again, that it was almost my turn. I just smiled back and nodded. I looked at my watch. Twelve-thirty-five. We had one hour and twenty-five minutes to get to the church.
Chandler was already going on and on about how "gorgeous" the guy – Suzanna's son – was.
"He's not even your type," I told him with a laugh.
"Doesn't mean he's not cute," Chandler retaliated.
"He was a punk," I spit out, not even really knowing the real definition of the word.
"He was damn fine punk," he grinned.
"Okay, then you go after him."
"Maybe I will."
"You will not," I shot back.
Chandler's grin faded. "Okay, so, maybe I won't. But you should."
"What? I don't even know him."
"That never stopped you before."
"Shut up!" I smacked him. "I'll never even see him again."
"Who knows? Maybe you will," Chandler finished.
And, just like that, my Aunty Carolyn was walking over towards me, twirling around, showing off her hair-do. I smiled, legitimately. It was very pretty. She told us that she had to go hurry and pick up a few things before she picked up her date. I told her to have fun and that we would see her soon, and then she left the salon.
Suzanna called me over to the same chair that both of my aunts had been sitting in, and I sat down. I was almost tempted to ask her about that guy – her son – because in all of the years that my mother had spoken about and been friends with Suzanna, I had never heard about her having a son. But I decided that I just really didn't care enough, so I kept my mouth shut while the woman worked her magic on my wild, very uncooperative hair.