Monday, September 6, 2010

On a Summer Night (part three)

So when I realized this was not an accident, I didn’t really think through my options at all. I don’t think I knew about the three reactions humans and animals often have regarding what they perceive to be threatening. I didn’t think: fight, flight or freeze. Beck speculated about what I did. Here's what he imagined and my thoughts all these years later:

Beck: You playfully tousled his hair in return and you both started laughing and brushed it off with embarrassed chuckles?
Me: No, but I wish I had. I wish I had at least said or done something.

Beck: You slowly woke up and asked him: "What do you think you're doing?" as he immediately slid back into his sleeping bag?
Me: That doesn’t sound at all like me as a 15-year-old, or even now. But that’s what I like about it. Maybe we would have started wrestling again.

Beck: Your reflexes got the best of you and you slugged him in the nose?
Me: Again this sounds impossible, but I do kind of like the idea of some playful violence. I guess the idea is that he did invade my space and I should have done something to reciprocate.

Beck: You brought your arm around him and gave him a big kiss?
Me: This is the one I like the best. But this is now, not then. I was so homophobic I couldn’t imagine hugging or kissing another male. But that would have been cool to tousle his hair, and then perhaps caress his face, and then move in a little closer, but it would be another year before I kissed girl and decades before I would let another man touch me.

Beck: You pretended to stay asleep but you agonized all night wondering what the tousle meant?
Me: This is the closest to the truth. I pretended to be asleep. Then I seemed to be able to put the entire think out of my mind. But funny thing about repression, here I am four decades later, still thinking about it.

To bring the story up to date, our friendship continued throughout high school and college. We were never close, but then again I was not very close with anyone in those days. Both of us married beautiful women and fathered sons and daughters. Early in his career my friend moved out of state and we lost track of each other for a decade or so. Then we reconnected through annual Christmas cards, until one year my card was returned. I realize this echoes the plot in Brokeback Mountain, but that story and mine only have a few points in common.

To be continued.