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rashid went back to his register, and i swore to myself that as soon as jane got off the phone, i would bring up terrie. so i did.
i ask, 'so is terrie really quitting this time, or will she come back?'
'no, she's really quitting. she can't come back,' jane answers.
'she can't? like, she really can't, or you're just saying that?'
'no, she really can't. ann told her that she can't come back, and she meant it.'
jane hesitates, and then says, 'i'll tell you, but you can't go telling marie, or anybody like that, because terrie doesn't really want this spread around, ok?'
i agree, and she tells me. if i had put two and two together, i would have already known this. but basically, it's what charlie told me about a month or so ago. terrie has had way too many customer complaints. the union was getting involved, and her choices were to step down, or to get written up, suspended, and all that stuff... and if the customer complaints didn't stop, she would end up fired. so she stepped down while she could still do it with some dignity, and a relatively clean slate.
now is when i'm supposed to say my gay line. i can't quite do it. i start, 'awwww... that's too bad....'
jane says, 'but it's not, really. have you ever seen her artwork? she's a very good artist, and it's hard to let go of a job like this, when you've been here so long... but to be successful with her art, she needs to dedicate time to it. and she can't do it, working 40 hours a week here. i think it will be good for her.'
but i'll miss her, because she's so good at being gay. i start, 'yeah, but i'll miss her... because... because... because she's funny.'
rashid comes back up and says something goofy and we laugh and there went my chance...

at some point, jane says something wrong, (like 'give this to rashid, on 3,' when he's really on 4), and i absent-mindedly correct, 'four.'
she says, 'hey... ok, smarty-pants... now i see why your roommate calls you a jack-bad-word...'
i feel terrible. this is why terrie hates me. i apologize, 'i'm sorry. i didn't mean it. really. it doesn't matter, because i knew what you meant. i shouldn't have said that...'
i'm still apologizing when i realize that jane is laughing. she says, 'i'm just teasing, debbie. i was wrong. you were right. i don't care that you said it. everybody makes mistakes, and i point out everybody else's. i could care less if you point out mine. i love you, ok?'
i smile and say ok and bring it out to rashid, and my grin won't stop. jane is the greatest. she really is. and do you know how nice it is to have somebody tell you they love you? even if it's not the girl you're obsessed with, it's still a really happy feeling.

jane and i bring up marie again, and jane re-iterates how insanely boy-crazy marie is (and she also tells me this story about how marie erased the schedule and lied about it).

then jane and i are finishing up, and marie shows up in the doorway. she starts talking about the movie she just saw, and how funny it was, and how paul was so funny, and blah blah blah. i just stare at her. she blabbers on and on and on, movie this, paul this, movie this, paul this...
finally i observe, 'so you and paul went to the movies?'
she says, 'yeah. oh, and alyssa too.'
jane and i look at each other and laugh. marie doesn't get it, so jane explains with a smile, 'why, we were just talking about you! it's funny that you should come in and prove our point so wonderfully...'
marie asks what, and jane says, 'you're like a hormonal pre-teen... you're way too boy-crazy.'
marie shrugs this off, and then asks me, 'so debbie, are you coming over to watch seven tonight?'
seven is the only movie that marie owns. i tell her, 'i don't want to watch that again. i'll bring my playstation and we can watch one of my dvds.'
she agrees to that plan.

jane and i finish up, and then marie and i go in search of movie snacks. she asks what dvd we're watching, and i say she can come with me to pick one out, after this, and then we'll go to her place and watch it.

we get snacks, she picks out the matrix (which is actually molly's), we go back to her place, take forever to hook up the ps2, and finally get everything set up. i start the movie, and we sit next to each other on the couch. it's dark and she looks comfy and i just want to snuggle up against her. i don't, because i never initiate that. she leans her leg over so it's touching mine, and i'm happy to be touching her, and then (we're only about 30 seconds into the movie), she says, 'hey, can you pause it?'
i do. she says, 'can i ask you a question?'
oh no... i sigh, 'this is about me, isn't it?'
'yeah... see, jane said something to me, and it was kind of disturbing to me, so i just wanted to talk to you about it...'
i figure that this is going to be the thing about saturday, and ditching me for kyle. i don't really want to talk about it, but i brace myself to do it anyway. so it throws me completely for a loop when she says, 'jane thinks you have a crush on me.'

i'm in shock. my entire world has screeched to a halt, and i am completely stunned. thoughts are rushing through my head at a mile a minute. the first thing that hits me is not that i have to discuss this with marie (which, i will realize soon enough, is going to be very traumatizing), but that jane actually thinks that! and not only does she think it, but she said it out loud! to marie! i knew jane knew i was gay... but i had never admitted it to her... so i thought that she would think that i was gay, and maybe gossip a little with terrie, about the possibility that i was gay... but i never thought that she would take that as a fact, and move on to actually considering who i liked! and even if she did, i didn't think i was making it obvious that i liked marie... that was my secret! nobody in real life knew that!
so i exclaim, 'she said that?!?!?!'
'yes,' marie says.
'she said that?!?!?!?!'
'yes, she said that!'
'but... but how does she even know i'm bad?!?!'
'i told you, it was christine. jane's known forever, i told you that!'
i squish into the far corner of the couch, away from her, and i bury my head under a couch pillow. i say, 'i can't believe she said that. to you. at all. just talks about it like it's a fact that i like girls!'
marie sighs, 'yeah, but debbie, the point is what she said.'
'she really said that? when?'
'it was sunday,' marie tells me. 'she said debbie likes you and i told her i knew that. she pressed, no, i mean debbie likes you. i didn't think it was true. i told her that i thought you just didn't have a whole lot of friends who paid a whole lot of attention to you, and i did, so you liked me. but you didn't like me. but she could be right, and it doesn't matter, one way or the other. i just wanted to talk to you about it, so i know, either way.'
'she really said that...'
'debbie... please, can we talk about this? i'm still going to like you, no matter what. i just think we need to get this out in the open, especially if i'm going to be living with you next year.'
'i can't believe she said that...' (now i'm just stalling.)
'debbie! come on, this is important. i need to know this, because if it's true, i'll need to change.'
'change?' when we first got to her house, she changed out of her tank top and into a t-shirt, in the middle of the room, showing off her bra and her stomach and all that. this is the first thing that comes to mind when i hear 'change.'
'well, change the way i act around you.'
i'm trying to comprehend, but this is all going too fast. does that mean i won't get hugged any more? does that mean she'll want to spend less time with me? does it mean she won't be as nice to me, or she'll stop telling me that she loves me? i like to feel loved. i want to get over marie, but i want to do it at my own pace, feeling like i have her support the whole time. i don't want her to suddenly cut off all contact with me...
i'm thinking too much to answer, and when a long period of silence has passed, she corrects, 'i mean not change a lot... you know, just change the way we mess around.'
i'm pretty sure that wasn't supposed to sound sexual.
'oh,' i reply.
i don't answer.
she starts again, 'she said she thinks that's why it bothers you so much when i talk about boys all the time, not just because you don't like them yourself, but because it upsets you to see that i like them, and not you.'
this is an easy lie to tell, because i can almost believe it. 'but no,' i say, 'i don't like it when anybody talks about liking boys. because i don't.'
she nods, 'and it makes you feel different?'
'yeah, like i'm the only person in the world who doesn't like boys.'
'you're not, you know...'
'yeah, i know, because there's terrie. but she's leaving me. and i'll be alone again.'
'you're not the only one, debbie. on campus, i KNOW there are plenty of girls who like girls. it's not just you.'
'yeah, i guess somewhere, there must be...'
'so do you have a crush on me?'
it suddenly strikes me that it's no wonder jane was saying all the right things, in the office tonight. she knows exactly what i'm feeling. it's why i liked her so much tonight, but it's also why i'm going crazy right now. damn her for being so perceptive...
i tell marie (from under the pillow), 'i don't think so.'
'you don't think so?'
'i don't think so.'
'but you're not sure?'
'no, you're sure, or no, you're not sure.'
'debbie! do you have a crush on me?'
'i don't think so.'
we go on like this for quite some time. finally, when all i'll say is, 'i don't think so,' she makes me come out to the kitchen with her, so she can cook ramen noodles. then she starts talking again. 'jane said that it's obvious to everybody in the office.'
'no way,' i tell her.
'yeah, i don't think so either. i think jane just thinks it's obvious, so she's saying that other people think that. and i asked alyssa tonight, when paul was in the bathroom...'
'what'd she say?' for some reason, hearing what alyssa thinks is much more interesting than telling her what i think.
'she said she didn't think so. she and i both think that you're not comfortable enough with yourself to like somebody else.'
i am amazed at how completely wrong that statement sounds. do you really have to be comfortable with yourself before you start liking other people? because i've been through a whole lot of shit in my lifetime, going from not knowing myself at all to hating myself to being almost comfortable with myself, but through it all, i liked girls. i never stopped liking girls. the innocent crushes turned into big time crushes and obsessions, but even when i hated myself so much that i wanted to die, i never stopped liking specific 'somebody elses'. that statement rings so sour to me that i can't just let it slide. of course, i also don't want to admit to liking her, and i'd rather not admit to liking christine, so i simply say, 'i liked taysha.'
it's funny, because i didn't. i mean, i thought taysha was hot. and i thought she was nice. but she never really gave me those butterflies... i never really liked her, not like i liked christine and marie and terrie (for a period of time) and holly and all those girls... which is probably why it's easier to claim that i liked her.
she doesn't get it. she asks, 'did you see her tonight?'
'no, i haven't seen her in a long time. but i liked her.'
she replies, 'well... ok... so did i...'
she still doesn't get it. she really thinks that i don't know how to like a girl. this is crazy. i could just let her believe it... but if i do, it's like proving tyrone's theory right. it's like telling her that i don't like boys, but i don't like girls either. it's giving her proof that i'm not really gay. and i want to make her understand that i am, because i just want somebody to see that... so i flat-out tell her. 'no, i mean you said you didn't think i could like a girl. so i'm telling you. you're wrong. i liked taysha.'
'you did?!?!?!?!?!'
we go through a long conversation about taysha, where marie marvels at the fact that i really liked her, and that i could really think she was pretty, and that taysha was so young... finally, she gets over that, and asks, 'so do you have a crush on me?'
'i don't think so.'
she lets out this funny groan, and then says, 'ok, debbie, so you don't think so, but what makes you think you might?'
'i don't know.'
at this point, i've stalled enough to come up with a plausible explanation.
'how about why i think i might not?' i ask.
'ok, that works too,' she agrees.
'well, i just think that you know the truth. and not a whole lot of people do, and of the people that do, nobody believes me. so when i send stupid e-mails to everybody i know, you let me run away here, and you like me anyway. and you don't give me religious pamphlets, or talk like i'm going to turn normal tomorrow, or act like it's terrible that i'm me. and you're the only person i know, who's like that. so i like you, a lot. but i don't think i like you.'
it comes out wonderfully. i'm sitting down, and she's standing above me, so i make my eyes wide, and gaze up at her, sincere and unblinking. i sound innocent and honest and slightly child-like. it's quite possibly the best acting i've ever done in my life. i can't help but wonder if i've just made the wrong choice, though... should i have told her the truth?
she believes me. i can just tell. she nods like she completely understands, and then she smiles and bends down and shows me her pooh-shaped fruit snacks, and we don't discuss it again.

when the soup is done, we go back to the movie. she's seen it a million times, and i've only seen it once, so she explains parts to me. and partway through, when she's done with her soup, she lies across my lap, and asks me to scratch her back. after that whole conversation, i don't feel right reaching up her shirt, so i scratch through her shirt. she gets up a little, and lifts her shirt all the way up, so i have no choice but to scratch her bare back. i do, and her warm skin on my fingers and her heart beating against my legs makes everything ok. it was ok that i lied, right?

partway through the movie, she remembers that she has a doctor's appointment in the morning. she brings out two blankets from her bed, and some pillows. at first, i'm laying next to her and we're sharing blankets, but then i move, and when i come back, she's rolled up in them. she tells me, 'you don't want these blankets, anyway. i had sex on them. go get the one from my mom's bed.'
i'm lying on the floor and i don't particularly feel like getting up. so she keeps talking about how she hasn't even washed these blankets since she had sex on saturday (with kyle, she must mean), and how they're full of bodily fluids, and how i shouldn't want to touch them...
i don't mind touching them half as much as i mind hearing about this.

she falls asleep and i watch the movie, and when it's over, i watch her. i just want to cuddle with her... her mom's blanket is tiny and full of little holes, and marie looks so warm and comfortable... i just want to lie in her arms.
i hate this feeling. if i had told the truth, i wouldn't get to cuddle with her. i lied, and i still don't get to cuddle with her. i need to stop wanting to cuddle with her, is all... but is that even sexual? does it have to be? can't it just be about comfort, and about not feeling so alone? does it have to be a crush?

in the morning, she leaves while i'm still asleep. i get up to go to the bathroom, and i walk around alone in her house. i look at pictures of her, and i get lost in those picture thoughts (which i still have to write about). and then i go back to sleep, until she comes home. she showered before she went, and she's all full of victoria's secret sweet temptation lotion and shower gel and body spritz or something. i like the way marie smells normally. i hate the smell of sweet temptation. i tell her that, all the time. so to wake me up, she comes over and smothers me with herself, making me smell that nasty stuff. she climbs on top of me and lays on me and puts her chest against my face and says, 'breath in!'
it smells terrible, but the way i feel pressed so tightly against her might make up for that.
i wonder, if i had told her the truth last night, would we still be in this position right now? and would it perhaps be better for me if we weren't in this position? i guess it depends on if you're looking at the long term, or the short term, huh?

she makes pizza rolls and she naps and i watch tv and we lie around for a while, and then we clean up and talk about all the things we need to buy before we move in together. she says that i can go ahead and turn in the applications. i know that things aren't final with her mom yet, and i'm reluctant to do so... but i don't want to go against what marie wants, and i really want to turn them in, and have a place to live, regardless of her and her mom. she kisses me randomly on the cheek, and tells me that she loves me. and then she goes to work and i go home.

and i still can't decide if i made the right choice.

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Listen to me!

The Goat dislikes Marie!

nooo!!!!! not the goats again!

(but give me a month or so, and i'm hoping to agree with the goat...)

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