Category


Author

Infaguation

Infaguation

Infaguation

An Essay by Bob Laine

I finally found him 

on Facebook  


older

of course

balding 

even at 18 

I could see that coming

his wife Rose 

with what must be their daughter 

crowding the profile picture 


the only picture on his page

sharing the lonely space with just two posts 

dated seven months apart


I sent a message anyway


it's been thirty years

since I watched the boy I loved

marry the girl he loved


thirty years since i played the role 

of the worst best man ever


three decades of infaguation

of falling for the straight guy


Roger was the first 


leaning on the door

blonde

angular

eye glued to a peep hole

wearing just a T-shirt and bikini briefs 

his hand periodically brushing

his groin as he periodically tells me

how hot he thinks our chaperone is


it is one am on a Friday night

the first day of JAMCO

our three roommates sleeping breaths

are the only other sounds in the hotel room


he is into older women he whispers

looking again through the peep hole

hoping to glimpse our 

35 year old chaperone

returning to her room

directly across from ours


I met Roger just hours before

when the Battle Creek chapter of Junior Achievement

picked up the Bellevue chapter of Junior Achievement

on the way to Lansing Michigan for our regional conference


and it was love at first lust


after a day of seminars

workshops and JA jeopardy 

we returned to our assigned rooms

while the others slept

Roger held vigil at the peephole

and I held vigil at Roger

the light from the open bathroom door

caressing what my hands wished they could


I would spend the next six months

replaying that night in my mind

(honestly I still find myself sometimes 

replaying that night in my mind)


and just when the memory was 

beginning to fade 

I saw him again

in the line for registration 

at  Kellogg Community College

I was a peer advisor so

I walked up to him

and advised him that I should be his best friend

and it worked


he didn't last long at KCC

but we remained best friends

and for the next three years

I basked in

fawned over

orbited around

Roger 


like  he was my gravity

like I needed him to breathe


Roger loved to talk about 

cars and girls

and I loved watching Roger talk about 

cars and girls

we would map the back roads of our respective home towns

in his canary yellow Camaro 

breaking speed limits

smoking joints 

and tipping back forties


when he took a job at a bakery

making donuts on the midnight shift

I would hang like a shadow

in the back lot shooting the shit

with Roger through the screen door

he was so cute in his white uniform

kneading mountains of dough

into kruellers and bear claws

and sometimes if I stayed til the end of his shift

he would invite me inside while he changed 

and I would snatch glimpses of him

collecting them to add to my daydreams


Roger didn't like hanging with my friends

and that was alright with me

the few times he did 

(a toga party thrown by my old high school class president

Roger wearing nothing but a sheet and his bikini briefs 

a weekend at my friend Lisa's parents' summer house

the three of us tripping and 

wrinkling like prunes from hours spent in the lake

Roger rocking a black speedo)

it was awkward


mostly it was just us 

until it wasn't

until it was Roger and Ruth 

and me

until it was them and me

and then just them

the third wheel rolling away to Eastern Michigan University


one of the last times I spent with them

was as the best man at their courthouse wedding

or maybe I was just a witness I'm not sure

I remember being very happy for them


and then I was gone

and I didn't look back

until I was in my mid forties

and I found him on Facebook


I sent the message anyway

and three months later I got a reply

with a phone number 


we played phone tag for awhile 

and when we did speak it was awkward

I asked about Rose and their child 

I had seen in the profile picture

he asked me in kind

"so you married divorced or what"

I said or what

and admitted I was gay

Roger shrugged it off 

changed the subject

made a vague request for me to visit them 

next time I came to Michigan

I made a vague commitment to do just that


we haven't spoken since


can you feel the loss of a love you never had

yes

yes you can

Visual Work from Valyntina Grenier

Visual Work from Valyntina Grenier

Retribution on Cash Street

Retribution on Cash Street