By Michael Sprecher
“I know someone who has a crush on you!”
Here I am four months after graduation from the five year plan at UW- Stevens Point. I’m living at home, recently found out I did not actually graduate from college because I’m two credits short in Math, and working my first job after college at Lands’ End. I will be working here for the peak season as a phone representative.
At Lands’ End, I’m essentially starting over or at the beginning of Plan B, C, or is it D? I’m quickly losing count. In my training class I started to bond with one of the few guys here, named Scott. He was my age, kind of balding, scraggly, and taking a semester or two off from college. We bonded more when we both expanded our availability to qualify for the always-unwanted 10:30am -7pm shift that would guarantee maximum hours.
Let me try to describe what goes on during the hours I’m locked in my Lands’ End cube shut out from the rest of the world. Between answering callers’ questions with “ I think the color green would work well for you,” “I would say that is more a red-purple than a true purple,” and “Sorry the ruby playsuit is on backorder,” I would sit in my cube and write the phrase “I am gay” over and over again until a whole sheet was covered. I looked like Veronica in the movie Heathers writing in her diary about Heather. I had never dared to speak these words out loud to anyone.
At this point in my life, I would only dare give myself permission to write this over and over on paper. The permission to write this was short-lived, as before I could think too hard about this or before any one could come by and see what I was writing, I would tear the sheet up into as many small pieces as possible.
With this glimpse of my state of mind, picture what happened in my head when, as I start to eat my lunch in the break room with Scott, Betty, and Kelly, Scott directs this statement to me.
“I know someone who has a crush on you!”
Let me back up and introduce who else was at the table. Kelly who fate would have it also just graduated from UW-Stevens Point. We had a few environmental education classes together. It felt like a small world when we ran into each other for the Lands’ End peak season. We both found out that summer 1991 that Natural Resource majors were not a booming field of study. Betty was a high school classmate, just graduated with a French Degree, another field of study that in 1991 was not booming.
Back to the crush. This crush could be anyone. I have a strong inclination this was not going to be good. I don’t let on that I’m scared. I really don’t want to have to deal with a girlfriend but not a boyfriend either. Could it be someone at work? I try to think of what girls hang out with Scott. Girls did not seem to like Scott and in fact Betty once said. “I wouldn’t touch him with a 10 foot pole, you have no idea who he has been with.”
Way to go Betty! Just make Scott even more attractive to me. If you thought I was attracted to Scott, which I have no idea why you would, because you know that I am not gay, you just gave me the wrong warning. You should have said you went to church with him. (OK, that would have made him attractive to me also.)
Betty and Kelly both say, “We also know who has a crush on you,” with big grins.
“What?” I say as alarm bells go off all over in my head and I start to blush. This situation is going out of control very fast and I’m feeling a bit set-up. Why can’t the subject change back to how many hours did everyone get on the next schedule? Or wouldn’t it be fun if they made adult rugby playsuits? How about if they are allowing overtime this week? I like talking about these topics much better. Why is Scott doing this to me? Why does everyone know who this is?
I try to guess.
Well, it can’t be Betty or Kelly.
“Is it someone at Lands’ End?”
The answer to that question was “No!”
Uh oh. I’m in trouble. Scott said it was one of his friends.
Scott is an odd character in that he did tell everyone he was straight, with a girlfriend from high school. However, he just happened to live with a gay guy because “the rent is cheap.” His two best friends from high school (whom he still hangs out with most of the time by the way) just happen to be gay also. This would be Bryan and Tad. The fact Scott was straight with gay friends made me feel very comfortable with him for some reason. Except now this seems to be causing problems. I like that he is straight with gay friends because he won’t try to figure out if I am gay or not. Scott being straight is very safe because I don’t have to worry he will try to convince me I am gay.
Let’s get back to the story here. Lunchroom, trying to hold onto the illusion that I am a straight man, my new friend who says he is straight with gay friends tells me that a friend of his has a crush on me. This is not going to be good. Can we change the subject quick?
“It is Bryan. He thinks you have the cutest smile,” Scott says, very proudly and really enjoying he is saying this in front of Betty and Kelly.
Of course it is Bryan. I have no idea how to react. This was the first time in my life that someone said out loud that another guy had a crush on me.
I stammered, not sure what I said, surely something lame like I am flattered, however I don’t like guys. I know neither Kelly nor Betty bought that story.
“Oh look at the time, my break is over, I have to go. “
I went back to my cube to continue my frantic writing “I am gay” on scrap paper and then tore it up into even smaller pieces than before.