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It wasn’t a smell you’d expect when the love of your life walks into your orbit for the first time.

A piquant combination of chalk dust, pencil shavings, and the vinyl cover of your new 5-star notebook.

And let’s be honest. He didn’t walk. He sauntered.

It was a walk with unabashed confidence. If your Creative Writing teacher asked you to write a story using the word “swagger,” you could elucidate for paragraphs on that damned walk.

You’re not even looking towards the door. You’re a Junior now, so you know the deal. Homerooms are always assigned alphabetically, and it looks like the Ls, Ms, Ns, and Os are all present and accounted for. You’re not expecting any surprises. Sure, some desks are empty, but the loadies always straggle, rolling in with droopy eyes and smelling like Drakkar Noir a few minutes after the bell rings.

Chris Miles has taken his customary seat to your left, and Mariclare Mullaney is mindlessly scribbling in her notebook behind you. It’s just another mundane start to another formative year on your path to adulthood. Same co-passengers, same beat-up car, same road to nowhere.

Miss Bryk sits in the front of the room, tapping absently on her desk with her yellow, cigarette-stained fingers. She’s wearing the same dour expression she wore last year. In fact, it looks like she has more frown lines etched into her face, if that were possible.

You reach into your Jansport for a pen, realize you don’t have one, look up to ask Miss Bryk if you can run to your locker….

…and that’s when HE enters.

He scans the room with a crooked smile on his face. He effortlessly shifts the messenger bag strapped across his chest. He’s wearing a blazer. A god damned blazer. Only the mature, Model UN types take advantage of the blazer provision of the dress code.

Time slows down. Sara Lampman asks you a question about AP English but you don’t even hear her. And is that “Truly Madly Deeply” by Savage Garden playing in the background?

You are now acutely aware of the vacant desk in front of you.

He makes his way to Miss Bryk, who absently waves her hand towards the assembled class.

He scans the room. He sees the empty desk. And so he begins towards you. Is this destiny?

Play it cool, you remind yourself. You’re gay in a Catholic school and the last thing you need to do is out yourself by drooling on the new guy. Oh, but, look at those dark curls. And those horn-rimmed glasses just make him look so… worldly. Oh my god, what if he’s a foreign exchange student and HAS AN ACCENT. STOP. My GOD. Calm down. 

You remember the stat you found on the LGBT AOL message board last night: One out of five men are gay. You’re not sure it’s accurate, but you do a quick count of all the guys in homeroom anyway. Statistically, it may work in your favor.

But, if it’s not him, the other potentials in Homeroom 304 are grim:

  • The lunkhead football jock who never wears his grey uniform slacks high enough, so the entire middle of the alphabet sees his ass crack when he picks up his backpack at the bell. You also are pretty sure he doesn’t know how to spell.
  • The kid who never washes his hair, who growled at you when you were trying to be nice and asked him if he wanted to be your partner in Honors Chemistry last year.
  • The guy who spends all his free periods in the chapel and wears a turtleneck under his shirt because “showing too much skin is an abomination to the Lord Jesus almighty.”

You focus your attention back on the swarthy stranger.

Swarthy. You saw that word on your Mom’s Word a Day desk calendar you got for her last Christmas at the calendar/Magic Eye kiosk. You don’t even know what it means, but this man is definitely IT.

This could be it. This could be your Dawson’s Creek moment. He will introduce himself. The music will swell. He will ask you if you want to go to see a movie.

Is he a Joey? Or is he a Jen?

Can you handle a Jen? What if he likes to break rules? What if he smokes? What if he’s hiding booze in his locker? Your mother would be devastated if you got caught drinking liquor at school. But, he is cute. And it would be nice to go see Urban Legend with someone other than your little sister. You can both appreciate a grown up, clean cut Jared Leto.

He sits. You see him begin to turn around…

“I don’t wanna wait…for my life to be over…”

Eric Mochnacz

A wizard of pop culture. A prince of snark. A delightful addition to any dinner party.

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