This one doesn’t show up in Facebook memories. How could it? Twenty-seven years ago, the Windows 3.1 computer sitting on my desk was basically a way to play pinball, and good for nothing else. I should have just played pinball that night, by myself, and instead of inviting them over for vodka slimes and cards.
She was my best friend, the first one I’d come out to, over a year before.
He was the guy I loved, or wanted to love, or whatever it is that passes through a seventeen-year-old brain. I’d come out to him, the spring before, and had even told him I liked him. “I’m just not gay,” he said, long before that became his near-daily mantra.
But I couldn’t have known that that night would change the world.
His nose had disappeared, you see, in his drunkenness, and she was helping him find it. And even though I’d told her I was over him, I was feeling feelings like only a drunken teenager can. I went upstairs to, Idk, go to the bathroom or something. It was meaningless, innocuous, and it was the last thing I did before everything stopped.
Aerosmith was playing as I came back down the stairs, Angel specifically. The first notes of that song ripped at me for years to come, taking me back to that moment when I came around the water heater to see them kissing. “Very funny,” I said, or something like that. I don’t remember the first words, but I remember the next words I said, after they broke apart, after I could see the guilt and shame and fear on their faces. “You mean that was real?”
She nodded, she that best friend on her birthday, and she fled upstairs. I talked to him, trying to process how this even came to be. In the months that followed, it was all about him and her and me, but in the end, that wasn’t even the most important part about that night. Because, you see, while I was talking to him, and he was saying, oh, probably something along the lines of “I’m just not gay,” she was upstairs changing everything. Maybe that’s why it never really sunk in what had happened. I’d missed it all. Downstairs in the basement, with him the guy we both would learn to love, I was too busy having my own cry to worry about her panicked emotional breakdown, one that resulted in outing me to my mom, who proceeded to out me to the rest of the family.
I’d woken up that Friday morning, out to five people. I woke up the Saturday after out to everyone. There are so many things I’d love to be able to tell that kid, so terrified and so broken. There’s no way he’d ever believe me that one day, a quarter century later, Angel would come on and he wouldn’t even recognize the song. There’s no way he’d ever believe me that he’d survive them dating, that he’d survive high school. There’s no way he’d ever believe me that there would be other boys and other kisses. And there’s definitely no way he’d ever believe me that yes, that night changed the world, but for the better.