dear john.

dear john,

do you go by john, now that you're an adult? when we were kids, it was b,j. b.j. was a cool name until we got to about sixth grade and all of us started getting a better sense of what oral sex was. i remember the first time someone called you "blowjob." it was probably matt or paul, but someone called you "blowjob," and then they said your last name. i thought it was the funniest thing i'd ever heard. then again, i could be making this up. but even if it was just something i imagined, something that might never have happened, your face turned red. i still remember times when your face turned red.

you were the fat kid, but you didn't get it as bad because people knew what a sensitive guy you were. daniel got it worse than you because he was kind of crazy. i'm sure he was a nice guy, but he spit when he talked, and he smelled kind of bad. granted, it's still no excuse for the way we treated him. i can't imagine what it must've been like for him. i mean, i already had a miserable time in school, as i'm sure you probably did, but imagine what it must've been like for him. you hate school, your mom is nuts, you're poor, and none of these kids even want to come near you. some fuckin' life, huh, b.j.?

i thought you were pretty well-adjusted. i mean, there was that one time you told our science teacher, "fuck you!" and you ran out the room. you made everyone really uncomfortable, but secretly, i admired you for that. you had the balls to express what all of us were thinking. i mean, come on. none of us wanted to be in that stupid room dissecting worms and frogs and discussing nuclei and chloroplasma. what kind of bullshit was that? if i could reverse time, i'd go back to that day with you, and i would've screamed "fuck you!" just as loud, if not louder, than you did. so what if it would've affected my citizenship grade, or barred me from getting into jesuit. shit, i might've been a lot happier.

i wonder what you were thinking that day. if i remember correctly, you had your head down, and our science teacher called on you. you looked up at her, and you didn't say a goddamn word. she kept badgering you, expecting you to answer, but you wouldn't give her the satisfaction. at last, you exploded, and then you ran out the room. you probably felt like a fuckin' failure then, a real screwball. no one, in the history of all my catholic schooling, has ever told the teacher to fuck off. you didn't know it then, pudgy little bastard that you were, but you showed me what it meant to be a rebel, to defy authority. and you poor bastard, no one ever congratulated you. so i'll say it now. congratulations.

you went through this weird phase in junior high where you started calling everyone "a fucking queer." it got to the point where you said it, i think, just to say it. lenny would take a sip from his purple squeeze-it, and you would just have at him. "fuckin' queer." we thought it was a riot at first, but then it got old. we started to question whether or not you yourself were a gay. "fuckin' queer this, fuckin' queer that." you were a tgif one-liner, and we didn't want to hang out with you much anymore because we had cable.

you had a little sister and you were quite protective of her. i remember how you put your arm around her and how you would walk her to class. guys gave you shit for that, too. you were a fucking pussy, a little bitch for walking your sister to class and showing affection. what a fucked up school, huh, b.j.? i thought it was a cool thing for you to do, though, showing us all that you actually cared about your family, no matter what the others said. i knew that by you doing that, there was something more to you, that you weren't just the one-liner fat kid. you had depth, man. real class, even. i wish we knew each other better.

the last time i saw you, you lost some serious weight. you were at the church, or maybe it was at mervyn's with your mom - i was with my mom - but we didn't say anything. i wonder why you didn't talk to me. maybe you were shy, just as i was shy. maybe you thought i was in some kind of asian gang, and if you looked at me the wrong way, the next morning, you'd find a headless squirrel on your doorstep. i really have no idea. but i would like to know what you thought of me. i tried not to be a jerk, but i'm sure i couldn't help it. kids are mean. we were cruel and judgmental, and we were looking for acceptance, even though we didn't want to give it.

during our last christmas party, eighth grade, i saw you dancing with alicia. i turned to one of the guys and said, "why's she dancing with him?" the guy answered, "he probably just asked her." it didn't occur to me until then that one could just ask something of another person and get what he wanted. but you, b.j., asked for a dance when you wanted one. you told the science teacher to fuck off when you had had enough of her. you ran out into the parking lot to be by yourself when you were angry at the world. you held your sister's hand when she needed a big brother to hold her hand.

you were a fuckin' queer, but a good one. i don't know why it took me twenty years to realize that.

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