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Just One of the Guys Part 2

Issue Date: Friday, Jun. 04, 2004

For the first part, please click here.

The 2nd semester of my 9th grade year I made some new friends; Jimmy, who was affectionately called “Bean” by most who knew him and his best friend and counterpart, Steve.

They were the heart and soul of the offensive guard (and defensive when needed) for the school football team. The coaches at the senior high school (11th and 12th grades) Bean and Steve were to attend in a few years drooled over their stats as they watched the boys plow through score after score of high school rivals.

Their fierce competitiveness and surprising speed on the football field belied the fact that they were two of the nicest guys a girl with a chip on her shoulder could meet.

I actually met Bean and Steve in Mrs. Tilley’s English class one afternoon as I overheard them talking. Bean was telling Steve about seeing this large, bald man break down the door to one of his older brother’s friend’s house. The tale was long and sordid and it actually (and accurately) described (to my dismay and my horror) a tale I already knew because it was my father that broke that door down.

Long story short… My sister was somewhere she wasn’t supposed to be. Daddy drove by, saw her car and got out and rang the doorbell. Silence followed because apparently the whole group thought that my father was retarded and blind and couldn’t see the lights being turned off all over the house and screams of, “Shut UP!… He’ll hear us!” coming from inside. Daddy got mad, broke down the door, grabbed my sister and her best friend and told them to get their asses to the house. Bean just happened to be on the sidewalk on the other side of the street when a stream of high school kids came hauling ass around the side of the house, his brother was in the middle of the departing masses. His brother yelled, “RUN!” and that is where Bean stopped his narrative with Steve.

Steve incredulously asked, “No shit?” Bean responded with, “No shit.”

Steve said, “No way man, I don’t believe you.”

I knew Bean was telling the truth, and for some reason, I decided to get his back. I leaned over and said, “Excuse me guys, I couldn’t help overhearing.” I turned to Steve, “Yanno, he’s telling the truth.” Steve looked dubious and gave me an eyebrow raise. I said, “I know because the man who broke down John B’s front door [look to Bean for confirmation that it was indeed John B’s house… he nodded] was my father.”

The only word from Steve was, “Dude.”

For some reason, I guess owning up to something that strange for a high school kid was seen as bold. Our friendships started and bloomed quickly. They introduced me to their rag tag group of buddies and I was immediately comfortable. These were guys that didn’t feel the need to put on airs around each other and in turn they were real towards me. I loved them all and in a short period of time, there weren’t many places that I went without being sandwiched between Bean and Steve.

The two of them combined probably pushed 450 pounds. Bean is fair with the bluest eyes and reddish hair, his complexion a bit ruddy because of his Irish heritage. Steve is dark and handsome with the brightest smile in Dallas that is even more brilliant because of his a Spanish lineage and darker skin. Both of them are very handsome men with quick wit, fantastic senses of humor and loyal to death.

Being around them, and their group of friends [whose nickname I will not repeat here for fear of google], I found myself relaxing and enjoying high school. With the suggestion of my best girlfriend Stephanie, and the support of the guys, I actually went out for cheerleader/mascot and got it. With Stephanie and some other friends cheering me on, and the guys’ hearty whooping in the stands, the enthusiasm was infectious and I was excited to be part of the cheerleading squad. I would get to dance/cheer and be on the field with the boys when they played football. Loving the cheerleading uniform and long curly hair and of course, my lipstick… but yeah, just one of the guys.

Over the summer all of our friendships grew. Both Steve and Bean had questionable relationships with their fathers and when they got to know mine they totally loved him. I remember one evening Bean came to pick me up at the house. As usual, my mother, the hostess with the mostess, was trying to force feed Bean a side of beef. My father casually inquired to Bean’s workout schedule. Bean mentioned that he and Steve had been working out in the weight room at the school. My dad asked, “So, how much do you and Steve bench press?” Bean casually responded, “We both broke our goal for 500 pounds a few weeks ago.” My dad, just as casually and with a smile, responded, “Well, big boy, I guess if you and I ever get in a tussle, I’d just have to shoot your ass.”

With my father’s good natured ribbing and the way he showed how much he loved/loves my mother, my sister, myself and all of our friends, Bean realized that getting into a fist fight with his old man was pretty messed up, that his father treated his mother appallingly and that he was going to have to work hard to get out of that house. He was going to have to work extra hard to get the education that he wanted.

Bean and I started spending more and more time together without the group and without Steve, especially after the 10th grade was over and I was separated from both them because I had to go to another school. I hated being without them, and Bean hated being away from me. Something had changed, as much as I didn’t want to admit it.

The guys in Bean and Steve’s group started ribbing Bean openly about his crush on me. I ignored it. I acted as though we were all just friends… just like it used to be. I didn’t want my status to change. I didn’t want to be one of the girlfriends on the outside of the group. I wanted to hold onto my elite status as the only female core member of their group. I was one of them. Just one of the guys.

I fought it for a long time. Even when Bean, Steve and I planned out our two different proms like Pimps R’ Us, I wanted to be one of the guys. For my high school prom, I set up all of Bean and Steve’s friends with girls from my high school, and for their prom, we just reversed it. Bean and I were each other’s dates for both. I have pictures of us. We look so happy, laughing so hard we were crying. Him holding me like a bride in his arms for one picture. Bean so proud of the corsage he brought me. Bean whispering reverently in my ear, “You are so beautiful” many times throughout each night. No biggie right?

The first time I was aware of the change was not from the open ribbing Bean’s buddies were handing him quite often, it happened one summer night between our senior year at high school and our freshman year at college. We were all at Jake’s house. Jake was our groups’ ‘Joey’ from Friends. So. Damn. Cute… yet, So. Damn. Vacant. Great with a joke, a smile and a flirt, I didn’t think much about Jake drunkenly planting a kiss on me when I was coming down the stairs. I look to the bottom of the stairs and there is Bean. His face immediately red and eyes blazing. God, his eyes were SO blue.

Like a bitch, I blew it off.

Steve mentioned it. Apparently out of the three of us, he was the only one with balls. He told me that things were changing. That Bean was very jealous and that maybe… just maybe, I needed to talk to him.

I paid extra attention to Bean the remainder of the summer and of course Bean didn’t mention the Jake Kissgate of 1990. Did I make out with Bean later in the summer? Yep. Did I feel guilty and try to make him feel special? Yep, did he ask me to be his steady girlfriend? (Because it was 1950?.. Lord, I’m a tool.) No, he didn’t. I didn’t push it, he didn’t push it. We tried to leave things as they were. We tried to be nonchalant.

I knew that I was going to a college in east Texas and Bean and Steve would be at the opposite end of the globe in west Texas. I decided to leave things be and just enjoy my remaining time with them. Him really.

I should have talked to him, but I didn’t.

I just wanted to be one of the guys.

During my first semester at college guess who came to see me? Bean and Steve! I was so excited I thought I was gonna pee my pants when they got there. I wanted to introduce them to all of my new (and reacquaint them with my old…) friends. I ran downstairs and I don’t think my feet touched the ground for a good 5 minutes with Bean and Steve passing me back and forth in bear hugs. It was SO good to see them. I missed them so much. My heart didn’t feel the same without them around.

We made plans for the night, I took them to a party out in the middle of nowhere and everyone had a blast. The next night was poker and another party on someone’s land. Poker went famously, beer flowed, laugher was abundant and I was perched between my boys on the couch… happy as a clam. We went out to a club and then out to the land party. The land party really just consisted of a bunch of underage punks drinking beer beside a poorly constructed bonfire. Yeah, you know that kind of party.

On the way out to the party, Steve rode with a friend because Bean wanted to talk to me… alone. He was completely honest and bared his soul. I did not know what to do. I had a wall around my heart for so long that it had atrophied. I told him that I thought whatever he was suggesting was a really poor idea. That I totally loved him, I just didn’t want to be his girlfriend.

What a ho.

Yeah. The “You’re so nice, sweet and cute… BUT” song and dance.

I make me sick.

We got to the party and… this is where the suck reigns.

This was my best friend in the whole world.

I had been pulling away from Bean since the Jake Kissgate of 1990 because I got all indignant about it. Who was he (Bean) to determine who I kissed or who I didn’t? Right? RIGHT??? And here he was, in the middle of BFE trying to tell me that he loved me and wanted to be exclusive.

People. I muttered something like, “I can’t do this right now.” And got out of the car.

I GOT. Out. of the Freakin. Car.

Bean came over to me, stood by my side and offered me a beer. I said thank you and looked at him. He was crying.

Beautiful ice blue eyes, red face and a look that broke my heart in two… through the wall I had so carefully constructed around it.

I got mad. I think in my tirade that I even called him a pussy for crying.

The good Lord should have smote my ass.

I swear, all I wanted to be was… Just one of the guys.

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