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Rather, I like to stay awake and wait to see what I will discover. When I was still a kid, I would stay up as late as I could. There were a few summer nights when some of the other boys in the neighborhood and I would see if we could stay up 24 hours, just to see if we could, and then see if we could go for 48 hours. We were young yet, and still pushing and discovering what, not just our bodies, but what our minds could and couldn't do. Just to see. But I don’t think anybody ever went for 72 hours, or could. One of the boys was one of my best friends during elementary school, Dan Delrosario, and his older brother, Joey Delrosario, five years older than us. They lived right across the street from me. There were also a few other boys from the neighborhood as well. One night, we walked all the way over to the top of Harbison Street, though it's really only less than a mile. We brought two skateboards with us and, at the top of the hill, one of the older kids sat sideways on one skateboard with his legs stretched forward, another kid on the other skateboard, building a catamaran out of their arms and legs. Either one or two of us younger kids sat down, while another kid gave us a heave and pushed our human catamaran down the hill, right in the middle of the road. There was no traffic on the street even though it was a four-lane road. It must have been around two or three in the morning. We walked back up to the top of the hill to do it over and over again. At one point, we went into the taco shop on the corner at the top of the street. They had a video game there and we played that for a while, too. I don't remember how long I was able to stay up that time. But how those nights of summer vacation ended usually played out
like the flickering and powdering of a candle flame – one person usually went home after they got sleepy or bored, until sometime later, when a couple more go, until the whole band of us is disbanded. And then, you'd sleep ten or twelve or sixteen hours and eventually meet up with someone in the daytime again. Nothing was planned out, though; you trickled out and you trickled back in. The nights I wasn't with the neighborhood, I was in my room, staying up with my imagination, until the late hours of the early, early morning. When I was nine, I was romantic with Kathy Picatoste, and we were adults and I would shower her with romance and roses and she loved me and I was super charming and beautiful and “everything.” I'd imagine our future anniversary when we would be adults, and I would have a single rose delivered to her every hour, until our romantic anniversary dinner, and then it all added up to a dozen roses, and I made her so happy. But when I was ten, my eyes closed and I thought more and more about Bryan Kyle, another boy from school who lived only a couple of blocks away, and his blue Dolfin shorts. But it's not that his shorts were necessarily tight. But they were not necessarily not tight, either. They were a bright, but not pale, blue, made with that shiny fabric that running shorts are made of, so it was like an electric blue. And as the weeks, months pulled me closer, closer to being a teenager, the images started to trickle in more and more, into my thoughts and imagination. As the years went on, while I would still play with my dear friend, Imagination, I would sometimes be playing with a bandit copy of one of my dad’s few dirty magazines, that he kept underneath his mattress. That was all quite electric, too – taboo, temptation, and titillation. It’s weird, though. When people hear the word gay – it’s all summed up so nice and easily into such a tiny, little three letter word. It’s like a tidy little fact, “gay.” Boom, boom, boom – you are gay. Done. But it says nothing of the late nights, after late
nights, after late nights, into the early, early morning, when you’re laying in your bed, scared: How are you going to pull this off? We’ll have kids. But if we have kids – then they’ll be able to tell. I’ll have to make myself like football if we have kids. If? You have kids. You just do. And you play sports with them. And then it’ll all be beautiful and everything. But then, the next day would come in and you’d go to school or wake up too late to play Life or Monopoly with the other kids, or penny poker or blackjack or watch cartoons – I wasn't dodge ball's biggest fan – and life would go on. But some days later, of course, you’d have those images trickle back in, and this was how a significant percentage of your daily, weekly childhood is lived: in quiet fear, standing right next to the visible, normal you, with distraction as your protection from your fear of yourself. And so, the future also seemed like something you’d procrastinate on because you didn’t really know how you were going to pull it off, let alone how to admit it to yourself or talk about with anyone. In fact, Who let these thoughts in, in the first place?! Today, nothing – not even sex or glimpses – feels anything near as electric as those blue fifth grade shorts, or youth, running in my mind. Fear, though? That's not so electric. Rather, it seems like something that runs, whether true or otherwise, like an engine. It feels more like thunder, not lightning. It doesn't just shake you – it rumbles you. Lighting, in terms of fear, seems only like panic. Music also ruled during those late nights. Being two or three in the morning, I would listen to music through my dad's 1970's-huge headphones, and only pretend that I was singing, so that I didn't wake my family. But I was totally Neil Diamond to the Barbra Streisand of my imagination's Kathy Picatoste, until I finally played just the two parts – Barbra and Neil – instead of all three or four parts, with me and my imagination's Kathy, playing in the cast. Later, when I was a teenager, I would sneak into my dad's
car or my sister's car, depending on which one was in the garage. It was better in there because, while the headphones were fine in my bedroom, I could play the music really loud in the car if I closed the windows. I would spend hours from midnight to two or three or four in the morning. And I could sing in the car, too. Though I might lip-sync all the notes I couldn't hit, I would never really leave the song, being in its moment all the way through - Carly Simon, ABBA, James Taylor, America, Electric Light Orchestra, Grease, then The B-52s, Bananarama, The Thompson Twins, Duran Duran, Spandau Ballet – the best and the worst, I guess. I was only caught singing in the car maybe once by my sister. I guess her car was not as soundproof as my dad's, maybe? My dad, he always got the good cars in the family; at one time he had a brand new Ford Mustang and, another time, a brand new Honda Prelude. I remember when he got the Honda Prelude – I stayed up all night in his car, listening to music, and pouring over all the features listed in the beautiful, glossy brochure booklets that came with the car. As a kid, I was a sucker for graphic design and advertising photography and branding. Even today, I won't throw away the brochures or books for my 1988 Daihatsu Charade. One time – I don't know if it was between songs, when you had to rewind the cassette tape and wait to hear a song again, or during one – but I was in my father's car and I happened to look in the glove compartment to see what other tapes he had – Did he still have that mix tape with Nina, Pretty Ballerina by ABBA? I haven't heard that one in a long time! – and I found a pink barrette, as well as a receipt for a gold ladies watch. Several years later, when I was 17 – after my sister saw my dad at the May Company in the Mission Valley Mall with his arm around someone who wasn't my mother and the panic of a family crisis and an eventual divorce ensued – I brought it up at our very first family meeting. I don't know if I really have trouble sleeping. Or, if maybe it's that I have trouble really wanting to.
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