Monday, June 30, 2008

Boy Meets Boy

Levithan, David. 2003. Boy meets boy. New York: Knopf.

(booktalk)

Imagine a town and a high school where everyone, and I mean everyone, fits in. Start with Paul who has known he was gay since his kindergarten teacher wrote on his report card, “Paul is definitely gay and has very good sense of self.” Paul’s best friends are the on again-off again couple, Joni and Ted; Kyle, the ex-boyfriend; the quiet and closeted Tony; and the unforgettable Infinite Darlene, who used to be Daryl, and now is the school’s star quarterback and the homecoming queen. The cast of characters is rounded out by loving families; Chuck, the not-so-star quarterback; teachers; the Club Kids, over-achievers spread “thinner than Saran Wrap;” a Harley Davidson-riding cheerleading squad; the French Cuisine Club; Rip, the school bookie; and the newly arrived Noah, an odds-maker’s dream.

Paul has lived in this town all his life.

As we cross back through the park we see more people, mostly regulars. The Old Queen sits at his bench, reminiscing about Broadway in the 1920s. Two benches away, the Young Punk shouts loudly about Sid and Nancy and the birth of revolt. They rarely find themselves without a willing audience, but when the foot traffic slows, the Old Queen and the Young Punk sit together and share memories of events that happened long before they were born.

I explain all this to Noah, and I love the wonder that shows in his eyes. We continue to tour through the town, and everything is new to him: the I Scream Parlor, which shows horror movies as you wait for your double dip; the elementary school playground, where I used to tell the jungle gym all my secrets; the Pink Floyd shrine in our locals barber’s backyard. I know people always talk about living in the middle of nowhere – there’s always another place (some city, some foreign country) they’d rather be. But it’s moments like this that I feel live I live in the middle of somewhere. My somewhere.

He loves his town, his school, his friends and his family, and you will too as the not-so-classic story of Boy Meets Boy works its way into your heart.

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