I’m done being friends with dreadlocked white guys. But try telling Andy, the only person ever to make a homosexual pass at me. In fairness to Andy, it was Halloween, I was dressed as Lara Croft, and I do have slim wrists and a thin waist since I got that Adderall prescription and stopped eating.
“Is it because I tried to make out with you?” Andy says.
We sit on the futon in his parents’ basement watching the audition round of American Idol. Knotty hair covers the hurt in his eyes.
“You’ve known me for, what, ten years?” I say to Andy.
“About,” he says.
I say, “And you really think I’m a homophobe? That’s what you really think?”
“I dunno,” Andy says in that nonconfrontational way that warms my soul but also feels like the kind of weakness that doesn’t work in this cruel world.
“Well, let me ask you: if I’m so uncomfortable with gender-role reversal and nontraditional forms of erotic fantasy, then how come I was able to dress up as Lara Croft in the first place?”
“I don’t know,” Andy says. “But I still think it’s because I tried to make out with you.”
“Don’t be narcissistic,” I say. “It’s not just you. I’m getting rid of all my white friends with dreadlocks.”
“What other ones?”
“Well, there aren’t really any others at the present moment, but I think you’re missing the big picture here. It’s more the principle of it, if anything. It’s about growing up, Andy. It’s about reaching my full potential as a red-blooded college-educated suburban male.”
“You never finished college.”
“That’s exactly my point. I never finished college because I was hanging out with white people with dreadlocks.”
“You mean me?”
“I mean whoever.”
Andy is stumped, offended, already over it. He retreats into his cell phone.
The commercial is over. Ryan Seacrest says, “You did it, America. Your votes propelled Lee DeWyze to the top. Soon you’ll have a chance to pick another lucky winner.”
The way he says it makes it sound like America is one guy, some schmuck in a living room in Des Moines.
But maybe America is me and Andy.
Shitty singers sing. It’s unclear if the shittiness is an act or if they’re deluded, drunk on ephemeral fame. Andy is texting.
“Who you texting?”
“None of your business.”
“New gay friend?”
“Yes, new gay friend.”
“When you gonna introduce me?
“He has dreadlocks,” Andy says.
Andy balls his hairy hands into hairy fists. Like the kind of lion cub who’s cute until he kills you. I feel a tenderness toward him. I want to reach over with scissors, trim his smelly head-pubes, show him what it means to be alive. We watch a commercial for Ford trucks.
Now a blonde sings syrupy shit. The kind of blonde who would never fuck the kind of guy I am. From the Midwest, believes in Jesus, saving herself for someone who can share her soul via social media. Her voice: heartbreakingly mediocre. I want to lick every inch with my ugly tongue. Lick her armpits.
Then a muumuu-ed redhead, made up like a circus clown.
Andy turns to me, eyebrows raised in a gesture of our old camaraderie. Let us bond, he seems to say, in this other human’s shame. Let us be brave enough to engage in this ugliness.
The girl’s voice is actually good. She sings Aretha, transcends herself. “Ain’t No Way.”
Moments like these—Apple pie, baseball—are why we fight wars.
Next thing I know Andy’s cock’s in my mouth, and I’m sucking with every atom, salivating. Our girl belts the blues. I think I am crying.
My mother comes down the stairs. I see her. She sees Andy’s acned ass and the silhouette of my soul, mid-cock-suck. The look on her face is called “Baby, I birthed you / Babe, I endorsed you / Watch as we both burn to ash.”
I bite Andy’s cock. Andy’s scream coincides with a cheer from the Idol audience. Ryan Seacrest is smiling somewhere. There’s blood on my face. Mom walks back up the stairs. But I won’t forget that look. It’s the look we give for the rest of our lives.
Adam Wilson is the author of the novel Flatscreen, a National Jewish Book Award finalist, and the forthcoming collection of short stories What’s Important is Feeling. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, The New York Times, Tin House, Bookforum and The Best American Short Stories, among many other publications. In 2012, he received The Terry Southern Prize which recognizes, “wit, panache, and sprezzatura” in work published by The Paris Review. He teaches creative writing at NYU and Columbia and lives in Brooklyn. – See more at:http://centerforfiction.org/
‘America is Me and Andy’ originally appeared in Word Riot ‘s August 2011 issue.