A Look At JESSE’s Past

These past few episodes we talked about Jesse’s past. He was quite the dweeb. He had a bowl cut, socks too high on pasty white legs all year round. He wore shorts every day to school that were not quite the right size and  a baggy Polo uniform shirt. He had the worst looking grey tennis shoes that were constantly worn out and the WORST bowl cut I have ever seen in my life. He had no game and would never stand up for himself. He had a small group of friends and they were all guys. Any girls he did hang out with, they were just friends and no one expected anything else. He was well known, but not on anyone’s list of the coolest in the school. I knew him well then, or so I thought. I now realize I didn’t know as much as I thought. I don’t think I treated him badly (though that’s up to him) and I did stand up for him (though I’m not sure he knew). He was my friend.

What I didn’t know was the reason he wore such terrible clothes and had a crappy haircut is because he couldn’t afford any better. A single mother of two trying to put her kids into a decent school was not an easy task. I know that at least for my time there, tuition was near $500 and that was for just ONE kid at ONE school. Not to mention, books, prom, car, raffle tickets, bake sales, activities, rides, backpacks and any other crap parents have to pay for. As a kid who wanted to live and experience things it was difficult to afford every dance, outfit and costume. He did it though. I wonder sometimes if people realize how much he got from the whole experience.

People would constantly call him gay. It’s the reason he never had a girl. He was too into the things they were into and showed them respect and kept his distance, this is not what high school girls want. At the time, we didn’t think of “gay” as a hurtful term to anyone. We were just ignorant kids making fun of someone for being different and into things we thought were just for girls.  I remember getting into shouting matches or slinging insults at people who teased him. I remember thinking it was so cool that he had the biggest football players on his side whenever anyone tried to push him around. I didn’t know until that fateful costume, that he could handle himself, because he never tried to. That’s also what made him an easy target. And, honestly, it still makes him an easy target. He’d rather get made fun of and laugh it off uncomfortably rather than stand up to someone and fight, even if he would win.

I took advantage, but I didn’t know it. He introduced me to friends I still have today and made me know everyone too. I met him freshman year as a “equipment manager” with the football team. I also got to experience the joy of having someone punk you in the hallway and then watch as their face drops when they see a 7′ black guy walk in and ask if I am OK. I hung out with seniors because he did. I met the people in my class because he did the same with his class. I hung out with a small group of firends, because they were HIS friends first. I didn’t even realize that for years, he drove me 5 miles out of his way (10 round trip) so that I could hang out with everyone.

Honestly, there’s no way to tell what I’ve done for him or how the scales tip between the two of us. All I know is that when I used to know that awkward, dorky, metro, dweeb with way too much time on his hands and no girl ever on his arm; I was able to have long conversations with him about life, goals. girls, choices, anger. respect and love. I know now and knew then that the kid with no style, lots of friends and no game…was a pretty cool kid to me.