When I was in eighth grade at Washington Junior High, Dan and I were "together," but we also got hung up on other boys.
My big crushes of the year were:
Paul Getty Jr., the kidnapped heir to the Getty fortune.
Barry Williams, Greg Brady on The Brady Bunch
Teen idol David Cassidy
And Micah (not his real name), from my geology, English, and gym class.
He was short and compact, with a round stern face, severely short hair, and the tantalizing hint of muscle beneath his white button-down shirt and black pants.
Unfortunately, I never saw anything more -- for some reason he got permission to sit in the bleachers doing homework during gym.
One day he was standing at the door to the cafeteria, passing out tracts that said "Are You Ready for Eternity?" I walked over, held out my hand, and said, "Hey, Micah, I'm a Christian, too. Church of the Nazarene."
"Nazarene...." he repeated, staring as if I had said "Church of Satan." Then he shoved a tract into my hand and rushed away.
A few inquiries revealed that Micah belonged to the Bible Missionary Church, which broke away from the Nazarene Church in 1955 because we were too liberal! We permitted Bible translations other than the King James, not to mention such Satanic pastimes as tv, radio, newpapers, and sports where boys ran around in revealing uniforms. Thus, we were more dangerous than the openly-evil Catholics, Lutherans, and Presbyterians. Too dangerous to talk to, even in an attempt at soul winning!
How could I get close to a boy who thought I was the devil? Especially when he always chose another Bible Missionary kid for school assignments, sat with other Bible Missionary kids at lunch, and didn't belong to any clubs or teams?
I used to gaze at Micah in the cafeteria, as he joined hands with the other Bible missionary kids to pray, ate his peanut-butter sandwich, pudding cup, and apple, and then opened his black King James Bible to round out the lunch hour with a Bible study.
They joined hands....
One day I walked up and asked if I could join the Bible study. One of the girls giggled and scooted over so I could pull up a chair next to her -- on the other side of the table from Micah!
It was a step in the right direction, anyway.
But by the next day, word of my Nazarene heresy had gotten around, so when I tried to join the Bible Missionary table, they scooted together. "No room! No room!"
Maybe if I pretended to be just as strict as Micah?
The Big Event of the fall of 1973 was the Comet Kohoutek, rapidly approaching the Earth. It was to be the Comet of the Century, visible for weeks even in the daytime (it actually turned out to be a gigantic dud.)
Tabloids and quick-print paperbacks were yelling that Kohoutek would bring global earthquakes and floods that would destroy civilization.
Our Nazarene preacher kept mum, no doubt recalling the debacle over his prediction that the 1969 Moon Landing would herald the Second Coming. But many fundamentalist preachers, including Dan's, went wild, proclaiming that this is it! The Rapture, the Tribulation, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the White Throne Judgement!.
When Micah came by, I called: "Hey, the Rapture is coming. We just have 40 days left!"
"No man knows the day or the hour of the Lord's return," he said coolly. "Anyone who claims he knows is a false prophet." He rushed on.
Ok, then, fighting against a common enemy?
Dan and I were already angry over the announcement that we would be spending a week of geology class learning The Devil's Old Lie, Evil-Lution! Maybe even being tempted to believe that the world was millions of years old, instead of 6,000, like God's Word said.
One day I went up to Micah after gym class and told him about the upcoming brainwashing.
"I know -- I saw it in the schedule. But everything we learn at public school is a lie, so how is this different?"
"It's much more serious. Believing in evolution is the source of every other heresy. Atheism! Rock music! Shopping on Sunday!" I gestured at Dan. "Some of us are getting together to plan a protest, maybe a sit-in like the college students do to protest Vietnam. I thought maybe God put a burden on your heart to help out with this important work."
He looked dubious. "It won't be at your house, will it?"
"No, at Dan's. He's a Pentecostal."
Apparently Pentecostals were different enough to be acceptable. "There won't be any girls there? Or tv?"
"Oh, no, no temptations of any sort."
Our thighs were touching the whole time!
We strategized and drew up posters and practiced anti-evolution songs and ate snacks, like we didn't come from two sides of a cosmic gulf. Micah even laughed at one of my jokes.
We held hands for the closing prayer.
My hand may have "accidentally" fallen onto his lap. I may have felt something there. I don't remember clearly. But I remember the warmth and pressure of Micah's hand in mine, more clearly than many later nights of passion.
After the protest, Dan and I got a 3-day suspension, and Micah got detention. Cautioned by his parents to not "be unequally yoked with unbelievers," he went back to ignoring me.
After gym class, I was just finishing up my shower, on the way to grab a towel from the athletic trainer, when Micah appeared out of nowhere. He just stood there, staring as if he'd never seen a penis before.
"Um...aren't you excused from gym class?" I asked, too surprised and embarrassed to move.
"I need...I need...to use the bathroom," he stammered.
"It's back there." I regained my composure and covered myself.
When high school started, all of the Bible Missionary kids were gone. I heard that they were all being home-schooled to avoid the temptations of Rocky High.
I never saw Micah again. I don't know if he's gay or not. Probably not.
That moment of holding hands was enough.