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Old July 31st, 2009, 08:04 AM
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Best Buds (Part 1)

By Richard Jasper

Theirs was an unlikely friendship.

John was handsome, outgoing, and athletic. Within a week of arriving at Wyndham College, he had joined the crew team, the track team, the student newspaper, and the Freshman Student Government Advisory Committee. Even if he hadn't been a legacy, he would have been a shoo-in for the most popular fraternity on campus.

James was introverted, shy, borderline obsessive-compulsive with respect to academics, and totally over the top when it came to collecting Star Wars action figures, Star Wars posters, Star Wars books, Star Wars games, et cetera. If it involved Star Wars, James was on it. Unfortunately, he also looked the part: stick thin, totally unathletic, Coke-bottle thick glasses, and a tendency towards acne that was exacerbated by a corresponding tendency to forget to wash his long, dandruffy hair.

John and James had three things in common (four, if you count the fact that the were both guys):

(1) They were both exactly 5 feet 7 inches tall, which made them shorter than almost all of their male classmates (which had been the case since each had started pre-school.)

(2) Their first names started with the letter "J."

(3) They both lived in Room 122 of Bolton Hall.

Someone other than John might have been disdainful of and rude towards his first ever college roommate but John was nice as well as handsome, popular, and athletic. It wasn't something he worked at, it just happened; he came from a long line of very nice people, grew up in an environment in which he was cherished, and routinely saw his well-to-do parents and older siblings taking care of -- and appreciating -- people less fortunate than themselves.

For James, John was like a gift from heaven. Not one he expected, or even knew he needed, or even really understood at the time. An only child, James had brainy, academically successful parents who were, to put it charitably, a bit on the "socially awkward" side of the scale. They loved their son, and each other, but expressing their affection (verbally, physically) was difficult at best. They praised James' academic accomplishments, corrected problem behavior firmly but unemotionally, and simply took for granted his Star Wars mania (they had their own, after all!)

"I'm going to the gym, want to come?" John asked James their first Saturday together in Bolton Hall.

James blushed and stuttered:

"Uh, wh-wh-why would I want to do that?"

John laughed.

"Dude, how are you going to get big and buff if you don't go to the gym? It's not like they have magic pills for it, ya know!"

James just stared at John, his mouth hanging open. He had fantasized about those magic pills more than once. Could John read his mind?!

"I mean," John continued, "doesn't everyone want to be big and buff?"

James let out a sigh.

"You already are," he pointed out. "For you, it's maintenance. For me, well, I think divine intervention would be required."

John smirked.

"That's not how it works, silly. You go to the gym, you get buff, you eat a lot, you lift a lot, you get big. That's all there is to it."

James squirmed.

"Uh, well, ya know -- I don't know how!"

John laughed.

"That's what I'm here for, doofus -- just think of me as your Fairy Godfather!"

So James went with John to the gym, after they went by the campus bookstore to get some gym shorts, a tee-shirt, and some sweat socks (James didn't own any!) He was terrified of the locker room so John stood guard -- with his back to James -- while James changed clothes.

The equipment was mystifying, so much so that James kept bumping into things. But John patiently explained each and every piece of equipment. And like every other school assignment in his young life, James soaked up the lessons quickly.

"Wow," he said at one point, "I didn't realize there was so much to this! I'll have to do some reading."

John laughed again.

"Count of you to want to READ about exercising rather than doing it," he pointed out.

James blushed again.

"Well, actually, I *do* want to do it all," James said. "It will be an experiment."

By the time they got back to their dorm room, James was exhausted and the next day he could barely crawl out of bed. John, a natural-born trainer if there ever was one, showed James how to stretch.

"Wow," James said. "That's a lot better!"

John nodded.

"And eventually we can do partner-assisted stretching."

James' ears perked up at that.

"What's that?" he asked.

"When I stretch you and you stretch me, of course. What did you think it was?"

James thought the idea of having John's hands on his body was a very good idea!

"Ready to hit the gym again?"

James' smile was a mile wide.

"I knew you had one in there somewhere," John said.

"One what?"

"A smile, doofus! Its the first one I've seen from you!"

When all was said and done, John was accustomed to seeing people smiling, especially whenever they looked his way.

I guess I don't do it much, James thought.

But that was about to change.

Last edited by arpeejay; August 10th, 2009 at 11:50 AM.
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Old July 31st, 2009, 08:06 AM
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You, sir, are on fire this summer. Looking forward to this story as well, and of course, meeting my own real-life John someday.



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Old August 1st, 2009, 06:00 PM
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"on Fire" is right!

Richard,

Padraig has certainly called this one! You're posting an average of a new story or chapter every 5 days!

The writing muse is really with you this summer!

Go, Richard, go!

Mdlftr
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Old August 10th, 2009, 11:43 AM
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"More in a bit..." turned out to be "more in a week or so..."

My son and daughter were up visiting from Atlanta last week. Between that and an unexpected health issue I haven't had much time before today. Here's hoping I can finish this one off before the week is over!

xoxo

Richard
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Old August 10th, 2009, 11:44 AM
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And, yes, in case you didn't go back and look, I've substantially expanded the first entry.

-- rpj
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