There was no way I was gonna miss the World Cup rugby match between Australia and South Africa. The winner would automatically play France in the finals, and I figured the Springboks were in with a big chance. There was also no way I was gonna watch the game at home, so I rocked over to Kyle's house, and joined him, his folks and Wingnut, who seemed to be a permanent fixture. Being with those guys gave the game added excitement and atmosphere. We made so much damn noise, I figured the whole fucking hood would've heard us. In the end, though, it was a bitter pill to swallow. Australia had the better team on the day, even though we were the fav team to win.
Because the game was played in England, it was telecast pretty late our time, so the school had cancelled swim training for the following day. They'd also declared it 'civies' day, which meant we could chill 'cause we didn't have to wear our uniforms.
Wingnut had totally died by the time the game was over at close to midnight. We were all chatting about the play, but the kid was overtaken by sleep. He looked so damn cute as Kyle gathered him in his arms to take him home. The kid opened his eyes for a moment, nodded, then dozed off again. It was in such contrast to his normal energetic self, and enthusiasm for life. It also reminded me of how tired I was, so I decided to jet.
Kyle was dressed in his Billabong boardies, a loose t, and Biotribe sandals the next day at school, and gave me the distinct impression that he preferred that 'uniform' to the school's. "Hey, Kyle, you wanna come around for a few this arvie?"
"Is your mom going out?"
"Nope, but that doesn't matter. We can chill in my room."
I hadn't expected mom's boyfriend to invade my space, but he entered my room without knocking, and looked at Kyle who was sitting on my bed. "So, Kyle, are you also a wanker like Mark?" My startled bud didn't know which way to look.
"Fuck off outa my room, dickhead," I growled in my deepest voice.
"Who do you think you're talking to?"
"You, you prick. Now get out!" If Kyle hadn't been there, the asshole would've fisted me for sure. He was madder than a fucking hornet. He was also built, with veins popping out all over his arms. He'd already made mince meat of me plenty of times. Anyway, the prick had ruined Kyle's visit, so I made arrangements to visit my bud at his place later on.
"What was that all about," Kyle asked as I followed him into his room, then flopped onto his bed.
"He's a fuckwit."
"So what's the story about me being a wanker?"
"OK, so you're no brain surgeon, but I don't need to fucking elaborate. I hate that cunt."
"He ever beat up on you?"
"Let's drop it. I could've stayed home if I wanted to talk about him."
Well, that put paid to any more convo. Kyle sensed that I was getting moody again, so he clammed up. In any case, I didn't need to be reminded of the crap that I had to suffer at home, and being at Kyle's was supposed to be an escape from all that shit.
I spent all of Sunday at Carol's, which kinda lifted my spirits. Good sex was one sure fire way of blotting out my probs, and, by Monday's swim training, I was pretty much back to normal. At least, Kyle seemed to think I was, depending on what he considered to be normal. I wasn't sure myself. "Hey, you mind if I bring my books around and study at your place tonight?"
"Sure, Mark. No prob. You know you don't even need to ask."
It was quite amazing to be in Kyle's room studying for exams. We hardly spoke, except for quizzing each other about the science text. I remembered him saying something about my being a brainbox, and my saying nope, it's just that I studied hard.
"It's a different side to you… like serious without the mood, if you know what I mean."
As he walked me home, my mind was elsewhere. He said bunch of stuff about how he should compliment me more, and how grateful he was to be my buddy, but I wasn't paying much attention. Well, I was, but he was talking the kinda shit that I found difficult to respond to. Then he went on about how my mom's boyfriend hadn't really fazed him, and that it was cool. I didn't reply, except for thanking him for the evening, then we split.
What was it about that kid? I thought as I undressed for bed. I treat him like he doesn't exist sometimes, but he sticks to me like shit to a blanket -- a phrase I'd stolen from him. Fuck, he didn't need to be my friend. He had friends to burn. Then I laughed to myself, remembering how he'd say that he hung with me 'cause he liked my bod. Well, there had to be more to it than that. At least, I hoped so. Mind you, I liked his bod as well. He was fit and toned, and topped off by a mop of crazy hair and a grinning face that was pretty hard to resist. He had a way about him that combined sex appeal with humor. On the other hand, he could also lose it, and become feisty. But he was never dull. Never.
Next day, he'd invited me to the beach, and asked me to bring Carol. The surf was up big time. I didn't know all that much about waves and shapes, but they were good enough to coax his dad down with his board, plus a crowd of locals. Carol and I sat on the beach watching the guys. Steve was disappearing into green rooms with amazing regularity, while Wingnut cracked us up time after time as he took off on everything that came along. Actually, one time, the grommet got nailed by a big wave. We held our breath as his board soared into the air, then looked as though it was gonna connect with his head as it descended, but he ducked just in time to avoid it. It didn't faze him, though. He was paddling for the next wave in a minute as if nothing had happened.
The older guys, like Kyle's dad, were being a bit choosy about the waves they caught, probably 'cause they were outa condition, or maybe just less heroic. In any case, they left the bravado to the teens. Steph was also getting some cool rides. Sometimes, she acted more like a boy than a girl. I figured she had a thing about being equal to the guys. At the same time, though, she had a keen eye for a good looking dude.
Kyle was obviously fucked by the time he'd finished surfing. He trotted up the beach toward Carol and I, with his stick tucked under his arm, and his matted hair clinging to his forehead. I could tell by the way his chest was heaving that he was short of breath.
"He looks kinda hunky, don't you think?"
"Kyle, you dork! Who else?"
"He's OK, I guess." Yeah, he did look hunky, but what was I supposed to tell Carol? That I was crazy about him? Yeah, right.
Study was the flavor of the month, so much so, that even swim training was held back 'cause of the upcoming exams. And studying at Kyle's house had also become routine. I was no sooner through the front door, than Kyle's dad punched me on the arm and asked how my study was going. I enjoyed Kyle's dad. He was a physical dude, a lot like his son, and me, for that matter. He was a man's man.
"It's going OK, I guess. That's why I like coming around here, so that Kyle and I can study together. It's better than hitting the books on my own at home."
"Kyle's got good taste in friends," he grinned. "You're welcome here anytime, Mark."
Studying with Kyle wasn't just about reading and taking notes, though. It was interactive. We'd spend time quizzing each other and discussing the whys and wherefores. It helped us to not only understand what we were learning, but why we were learning it.
It was fucking cool to see Darren again next morning at swim prac. He had a friend with him, Gareth, another dude who was an old boy and had gone on to college. They jacked around with us for a while, then asked us if we'd like to have an old boys challenge Friday week -- them against us in a swim comp. Yeah! We all agreed that would be totally fucking wicked!
"Hey, you and Gareth hit it off straight away," Kyle noted as we walked home. "You guys were laughing like two old friends. It kinda made my day to see you laughing like that."
"Yeah, he's cool. Hey, bud, all your friends are cool."
Once again, I chose not to respond. But what I'd said was true. Kyle had a knack of choosing cool guys as friends, which was a bit of a puzzle when it came to me. I wasn't like the other dudes… well, I could tell that I was going through some changes, but I was still a long way from being like they were, if I ever would be. And I seriously doubted that. If Kyle was right, then he must've recognized something in me that was invisible to everyone else, except maybe to Carol. It was weird, 'cause Kyle had already admitted to me that he thought I was a fucking jerk when he first met me. So what had changed his mind?
That night, I decided to hit the books at home alone to catch up on last minute study. Kyle phoned and wanted to know how it was hangin'. It was an interruption, but I didn't mind. The dude had a way of making me feel appreciated. He was also into the books and having an early night. The pressure of exams was on big time. Then came the weekend.
One of the great things about Kyle's house was that it had a pool and a nice garden, perfect for a braai, otherwise known as a barbecue. Apart from Carol and I, most of the guys were there… Jumbo, who came alone, Steve and his girl, Kevin and a bud of his from school, Steph, Ross and his girl and, of course, the fucking star of the show, Wingnut. The grommet decided to bring the cute little blonde groupie who hung out at the beach, and who thought the fucking sun shone outa the kid's ass. He'd spiked his black hair with gel, and was wearing tight, black jeans, a white, open-neck shirt that hung loose, and sneakers. He'd timed his arrival like some Hollywood star so that we'd all notice, and he gave us all that 'studdup' look. The only thing missing was the white limo and the paparazzi's flashing cameras. Well, you couldn't help but like the kid. He had style. So we all made him and his chick feel welcome, and part of the older crowd.
It was the perfect way to relax, unlike clubbing, which tended to get you all hyped until you were legless. This was an occasion for just chatting and laughing and drinking beer, and enjoying good food and the company of good friends. It was also cool to see Jumbo there. He was the only black dude, but it demonstrated that Kyle's taste in friends wasn't limited to whites. Meantime, Kyle's folks had gone to a movie, so we teens were pretty much left to ourselves.
Monday's paper was second language, Afrikaans. Both Kyle and I agreed that it sucked big time. It was such a shit 'cause we'd never really need it unless we wanted to talk to some Dutch farmer who refused to speak English. "Actually," Kyle explained, "most of the farmers are pretty cool and quite helpful, but my dad says that a lotta them have this huge fucking chip on their shoulder about the new setup in Safrica, 'cause they've lost the government subsidies they used to get."
Yep, a lot had changed since the demise of the apartheid regime. Our school was a good example of that -- black and white kids all equal. There was still a tendency for whites to mix with whites, and blacks with blacks, but I didn't think it had anything to do with racism. It was just a natural thing that certain people would gravitate toward their own. There were exceptions, though, like Jumbo. He was a well liked and well respected member of the swim team. And our Prime Minister? Hey, he was as black as they came. Nelson Mandela. A guy who had spent half his adult life in prison 'cause he was opposed to apartheid. And now he was the man. Sweet fucking justice.
"Anyway, forget all that shit for a minute," Kyle continued. "I've got a joke for ya. One day Timmy is in his backyard digging a hole, and his neighbor leans over the fence all curious like. "Whatcha doin'," he asks.
"My goldfish died, and I'm burying him."
"That's an awful big hole for a goldfish, ain't it?"
"That's 'cause he's inside your fucking cat!"
Kyle ducked just in time to save himself from a thick ear.
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