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[Author's Note: This installment picks up after "Friendship is Like Outback Steakhouse: Part IV". It is very important that you read the intro and Parts I through IV in order before you read this part].

Today was club day at school, as is every alternating Wednesday, so, since there was no meeting for my club (Young Republicans), Joseph, Cecile, and I went to the neighborhood playground adjacent to our school, where Joseph's health class was. I, being a teachers' pet (for a reason), was our excuse to get past the assistant principal without having a teacher's note.
It was when we were standing on the metal platform that Joseph shooed Cecile away for a minute so that he and I could have what he called 'straight people talk'. (Cecile is bisexual). Cecile reluctantly plunged down the slide after some coercion, and Joseph put his arm around me. He obviously heard Cecile and I a few minutes before, when we admitted to each other our crushes on Joseph. Secretly, I knew that if Joseph were to choose between me and Cecile, he would choose me because he knows that I am straight and completely unwilling to cheat or even lust over someone else at the same time. I, of course, did not even think to dare say that to Cecile.
Joseph didn't actually take me as his girlfriend, but he did something enchanting in spite of that: he kissed me! Even though it wasn't on the lips, it was still wonderful, because now Cory wasn't the only guy to have kissed me, and-even better-Joseph proved that he has feelings for me! (And he is a one-girl kind of guy!). We were enraptured even though we weren't dating!

***

That afternoon, Joseph got to meet my Dad. They gave each other a respectful greeting, then my Dad ushered me to his truck.
Dad wasn't impressed at all; in fact, he was quite disgusted. I didn't want to believe that he could judge someone's character-or, at least, intentions and nuances-but I had to make myself come to realize it. Anyway, Dad and I had a rather long debate that turned into an argument when my aristocratic Mom came home shortly after we did. It wasn't the first time my Mom had called me 'white trash', but it is the worst so far all because it was over a friendship, a perfectly realistic friendship with a fellow poet! I must admit, however, that I most certainly would have dated Joseph if only no one like my parents had objected.
But my parents weren't the only ones to demur. Friends at school and even one of my teachers didn't like the idea of me and Joseph being together. My parents and my teacher believed that he would manipulate me into giving away more of myself than I was willing to, but I had pulled myself from that situation with Cory just a month and a half earlier! But, still, the thought and the reality that people were underestimating my strength pissed me off big time. I know who I am; I know that I can defend myself as well as attack when the situation warrants it. I had to learn that in the fifth grade when I was at odds with the middle school bully. I have noticed that a lot of people underestimate me and have a propensity to want to help me out of the ever-common and ultra-heated word wars that some people like to pick with me. Well, I'm telling you now that I can throw my own fire, thank you very much, so don't act like I am defenseless!
But the saddest thing about this is that I can no longer hang with Joseph.
It is so different from letting go of Cory: I never dated Joseph, and, moreover, Joseph never-not even once-did anything to disrespect me. Joseph treated me like a best friend-without my ever having to ask for even an inkling of respect. I sure will miss Joseph by doing the right thing before God: honoring my parents. But, of course, God has His mysterious ways, so I might get a shock from someone totally unexpected-one can never know until something happens. And may something great happen!

(To be continued...)

------
"Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not."-Jeremiah 33:3, King James Version

"Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path."-Psalm 119:105, New Living Translation

The present and future are not about who you were in the past-rather, they are about who you are and who you will become.

"Writing is truly glorious in that an author can put on paper the words that fear denies the voice to speak."-from my short story, "Set Free"

"...What you feel is what you are;
What you are is beautiful..."
-from "Slide" by the Goo Goo Dolls

Life surprises you! And I'm talking about the good stuff, because a bad surprise is not a surprise at all, it is just shock and horror. All of these good surprises, they are rewards, and the things that happen to remind you that you matter and that you should make yourself faithful so that you can be deserving of all of life's good surprises. Every wonderful surprise in life is a chance to flourish, so grab life by the horns-but don't ride, steer instead: life's horns are life's joystick. You can handle it, because your life's horns are made especially for you. If you don't give up, all of this will hold true and life will continue to surprise you.

Aubri, a. k. a. "Leopard Lady"


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