We’re away until January 6, but we’re reposting some of our favorite pieces from 2019. Enjoy your holiday!
“No homo,” says the boy, barely visible in the room’s fading light, as he cradles my foot in his palms. He is kneeling before me—this 6’2” JV basketball second stringer—as I sit on his bed, my feet hovering above the shag. His head is bent so that the swirl in his crown shows, the sweat in the follicles catching the autumn dusk through the window. Anything is possible, we think, with the body. But not always with language. “No homo,” he says again before wrapping the ace bandage once, twice, three times around my busted ankle, the phrase’s purpose now clear to me: a password, an incantation, a get-out-of-jail-free card, for touch. For two boys to come this close to each other in a realm ruled by the nebulous yet narrow laws of American masculinity, we needed magic.
No homo. The words free him to hold my foot with the care and gentleness of a nurse, for I had sprained my ankle half an hour earlier playing manhunt in the McIntosh orchard. We ran, our bodies silver in the quickening dark, teenagers playing at war.
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