Daniel

by Niklas - and thanks to Dale for checking my English

 

My best friend was named Daniel.
He didn't like his name in the same way I didn't like mine. My name is Marcus.
"Daniel", said Daniel, "that's how old ladies at the coffee table name a kid."
"And how would you name yourself, then?" I asked.
He shrugged. "Dunno. No idea."
"Well, I'd rather be called Steve. Steve Lord." Yupp, I thought that was a good name. Somebody with that name could become a movie star or a rockstar... no matter, it was a real cool name.
"But why?" asked Daniel. "Marcus sounds okay to me. Why not Mark? That sounds cool, too."
"Nobody calls me 'Mark'. Somehow I never get a nickname." And now I shrugged, too. We looked at each other. Actually, our names weren't important at all. Whenever we played together we pretended to be other people with different names, we never simply played ourselves. For me, Daniel was just Daniel. His name matched him perfectly. Whenever I hear the name Daniel I automatically think of a boy with reddish-brown hair and a slightly chubby shape. In fact, he wasn't really chubby, but when I was mad at him, I usually said he was fat. There were some fat girls in our class but no fat boy, and so it was up to poor Daniel to be the fattest boy in our class.
When Daniel wanted to take revenge for calling him fat, he made fun of my long hair. Of course, my hair wasn't really long, either, it was just a little bit longer than the other boys' hair. Daniel used to say, I had no haircut, it wasn't even any hair style. What he had, that was a haircut. My hair wasn't cut, and I'd look like a girl that way anyhow.
So, I called him fat and Daniel called me a girl. We were always wide of the mark. Like all the boys at that age.
Me and DanielYears later I took the effort to look for all the old music from the charts at that time and record it on cassette tapes. I rummaged through lots of music stores and spent quite a lot of money to collect all the old hits and hear them again. Just to remember. But when I played the music, Chris, our common friend, winced 'Oh, no, please, stop it! Don't remind me of that f***ing time!' Like Daniel and I, Chris had always been wide of the mark at that age and he still felt embarrassed when thinking back.
But I like to think back. Even when there were so many things that were painfully embarrassing, it had been a very good time for me, a special time with a very special feeling. And I never want to forget that special feeling.
Daniel smiled a bit uncertainly and said, 'It's okay, let your music play." And he knew every song. So many times we had sat together and listened to music - mostly songs that we recorded from the radio charts on cassette tapes. We played our favorites to each other, and even though Daniel had different taste than mine, we usually agreed that typical girls' favorite music was unbearable. We loved big, impressive rockbands with tough guys and we didn’t give a shit for greasy boy groups playing bubble-gum pop.
Like I said, I had a very special feeling during that time of my childhood that I never want to forget. That's why I'm still able to describe it...

It began when I came in 5th grade at high school and I didn't know anybody there. For months I didn't take any notice of Daniel - like almost everybody else. I had a secret crush on a girl in my class and a short time later on another girl, but I never talked to them. Just like any 10-year-old boy. But one day I talked with Daniel during the break, and again in the next break, and also next day, and one day he took me home with him after school to show me where he lived, and later I took him home with me and though there was never a point where we said we were friends, it was clear that we were.
Daniel asked me if I ever took notice of a blond girl with freckles in our class. Her name was Betty. One look at her and I was in love. Daniel said that's no wonder, he was in love with her, too. So, we were both in love with the same girl and we knew it and it was no problem at all. We never dared to talk to her, anyway. But we had really adventurous fantasies about her and we told each other that stuff. It was quite clear that we had to rescue her from some terrible dangerous to win a kiss from her. It seemed impossible that she'd kiss one of us just because we were nice. Girls only kiss heroes and never just simple fifth-grader boys who play with Lego bricks.
To kiss this blond girl named Betty was my biggest dream --- or at least my second biggest, right after a journey to a distant planet. Once I actually dreamed about kissing her, and the dream seemed to be so real and so exciting that I woke up immediately. I was daydreaming a lot about her and I always imagined how we might fall into a situation where we came so close that inevitably our lips would touch.
I told Daniel my daydreams and he told me his. It was great. We never thought about jealousy. It seemed like we could both kiss Betty at the same time.
We turned 11 and when we started 6th grade, we were both still in love with Betty. Even Chris, who lived next door to Daniel, said that Betty was a wonderful girl and he'd like to kiss her, too. Me and Daniel grinned and said 'welcome to the club'. But Chris actually took his bike and rode to Betty's house and rang the doorbell and asked if she was there!
"Geee, how unfair!" we said.
Luckily, Betty wasn't home that day and she didn't seem to take any notice of Chris. She was too busy with her girlfriends. Just like we were busy with our friends and didn't know what to say to her, anyway.

Then came a certain morning when I lay half asleep in bed and fantasized a bit. I fantasized about some rather weird stuff, like I was in a meadow together with two young women with big boobs. It was really hot and the women took off their shirts and we climbed up a hill. I kept looking at these big boobs and they were really turning me on, and I was turning from side to side in my bed and suddenly I felt a warm shudder going through my body and my heart was pounding and I was feeling unbelievably great. What really overcame me was the intensity of this feeling. I had never felt anything that strong before, so much of a feeling at the same time, and I'd never thought that I was simply able to such a thing. It was even better than that dream about kissing Betty, and even though I knew it was just a fantasy it felt so incredibly real.
While the feeling let up I finally awoke and noticed that there was something wet in my pajama pants. There was a small stain to the front, something white and soapy that didn't smell. Obviously, it had come out of my weenie but it wasn't anything that I had seen before.
Well, I had a rather fuzzy idea what it could be and I felt weird about it.
It took about two or three months until I got another wet dream. And soon I figured out how to get that great feeling and the soapy white stuff again. I used to lie on my tummy and I moved it so that my weenie rubbed against the blanket or the sheet, and I thought of naked girls.
The problem was that this soapy white stuff always made a stain. You couldn't see it on my bedsheet because it was white but it became dry and rough and you could feel it.
I thought, nobody has to know that I was doing such dirty things and I found a way to hide the stains. I simply took some old underwear and let it disappear in the depth of my wardrobe, behind piles of comic books and toys. And everytime I was in the mood I dug out some of that underwear and spread it under my tummy.
And I was in the mood a lot!
Rather soon that old underwear started to look pretty disgusting.

Daniel was allowed to stay for a sleepover with me. I couldn't believe how complicated he made it! I bet he'd loved to take half of his bedroom with him, pretending he couldn't sleep without his stuff. At last he came up with two stuffed animals, his big pillow, toothbrush and toothpaste and a beaker, several towels, soap and his pajamas. I thought to myself I'd only take my toothbrush with me if I ever happen to spend the night with Daniel. I didn't understand why my parents just laughed about Daniel. I thought he was awfully childish for his age.
My Mom tucked us in. That way she could make sure that we wouldn't stay up half the night, having a pillow fight or something. My Mom was a "real mom", she was a bit fat and she looked like she could cook and clean up to perfection, and she loved children. She grabbed me everytime I came too close and cuddled me, stroked my cheeks and kissed me, no matter if I tried to resist. She even grabbed Daniel and cuddled him! And then she gave him nicknames, really embarrassing nicknames! I blushed, but Daniel just grinned and looked somewhat pleased.
Daniel's Mom was slim and fancy and she smoked. Her household always looked cleaner than ours, though I couldn't imagine her wiping and scrubbing. She used to talk quietly and patiently with Daniel and she hardly ever lost her temper. But I never saw her cuddling or kissing her son.
Daniel and me lay in the darkness of my bedroom and talked a while. Daniel sounded as if he was already a bit homesick and I made fun of him.
"It's ooookay, Marcus", he muttered in the dark, "we knooooow that you're better anyway."
I didn't understand him. "Huh, why 'better'? Maybe because I'm normal and you’re weird."
"Haha, you - normal? Excuse me for laughing, but what's normal about you?"
I thought for a moment. "Um, for example, I don't need my old pillow for a sleepover. And no stuffed animals, either."
Daniel said nothing for a while, then he mumbled: "Forget it."
He was rather restless during the night, I heard him breathing, moving and murmuring in his sleep and sometimes he made some smacking noises with his lips. Because of this noise I didn't sleep well, either.
We got up pretty early, long before my parents. We stayed in my room and fooled around, jumped from bed to bed in our pajamas and finally sat down together on my bed.
Daniel didn't look as if he noticed that he was sitting on my foot. My foot stuck under the blanket, but I think he had to feel it. Anyway, I felt him quite clearly, inspite of the blanket between us. My toes nearly flattened his privates and I was surprised how soft they were. We kept on talking as if there was nothing. I moved my foot under him so that he had to notice it, but he stayed sitting there.
Then it flashed through my mind that he might like it getting touched this way. And I realized that I could like it, too, and I asked myself why we didn't say it. But we talked about something else. And finally Daniel stood up and this exciting moment was gone.
Before this morning I hadn't ever noticed Daniel's body, except his slight chubbyness which I called fat to make him mad. But I hadn't seen anything interesting about his body. From that day on, I was excited and curious. I couldn't get it out of my head that Daniel liked the way I touched him with my foot. And that I liked it, too.
The next time we went swimming, I looked at Daniel sharper than ever. He wasn't really chubby, he just looked smoother than other boys. His shoulders and knees looked rounder than mine, less drawn by the bones. His tummy was a little bit curved, his butt was round and neat. Later when we dried ourselves in the lockerroom, I caught a glimpse of his weenie and I saw that he had an average, small dick.
I was quite sure that Daniel noticed how weird I looked at him lately, but he didn't show it. At least he didn't stare back at me like I was weird.
I couldn't stop thinking about it. Since Daniel sat down on my foot my life became complicated. Everything that had happened to me until that day had been more or less familiar to me. At least I had heard of it before, what people call 'the facts of life'. Though I thought it all happened to me way too early, so that nobody ever had to know it, I knew it was 'normal'. I had 'ejaculations' and I thought of girls while doing it. I was in love with girls.
And now I couldn't stop thinking of Daniel, how he sat on my foot and my toes felt up his small soft parts and how I felt that he liked it and I liked it.
I was only 11 1/2 years old.Jesus, I was 11 1/2 years old and I had just the faintest ideas about sex. That was something that men and women did, just like the heroes and heroines on TV, who always fall in love with each other and in the very next scene lie in bed, breathing heavy, and biting their chins. I never ever heard of two boys and sitting on a foot. Probably, I wasn't normal. Everything had happened too early to me, that must have been the reason. Daniel couldn't feel anything when sitting on my foot, he simply wasn't that far along.
I felt like a dirty pig.
But it couldn't stop me thinking of Daniel while I played with my body. I thought, as long as I was still in love with girls, it could do no harm.

Soon it was my turn to stay with Daniel for a sleepover. Of course, I was just going to take my toothbrush with me, but my Mom began to pack things up for me, like my pajamas and some clean underwear, and it was hard to convince her that I don't need even more stuff. Daniel's Mom had a date that night, so we knew we'd be alone for hours. We did what all 11-year-olds love to do in such a situation: watching TV without any parental guidance. We planned to move to the living room in our pajamas, to be ready for bed. Daniel kept his underwear on under his pajamas, so that he didn't have to undress in front of me. Since I never keep my underwear on when I put on my pajamas, I wondered if I should undress. But then I simply did it like Daniel.
We took our blankets with us and made ourselves comfortable on the sofa. Actually, we didn't care what was on TV, we made fun of the program, anyway, no matter what it was. In fact, it couldn't be bad enough for us. The biggest fun was when we tuned down the sound of the commercials and 'dubbed' them with new words:
"Well, these are bedsheets that we painted white so that they look cleaner." (Detergents) - "Our stupid pills have no effect, but it doesn't matter, you won't be able to shut your mouth, anyway." (Denture cleaner) - "Don't ask me what I'm doing here, I grin whenever I see a camera." (no particular) - "Disgusting sticky stuff - and the best of all: it's incredibly expensive!" (Candy)
We lay on the floor in front of the sofa and laughed our heads off. Daniel was really good at 'dubbing' the commercials. Off the cuff he said really funny stuff that perfectly matched the pictures, or he changed the slogans with only a few words to something that sounded wonderfully stupid.
But after a while we had enough of the joking and we leaned back on the sofa, curled up in our blankets, and watched a detective movie saying out loud who we suspected was the murderer. The movie was rather boring, and after an hour or so we gave up and carried our blankets back into Daniel's room, and we expected Daniel's Mom would come home, soon.
We played a while with his toys, let his model cars drive along the edge of his bed, chasing each other. My car disappeared under the bed and when I reached for it I grabbed something else and pulled it out. It was a pile of cotton wool.
"What’s this cotton wool under your bed?" I asked and wrinkled my nose.
Daniel blushed deeply and took the cotton wool from my hands. He made: "Shhhh! I put aside that, so that Mum doesn't know."
I had no idea what he was talking about. "Huh? What do you wanna do with a pile of that stuff?"
Daniel was awfully nervous and hid the cotton wool in a drawer. "I need it for the night. You know, there can be something running out - that's what I read somewhere." And that last thing - 'that's what I read' - really sounded like a lie.
"Huh?" was still my only reaction.
Daniel looked at me with his blushed cheeks and didn't know if I knew anything about 'things that may run out at night'. Nervously he said: "I just clean it up with that cotton wool, so that my mom doesn't see it."
I sat there on the floor next to his bed and I was confused. First I thought of bedwetting, but I doubted that cotton wool could help there. But later, when Daniel's mother was back and we had to turn out the light and keep quiet, I had the idea that Daniel might do the same thing that I did with my old underwear. I just couldn't imagine it, Daniel seemed to me so immature, so... innocent, he could impossibly be as dirty as me.
In spite of all this confusion, he made me even more curious. Next morning I became a little bit more aggressive: I changed my underwear before Daniel's eyes! I wanted to know what he'd do when he saw me naked. I did it while he simply lay in his bed and had nothing to do. Either he'd watch me or he'd look away.
Daniel watched me silently.
It was a real good feeling, to be watched by Daniel. I took my time to fold the dirty underwear tidily, drew the clean pair out of my bag in an involved way and spread it out before I put it on.
But Daniel wasn’t fair. He changed in the bathroom.

Like I said we were always wide of the mark at that age. But I didn't know that back then, I just thought I was the only one who was always totally off the mark.
Whenever I tried to act like a grown up I made a fool out of myself. Especially in front of the girls I wanted to impress, and sometimes I said boastful crap that makes me ashamed even today.
And when I acted like the child that I actually felt like, I made a fool out of myself then, too. For example, when Daniel and I sat in the bus and had fun playing games we made up, people shook their heads and said: "You belong in kindergarden." And I felt bad then and didn't realize that they also said it to Daniel.
So, I thought about my friend Daniel and did stuff to myself again and again, and I thought I was completely tainted. Abnormal. And until I found that cotton wool under Daniel's bed I didn't dare to think that anybody of my age could be as tainted as me. But now I was wondering about it. I searched my memories for pieces of circumstantial evidence that Daniel was tainted. I watched him and looked for signs.
Chris and Daniel were catholic, I am protestant. The catholic students had some lessons about sexuality, masturbation and morale in religious education, and I heard a lot of stories about it, especially Chris couldn't stop talking about it, giggling smuttily. The stuff about masturbation was his favorite. Daniel just blushed and smiled awkwardly and kept quiet.
"It was about a boy who sat in his class and couldn't concentrate and they said that he rubbed the front of his pants. So that he'd get a clear head again. Could you imagine doing this" - Chris showed how to do it - "in the middle of a lesson, just because you can't concentrate?" (giggle, giggle) "I wonder what girls do then. Perhaps they take their pencils..." Chris clinged to my sleeve and laughed his head off.
Daniel had to laugh a bit, too, though he didn't want to. "Aw, stop it, you're impossible!"
Suddenly Chris asked us: "Did you ever do that?" And he looked at us with a bright smile.
I blushed extremely and pretended to be ignorant: "Huh? Did what?"
"Well, masturbation! Like this!" Again he rubbed the fly of his pants. "Until something comes out."
I hoped that Daniel would say something since he knew those lessons, but Chris only looked at me, and then I lied: "Nooooo. Never done that."
Chris asked Daniel: "What about you?"
Uncertainly, Daniel said no.Uncertainly, Daniel shook his head. "No."
Chris looked sceptical. I don't think that he believed us but at least he stopped talking about masturbation and making jokes about it.
I kept in my mind that Daniel said no, like me, though I was fairly sure what he really did. We both lied.

Me and Daniel liked to ride around on our bikes and look for spooky places. There were some spooky places in the woods and on the outskirts of the city, for example an abandoned building which must have been used for some mysterious purpose that we couldn't imagine. But there were also some weird places in our neighborhood, particularly a weeded area, surrounded by a fairly high wall. From outside this wall you could only see undergrowth and weeds, but we wanted to find out why there was this big wall around it. It had to be hiding a secret.
So, we climbed up the wall and it wasn't easy at all. I wasn't too athletic and Daniel performed like a lead weight in gym. I was the first one to try, I jumped up and clutched at the top of the wall. Then I hung down the wall. "And now?"
Daniel helped me. He simply grabbed my butt and pushed me up. This way I really made it on top of the wall. Feeling Daniel's hands on my butt had shocked me slightly. I lay on top of the wall and everything was turning around me. Daniel used his bike for a step and climbed on it, but he didn't know how to climb up the rest of the way to the top. When he hung down the wall like a monkey I reached for his knee and pulled it up. And so even Daniel's big butt reached the top, finally.
We leapt down on the other side and looked around. There were some beaten paths leading through the undergrowth, and we wandered along those paths at random. We didn't find anything remarkable - just some rubbish. But nevertheless it was interesting to search the area. We did something forbidden and that's always exciting.
The only reason why I tell about this 'expedition' is that Daniel grabbed my butt again when we climbed the wall to get back down. The way back was easier since there was a tree near the wall. But again I felt Daniel's helpful hands on my butt pushing me up. And now I knew he was doing it deliberately!
'Gotcha, Daniel', I thought to myself. Finally a revealing sign! Daniel took the chance to grab my butt.
It began to rain. And it became a heavy downpour.
We weren't too far away from home, but somehow we didn't want to go home, yet. We stopped at a playground and entered a wooden hut. This hut was made for little kids, its roof was so low that we could either crawl or sit down in there. So, we sat down on the wooden floor.
We listened to the sound of the rain pouring on the roof of the small hut. Our hair was straggly wet and our T-shirts were damp. For a while we looked each other in the eye.
For some reason I felt like I should say something nice about Daniel: "All in all, you aren't really fat."
Daniel spoke somehow self-pityingly whenever it came to his weak points. "Tell me who in our class is chubbier than me?" he moaned.
"Thomas Newman is just like you, and he isn't fat or something."
"But he looks more handsome."
I was surprised to hear that. Really, I had never thought about which boy in our class looked handsome and who didn't. Either, I didn't think that Daniel was any less good-looking than others. Though the girls treated him like he wasn't there. "Uh, do you think that?"
"Don't you?"
I shrugged. "Dunno. But... then, who are the best looking boys in our class, in your oppinion?"
Daniel shrugged, too. "Andreas. But he's gone." There was once a student in our class named Andreas, and everybody said that all the girls had a crush on him. A tanned boy with bright brown hair, almost cut like the early Beatles' 'mushroom heads'. Somehow everybody in our class agreed that he was our Mr. Handsome.
I said: "Funny, I have no idea why they always said he was so handsome."
Daniel sighed. "Oh, Marcus! We know that YOU don't have to think about that. YOU are good looking and slender, YOU don't need to make a fuss of it. The girls like you, anyway."
I felt the blood pounding in my head. My cheeks became hot. Never before somebody had said I was looking good. Not even my Mom, who said I was "sweet", which is a completely different thing - she only saw the sweet and cute child in me.
Daniel said: "I'd rather be more slender, like you, at least."
I tried to console him: "I'm not too good at sports, either."
"But you draw well. And you write funny stories. Didn't you ever notice how everybody is always eager to see what you're doing? You get all the attention. Always."
I didn't know what to say. Yeah, I got all the attention, and I took it for granted. In our arts class there's usually someone who almost shouts 'look what Marcus is drawing' and then the students leap up and come to my desk and look what I'm doing. It must have been hard for Daniel to sit next to me. It must have been hard to be a friend of mine. I was almost ashamed: "I could teach you drawing!"
Now Daniel looked almost contemptous. "Oh, no, thanks! You better forget everything I said."
I was helpless. Should I tell him that I thought he was looking good, too? I was so used to his face that I couldn't tell if it was nice or stupid. And actually I didn't care about his chubbyness. He was my friend because he had similar interests and because we could tell each other stories and invent new games and because he was patient and gentle. But I couldn't tell him, because I hadn't realized it then. I wasn't even 12.
I'll never forget how it was sitting there in that small playhouse while the rain was pouring on the roof and Daniel told me what he really thought about me. It was a real weird mood. I had a strange feeling in my tummy.

I looked at me in the mirror.So, Daniel thought I was good-looking.
The next time I was alone at home, I wanted to prove that in detail. I made a one-man-fashion-show in front of the hall mirror. I treated my hair with a hair dryer and a brush so that it looked fancy and silky. I tried several kinds of pants and shirts, with or without a belt, and looked at me from head to toe in the big mirror, struck cool poses, turned around and looked at my back and my butt. Most of all I liked the open-shirt look, without anything underneath. Though I always wanted to have chiseled muscles, there was never ever anything like that to be seen on my chest.
But that day I liked myself the way I was.
Yupp, I was good-looking. If I’d had a look-alike, I would have liked to kiss him.

Summer came or at least what they call summer where we lived. And Daniel and me went on a vacation - together! Well, actually it was pure accident that Daniel and his mom planned to go on vacation quite close to the place where my grandparents lived. So, they took me with them and left me with my grandparents. But my parents and Daniel's Mom had agreed that Daniel could spend a few days with me at my gran’s. And I couldn't wait for it.
Before our journey Daniel's Mom made really big efforts so that Daniel wouldn’t get car-sick. He had to take pills and she put him in his seat with a pillow under his head so he could sleep all through the drive. But the two of us talked the whole time - mostly about the chartbreaker music on our tapes that played in the car stereo - and Daniel didn't get sick that way, either.
His mom drove fast and soon the journey was over. My grandparents were surprised to see me so early. I wrote down my gran's telephone number on a piece of paper and gave it Daniel and then he and his mom were already gone.
Vacation with my grandparents was nothing special, but it was okay. I’d known all the neighbor kids as long as I could remember. We went swimming or played ping pong and the boys had a new favorite game that we fought out in endless little tournaments. Just this summer I was limited to the younger kids - the other boys had turned 14 and therefore they were suddenly big and didn't play with me anymore.
It wasn't boring at all, but I could hardly wait til the phone rang and Daniel was calling. After almost one week it finally rang. I sat around the old black and white TV with my grandparents and saw a stone age old movie and when the phone rang my grandma almost got a heart attack because it was set so loud that they could hear it even in the garden and because I jumped up with a yell.
Daniel didn't say much on the phone, his vacation hadn't been too exciting so far. We just agreed that his mom would bring him the next day and then we hung up.
It was a hard piece of work to make my gran clear that we had to sleep in the same room. And that it had to be the quiet room under the roof. I almost started a quarrel, but then I agreed to carry all the sheets and pillows up the steep stairs and make the beds on my own.
The next day I spent hours running up and down the street in front of the house, looking out for the red car Daniel's mom would be driving. I thought maybe she’d forgotten the way to my grandparents and got lost. I even took my bike and rode to the end of the street and looked around the corner. I could hardly imagine that Daniel's mom simply took her time.
When they finally arrived they hadn't been lost at all. We had some coffee and cake together, and Daniel's mom constantly told her son that he had to behave and all the things that he shouldn't forget to do.
Then she endlessly thanked my grandparents and made clear once again that she'd take her son back immediately as soon as he'd cause trouble.
Then she finally took her car and drove away.
I was uncertain if Daniel would like my grandparents' little old house. I showed him some of the rooms and the old fashoined water closet and I made a joke about it and watched Daniel's face. It seemed that he didn't care. And when I showed him our room in the attic he agreed with me that it was the best room in the house.
I was relieved and laughed. Daniel unpacked his things. Of course, he had that pillow with him about which he said he couldn't sleep without. Plus half a dozen stuffed animals.
We didn't go downstairs to my grandparents for the rest of the evening. We spent hours exploring the old stuff in the loft - majorly dusty books and old toys - and we made our jokes about the stuff we found and so we didn't realize how time went by. Finally my grandparents called up from downstairs that they were going to sleep now and that we had to be quiet. Then I realized that it wasn't nice that we hadn't come downstairs, at least to say good night or something.
We didn't sleep much during our first night in my grandparents' house. We talked until late after midnight, and we were happy that it was our vacation. I don't want to tell much about this first night, nor about the next day when Daniel discovered two or three spiders in the loft and really panicked because he couldn't stand spiders at all and we had to buy insecticides at the small supermarket in the village and kill all the spiders until Daniel calmed down. No, I want to tell about the following night with Daniel that became the most remarkable of our summer vacation and even one of the most remarkable nights in my life.
This time we said goodnight to my grandparents after supper and we went upstairs to the attic, and that meant that we'd stay there for the rest of the night, undisturbed. We planned to play cards or dice while listening to our favorite music cassettes with all the hits. But we didn't do that too long, soon we began to fantasize about Betty, the girl with blond hair and freckles that we were both in love with.
We sat on Daniel's bed - the big one under the window - and imagined stories that always led to the point where Betty had to kiss us.
Daniel began: "We're at a summer camp." Summer camp was good. We had never actually been to a summer camp ourselves, but of course we knew from TV and books that things might happen there that could lead to a kiss.
"There's a group of older boys who always play rough and they're really mean. We are in another group together with Betty. One night we go on a night walk...", Daniel said with a promising grin.
"Yeah, a night walk! That's it!" I laid back on the big old bed and looked up through the window at the dark sky. When the light was out you could see the stars above through this window, while you were lying in bed. And maybe you could hear some crickets singing. But usually you could hear some distant music from a bar or a party down in the village and the voices of rather drunken grown ups and the noise of a motor bike or a car.
"A night walk... in the woods. We get some flashlights", Daniel continued.
"Woohoo!" Full of delight I wriggled on the upper end of Daniel's bed. That was spooky and exciting - exactly what we needed to kiss a girl.
"We're going ahead cause we have the flashlights. Soon, the path becomes rather narrow and we have to work our way through the undergrowth. There's rustling and crackling. And when we finally come to a clearing and we look around, the girls are...", Daniel stopped breathing for a moment, "...gone!"
I stopped breathing, too, then I giggled and took over telling the story. Each of us told a part, and we knew anyway how it would end up. Of course, that nasty group of boys had caught 'our' girls in the darkness - probably to force them into kissing them - and it was just a matter of time that we'd rescue them and get away and then... yeah, then the girls couldn't refuse to kiss us --- the heroes! This time Daniel could kiss blond Betty because he had started to tell the story. For me there was 'only' dark-haired Jenny left to kiss, Betty's best friend, who was all in all way cuter and nicer than Betty, but I didn't know that back then. Jenny counted only as second best.
I lay across the top end of the big bed and let my feet dangle down the edge. Daniel sat cross-legged at the foot of the bed and watched me.
I said: "Once I dreamed that I was together with Betty in the park and we were alone and I was going to hold her and right then she was turning around and our lips touched."
Daniel looked a bit expressionless. "So what?"
I shrugged. "That's all. But it was like real kissing. In my dream it felt so real."
"Your lips were only touching?" Daniel couldn't imagine what I meant.
"Yeah, wait..." I sat up on the bed and turned my back to Daniel as if I was Betty in my dream. "Just do as if you'd try to catch me!"
Unsure of what I was doing, Daniel took my upper arms. I turned around to Daniel and fell back onto him inevitably pushing him aside with the weight of my body. Daniel exaggerated a lot: "Ooouuh, aauuuuhh!" But he laughed.
"Not like that! No, of course not this way! We have to stand up." I got up from the bed. "Come on, stand up!"
Daniel followed and he seemed to be curious now. We set ourselves up again like in my dream, Daniel behind me, and when he took my arms I turned around and I wrapped myself in his arms this way and came really close to his chest. The tips of our noses almost touched and we were so close like two lovers ready to kiss each other.
We stood close like lovers.We hesitated.
Daniel grinned with closed lips. Just like me, he felt that we could simply try it out, right at that moment. Nobody was watching us, we could just do it for practice.
I hardly dared to breathe because I didn't want to blow into Daniel's face. Almost voiceless I whispered: "Our lips touched very slightly." And slowly I came closer, beside Daniel's nose tip.
At the very first faint touch - probably by some tiny downy hair on our upper lips, because it was tickling really weird - Daniel burst out laughing. His wet breath smelled like tooth paste and white bread. Daniel released me and shook himself, laughing.
I remained silent and serious. I was a little bit disappointed that this first attempt had failed so completely. "Of course, it doesn't work this way. Betty didn't laugh in my dream. Nor did I."
Daniel giggled with red cheeks. "Marcus, do you really want to show me how to kiss Betty?" But when he saw that I was serious and it seemed that was really exactly what I wanted, he stopped laughing. He looked confused.
"Ah, well, how about you play Betty now, and I show you how I would kiss her?"
Daniel's cheeks became even more red but he didn't say anything about my suggestion. He said nothing.
I tried to explain: "Of course, not real kissing. No wet lips or anything like that. My lips are perfectly dry... look, here!" I showed my dry lips.
Daniel still said nothing. I felt like he didn't know what to say about it. Or maybe he just didn't want to say something against it. He showed no signs of resistance, he simply let it happen.
"And don't laugh", I made clear once again. And then I pushed Daniel gently down on his bed and made signs that he had to stretch out on it. "So, imagine, you are Betty and we're in that summer camp. It's late and we're out for a walk and we lie down in the grass and watch the stars."
I lay down beside Daniel, on his big pillow that smelled a little bit like Daniel. And we looked up through the window in the roof. I reached for the bedside light and turned it out.
It was dark in our room and we saw the stars above, through the window. The noise from the party down in the village had died down. I only heard Daniel breathing. He didn't move.
My heart pounded up to my neck and my ears and I thought, Daniel could hear it. I whispered: "So, you are Betty and I am me."
Daniel remained silent. No complaints.
"So, I'd put my arm around you." I pushed my arm under Daniel's shoulders and he even helped me and lifted his head a little. Then we lay there close to each other and I felt Daniel's undershirt on my arm and his warm and smooth shoulder in my hand and I began to stroke it. And Daniel's breath became deeper. Without saying any more about Betty and the summer camp, I turned on my side to Daniel until I almost lay on him, face to face, and our legs touched.
And then I kissed him. His lips weren't stressed anymore, they were smooth and a little wet, just like mine. We both knew that this wasn't really a game, it wasn't just doing 'as if'. We really kissed each other! We were both panting and we could each feel our breath across each other's cheeks. And Daniel wanted to do it too. I felt how he wanted to really kiss me, too, and how he enjoyed the feeling of my mouth against his. Slowly and gently he wrapped his arms around me and stroked my back, and we finally lay there in the darkness cuddled up tight and kissing until we were breathless.
Then our kissing became less wild and after a while we just lay there cheek to cheek, stroking each other's back and shoulders.
I'm sure I would have liked to fall asleep like that, but we were both too excited, even though we didn't move or talk any more. After some time we let up stroking each other and laid back. And in the end I crept back over to my bed and soon we were sleeping.
This wild 'kissing practice' was the only time we ever did anything like that. Although I daydreamed a lot about it and I really would have liked to do it again. But since we never talked about it, I was never sure if Daniel wanted to do it, too. And I wondered if we would 'become gay' because of it. Well, like I said, we were always wide of the mark at that age.
Later, we both had problems finding a girlfriend. Daniel, because he was the partykiller who couldn't dance or flirt - the kind of boy that the girls generally ignore. And me, because I was too much in love with myself and I thought, all the girls had a crush on me.
But neither of us turned 'gay'. Even if we had kissed a thousand times. Actually, I'd been a little bit in love with Daniel, though I would never have admitted that at age 12, not over my dead body. What kind of love is it that you may have for your best friend at that age? Is it somehow less valuable than the love for a girl? Or is it a better, deeper kind of love - actually, it will last until the end of my life, my love for my best friend.
Talking about love for a lifetime - during the days when Daniel spent his vacation with me and my grandparents his mother met the man who was to become her partner, step by step. Daniel never accepted him, not as a surrogate father and not even as a friend.

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