Title: The Adventures of Tommy Trojan
Characters: Tom Roderick
Rating: R for language
February fourteenth, Valentines Day. It was the best day of the year last year, and it would probably be the worst day of the year this year. The difference should be pretty obvious: last year I had someone, this year I didn’t. He was great, too, my ex boyfriend. He was an artist. You’ve seen his work if you’ve been to a record store; he’s responsible for the cover art on the hit album Welcome to Reality by Ryan Hatch. His name is Benjamin Griffith. Check the credits. If you wanna know what he looks like, he was the blond guy in the greenroom when Ryan was on TRL. Before you ask, yes they are dating. That ugly, no-talent asshole is living the rock star life and coming home to Ben. My Ben.
His Ben. And he’s not actually ugly. You’ve seen him. If anyone was ever meant to be on the cover of a magazine, it’s him. And he’s not talent-less. I heard his song on the radio, and, well, it’s good. But I still change the station whenever it comes on, and I refuse to buy the album. I don’t care how great my roommate says it is, it’s a matter of principle. Principles. That’s something he doesn’t have. I stand by one thing I said; the guy’s an asshole. At least he was the last time I saw him. It was almost a year ago. Okay, so the very last time I saw him I was the asshole, but what do you expect? My boyfriend had a naked drawing of him in his secret sketchbook! And he broke up with me! It certainly wasn’t a good day for me. It was probably even worse than today would be.
So what was so bad about today? Well, aside from being alone, I was also painfully reminded of this fact as I made my lonely way across the street to the Imax theater. My history professor was offering extra credit for watching and doing a write-up on the Great California Imax film. Extra credit is my best subject, so I was definitely up for that, but none of my friends could come see it with me because they were spending the day with their sweeties. Yes, Tom Roderick was the loneliest Trojan at USC.
Before you say anything about how funny, cute, or appropriate it is that my name is Tom and I’m a USC Trojan, let me tell you a bit about that unfortunate circumstance. My dad went to USC. Let me be more specific. My dad played football for USC, and as such, he’s as rabid an SC fan as anyone could be. There’s a banner in front of our house, license plate boarders on all the cars, and he takes the long way to work to avoid driving near UCLA. The man is insane. He also got it in his head a long time ago that all of his kids would go to USC, and he’d name his first son Tommy. Unfortunately for him, and me, my mom won the coin toss and got to name the first kid. My older brother’s name is Chase, like my grandpa, and I’m Tommy Trojan.
Aside from having to bestow the sacred name on his second son, things were going so far so good for my dad. Chase was fresh out of USC, married, and had a kid on the way whom he promised to name Tom. “After his uncle?” I asked stupidly. “No, after his daddy’s school mascot,” Chase corrected me. Fucking Chase. Me, well, I was a first year at the sacred school, but I didn’t want to be there. I wanted to go to FIDM. That’s right, the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. But my dad said it was bad enough that I was a fag, I wasn’t going to spend my life doing something faggy. Second born and second best. It would probably be even worse for my younger sibling, but she was saved by the fact that she was a girl. Tammy Trojan, daddy’s little girl. Did I tell you my dad is insane?
Anyway, I bought my ticket to the show and he headed over to the line to get in. The line consisted mostly of kids from as young as five to about fourteen: field trippers. There were scattered adults, mostly chaperones, but also some who were just there for the show. There was one guy towards the end of the line who caught my attention. He was wearing dark sunglasses, and a baseball cap tilted forward, so I couldn’t really see his face, but there was something very familiar about the way he was standing , the way his arms were crossed, the way it seemed he’d be much more comfortable with a guitar. That’s when it hit me. I navigated through a group of kindergarteners who gave me dirty looks and shouted that I was a cutter. I walked up to the guy and said “Ryan Ha-”
He gave a jump and glared at me right through his sunglasses.
“Shut up,” Ryan hissed. Of course; he was incognito.
“Hammerstein,” I finished. “What the fuck are you doing here?”
“Watch your mouth,” he snapped. “There are kids around.”
“What the hell are you doing here?” I corrected, rolling my eyes.
“I don’t need to talk to you,” he said, turning away. He stole my boyfriend and he didn’t want to talk to me. Ass.
“Fine,” I sighed, crossing my own arms and also turning away. “Talk to the kids.”
That got him. It was going to be a long wait, and assholes aren’t good with kids for long periods of time.
“All right,” he said, moving closer to me and lowering his voice. “I’m shooting a new video soon. This movie inspired the director and he wanted me to see it so I could give him better input.”
“Why are you talking so quietly?” I asked. “And what’s with the disguise? You’re not thatExcuse me,” I shot back. “I’m not the one who goes around stealing boyfriends, boyfriend stealer!” I don’t know how I could feel the burn of his glare through his sunglasses; they might not have let light in, but they sure let heat out.
“If you didn’t want to talk to me, you didn’t have to walk up and start talking to me.”
“Well, whether I wanted to see you or not, we have a few things to settle.”
“What’s there to settle? Ben left you because he didn’t love you. What does it matter if he got with me after?”
“Well, you-” I cut out. “After? What do you mean after? He was cheating on me with you.” At this point Ryan removed his sunglasses and looked at me as if I was suddenly dressed up in full Trojan gear.
“What the fuck are you talking about?”
“Kids,” I reminded. “And I’m talking about you posing naked for my boyfriend and having sex with him.”
“That’s not very kid-friendly, either,” Ryan pointed out. “And it’s not true, either. I never even kissed Ben until after you two were broken up. As for the picture, you think I posed for it? I didn’t even know he had drawn it. You knew about it before I did!”
“But, Ben said-”
“Ben said that?”
“Well, no,” I corrected myself. “I asked him and he didn’t deny it.”
“Fucking Ben,” he muttered, and I didn’t bother commenting on his language. “I’m going to need to have a talk with that man. He probably figured it would be easier to break up with you if he just let you be angry at him. ‘I cheated on you’ is probably a better break-up line than ‘guess what, I never loved you.’” He put his sunglasses back on and I leaned against the rail. It wasn’t news that Ben didn’t love me, but I sure didn’t like hearing it from someone else.
“He loved me a little,” I said, more to myself than to Ryan.
“He didn’t,” Ryan said with a shake of his head. “You were just a convenient lay and a pretty boy.” Thanks, asshole. Way to brutally murder my denial.
“Pretty boy?” I repeated in retaliation. “I’m not the one who made J-14’s top 14 hotties list.”
“Well, I-” he paused. “You read J-14?”
“My little sister reads J-14,” I corrected. “How gay and immature do you think I am? And don’t answer that.”
“Well, look,” he said with a roll of his eyes. “That just means I have a bunch of little girls after me. Neither one of us wants that, so what does it matter?”
“Just making a point,” I said.
“Are you really still on this?” he asked me. “You have to have seen other people since then.” I didn’t say anything and I looked at the ground. When I looked up Ryan’s glasses were off again and he was staring. “You’re kidding.”
“Do you think anyone would seem good enough after Ben?” I asked in response. He didn’t have an answer for that, and he replaced his sunglasses instead of saying anything. “I knew Ben didn’t love me,” I said finally. “But I convinced myself I didn’t care, because I loved him. I thought I could change his mind.”
The silence between us was filled by the yells of the younger kids and the conversations of the older ones. The line began to move; they were letting us in. In a few minutes we’d be in the giant theater learning all about Great California.
“Look, Tom,” Ryan said when we were close to the door. “I’m doing a small show in two weeks. It’s an 18 and over show, so not little girls. We’re predicting a good number of gay guys’ll show up.” He looked away. “You should come.” He shrugged. “Maybe you’ll meet someone.” I waited for him to look at me before I spoke.
“Thanks for the offer, Ryan,” I said. “But your singing voice makes my ears bleed.” He looked angry at first, then he seemed to realize that I didn’t mean it, that he had what I wanted and all I could do was hit him with empty insults. He pursed his lips and nodded.
"Well, if you suddenly lose your hearing, you’re welcome to come by.”
“I’ll think about it,” I said as we parted ways to head for different seats. I’m so weak; I had already decided to go before I said that.