Thursday, October 3, 2013

Blue Denim Shirt

He goes to the clubs almost every weekend, desperate for someone to talk to him, but scared someone will.  He loves to listen to the music and dance–although no one asks him to.  But the real reason why he’s there is to meet someone: someone to talk to, to be friends with, to make him feel like he isn’t the only one like him–and maybe even someone to love.

All around him are beautiful young men, their smiles easy, their bodies hard, their lives perfect.  He looks at them one minute in admiration, the next in disgust.  He would give anything to be them, but he knows he never will be.  And they’ll never notice him.  They are a big part of the reason why he goes there too; they represent the world he wants to belong to, but never will.

He’s the young man standing against the wall or sitting on an out-of-the-way chair in the dark, and you’d never notice him unless you went looking for him.  He doesn’t drink alcohol, because his father was an alcoholic, and because he thinks staying in control is crucial.  So, instead, he drinks Coca-Cola or orange juice, often nursing a single drink the entire evening.

And he watches.  Over time, he sees what alcohol does to everyone, how it loosens them up, gives them the courage to do things they wouldn’t otherwise.  And he feels more unlike them, more alienated, than ever.  He goes to find friendship and love; he leaves with an ego more tender than before.  And with the hope the following weekend, at the same time and place, will be different.

One day, he comes up with a plan.      

His plan includes his favorite blue denim shirt.  His body is thin.  But, when he wears this bulky shirt, he appears to be more muscular, bigger, and he feels more substantial, more masculine. Not to mention, the buttons are small, and the holes they fit into are slightly too big.  As he moves, they pop open, revealing his chest, making him feel, for the first time perhaps, sexy, even hot.       

But it will take more than a shirt.  It will take attitude.  The right attitude.  He knows that if he presents himself as the same person he always does, open shirt or not, he’ll look like a fool.  No one will buy who he’s trying to be.  On the other hand, if he presents himself as someone who's confident and secure, someone who likes who he is (even if I has to fake it), someone who is the same as everyone else, he might just get away with it, and feel like one of them for once.   

He’s willing to give it a try.  He has no choice; he tells himself the alternative is no longer an option.    

That night, he’s nervous as hell.  He doesn’t think he can go through with it.  But what does he have to lose?  On any other night at the club, he’s invisible.  The only ones who notice him are the cute bar maids, but only to ask if he wants something to drink.  The results of his experiment can’t be worse than that, can they?  Is there anything worse than being invisible to those you want to see you?  

The music pounds, the lights flash, and the club is crowded with hot men.  When his favorite song comes on, he decides the time has come–he must get on the floor, by himself, and dance as though he believes he’s the most attractive, desirable young man there.  His heart hammers in his chest, but he feels his blue denim shirt against him.  And he knows he can do it.    

He could leave the dance floor at any time, especially considering how nervous he is.  But he doesn’t.  Instead, he keeps dancing, regardless of whether or not he likes the song playing.  The music is not the point; neither is the dancing.  The point is not to wallflower in a dark corner and disappear, to put himself front and center, to be a part of the throbbing mass, to be seen.    

He becomes all attitude.  He’ll have a good time, regardless of whether he has someone to dance with, and to hell with everyone around him.  As the buttons pop open on his shirt, one at a time, he begins to get the attention from one, then another, and yet another young man around him.  They turn toward him and dance, in tune with who he’s putting himself across to be, the new him.    

He says nothing.  Opening his mouth, letting his neediness come out, has ruined everything for him more than once.  This time, he doesn’t need to talk.  And he doesn't need them.  He’ll have a good time if they’re there or if they're not.  In fact, he scarcely looks at them (although he can’t believe they’re around him).  For a change, this is about him, about feeling good about himself, about being included among them, about being who he has always dreamed of being.  

At the end of the night, he could go home with any of the young men who were attracted to him, but he doesn't.  Instead, he goes home with the most important young man in his life: himself. He's proven that the only difference between him and everyone else, the ones he’s admired from the sidelines all his life, and wanted to count himself among, is how he feels about himself.  If he believes he’s one of them, then he is.  Simple as that.      

All he has to do is change the way he thinks.  And believe. 


  1. Thank you for another great story! My first thought that crossed my mind is that science is my blue denim shirt. My work makes me feel limitless.

    1. What a wonderful comment, elevencats, and it's so good to hear from you again.

      Of course, the blue denim shirt is a symbol. It can literally be anything that allows you to see yourself differently, that empowers you to be something you've always wanted to be.

      I love your use of the word "limitless." I hadn't thought about it in those terms, but I suppose that's exactly what I felt in that shirt, dancing in that club. I was exactly who I wanted to be that night, held back by nothing. I felt expansive, powerful–and limitless.

      It makes me so happy to know you're still interested in what I write. I like the stories too. They are the easiest for me to write because they really happened. I hope to have more of them to share with you in the near future.

      All the very best, young man. Take good care of yourself.