Chandler really felt like a fish out of water at the LGBT Christmas dance. However, both Leo and Henry kept insisting it was an Ugly Christmas Sweater Party.
Chandler was definitely the third wheel with Henry and Leo, but they were pleased as punch that he was with them. Not once did Leo let on there were any bad feelings toward him.
It didn't feel right in Chandler's heart. Why couldn't Henry stand up for him?
"Too many flamboyant people here." Chandler about summed it up, 15 minutes in with a glass of punch that Leo brought him.
"What's got you, so on edge?" Leo wanted to know. Of course, Henry was off mingling. It looked like he might be in the running for president of this club, but of course..this was Henry's last year in high school.
Chandler couldn't see himself being a part of any of this. It was like a religion.
"Well, I'm not at all comfortable." Chandler winced as if he'd had enough. Wasn't like he was going to really meet anyone, was it?
There were girls with braces and fat boys dressing like girls. Even the goofy autistic boy was here with a date, no less. And dancing. Chandler couldn't help but grimace.
"So, you plan on living in your room, forever?" Leo pressed.
Chandler didn't have an answer for him. He was certain all he needed was Macy, a tub of ice cream and repeats of Portlandia to watch and he'd be just as well off. Not this nonsense.
But then someone caught his attention out of the corner of his eye.
"What's he doing here?" Chandler squinted, thinking it might be a doppleganger. It couldn't be Oz from Jazz band. It couldn't be. Oz was chatting up with some girls in purple. They didn't look like lesbians from here, thought Chandler as he squinted more.
Chandler took a deep breath. Just his luck his tuba playing friend was here for moral support. Not for meeting someone to date.
"You know, Oz?" Leo grinned. "He's still in Jazz band?"
Chandler nodded. He sipped on his punch in the red cup. No way, was he going over to say hello.
"Well, what are you waiting for?" Leo asked. Just then Henry motioned for Leo to come on the other side of the festive room. Before Chandler knew it, those two were dancing close on the empty dance floor. Chandler rolled his eyes at that.
It wasn't that he hated to see it happen, but the fact that he envied them so much. He drank at his punch as Oz managed his way over.
"Hey." Oz smiled. He didn't ask what Chandler was doing at this social event in the basement of the high school. Chandler could hardly look Oz in the eye. He wished he knew. Was Oz in or out?
But they were friends and if he didn't want to talk about it..then...
"Look.." Chandler sighed. "I.."
"Its a lot safer here than trying to hook up at the park. There are some strange old men around the restrooms. Especially, late at night." Oz told him.
Chandler's eyes widen. He couldn't believe someone he saw every day at school would do something..so...
"Just kidding." Oz gave him a nudge with a grin, but then he was straight lipped. "I had an uncle who did stuff like that. He never knew he was being exploited. He just wanted someone who would give him the attention he was after. He died of AIDS when I was only four."
Suddenly, Chandler felt himself about to melt into tears.
"You, think I'm like that?" Chandler wanted to know.
"I hope not." Oz looked at him. He took his hand. He was not afraid. Chandler almost laughed.
"Come on, lets dance." Oz lead the way. Chandler smiled as if he would be OK.
Jen blew a breath as she watched everyone having a fun time at the Christmas party. Carly stood her up again. How long could this go on? Jen thought this time for sure would be the moment she'd been waiting for.
Jen was honest. She'd told Carly about her Mom. It was Jen and her Mom. Her Dad wasn't in the picture. He was always traveling. And Jen had never met her step-brothers.
She hated to make it sound that she'd ended her mom's family when she came along, but the truth hurt still in the back of her throat, that if Jen wasn't around maybe her mom could be with the boys that she'd left behind.
The ex-husband of Jen's Mom wouldn't let Doria have anything to do with the boys who were now in college, all because Jen's dad was black.
She'd had a good heart to heart about it with Carly, hoping Carly would open up about her own dysfunctional family.
"But my mom is such a happy person." Jen had said over tears while on the phone with Carly. Jen really wasn't sure how her Mom did it. But she was always there for Jen even if Jen's real dad wasn't. She rarely ever saw him. When she did, it was brief.
Carly told Jen she never knew her Dad. Carly sounded numb when she spoke of her mother. No fond memories to speak of. Of course, Carly was taking care of her sister's baby.
Jen hugged herself now, guessing Carly was busy with the baby. She hoped Carly wasn't a liar. She hoped not. And she hated to doubt her, but she really needed her now. And it was hard to keep smiling at the Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, Jen really hated being alone.