Jase saw the photo, too. It was impossible to miss; it took up half the stage. “I wish they hadn't put it up,” he said. “It makes me feel weird.”

Luis smiled and patted his back. “They obviously loved you very much. You should be proud they'd remember you this way. I don't think anyone would even know who I was if I walked into a class reunion back in Tennessee.”

Jase looked around the room. He pointed to another large photo near the band and said, “At least they didn't single me out. Thankfully, there are huge photos of other people, too.”

The band played a Madonna song from the late l980's and Luis started tapping his foot and moving his hip. They didn't sound all that bad either. But before he had a chance to ask Jase if he wanted to dance, Jase guided him to the other side of the auditorium so they could find their table.

On the way, Jase passed a long table filled with cakes, cookies, and interesting pastries. It reminded Luis of a pastry table they put up at the end of an Italian wedding. There was so much unhealthy, sugary, fattening food in one place he pressed his hand to his stomach and made a face. He'd make sure he stayed far away from that hideous table. Didn't these people know how to eat by now? A fresh organic fruit salad and tasty yogurt dip with fresh organic strawberries would have been so much better.

But Jase stopped and gaped at the table ... he did this with his hand on his stomach.

Luis asked, “What's wrong?”

Jase said, “I can't wait to dig into all these goodies.” He rubbed his stomach and licked his lips.

“Oh Jase,” Luis said. “You've been so sensible these past few months eating such good, healthy foods. I've been so proud of you. I think you'd better stay away from all that poison. Just looking at it makes me sick.”

“Well just looking at that table gives me an erection,” Jase said. He pulled Luis closer. “Listen to me very closely. I'm not going to reiterate. I love you more than anything or anyone in this world. But I am, indeed, going to try each and every cake, cookie and pastry on that table. I'm going to relish each bite I take and I'm probably going to go back for seconds when I'm finished. I might even knock someone over to be first in line. I've been eating bland branny shit and those tasteless organic veggies and fruities for so long I've forgotten what good old American food tastes like. You may have to carry me out in a stretcher when I'm finished. But I'm going down with a smile on my face.”

Luis opened his mouth; he was prepared to protest.

But Jase didn't give him a chance. “And, so it's clear, I don't give a damn what the food police say. I don't give a damn what anyone in Washington, D.C. thinks either. They can kiss my all American ass from New York City to Cupertino, CA. As long as this is still America and it's still a free country, I'm going to eat what I goddamn well please tonight. So don't even think about talking me out of it. Pardon the cliché, because I know how clichés have gone out of style with the elitists, but I am going to have my cake and eat it, too! That organic fruity and veggie ship has sailed! I'm gonna wake up and smell the coffee and the pastries. At the end of the day, I might even pull up to a fast food drive-in tonight and get myself a big old sack of big Macs.”

Luis knew when to back off, especially when Jase took on that tone. It was the same tone he used whenever he went up against a board member in his company. He usually wound up eating the board member for breakfast. These were Jase's own personal beliefs, and it was his own personal dialogue and Luis knew he didn't have the right to interfere. So Luis smiled and said, “If it's what you want, I won't say a word. I promise.” Then he hugged him and kissed him on the cheek.

Jase's eyes widened. “What was the kiss for? I thought you might hit me over the head with something after that long rant.”

Luis laughed. “I'm glad to hear you sounding like your old self for change. I've been so worried about you.” Listening to Jase rant on about eating all those bad foods was one of the best things Luis had heard in months. He had a feeling Jase might be coming out of his mid-life crisis now.

By the time they reached their table, people had stopped gaping at Jase and they were starting to mingle with each other. Some had already found the bar. Luis noticed old friends stare at each other for a moment, stop dead without saying a word, and then jump up and down and scream when they recognized each other. They were hugging and kissing, patting and shaking. One woman with bangs shorter than Mamie Eisenhower's even pulled a Kleenex out of her purse and wiped the blue eye shadow off her eyes with one swipe. And most of them looked so much older than Jase. A lot of the men were bald and the women had forgotten about their figures while Clinton was President. For the first time since he'd been in his early twenties, Luis actually felt like a twink in this crowd.

Jase found the table and set his car keys next to the water glass. As he was about to turn, a nice looking man in a white dinner jacket stepped up behind him and said, “I wasn't sure you'd come tonight, Jase.”

Luis watched the man closely. He wasn't bad looking at all, in a bookish sort of way. He had thick fingers and Luis figured he had a thick dick to match. He also had wavy brown hair, dark-framed eye glasses, and full lips. He reminded Luis of a model he knew back in New York, one of the older dudes who modeled men's suits.

Jase turned and stared at the man for a second. Then he tipped his head to the side and shouted, “Ashton Krause?”

The man smiled and said, “That's me, I wasn't sure you'd remember me. I always thought I was invisible in high school.”

Jase reached out and hugged Ashton. He patted his back and smiled for the first time since they'd arrived. “It's so good to see you. You look wonderful.”

Ashton looked a little too good to Luis. And Luis knew Ashton was gay. Luis's gaydar clicked: he could tell by looking into Ashton's eyes.

“You look spectacular, too,” Ashton said. He glanced at the blond highlights in Jase's hair and smiled.

Jase laughed and ran his fingers through his hair. “I feel a little silly now. I don't know why I did this. I guess I was feeling a little old and wanted to recapture my youth one last time.”

Luis stood there and listened, waiting for Jase to introduce him. He wished Jase hadn't bleached his hair. It attracted too much attention. Luis wanted Jase to look good ... but not that good.

“You look fine,” Ashton said. “I like it.”

Before Jase could reply, a much younger man with reddish brown hair stepped up and put his palm on Ashton's shoulder. He seemed to be swaying; he'd found the bar before the rest of them. Ashton turned, grabbed the man's arm, and said, “Jase, this is my husband, Kyle Archer.”

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