By: Christopher B. Cox My friend’s penchant for trying on women’s clothes after alcohol induced dancing should have clued me in to the fact that we shared more in common than I had initially anticipated.We met at a bar on a weeknight in downtown Quito while studying abroad. His conservative attire made me wonder whether he would be able to handle my salty language, but months of partying thereafter, which included the aforementioned wardrobe changes and plenty of inappropriate jokes, assured our friendship.It was on such a night of binge drinking that he squeezed our girl friend’s tight purple hoodie over his freshly pressed Polo.I remember it was purple because it embodied parts of my heart I was just beginning to reconcile. I had been ridiculed for how I liked to dress from an early age and his drunken courage inspired me.The garment wasn’t necessarily gender specific, but it was clearly not his size. His broad shoulders and chest bulged beneath the stretched violet fabric, and when he would lift his arms he’d unknowingly reveal his tanned waist and the rest of his frat boy get-up.And, I couldn’t decide whether he or our girl friend rocked the hoodie better.We were playing beer pong at the only bar in Quito that could facilitate it, and while I tried my hardest to concentrate on being the best teammate possible, it took all of my focus not to maul him in front of our friends.This was a brand new feeling for me. He and I had been close for months, but our friendship never wandered into the Romantic. We had even skinny-dipped together in a rainforest creek, but rather than sticking around to check out his equipment, I was too excited to swim upstream and sing the Disney Pocahontas soundtrack.Until that night, in my mind, he was just a friend.We had a “guys night out” with a larger group of Americans studying abroad just a few nights before my feelings changed, and as usual He and I shared a cab ride home. As we pulled up to his host families’ apartment he turned to me, and with his sweet Southern drawl confessed, “Chris, I want you to know that I am attracted to you.”I thanked him and told him I wasn’t in the ‘right place’ to be with anyone. It was an honest lie that allowed him an excuse to walk away, and left me feeling guilty.Against the advice I’d give anyone else in a similar situation, I chose to hesitate and guard my heart.I writhed in bed that night wishing I had accepted my friend’s affection, but when I woke the next day and my buzz was worn off, I was relieved I hadn’t jeopardized my own.It was just a few days after his inebriated confession that he found the purple hoodie and I found myself his beer pong partner. I am superstitious when it comes to beer pong and believe that forms of encouragement such as high-fives or cheering can have alchemical effects on the outcome of the game. Beer pong, however, is not a contact sport, and my affirmative back patting lingered far too long to be considered socially acceptable. I couldn’t help myself. And as we kept winning, my touches became more frequent.The anxieties I carried for years were being trumped by my urge to kiss my friend. That night my hands were answering honestly what days earlier my voice could not. After the bar’s last call, we shared a cab with a girl we both knew. I sat in the middle, and afforded her total eye contact though my thoughts lingered over how his body was pressed against mine.I don’t think we gave her enough time to physically exit the cab before we were all over each other. We kissed like we’d been reunited, and I wrapped my arms around his purple hoodie.Thank God our cab driver had already been given my home address, because whatever directions he might have picked up during the make out session would have landed my friend and I in an area of Quito we weren’t prepared to go.We attacked each other all the way to my bedroom where we managed to knock over a waist-high CD rack before tossing off our clothes and successfully crashing onto my bed.That night I decided my happiness was worth more than any anxiety I’ve ever had about my affections or sense of fashion, and also that the purple hoodie looked best on the floor.

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