Study Guide

Boy Meets Boy

Boy Meets Boy Summary

Paul, a very gay boy in a very gay town, is on his way with his two best friends, Tony (gay) and Joni (not gay) to see their friend DJ Zeke spin tunes at a local bookstore. Zeke gets his groove on in the history section, throwing in a couple of raps about Hadrian and Copernicus for good measure, and Paul starts dancing. He gets a little carried away by the blissful groove and manages to knock a few books off a shelf. This fortuitous flailing leads to a chance meeting with handsome newcomer Noah, who politely picks up the books and hands them to him.

Noah's just started attending Paul's school, but he's hard to find in the halls. After a few fruitless searches, Paul finally locates Noah at a pep rally and manages to speak to him. Noah flirts, Paul flirts back, and before long they're on their first date, during which they paint music and ride paddleboats shaped like ducks.

Things can't stay idyllic though, or we wouldn't have much of a plot. Don't worry—Paul's romantic life may be going smoothly for the moment, but there's plenty of conflict in his friendships. Joni, having broken up with her boyfriend Ted for the thirteenth time, has started dating a guy named Chuck, who's a total cretin. Plus Tony's parents disapprove of their son's homosexuality, and they think Paul is the devil's influence.

And as for Infinite Darlene, she's always bringing the drama. Her big thing at the moment? The fact that Chuck, Joni's new love, is only after Joni because he couldn't get Infinite Darlene. Would she like Paul to get involved and warn Joni about Chuck? Why yes, yes she would.

It might seem that Paul's love life is pretty boring compared to all that, but there's a complication there too: Kyle, his ex who broke his heart. See, Kyle's bi, but he's a bit confused about how boy-girl(-boy) stuff works. His reason for dumping Paul was that Paul "tricked" him into being gay, and his way of showing that he still liked girls was to make out with one immediately after the dumping.

So when Kyle comes back around after Paul and Noah get together, Paul's understandably confused. And as we all know, confusion can lead you to do some not-so-smart things, like kissing your ex when he apologizes to you, which Paul does.

The weekend after the kiss occurs, both Noah and Kyle go out of town with their families, and Paul takes the opportunity to go on a hike with Tony and talk it all out. Tony, of course, would give anything for one boyfriend with whom to have issues, let alone two, but for as long as he lives with his super-religious parents, that's never gonna happen. In an attempt to comfort his eternally dateless friend, Paul gives Tony a hug.

The problem with hugging someone in public, of course, is that someone might see you and misinterpret the gesture, which is exactly what happens. One of Tony's mom's religious friends just happens to be hiking the same mountain at the same time, and when she spots the boys embracing, she wastes no time telling Tony's mom that she caught Tony engaging in The Gay. Paul is, of course, banned from Tony's house faster than you can say choirboy.

Back at school, word's gotten around, but not the word Paul thinks. Noah slips a note into Paul's backpack asking, "Why did you kiss him?" Of course Paul thinks Noah's talking about Kyle, the guy he actually did kiss, but Noah means Tony. Ah, the rumor mill. When Paul inadvertently confesses to kissing Kyle, Noah breaks up with him. (We can't say we blame him.)

Paul is architecting the Dowager's Dance, a big yearly shindig at their school, which is to say he's in charge of planning it. He decides to get Noah back in time for the dance, so with seven days left, he plans a surprise for each day:

  • On the first day, he decorates the hallway leading up to Noah's locker with handmade origami flowers. 
  • On the second, he writes a list of one hundred beautiful and unusual words on a scroll and leaves the scroll in Noah's locker. 
  • On the third, he leaves a note in Noah's mailbox wishing him a nice day. 
  • On the fourth, it's a serenade from DJ Zeke beneath Noah's window. 
  • On the fifth, he enlists the help of his friends to give Noah one hundred rolls of film. 
  • On the sixth, it's another day of letters, and on the seventh, he finally asks the won-over Noah to the dance.

Fortunately Noah says yes, which is a good thing, because our insulin levels were getting dangerously high.

But wait—everything's not perfect yet. There's still the matter of Tony's parents and their iron fist. Paul decides the only way to rescue Tony is for all of his friends to show up at his house on the night of the Dowager's Dance and convince his parents to let him go.

Because Joni has always been the third member of their best-friend triumvirate, he tries to get her to help organize a crowd, but she's all up in the Chuck and is no help at all. Paul's severely bummed, but fortunately Joni comes to her senses and shows up at Tony's house the night of the dance. And even more fortunately, Tony's parents let him go.

Boy Meets Boy ends with a little pre-party party on the mountain where the fateful hug went down. As Paul watches his friends—including Tony, Kyle, Joni, and even Chuck—dancing together, he realizes there's nowhere he'd rather be than here in this moment with them. The fact that his hunka hunka burnin' boyfriend is smiling at him doesn't hurt either, of course.

  • Chapter 1

    Now Away We Go

    • It's 9:00PM on a Saturday, and Paul and his best friends Joni (a girl) and Tony (a boy), who are neither twins nor related, are out on the town.
    • Getting Tony out of his house and into Joni's family sedan wasn't easy, though. Tony's gay, and his parents are extremely religious, so it took a little subterfuge to get them to let him hang with Paul, who is also gay.
    • The subterfuge: Paul and Joni memorized bible verses, recited them to Tony's parents, and helped Tony convince them they were all on their way to bible study.
    • Actually they're on their way to the local chain bookstore, where their "Gaystafarian" friend, DJ Zeke, is rapping about Hadrian and Copernicus in the European History section.
    • Joni, Tony, and Paul choose to dance in the Self-Help section, where Paul spins around wildly and knocks over a stack of books, including one called Migraines Are Only in Your Mind.
    • When he bends down to pick up the books, he's staring at Noah's cool sneakers for the first time.
    • Insta-crush ensues, and they flirt awkwardly and adorably. 
    • Noah has just moved to Paul's town, and he tells Paul he's a senior at the high school where Paul is a sophomore.
    • Noah's sister interrupts the flirt-a-thon and drags him away. 
    • As he walks out the door, Noah looks over his shoulder and gives Paul a smile. Boy has just met Boy.
    • Leaning against Zeke's Volkswagen bus after the gig, Joni and Paul discuss whether or not Noah is gay (duh).
    • They don't have much time to discuss it though, because they have to get Tony home by curfew.
    • As they're leaving, Joni's ex Ted comes up and leans on the car. Ted and Joni have broken up and gotten back together twelve times, but they're currently broken up. Ted tells Tony that someday they'll free him.
    • As they drive off, Paul wonders why he's never seen Noah before, and Tony says maybe Paul was just waiting for the right time to notice.
  • Chapter 2

    Paul is Gay

    • Paul tells us about the first time he knew he was gay: it was elementary school.
    • His kindergarten teacher Mrs. Benchly wrote on his report card that he had a very good sense of self, and added, "PAUL IS DEFINITELY GAY."
    • Paul went through the other report cards on her desk and found that none of the other boys were DEFINITELY GAY, but none of them had a good sense of self either.
    • Confused about what gay meant, he asked Mrs. Benchly, who asked him if he'd ever noticed most marriages were made up of a man and a woman.
    • Paul said he thought that was just another adult quirk, like flossing.
    • Mrs. Benchly explains that for Paul, being gay is right, just like for straight people, being straight is right.
    • That night, five-year-old Paul announces to his parents that he's gay. His mom tells his dad their son has learned a new word. Way to take things in stride, Paul's parents.
    • When he was seven, Paul came out to Joni, out of necessity. They were playing under his bed and she tried to kiss him.
    • Joni is also cool with it, and the following year she helps him run for third-grade class president as the first openly gay candidate. His campaign slogan was, "VOTE FOR ME… I'M GAY!"
    • His opponent, Ted Halpern (a.k.a. Joni's eventual Ted), chose as his campaign slogan, "DON'T VOTE FOR THE FAG." Ted lost.
    • The next day, Cody O'Brien flirts with Paul at lunch. They become boyfriends, but break up before the fifth-grade semi-formal dance because of a fight over a Nintendo cartridge. Fortunately, it's an amicable breakup.
    • In sixth grade, Paul, Cody, and Joni form the school's first gay/straight alliance.
    • In eighth grade, Paul gets tackled by two high-school wrestlers after a screening of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. They hurl gay slurs at him, but fortunately he's gone to the movies with some members of the fencing team, who pull out their foils and chase the wrestlers away. 
    • In short, Paul's life has always been pretty uncomplicated, but Noah has just complicated things for the first time.
  • Chapter 3

    The Homecoming Queen's Dilemma

    • The following Monday, Paul's scouting the halls of his high school for Noah.
    • Instead he finds his friend Infinite Darlene (formerly Daryl Heisenberg), a drag queen who is also homecoming queen. 
    • Oh—and she's the star quarterback. She's a busy one, that Infinite Darlene. 
    • She's got problems today, as she always does. It's the day of the Homecoming Pride rally and she's supposed to march in with the football team, but as homecoming queen, she's also supposed to introduce the football team. 
    • She's afraid that if she doesn't do the introductions, her archenemy Trilby Pope will snatch the crown.  
    • Paul asks if Trilby would actually stoop that low, and Infinite Darlene says of course she would, and because of her giant fake boobs she'd have trouble getting back up. 
    • Paul's distracted by looking for Noah, and Infinite Darlene picks up on the distraction. She asks Paul if he's looking for someone, but Paul doesn't want to tell because Infinite Darlene likes to gossip.  
    • Who should walk by at that moment to complicate things further but Paul's ex, Kyle Kimball? This was not a good breakup—Kyle blamed Paul for tricking him into being gay, because that's possible. (Not.)
    • As Kyle walks past without speaking, Joni comes running up to give Paul a Noah Report. It's the same as the last five: she hasn't found him yet. 
    • However, she's found a photo Noah took, which her new crush Chuck helped her steal from the wall outside the photography classroom. 
    • Paul realizes this crush is happening because Joni can't stop saying Chuck's name. 
    • The photograph is cool: it's an old man sitting in a room full of snow globes. Paul realizes another thing: Noah's an awesome photographer. 
    • Infinite Darlene is going nuts wanting to know who Paul's crush is, so Paul breaks down and tells. 
    • He realizes the two minutes he spent with Noah totally changed his life. Funny how that happens sometimes.
  • Chapter 4

    Pride and Joy

    • Paul, Joni, and Ted are at the Homecoming Pride rally. Ted's digging on Joni, but Joni's ignoring Ted.
    • There are so many clubs at their school that only a dozen are spotlighted at each pep rally. 
    • Ted asks if Paul's found his boyfriend yet, but Paul's starting to wonder if Noah really exists.
    • The cheerleaders ride in on their Harleys to get the pep rally started. Yes, cheerleaders on Harleys.
    • Next is the tennis team, of which Paul's brother Jay and his friend Mara are the doubles champions.
    • Then there's the school cover band, who play "One Day More" from Les Miserables and "Personal Jesus" by Depeche Mode.
    • Infinite Darlene comes out next, wearing her quarterback jersey over a pink ball gown, carrying a microphone so she can march and announce at the same time.
    • She's thirteen inches taller than Dave Sprat, the homecoming king. Joni's busy staring at Chuck, which gives Ted time to scout for Noah, who's a few rows up staring at Paul.
    • Ted and Joni convince Paul to go talk to him, which Paul does, with much nervousness. 
    • Noah is covered in speckles of paint and wearing blue suede shoes, like you do.
    • Again they flirt, talking about their childhood imaginary friends.
    • Noah tells Paul, "I'm glad you found me." Aw…
    • Then he says, "263," which is his locker number—he wants Paul to meet him there after school.
    • The pep rally is over, so they go their separate ways, Paul totally dorking out in his crushitude.
  • Chapter 5

    Hallway Traffic (Complications Ensue)

    • There's one more period to go before school is over; Paul hopes his physics teacher will take his mind of Noah, but no dice.
    • All he can think is "264…264…264." 
    • Yes—he's misremembering Noah's locker number, which is about to make the aforementioned complications ensue.
    • When the bell rings, Paul shoots out of class, but he gets waylaid by Lyssa Ling, the head of the Committee on Appointing Committees.
    • Guess what she wants? To appoint him to a committee. 
    • In this case it's for the Dowager's Dance, a yearly shindig endowed by a local dowager thirty years ago. Every year the school holds a dance in her honor and a boy has to dance with her picture.
    • Paul says he'll do it and takes off to meet Noah, but he's stopped again by his English teacher, who wants to compliment him on his reading of Oscar Wilde in class.
    • Then Infinite Darlene stops him again, wanting to talk about herself.
    • Then Ted stops him, wanting to talk about Joni.
    • Speaking of Joni, she's just about to kiss Chuck when Ted and Paul reach the top of the stairs.
    • Luckily, Chuck and Joni are so into each other that they don't notice Ted and Paul.
    • Ted freaks, so Paul has to spend some time calming him down.
    • By the time Paul gets to locker 264, he's seventeen minutes late, and Noah is nowhere to be found.
    • A girl in the hallway tells him Noah left ten minutes ago, looking disappointed.
    • Paul rips a page out of his physics book, writes a note, and shoves it in locker 264 (oops).
    • As he's walking away, who should he see but his ex-boyfriend Kyle? And what should Kyle do but smile and say hello as he walks by?
    • Paul's life: officially complicated.
  • Chapter 6

    Finding Lost Languages

    • Paul and Tony are hanging out at Paul's house, doing each other's homework. They go to different schools, so it's more fun this way.
    • Paul's telling Tony about the drama of the day, but Tony gets a little edgy, and Paul realizes once again that Tony wishes he had a boyfriend of his own.
    • They start speaking their own made-up language instead, one they've spoken for years. (Their record: six hours straight.)
    • Paul tells us that he and Tony met at The Strand, a bookstore in the a.k.a. New York. (A glimpse of where the story takes place, maybe?)
    • They separated in the bookstore, but coincidentally met again on the train home. 
    • Paul said a boy they saw was cute and Tony agreed, which was how they told each other they were gay.
    • But back to the present day: Paul can't concentrate on Tony's homework, because he's thinking about… what else? Noah.
    • Jay, Paul's brother, offers Tony a ride home, and they leave together.
    • Paul goes upstairs to finish his homework in his room. 
    • For the first time, he and Joni don't call each other that night. 
    • Paul realizes Joni knows he knows about Chuck.
  • Chapter 7

    Dangling Conversations

    • The next day at school, Joni tells Paul they have to talk, and pulls him into an empty classroom.
    • An argument about Chuck ensues. 
    • Turns out Chuck once had a crush on Infinite Darlene, but she rejected him and he went nuts, trashing her locker and badmouthing her to the whole school.
    • Joni, like 99.99% of teens who like lame people, doesn't want to hear how lame he is.
    • After talking to Joni, Paul sees Noah standing next to his locker, which is not 264, but 263. 
    • Noah's playing it cool, so another awkward conversation ensues.
    • Infinite Darlene comes running up and breaks the tension—that is, until she says to Noah that he must be the boy Paul likes, and he sure is cute.
    • Paul is afraid Noah will dislike Infinite Darlene, but instead he tells her she's a pretty girl.
    • Score one for Noah.
    • Infinite Darlene doesn't stay silently impressed for long, though—she knows about Joni and Chuck, and she's ready to talk some sense into Joni in a big way.
    • She walks away to do just that. 
    • Once she's gone, Noah asks Paul if he has a few hours after school to help him paint some music, because Noah is the kind of adorable boy who paints music.
    • Paul, of course, says yes.
  • Chapter 8

    Painting Music

    • Paul and Noah walk to Noah's house together after school.
    • Noah tells Paul it's the fourth house he's lived in in the last ten years.
    • When they arrive, Noah's sister Claudia tells Noah he missed a call from their mom. 
    • Noah introduces Paul, and Claudia tells Paul not to hurt Noah like Pitt did.
    • This is how Paul finds out Noah has an ex-boyfriend named Pitt, and that Noah hasn't forgotten about being hurt.
    • They have a smoothie then go upstairs to Noah's room, which is like a crazy Willy Wonka wonderland.
    • The ceiling is painted a million colors, Noah's music collection hangs from a swing, the window shades are made out of bubble gum wrappers, and there are Matchbox cars glued all over the walls.
    • Best of all, there's a secret door to the closet, and a trap door in the closet, and a rope ladder to the attic.
    • Paul asks if they're going to Narnia, but they're actually going to the room where Noah paints music.
    • Paul's nervous because Noah wants him to paint music too… and the last time he painted, it was a paint-by-numbers.
    • Noah puts on some Chet Baker, and they start painting. 
    • Paul can't stop watching Noah, because who could stop watching a cute boy paint music?
    • When the music is over, Noah wants to see what Paul painted, but Paul's not satisfied. 
    • Noah helps by taking his hand and guiding his brush; when the music ends, they don't stop holding hands.
    • Paul looks at Noah's painting, and it's a dancer.
    • They go back to painting music, and Paul thinks about his swaths of color meeting Noah's dancer in the middle of the room.
  • Chapter 9

    Chuck Waggin'

    • The next day, Joni wants to know if Paul kissed Noah. 
    • For the first time ever, even though she knows about every other boy he's ever kissed, he tells her it's none of her business.
    • Paul's a little grouchy about this Chuck thing.
    • Joni asks if Paul has talked to Kyle, which makes it clear she has talked to Kyle.
    • We get more backstory on Paul and Kyle: Kyle started dating girls after they broke up, while wearing Paul's favorite sweater and not offering to give it back.
    • Joni says now Kyle wants to talk because he feels bad. As he should. He should also give back the sweater.
    • Then she changes the subject to Chuck, asking Paul if he'll go to lunch with the two of them tomorrow—Paul doesn't want to, but he says yes because Joni is still his best friend.
    • In the meantime, he and Noah are writing each other adorable notes about their lives, trading them between every class.
    • Joni and Chuck meet Paul at his locker for lunch. Infinite Darlene and Ted walk by and give them disapproving looks, making Paul feel like a bad friend.
    • They go to Veggie D's, a fast-food joint that was taken over by vegetarians. 
    • Chuck starts behaving like the clueless jock he is, offering to get Paul a keg for the Dowager Dance.
    • Then he disses Infinite Darlene, his football teammate, saying she should just enter beauty contests instead of trying to play football—which, of course, he's saying because he used to like her and she didn't like him back.
    • Joni starts talking about what everybody is doing this weekend, leaving Paul out of her plans. She just wants to hang out with Chuck. 
    • Back at school, Ted's mad. He calls Paul a traitor for going to lunch with Joni and Chuck.
      Paul can't tell Ted he doesn't like Chuck, because he knows it would get back to Joni, so he has to let Ted think he's a jerk.
    • Everything is better though, when Noah walks up with a note folded into an origami crane.
  • Chapter 10

    A Walk in the Park

    • It's Saturday, and Noah's coming over. Paul's excited until he realizes that means Noah will have to meet his family.
    • He's nervous because his family can never figure out who's a friend and who's a boyfriend, and he doesn't want them to embarrass him. 
    • Paul decides to introduce Noah to his family as a new friend, but then Noah shows up with flowers.
    • Cue first kiss. It's as cute as you think it's going to be. 
    • When his parents come downstairs, Paul's holding flowers in one hand and Noah's hand in the other. So much for just friends…
    • Paul's mom offers to make pancakes for lunch. Paul goes to put the flowers in water and realizes this means he's left Noah alone with his dad, who wastes no time in showing Noah pictures of Paul as a baby. Ugh—parents.
    • Because Paul's mom is a dentist and very precise, she's making the pancakes in the shape of states, as usual. Sometimes she does countries. It's how Paul learned geography.
    • Jay comes home from tennis practice and asks Paul why he's brought home another gay boy, and why he can't ever bring over a cute girl to fall in love with Jay.
    • After lunch Paul and Noah walk to the park, holding hands—Paul is, of course, blissed out.
    • They decide to go on a paddleboat ride. The paddleboats are shaped like ducks. 
    • They talk about exes. Noah tells Paul that Pitt cheated on him, and Paul tells Noah about Kyle. 
    • After leaving the park, they go back to Noah's house, where his parents are out but his sister Claudia is home, being miserable. In lieu of their presence, his parents have left credit cards.
    • Noah says he and Paul will go out and get pizza and a movie and bring it back.
    • They flirt in the kitchen first, and Claudia yells at them to cut it out.
  • Chapter 11

    Please Rewind Before Returning

    • In town Paul goes to the video store, Spiff's Videorama, while Noah goes to get the pizza.
    • Spiff rents old, weird videotapes, which is why most people in Paul's town still have VCRs.
    • And who should be at the video store but Kyle?
    • He corners Paul and apologizes. Turns out he's really sorry he broke Paul's heart.
    • Kyle's holding The Breakfast Club, which they used to watch together.
    • Paul doesn't want to let Kyle off the hook so easily, but he's not as angry as he thought he would be so we tells Kyle he doesn't hate him and that he was just hurt.
    • Noah walks in with the pizza and Kyle realizes Noah and Paul are together.
    • Paul takes The Breakfast Club out of Kyle's hand, saying he needs a movie to rent.
    • Kyle asks if they can talk Monday after school, and Paul says he'll meet Kyle outside the chemistry lab, but just for a minute.
    • Paul and Noah go back to Noah's house and start watching the movie, but every scene makes Paul think of Kyle. 
    • Paul gets up and goes into the kitchen to reheat his pizza and get away from the movie, but Noah follows him and confesses that it's hard for him to watch The Breakfast Club because he used to watch it with Pitt.
    • Paul laughs and says he used to watch it with his ex, but doesn't say Kyle's name, and doesn't tell Noah what happened at the video store.
    • They stay in the kitchen and make lemon squares while Claudia watches the rest of the movie.
    • When it's time for Paul to go home, Noah kisses him goodnight. 
    • Paul leaves happy. He's still thinking about Kyle, but he's thinking more about Noah.
  • Chapter 12

    Things Unsaid

    • The following Monday, Noah and Paul are being all cute couple-ish at school, which is why Paul walks into French class happy.
    • Joni's in the same class, and she asks Paul if he had a good weekend, but what she actually wants to talk about is the fact that she spent the weekend with Chuck.
    • Their teacher, Ms. Kaplansky, walks in, so they have to communicate in notes.
    • Joni says she and Chuck played miniature golf and they went to a restaurant where Chuck unsuccessfully tried to order them drinks. And Ted is stalking them.
    • Paul, thinking of Kyle, says maybe Ted's hurt.
    • After school, Paul goes to the chemistry lab to meet Kyle. 
    • Kyle has more apologies. He broke up with Paul because he was conflicted about his sexuality—he still is, and he asks Paul for help. He thinks he's bisexual.
    • Paul says it's no big deal, but to Kyle it is—he wants to pick one. 
    • Needing comfort, Kyle hugs Paul… and Paul finds it uncomfortable how comfortable it is.
  • Chapter 13

    Pinball

    • Paul tells Joni everything, and within a few days, the whole school knows—Chuck obviously can't keep his mouth shut.
    • But wait, it gets worse: Infinite Darlene tells Paul that Rip, the school's "resident oddsmaker," the kid who bets on everything, is taking bets on whether Paul will stay with Noah or get back together with Kyle.
    • Like, monetary bets. 
    • The odds are slightly in favor of Kyle, but even more people are betting that Paul screws everything up and ends up alone. Oh good.
    • Paul's still happy with Noah, but he's also been dipping his toes into the waters of friendship with Kyle.
    • He's happy both Noah and Kyle will be away for the weekend and he'll have some time to think.
    • On Friday Joni asks Paul if he wants to hang out with her and Tony, oblivious to the fact that he knows she blabbed—because he wants to see Tony, Paul goes. 
    • Chuck goes too, and he takes the front seat of Joni's car, the seat that used to be Paul's.
    • Shortly after they pick Tony up, Chuck starts blasting what Paul calls "Testosterone Rock," chastising Tony and Paul for not joining in—as if they must know the words.
    • They go to a diner, where Ted's sitting with a girl named Jasmine. 
    • Jasmine will date anybody, provided they're just coming off a breakup—she thinks fragility and anger are hot.
    • Joni sees Ted, but Ted doesn't see Joni. Joni's not happy.
    • After the meal, Tony, Joni, Chuck, and Paul walk over to the Elvis pinball machine, which is their favorite.
    • Ted comes up, slaps down a quarter, and says he's got the next game.
    • This makes Chuck nervous, which means he doesn't play well, which means his game ends quickly.
    • Ted starts playing and is kicking butt when Chuck leans on the machine and makes it tilt.
    • Ted's mad, to say the least. 
    • Chuck shoves Ted, Ted knocks Chuck's baseball cap off his head, and it looks like a fight's about to go down.
    • Fortunately Tony steps between them and starts singing If I Had a Hammer.
    • Joni pulls Chuck away.
    • Jasmine pulls Ted away.
    • Paul tells Tony he did a good job, and the two of them step away from the couples and decide to spend the following day together, just the two of them.
  • Chapter 14

    Hitting the Mountain

    • As you might have suspected, in this chapter Paul and Tony hit the mountain.
    • It's not really a mountain—just a hill—but they like to climb it, and Tony will do just about anything to get out of the house.
    • What he has to do today: tell his parents he's going somewhere with a girl from his school named Mary Catherine Elizabeth and walk two blocks to the Laundromat, where Paul and Jay are waiting in the getaway car. 
    • The mountain is Tony's special place, and he lived there for a week after his mom found a gay magazine in his room.
    • But wait—it wasn't even that kind of gay magazine; it was just a copy of The Advocate, but that was enough to make her flip out.
    • The way Tony's parents flip out: by praying out loud in front of him, begging God to deliver him.
    • So they didn't actually kick him out, but sleeping on a mountain was way preferable to listening to his parents tell God over and over how disappointed they were in him.
    • Tony called every day though, and he still went to school. What a good kid, right? Eventually he went back home, and his parents promised to pray quieter, but they didn't stop praying. 
    • On their hike, Tony asks Paul about Noah and Kyle. 
    • Paul fills Tony in on the situation, then asks Tony how he's doing.
    • Tony says he's fine, which isn't an adequate answer, so Paul makes a game-show-buzzer noise.
    • Tony laments his lack of a boyfriend and his lack of ability to go find one; Paul tells Tony what an amazing person he is and that someday his prince will come.
    • Then he gives Tony a hug, which is where things get really messy: Tony's mom's best friend is hiking up the mountain at the same time and sees them.
  • Chapter 15

    Everybody Freaks Out

    • In school the next Monday, everyone's buzzing about Paul and Tony, even though Tony doesn't even go to their school.
    • Rip's odds are now in favor of Paul and Tony—even though they've never been an item—just because people like to gossip.
    • Tony's mom won't even let Paul talk to Tony anymore, and when he tried to call on Sunday she said he was the devil's influence and hung up on him.
    • Lyssa Ling posts the Dowager's Dance committee list, and Paul is horrified to see that she's put both Infinite Darlene and Trilby Pope on it.
    • Paul reminds her that Darlene and Trilby hate each other, but Lyssa tells him he'll have to deal.
    • And as if matters weren't already complicated enough, Kyle needs to talk right now. 
    • He drags Paul into a janitor's closet, clearly distressed.
    • Turns out Kyle's aunt died over the weekend, and when he saw how his uncle was there for her in the last moments of her life, he realized he was still in love with Paul. 
    • Paul gives Kyle a hug.
    • And a kiss.
    • Wait—what?
    • Yeah, they kiss… and when Paul doesn't see Noah after class, he's kind of relieved.
    • But he doesn't see him after second period either. Usually they'd be exchanging notes. 
    • Between third and fourth period, Paul manages to find Noah, who doesn't have a note for him.
    • Instead Noah says they should "touch base" at lunch. It's never good when someone you're dating says that.
    • Is that all the drama Paul's day holds? Nope, not when he's friends with Infinite Darlene.
    • At lunch, Infinite Darlene has a lot to say about Chuck, whom she calls Truck—it seems they had a fight over the weekend, after a football game.
    • The outcome of it all: Chuck made it clear that he was just using Joni to get back at Infinite Darlene for not returning his feelings.
    • Infinite Darlene wants Paul to talk to Joni about all this, to warn her. And she wants him to do it right now in the cafeteria, which means getting Joni away from Chuck, with whom she's snuggling while she eats.
    • Paul walks up to Joni and Chuck and asks Joni if they can talk privately, but Joni won't leave Chuck.
    • Paul gives up and goes to look for Noah, who is outside taking pictures.
    • More drama ensues: Noah needs a break. He went back to his former hometown over the weekend and talked to his old friends about Paul, and realized he might be getting in over his head.
    • To recap Paul's day: he kissed his ex, found out some dirt about Joni's boyfriend, couldn't talk to her about it, and now his new boyfriend needs a break, and he can't talk to Joni about that either.
    • After school Joni confronts him: She knows what's going on, and she's mad at everyone for trying to break up her relationship.
    • She tells Paul he used to be her friend.
    • About this time Kyle comes walking up, and Paul can't take it anymore—he runs out of the building and doesn't stop running until he gets home.
    • Which is where he unzips his backpack and finds that Noah snuck a note into it.
    • It says I can't believe you kissed him.
  • Chapter 16

    Elsewhere

    • When Paul's stressed out, he goes to a place he calls Elsewhere.
    • It's a world of images inside his head, and he uses Erasure's "Always" to get to it.
    • This time though, Elsewhere is different from its usual meditative peacefulness—the colors and shapes and images in Paul's head all come from Noah's brush now.
    • He realizes how hurt Noah is, and that he has to do something to make it right.
    • He also wonders how Noah found out about Kyle, but that doesn't matter. What matters is that he has to try to get his boyfriend back.
    • Paul tries to call Tony, but Tony's mom won't let him talk.
    • At dinner, Paul's parents see how bummed he is and suggest calling "the P-FLAG commandos."
    • PFLAG is Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, and in Paul's town, they might as well be the PTA.
    • Paul knows it's a lost cause—nobody's going to be able to talk sense into Tony's parents.
    • He tries to do his homework, but he can't stop thinking about Noah.
    • At 11:00PM he tells his parents he has to go out, and that he'll be back by midnight.
    • His mom says that's fine, as long as he wears the hideous orange reflective vest that will allow cars to see him.
    • Paul loves Noah enough to wear the vest, which is how you know it's really love. He puts it on and heads to Noah's house.
  • Chapter 17

    Boy Loses Boy

    • Not surprisingly, when Paul gets to Noah's house Noah has nothing to say to him.
    • Well except for the vest thing. He does want to know what's up with the vest.
    • Paul launches into a big, long apology for the kiss. What he doesn't say, in the massive apology, is the name Kyle.
    • Which is why Noah asks why Paul kissed Tony.
    • Um, oops.
    • Having just admitted to a kiss Noah didn't even know happened, Paul has some serious explaining to do.
    • Noah's having none of it, though. His friends told him to be careful about falling for someone, and now he sees that they were right.
    • Noah walks away and goes back into his house.
    • All that's left for Paul to do is walk home and try to figure out how to get his boyfriend back.
  • Chapter 18

    Dealing with the Club Kids

    • The next morning Paul can't figure out what to wear to school, because all his clothes remind him somehow of people he doesn't want to see. 
    • After discarding the shirts Joni helped him pick out and the pants he wore the night he met Noah, he puts on an ill-fitting green and orange sweater.
    • At school Rip comes up to confirm that the odds were correct: he's ended up alone.
    • Paul tells Rip the betting's not over yet.
    • Rip says Paul has until the Dowager's Dance, then he's calling it and collecting the money.
    • Speaking of the Dowager's Dance, Paul has to chair the meeting, which means being in the same room as Infinite Darlene and Trilby Pope.
    • Also in attendance are Kyle and the Club Kids, neither of whom Paul's thrilled to see.
    • The Club Kids aren't kids who like to go out and have fun—in fact, they're exactly the opposite. They join every club and committee because they think it will look good on their college applications, then fail to do any work because they have too many other obligations.
    • They try to choose a theme for the dance, but nobody can agree on anything until Kyle suggests Death.
    • Trilby Pope hates it, which means Infinite Darlene loves it. 
    • Their friend Amy likes it too, as does a Club Kid named Amber. 
    • Paul likes the idea of using tombstones as part of the décor. It's settled.
    • Kyle sticks around after the meeting to tell Paul he did a good job leading it. 
    • Paul could use a friend, and Noah's nowhere to be found, so he and Kyle walk to class together, not talking about the kiss.
  • Chapter 19

    More Than, Equal To, Less Than

    • And now back to the regularly scheduled drama.
    • Today it's all about Joni, as she tells her friend Laura to tell Paul that she thinks he's a jerk.
    • Paul's having none of the third-grade-ishness, so he marches into the girls's locker room during gym class.
    • (No biggie—the girls all know he's gay.)
    • Joni asks Paul if Laura failed to tell him to stay away from her; Paul says she told him, but he'd rather hear it from Joni.
    • Joni tells him to stay away.
    • It's a friendship breakup, and it's horrible.  
    • But wait, it gets more horrible—Paul finds out that the whole school knows when Kyle tells him that afternoon.
    • News travels fast around this place.
    • Kyle suggests that the Dowager's Dance committee go to the cemetery the next day to get ideas for the dance, and since Paul's got nothing better to do, he agrees. 
    • After school, guess who's talking in the halls? That's right, it's Infinite Darlene and Noah… And Darlene's got her hand on Noah's shoulder.
    • As soon as Noah walks away, Paul asks Infinite Darlene exactly what she thinks she's doing.
    • Infinite Darlene tells Paul he's just going to have to trust her.
  • Chapter 20

    To Bring You My Love

    • Walking through town on his way home from school, Paul goes to the record store to cheer himself up.
    • The owners of the store are Javier and Jules, who have been together for twenty years. Their happiness seems utterly baffling to him, and kind of heartbreaking.
    • He goes to the coffee shop and sees his first boyfriend, Cody, with his new boyfriend, sharing one latte. He pretends he's busy and can't join them.
    • He goes to the five-and-dime and buys candy for Jay and Tony, but has to stop himself from buying root beer barrels for Joni.
    • Next stop, thrift store. He's looking for combat boots when he sees a woman who looks like Noah.
    • Then he sees Claudia.
    • The woman is Noah's mom. 
    • Claudia comes up to Paul and tells him, quietly enough that her mom can't hear, that if she were bigger she'd beat the crap out of him.
    • Paul leaves the store, puts on his headphones, and runs all the way home, hating himself for hurting Noah.
  • Chapter 21

    A Very Late Night Conversation with Ted

    • Two-page, quickie, all-dialogue chapter. Ready?
    • Ted calls Paul at 2:00AM to talk about Joni.
    • The gist of it: he didn't realize how much he missed her until she turned off the electricity between them.
    • The bottom line: they're both going to have to wait for Joni to miss them too.
  • Chapter 22

    Meet Me at the Cemetery Gates

    • The Dowager's Dance committee meets at the town cemetery at sundown.
    • This is a way-cool cemetery: every grave has a locked box, and the gatekeeper will unlock the box for you if you ask. 
    • Inside every box is a book.
    • Some of the books contain the deceased person's own handwriting. Other books contain notes left by the living.
    • Paul and committee are going to take some quotes from the books and rubbings of the tombstones and use them for decorations.
    • Infinite Darlene and Trilby Pope are there, arguing as usual; Amber, the only Club Kid who showed up, asks them if they're always like that.
    • They say yes they are, and Amber tells them they need to get over it.
    • Trilby makes a snide remark about Amber's Old Navy overalls and storms off. Infinite Darlene storms off in the opposite direction.
    • Paul decides Amber is pretty awesome and they stand and talk for a while, until they notice a flash.
    • Someone is in the graveyard taking pictures.
    • That someone is Noah.
    • Infinite Darlene lets Paul in on a little secret: she asked Noah to come take some shots for the dance.
    • Paul walks over to talk to Noah, which they do awkwardly until Kyle comes running up to say he wants to show Paul something.
    • Noah walks away to take more photos.
    • The thing Kyle wants to show Paul is the Dowager's crypt, which is painted fifty-two shades of blue on the inside. 
    • Kyle has lit the crypt with candles and is drawing the Dowager's portrait from the photo hanging on the wall. 
    • When Kyle puts his hand on Paul's back, Paul turns around and Kyle kisses him—Paul backs away and tells Kyle he's not interested in him like that anymore. 
    • Kyle is disappointed and tells Paul it must be so easy to be him, always knowing exactly who he is and what he wants.
    • Paul tries to tell Kyle that's not how it is at all, but Kyle blows out all the candles and walks away with tears in his eyes.
  • Chapter 23

    Tony

    • Paul asks his new buddy Amber to call Tony and ask if Paul can come over; Tony says Paul has about an hour before Tony's mom gets home.
    • Paul spills the details, and Tony says Kyle's right: it is easy to be Paul, and he does always know who he is.
    • Things have gotten bad for Tony since they last spoke. Like, really bad.
    • Paul tells Tony he should just leave and come live at Paul's house, but Tony says it's not that easy.
    • Instead he needs to stick around for two more years until he graduates, because he needs to show his parents that it's not hurting him to be who he really is.
    • They hear Tony's parents pull into the garage, and Paul tries to figure out how to get out without being seen.
    • Tony, however, wants him to stay. 
    • When Tony's mom comes upstairs, Tony faces her down. He tells her he and Paul are just friends, and that there's no harm in them being friends. 
    • Surprisingly, Tony's mom can't come up with a good reason why they shouldn't hang out, as friends, with the bedroom door open.
    • She turns and goes to the kitchen, and Tony loses it. He cries and Paul holds him.
    • Tony's mom comes back and watches Paul comfort her son, and Paul knows she wishes she could be the one to do it.
    • When he stops crying, Tony tells Paul he has to go try to get Noah back.
    • Paul's not so sure he can, but he goes home thinking about it.
    • That night Tony calls and Paul's mom is super stoked to hear from him—she tells him she's been stocking up on macadamia nuts, his favorite. (Shmoop also really likes macadamia nuts, just so you know.)
    • Tony's scored a victory: his parents are willing to let Paul come over, as long as they stay in the kitchen.
    • Paul feels like maybe the world is changing for the better for gay people.
  • Chapter 24

    Possibly Maybe

    • Paul concocts a plan for getting Noah back and puts it into action.
    • Are you ready? Because this is the most romantic thing in the entire freaking world.
    • He stays up all night making Noah one thousand origami flowers. On the first day of the plan, he strings garlands of them through the halls, making Noah's locker the centerpiece.
    • On the second day, he goes to Tony's, gets out a dictionary, and makes a list of one hundred words he loves. He writes them on a scroll and titles the list, "Words to Find and Know in this World."
    • He ties the scroll with a ribbon and leaves it in Noah's locker.
    • Noah responds by putting a note in Paul's locker. It says, "literogratumerriment—thanks for the words."
    • The third day is Saturday. Paul puts a note in Noah's mailbox telling him to have a good weekend, then leaves him alone—it's his way of giving Noah the gift of space.
    • On the fourth day, DJ Zeke (remember him?) comes to meet with the Dowager's Dance committee because he's spinning the tunes, and Paul asks Zeke to serenade Noah for him.
    • Zeke, being awesome, composes a song on the spot, and the whole dance committee goes to Noah's house.
    • Noah's painting in his studio, but the crew persuades Claudia to get him to come to the window.
    • When he does, Zeke breaks it down, and when he's done, everyone—including Noah—smiles and applauds.
    • As everyone is walking away, Noah comes and tells Paul he doesn't have to do this.
    • Paul says he does, and Noah says okay, and they leave it at that.
    • On the fifth day, Paul buys twenty rolls of film and gets his friends—minus Joni—to give them to Noah in creative ways, including sticking them under his desk and firing them into his backpack with a slingshot. 
    • Paul tries not to think about the fact that Joni's not one of the people who's helping.
    • On the sixth day, Paul writes Noah a long letter and gives it to him in person, and as soon as he hands over the first letter, he starts a second.
    • In class, he and Kyle have a talk in which they decide to be friends—turns out Kyle and Tony have been talking, and they've decided to be friends too.
    • By the end of the day, Paul has given Noah four letters, and written a fifth to give him the next day.
  • Chapter 25

    Instinct and Proof

    • The next morning Paul sits waiting on the steps for Noah to arrive at school. He hands over the fifth letter.
    • Turns out Noah has something for Paul too. 
    • Grab a tissue because you are going to need it. We'll wait.
    • Okay, ready? It's a packet of photos, taken around town. There are four of them.
    • The first three are words from signs. They say, "Wish… you… were…"
    • The fourth is a piece of paper in Noah's studio, and it says, "here."
    • We told you to get a tissue.
    • Then he asks Paul to the dance. We don't have to tell you Paul's answer, obvs.
    • After school they go for ice cream, and Paul tells Noah what Tony's been through; Noah says they should go pay Tony a visit, and Paul asks Jay to drive them.
    • When they get there, Tony says he wants to go to the dance, but his parents aren't down. 
    • He has a plan, though: he thinks that maybe if a big group of people, both guys and girls, show up at his house that night, his parents will give in.
    • Kyle, he says, has already agreed. As for Joni, he's not sure.
    • Paul gets it right away: Chuck doesn't want her to go.
    • After an hour of hanging out and doing homework, Jay comes to pick up Paul and Noah. 
    • After they drop Noah off, Paul asks Jay to make a stop on the way home: Joni's house.
  • Chapter 26

    Flicker

    • Joni's mom is psyched to see Paul, despite the fact that Joni's told her not to let Paul in.
    • Chuck, she says, just left, and now he and Joni are on the phone.
    • Of course.
    • Paul marches up to Joni's room—needless to say, she's not too happy to see him.
    • Having taken a cue from Tony, Paul stands his ground. He tells Joni what Tony needs from them, and that they need to be there to support him since he's never asked them for anything before.
    • Joni says she has other plans and doesn't need to be there in person to support him.
    • Paul tells her she knows the right thing to do, and leaves; on the way out, Joni's mom gives him a hug.
    • It's only two days until the dance. The committee has a lot of work to do.
    • They decorate the gym in bright colors—they're avoiding black and celebrating death. Everyone's wearing an heirloom from someone they loved who passed away.
    • Paul sets up candles under the bleachers, and Noah comes and asks if that isn't a fire hazard.
    • Paul responds by lighting the candles, and the two have a steamy make-out session.
    • Everything's going so well that Paul doesn't want anyone else to intrude, but then he thinks of Tony and he's ready to open the doors.
  • Chapter 27

    One Small Step

    • It's the night of the dance, and Paul gets all spiffed up in a tuxedo; he folds an origami flower for Noah's lapel.
    • Jay picks up his date, Delia, and drives Paul to pick up Noah. He says Rip's going to owe him five hundred bucks.
    • Paul asks if the odds were that much against him, and Jay says no—he just bet a lot on him and Noah.
    • When Paul picks Noah up, he asks Claudia's permission to take him out. Claudia grudgingly gives it. She even takes their picture.
    • Paul gives Noah the origami flower, and Noah gives Paul a photograph of a flower.
    • Before they go to the dance, they have to go to Tony's to try to talk the 'rents into letting him go.
    • When they get there, Joni has already arrived, with Chuck of course. Chuck looks annoyed.
    • Success—the crew manages to get Tony out of the house, with a hug from his mom, even. 
    • In the car Tony asks if they can be a few minutes late for the dance. He has something he wants to do first.
  • Chapter 28

    What I Will Always Remember

    • They go to the mountain, of course—Tony's special place.
    • Someone has brought a radio, and they have a little dance, all to themselves.
    • Tony dances with Kyle. Aw.
    • Paul dances with Noah. Double aw.
    • As all his friends dance and laugh together, Paul steps back and thinks to himself, What a wonderful world.