A car pulls up to the school, and before we can see him, we hear Marco calling out to us. Or rather, to Paige, Spinner and Hazel, who are walking up the front steps. It’s a weird bit of overdubbing. He pops out of the car, eager to show off the posters for the semi-formal dance that’s coming up. He’s the chair of the dance committee. He unrolls the poster, which features a doctored photo of him and Ellie with the theme “Bollywood Nights.” It’s based on those movie musicals from India that are all the rage right now. I am unfamiliar with this “rage.”
Spinner says that’s great if you’re a big, flaming… he trails off as Marco’s dad gets out of the car. His dad printed the posters and the tickets for the dance. He also speaks in an Italian accent so stereotypical that, if it’s not fake, it should be. Paige wants to get two tickets to the dance, since she and Spinner are going to be the new King and Queen of Degrassi. Hazel corrects her. The King and Queen will be her and Jimmy. Au contraire, says Mr. DelRossi. Marco is going to be Queen! Er. King. He just needs to find a pretty girl to go with him. The gang is uncomfortable with Marco’s closeted status. He says he won’t have time for a date, since he’s the chair of the committee. Papa scolds Marco. Doesn’t he like any of the pretty girls?
In a brilliant piece of editing, Marco catches sight of Dylan throwing a football in front of the school. Dylan smiles and poses with his ball, his bicep flexing sexily. If you get this episode on tape, and you pause it right at this moment, you will notice that a) Dylan is way hot, b) he also has Craig’s hair, and c) he has freakishly large hands. Marco watches him flex and licks his lips until his dad whacks him on the back of the head and calls him shy. Mr. DelRossi asks Spinner to help him get a date, which Spinner finds extra funny. Marco is saved by the bell.
I wonder when they’ll put Dylan in the credits?
Marco and Dylan walk and talk. Marco is loaded down with his posters and tickets, while Dylan is still carrying the football. Marco barely reaches Dylan’s shoulder. He recounts the horrible conversation with his father before school, and Dylan agrees that it sounds really embarrassing. Marco rambles until he stumbles into the admission that he wishes he could just tell his dad that there is someone he likes – a guy. Dylan smiles to himself and asks if it’s anyone he knows. Marco stutters that it’s just “someone.”
Because he’s a nice guy, Dylan lets him off the hook. He asks Marco if he’s seen the new zombie movie yet. Ellie did. She said it was a clever critique on consumerism. And it’s scary, too. Dylan has been waiting forever for it to come but…On the “but,” he turns and poses with the football on his shoulder. His bicep bulges. He tilts his head and says softly, “No one will go.” It’s so adorable and coy that I can feel myself grinning. It freaks Marco out. Not just Dylan. Zombie movies freak him out, too. Darling Dylan is crushed. Instead, he’ll go with some guy named Tom.
JT arrives at Toby’s locker with a giant cardboard cutout of himself wearing a sideways baseball cap, a basketball jersey, some bling, and holding a basket of French fries. It’s highly disturbing. Toby agrees. Some guy comes to take cardboard JT away, and we learn that the cutout is going to grace school cafeterias across the land. Tonight, the commercial that will explain the cutout is going to hit the airwaves. JT’s super excited about it, until he catches a glimpse of a forlorn Manny walking down the hall alone. He says good morning, but she doesn’t reply.
JT decides that they need to have a launch party, for people to watch his big debut. Toby thinks it a great idea, except that JT’s apartment is too small. Hmm. Who has a big living room with a big TV? Toby says they can have the party at his house, as long as they don’t invite too many people. JT’s glance strays to where Manny is standing, and he assures Toby that he will hand pick all the invitees.
Liar. JT stands next to the cardboard cutout of himself, and hands out fliers that he’s had printed on multi-colored neon paper just for the occasion.
Marco is sitting alone at lunch when Spinner throws down his tray and asks him if he likes Dylan or what. A little louder, and Dylan might have heard him wherever else he happened to be in the school. Marco confesses that he does. Dylan is the first guy Marco can see himself hooking up with, but he’s not sure why Spinner wants to know about it. Looks like Spinner has gotten over his case of homophobia, and now he just wants to be a friend. He’s decided that Marco needs to make the first move.
It’s simple. He just has to ask the dude out. Spinner says it’s not Grade Nine public speaking. All Marco has to say is, “Dude, I like you, you like me, let’s hook up.” Maybe not with those exact words. Spinner shoves Marco toward Dylan’s locker, where Dylan is casually flexing his muscles by putting away books. Just as Marco approaches, the mysterious Tom arrives to give Dylan a CD that he made. They smile at each other. Little Marco wilts, but still manages to walk up to them. Dylan sees him and calls out, but Marco “has to jet.” Tom gives Dylan a “whatever” look, and Spinner gives the same to Marco.
In Miss Hatzilakos’s class, she’s teaching about bees and evolution. Spinner shows Marco a picture of a bee hanging out on a flower, and he gets wigged out. Marco has bee phobia. I do, too, a little. Marco calls them flying death monkeys and cringes. Spinner says that, like all bugs, they just need a little smacking. Speaking of smacking, what’s up with that Tom guy? Marco grouses that Tom stole his crush. And it’s no wonder, because Marco is too young and too girly. Spinner tells him not to put himself down. Dating is war, you have to be able to fight dirty. Marco feels that Dylan has moved on (From what? From playing volleyball that one time?) and so should he. Spin obviously doesn’t agree.
Ah, Dylan. He’s exiting class, where Spinner is waiting for him. Let me say again how attractive Dylan is. I know that you might not agree, but you’d be wrong. Spinner tries to be all cool by telling Dylan that he wants to talk about his little friend Tommy Boy. On the down low, Spinner says, dude’s got scabies. The flippant way he says this cracks my shit up. Spinner sees Tom coming, and pulls Dylan into a manly hug. Dylan thinks it’s Hug The Homo Day. Ha! Tom thinks that Spinner is getting a piece of his man and doesn’t even stop to say hello. Spinner just wants to spread the love. No, really. What he wants is to talk to Dylan about Marco.
You like him, he likes you. Spinner sees no problem. Dylan isn’t sure that Marco is ready to date. He wasn’t ready for his own first boy date, and it was a disaster. He doesn’t want to put Marco through that. Spinner assures him that it’ll be fine. Dylan wants to know what Spinner knows about being gay. The answer is a big fat nothing, but he does know Marco. And he knows that Marco likes Dylan. He just wants Dylan to think about it. Dylan does.
The spirit squad is practicing in the gym. As JT takes off his mascot head, Paige approaches him. She calls him “sweet potato” and tells him that he pulled off a great slide. JT blows her off to go talk to Manny, who is walking away from the others as fast as she can. JT wants her to come to his party. Everyone will be there – Emma, Liberty. Manny takes an invitation (which he has pulled from his mascot head, and must be sweaty) and notices that the party is at Ashley’s house. She can’t possibly go. JT tells her that Toby swears Ashley will be out for the evening. I pretend that she’ll be out with Craig, getting a latte at The Dot Grill.
He really wants her to come. She really wants to come. But she can’t, because, when she’s at school and people say things about her, she walks away. At a party, she’ll be stuck. JT promises that he won’t let anyone say anything about her. She tells him that he’s sweet, and before she can get to the “but,” JT is getting all sappy and telling her that he wants her there. The commercial might be dumb, but it’s a dream come true. How can you say no to a boy in half a tiger costume? You can’t. Manny agrees to go.
Cool music plays as Marco walks down the hall, eyeing all the couples who are coupling up against lockers in the hallway. He makes it to his locker, just in time to be caught by Dylan, who conveniently hooks his arm across the top of Marco’s locker door so the muscle can commence with the bulging. He says that they need to talk. He thought Marco should know that there’s someone he likes. His voice is intimate, and he’s looking at Marco like he’s a tasty treat, and yet Marco still rambles on about being too young, too short and too girly. Dylan doesn’t think Marco should be that hard on himself. He smiles with lots of teeth until Marco gets it.
The boys grin foolishly at each other until Marco asks if Dylan was playing with him. Well, duh! Marco playfully calls him a jerk and punches him in the arm. The non-bulging one. Dylan tilts his head and sighs, and tells Marco that he hasn’t even asked him out yet. This is the cutest coupling scene ever. Marco bows his head, and his eyelashes lay fetchingly on the apples of his cheeks. When he opens his eyes, Dylan is still gazing at him. He asks if Marco wants to see the zombie movie, or if it’ll freak him out. It will freak him out, but he wants to go. He wants to know if it’s a date. Dylan throws him the tiniest of winks and says, “you bet.”
I didn’t want to ruin the beautiful moment, but Marco’s hair has gotten so shaggy that it is not unlike a small cat on his head. He also has Invisiline braces, which I’ve never noticed before.
This is a fabulous scene. Marco is getting ready for his date at Spinner’s house, while Kendra looks on. He is having a fashion crisis, and wants Spinner’s advice. Yes, that Spinner. I was shocked, too. Marco has several looks: sporty, vintage, cowboy, and “clubby.” Spinner expresses confusion about why Marco would want him, too, so Marco explains that Spinner would know more about Dylan’s tastes (read: sporty boy) than Marco would (read: girly boy). Spinner calls it Straight Eye for the Gay Guy and starts going through Marco’s stuff.
First, he holds up the shiny silver clubby shirt. “Enrique called, he wants his shirt back.” The silver shirt gets flung to the floor. Next up, the vintage shirt. “This whole Oliver Twist thing?” Here Spinner tries on a cheesy British accent. “Please, sir. Don’t wear this one, you’ll look like an idiot.” The vintage shirt is tossed in the vicinity of the shiny shirt. It’s time for the cowboy shirt, which has a lot of fringe. “Planning on wrestling cattle, dude?” Marco catches the shirt before it hits the floor. Spinner picks up the final outfit and declares it classy, sporty and very David Beckham. We have a winner. Marco thanks Spinner for “everything.” He tells Marco not to get mushy.
Dylan trots up to the door and rings the bell. Spinner answers, and calls for Marco, who arrives wearing the sporty outfit and a black fedora that barely fits over the feline on his noggin’. The boys walk to Dylan’s car, which is a black sporty convertible of some sort. Marco tells Dylan he looks nice, and Dylan returns the complement, but focuses a tad too long on the hat. Marco takes this as disapproval. He knew the hat was too much! Even Spinner said so! Dylan says it’s great, it’s just more appropriate for a club. Marco takes it off and sulks. Maybe he’s not ready to date. He wants to be, though, and he watches Dylan around all the hair that’s hanging in his eyes.
Once in the car, disaster strikes. There is a bee sitting on the dashboard. Marco starts shrieking like a woman and flees the car in panic. He swats at his clothes and jumps up and down while Dylan laughs at him. When the whole thing is over, he confesses his phobia. Dylan is amused, but not annoyed.
The boys are in the food court at the mall. Marco is still talking about his phobia, but Dylan has assured him it’s nothing to be ashamed of. He actually has a fear of killer whales. When he was 10, his mom took him to a marine park. He volunteered to be kissed by the whale. When it leapt from the water, he thought it had an “I’m going to eat you” look on its face. He ran from the park screaming. He’s just telling this story to make Marco feel better, but he’s totally committed to it. He even goes so far as to call himself pathetic. It works. Marco tells him that he’s not pathetic. He’s actually pretty great. They exchange more adorable shy looks, and Dylan tells Marco that he’s great, too.
At JT’s party, Manny is sitting on the couch between two extras who are eating a lot of snacks. She looks miserable. Toby is annoyed because there are a bunch of people there. Where are his parents? Shouldn’t they be annoyed in his stead? The TV announcer throws to commercial break, and JT yells for everyone to be quiet. It’s time for his debut. I’m just going to transcribe this word for word, and action for action. You can judge it for yourself.
JT appears on TV wearing the sideways hat, basketball jersey, and bling. “Ah, dawg, these fries are wiggy, wiggy wack.” A terrier in a matching outfit whines his agreement. “What they need is some stupid, Supah Fly flava. First we give ’em the mad curl. Then we dunk ’em in the dope batter. Then it’s time to kick it with the Supah Fly fry flava, a crazy combo of seven slammin’ spices.” JT sprinkle spices all over some curly fries. “Supah Fly fries taste off the chain, yo.” The little dog starts eating JT’s curly fries. “Hey! Don’t get off with my fries, dawg! Get your fry on with Supah Fly Fries.”
All the kids at the party are stunned into silence. Hip-hop guy Chris, whose only line in the entire episode is a cough, is sitting with Emma so we remember they’re supposed to be dating. JT says that his commercial must not have been off the chain, then. Jimmy tells him that, if people make fun of him tomorrow, he should just tell them “don’t be all up in my fries, dawg.” Jimmy can say that, see, because he’s actually black. The other kids laugh.
At the movies, zombies are eating the flesh of innocent people. Marco’s paying more attention to Dylan’s right hand, which is laying all alone on Dylan’s thigh. Marco inches his own left hand over until their pinkies rub together, but the actual physical contact freaks him out. Dylan, who was watching Marco’s creeping hand with amusement, looks Dylan up and down and smiles. He tells Marco that it’s okay, and then takes his hand, rubbing his thumb over Marco’s fingers.
After the movie, the boys discuss the finer points of flesh eating. Everything is going great until Marco spies – not flesh-eating zombies – but his parents, who have apparently decided to have a night out at the mall. He tries to hide, but Mama and Papa walk right up to their son. Mama thought that he was studying with Spinner. Her accent is even worse than Papa’s. Marco lies that Spinner got sick, and he ran into Dylan so they’re hanging out instead. Papa recognizes Dylan’s name. He says that Marco talks about him all the time. Dylan loves this bit of news. Papa is a huge hockey fan, and he’s heard that Dylan knows a thing or two about the game. He invites Dylan and Marco to join them for dinner. Marco bitches to his mom that they already ate, and she replies sans-accent that there’s nothing she can do.
At dinner, Papa drills Dylan about random things. Dylan explains that he’s in the front line of the hockey team, because he’s a high scorer. What Papa really wants to know is whether or not Dylan scores with the girls. Marco tries to change the subject, but Papa is pretty adamant that the boys are young, and they should only be thinking about how to score. If you know what I’m saying. And isn’t it a little creepy to have some dad pressuring you on “scoring”? Especially when Mama brings up some girl from church (who Marco points out is 300 pounds). Perhaps, Mama says, Dylan might like her instead. No, he really wouldn’t. And don’t get me started on the fact that they’re eating in an Italian restaurant.
About that time, The Token Gay Waiter arrives to see if they need anything. They don’t. When he walks away, Papa makes a crass statement about how he doesn’t understand how the “fruity boy” waiter can carry dishes, what with his limp wrists and all. Papa has never understood the thought of two men together in bed. To him, it’s disgusting. Dylan fights to be polite while Marco begs his father to stop talking. Frankly, this whole line of questioning is making me think about how cute Dylan and Marco would be in bed together for the first time. It’s probably not supposed to do that. Papa keeps talking. Dylan makes a lame excuse about having early practice and takes off. Marco wants to cry.
JT is less than thrilled about having to go to school. Crazy Jay and Sean arrive to make unfunny jokes about JT’s dawg getting all up in his fries. It’s a good thing Manny shows up to make him feel better. She tells him that the commercial sucked, but that he was great. He wants her to tell everyone in the school that. She’s pretty sure no one will care about her opinion, what with her being the school tramp and all. She tells him that they have to go inside, because they have a test in Armstrong’s class. They “have to get [their] math on.” JT threatens to kill her and chases her into the school in the playful way that lets us know they’ll be a couple soon.
Marco is walking to school with Spinner. He doesn’t know how he’s going to face Dylan, after the date from hell. Luckily, Dylan is right there, buying some coffee from a kiosk in front of The Dot Grill. Spinner leaves Marco to his own devices.
Dylan asks Marco if they can talk, and the two take some deserted path to school that somehow isn’t a skanky ally. Marco is ashamed by what his dad said. Dylan – jeans, gray hoodie, white t-shirt, coffee, hot – tells him that it was offensive, but that they’ve both heard worse. Marco thought something was wrong, the way Dylan ran off. Dylan was just trying to save Marco from further embarrassment. After the pimp hat, the bee incident, and his dad, Marco was thinking that Dylan would never want to talk to him again. Oh, how very wrong he was! Dylan has his head tilted, and his soft smile in place. We all know what that means. Dylan says that not talking to Marco did cross his mind, but he thinks Marco is pretty cute. There go Marco’s eyelashes again. He’s blushing.
He wants a second chance, and an opportunity to redeem himself. They’re so close, and the camera is so tight, that you can see the baby stubble on Dylan’s jaw. Dylan says, “That depends.” Then he kisses Marco softly, and asks him what he’s doing on Friday.