Being Best Friends with Zac Efron
Zac Efron is The Guy
Zac Efron was the kinda guy you wanted to look like, as far as Gordy was concerned. Gordy didn’t look like Zac Efron at all. He had blond hair, and he was pretty skinny. And the thing is, when he looked at Zac Efron, Gordy felt all funny inside, and that was just so, like, weird. He wasn’t really sure what this meant. He had friends who were girls, and assumed that one day he’d have a “girlfriend”. His dad had one, Denise, who lived with them. She seemed way too old for that word, but nothing else fit. Gordy wasn’t even really sure what it was about girls’ bodies that was supposed to make you “crazy, dawg” as his older brother Wes would say in a weird way. And he guessed that eventually the girls who were his friends – like Dina – would probably turn into something like those women who wore swimsuits and were in the posters on Wes’s wall. But that all seemed a long way off, and, well, even weirder. Zac Efron probably had lots of girlfriends.
It’s All About Troy
When Dina and Gordy watched the High School Musical films, Gordy started to notice something. He couldn’t wait until the next scene with Troy Bolton. He kinda lost interest in the other characters. Well, until they shared a scene with Troy, that is. Hey, maybe he just wanted Zac Efron to be his best friend. His current best-friend-who-was-a-boy was Dwayne. And Dwayne was a bit tubby, liked playing video games, eating pizza, and staying away from sports practice at all costs. He was kinda the opposite to Zac Efron.
What Secret Best Friends Are For
So Gordy decided that Zac Efron was his secret best friend. He couldn’t really tell anyone about it. The other kids probably wouldn’t get it, and would tease him saying that he loved Zac Efron. Well, you could love your friends, couldn’t you? Isn’t that what you were supposed to do? And it was totally cool to want to hang with your best friends all the time, right? He was always at either Dwayne or Dina’s house, or they were at his. Your best buddies were people you were allowed to spend time with, with no one saying “ooh...you’re gonna get married”. People did sometimes say that about him and Dina, but she would usually then tell them off. Most kids were scared of Dina. She once tipped all of Lily Scobie’s new pencils into the fish tank because Lily said she was a tomboy for never wearing a skirt, only trousers.
Spending Time with Zac
Because Zac Efron lived in Hollywood with all the other stars and couldn’t hang out with him, Gordy just made sure he had lots of photos clipped out of magazines, which he kept very secret. This included his prize possession, a special Zac Efron magazine that an aunt had given Dina, but she didn’t want it. She preferred rock stars, she said. Like Justin Timberlake.
Sometimes, he’d shut the door to his room, and take out all his photos of Zac Efron and put them on his bed. He’d rearrange them, and just make sure they were placed just right. He liked the ones of Zac Efron in just his swim shorts. He hoped he’d look like that one day. He could look at those photos for hours. Sometimes he’d cover up Zac’s swim shorts with his fingers and it kinda looked like Zac was...well... naked! Then he’d feel a bit funny, and weird. But also OK.
Wes is a Dumbhead
Sometimes Wes looked at him in a funny way. “Dude, you know you’re kind of a freak?” he’d say. So, Gordy was particular about what he wore, so what? He had his favourite jeans and T-shirts and sweaters, and he knew when and where he wanted to wear them. And what if he watched Singin’ In The Rain over and over? It was his favourite film. And video clips—he could watch forever. He loved Lana Del Rey, especially National Anthem. Wes thought that sport was all boys should care about, and getting hooked on anything else was “kinda, you know, what girls do.” Gordy hated that. He never understood it. “Your brother is a dumbhead,” was all Dina would say on the matter. “Why is throwing balls around so good?”
On the day the thing that happened happened, Wes was up to his usual tricks. Gordy hat sat down after school, and was watching one of his favourite scenes from Singin’ In The Rain. He really liked the song “Good Morning”, it made him giddy inside. But then Wes appeared: “I’m gonna siiiiiing in the rayyyyyyn, la la la! I’m Gordy, and I’m a girl!” He sang this over and over, getting louder and louder, until Gordy switched the TV off and stormed to his room.
The Thing that Happened
OK, so Denise didn’t know he was in his room looking at his Zac pictures, after Wes had been so annoying. She didn’t do it on purpose. But suddenly she burst through the door to put some of his clothes away. “Get OUT!” he screamed. He didn’t really know he had it in him, but it just came out. He wanted to cry. Denise looked shocked. “Hey, relax, I’m just...”
“Get OUT! OUT!” he screamed. A voice from deep inside, it didn’t even sound like him.
Denise looked really worried. And then she looked at what he had laid out on the bed. She registered something. She looked at him with a look that he didn’t understand, it could have been anything. He saw red.
“Get out of my room. You’re not my mother and you’re not the boss of this house and you need to leave me alone.”
Denise’s jaw was slack. She looked weird, like she was gonna cry.
“Gordy, I’m..um..” Was all she got out.
Before he knew what he was doing, one of his shoes had flung through the air. He had thrown it. It hit Denise on the head. She yelled. “Owww, Gordy!”
He wasn’t Gordy at the time. He was just some sort of angry guy that he’d never met. He wanted to scream, and run, run, run.
Denise shut the door fast. Her face was red and her eyes looked funny. Gordy was left. His breathing was really loud. Really loud. He went to pick up his Zac pictures to put them away, but his hands were shaking.
Zac Efron Disappears
He got yelled at from his dad. Big time. And he knew, he deserved it. The funny thing was, it seemed like Denise hadn’t told his dad what she’d seen. She’d just told his dad that she’d disturbed him. Gordy didn’t want to bring Zac Efron into it, so just said that he wanted to be alone. His dad looked puzzled, disappointed, but didn’t ask further. But he took away Gordy’s privileges for a week. No TV, no ice cream, no friends over. No going out.
Wes loved it. “Duuude, what did you do? You really are a freak!” Gordy gave himself his own punishment. No Zac Efron pics for a while. He felt sick about the whole thing.
Scott Baio Makes Things Better
He was watching TV with Denise. Things had been OK between them. In fact, she didn’t seem to be upset or angry with him at all. He felt nervous around her. He wanted to explain about Zac Efron being his secret best friend, but he never could get the courage.
They were watching TV when some old guy came on. Denise shrieked. “Oh my god! Look at him! It’s Scott Baio!” Gordy looked at Scott Baio. He couldn’t really see why you would look at him. Denise was cackling, though. “So that’s how he turned out! Oh dear!” She was laughing to herself. “Sorry, Gordy. It’s just that when I was young, I had a huge crush on that guy. I thought he was the bee’s knees! I had so many posters of him on my wall. I used to watch Happy Days—which I didn’t really like—just to see him on it. And then he was on Charles In Charge. Sheesh, he was my fantasy boyfriend. Your father thinks it’s hilarious. Gee. Who woulda thunk. Scott Baio got old.” She sighed. And laughed again. “Crushes are funny things, Gordy. You can’t help ’em. They just take over. Sometimes they’re guys, sometimes they’re girls. And,” she said, leaning slightly towards him, smiling. “There’s nothing wrong with them at all.”
That made him feel kinda funny inside. He knew she was talking about Zac Efron. He felt kinda weird. But also good.
Cameron Bayley is a Sydney-based writer, journalist, and pop culture aficionado, with a decade’s experience in publishing. He specializes in arts, entertainment, and lifestyle stories, and has contributed to several of Australia’s top magazines. He is also the associate editor of the fashion magazine Emporium. As a fiction writer, he won the 2013 OutStanding LGBTQI Short Story Competition with his story “Make It Work,” and he is a keen advocate of getting queer stories of all kinds into the public sphere. He likes to knit and watch Nicole Kidman films. Sometimes at the same time.