Okay, I just…need to talk about this panel for a minute.
It’s one of my favorites, as I’m sure it for many fans (and say a prayer that we all survive once the standalone zine of Jack’s visit is published and we get a closer look at it) but I think about what it means and I get all…ferklempt.
Because you can’t tell me that Eric R. Bittle hadn’t fantasized about this exact scenario a million times. That he hadn’t gone to the damn fireworks on the Fourth every year like a good God-fearin’ Southern boy, that he hadn’t looked around and seen the young couples, and his own classmates, paired up and stealing kisses under cover of darkness, that he hadn’t wondered if that could ever be him, maybe in the back of his daddy’s pick-up truck, cuddled up to a handsome boy who thought he was the best thing ever. Then he’d have scolded himself for being so silly - like that could ever, ever happen.
Bitty always knew he was different. He grew up in the deep South surrounded by football and good ole boys and and manly men, and he was just never one of them. Whether his father actually IS ashamed of him (we don’t know that) that’s how he felt.
And ever since he realized it wasn’t the girls at school but the boys that lit up his imaginings, or even before that, he’d dreamed of nothing but getting out. Getting away to somewhere that there were people like him, where he wouldn’t be judged or condemned for who he was, and where he could meet someone. So he researched the most gay-friendly colleges in the US and picked Samwell. And there’s a lot of assumptions about why Bitty chose to take up hockey after giving up figure skating, but I bet you a million bucks that part of it was that he knew that he’d have a chance of riding to a Northern liberal arts school on a hockey scholarship.
When he gets there, he sure does meet someone, all right. The tall, tragic, handsome captain of his team - who seems to hate his guts and resent his very presence.
So two years later, when that same handsome captain is miraculously his boyfriend – which is already blowing his mind – when one of them suggested hey, why don’t we sneak off and watch the fireworks, grab a little alone time, just imagine how Bitty’s heart must have swelled and fluttered, and when he found himself, beyond his wildest dreams, tucked against just the sort of boy he’d been imagining his whole life, watching those fireworks…
Well, you can’t tell me that he didn’t wonder - more than once - if he was dreaming.