I’m a comfortable shoes guy. I usually only own one or two pairs of footwear at a time: sneakers and shoes just classy enough to get me into places that require formal attire; not dress shoes, per se, but skirt shoes.
For the last few months I’ve been rocking a pair of green Vans pretty much everywhere. Before that, stonewashed denim Chuck Taylors.
Saturday, I was on my way to work when the sky started falling in cold, wet, chunks. Every time I needed to cross the street, I was greeted with several inch-deep puddles of slush. The sharks printed on my socks (you know you’re jealous), kept breaking the surface of my Vans to shout “This water is cold, yo. Maybe it’s time to get boots.”
It was definitely time to buy boots.
Luckily, there is a boot and boot-related clothes store within a block of the store, so I made my way over there
"Feet wet?" asked the guy standing by entrance.
I’ve been talking with one of my old high school friends quite a bit this year, and we’ve had a few conversations about how overly-nice I am to people working in service industry jobs. We were out for dinner last month, and a commercial for 47 Ronin came on. I was just starting to talk about the ridiculousness of having dragons in a classic, supposedly based-on-a-true-story samurai tale, when the host walked by our table. “I’m definitely going to see that movie.” He said, answering the question that nobody in the restaurant had ever even considered asking. “I really like Keanu Reeves.” which is somewhat telling. “And comic books.” Uh-oh. “Did you see The Avengers movie?”
Down the rabbit hole I went, smiling falsely all the way. About twelve? forty-five? seventy-three years, he made a bold, tactical conversation move. “I thought that movie” which one, I disremember “was okay. I really hate Latino stereotypes, though.” Fair. “I’m Puerto Rican, and I hate it when people identify me as Puerto Rican because Puerto Ricans are terrible.” Uh-oh. “I’m not racist or any—” RED FLAG RED FLAG “—thing but, you know all the Puerto Ricans down here have annoying pride about it. They all spend so much money on their cars getting fancy rims and stereo systems to listen to their awful music.” Dude, did you not notice my fake smile is gone? Stop talking. “I mean, I’m Puerto Rican but I was born Connecticut.” Great, now I’m embarrassed that we were born in the same state. “So instead of a Puerto Rican flag in my car, I took the emblem from the Connecticut flag with the Puerto Rican flag in the background.” which is a cool idea, and would be pretty admirable if not for the self-hating prelude. “That way people know that I come from one terrible place, and one fantastic place.” Dude, as someone originally from Connecticut who still has family there, whose current roommate is also from Connecticut, NOBODY has ever said Oh, you’re from Connecticut? I’m soooo jealous. I hear it’s one of New York’s top ten suburbs. I have so much more respect for you now that I know you’re from the same state as…the Whalers used to be? ”Anyway, I’ll let you go back to eating.”
I’d like to say that our conversation caused me to lose my appetite but I definitely kept eating, mainly to keep something between my constantly grinding teeth.
"Most people would have found their way out of that conversation MUCH earlier."JBoB said.
"But then I wouldn’t have that story." I said.
"Yes." I told the man in the Boot Store. My feet are wet.
"Need any help?" He asked.
"Not yet." I falsely smiled. "I’m going to look around for a bit."
"I recommend boots."
I cocked my head, thinking, maybe if I found the proper angle, he would disappear from my sight. It did not work.
I picked up several different pairs of boots, and each time, he either offered to get me a pair in my size from the back or, after I told him I was “Fine.” he strained to keep himself from offering to get me boots from the back.
I was not the only person in the store. In fact, there were probably twenty or thirty people in the store, but I was wearing the Please Annoy Me Retail Employee Pheromones.
Eventually, I found a pair of boots in my price range that I liked. Nothing special, classic brown boots. “What size would you like?” Boot Guy asked.
"Ten and a half." I replied.
He shook his head at me. “They don’t make half sizes. I’ll get you a ten.”
This was new information to me, but it has since been corroborated by The Internet. “Actually, I’d like to try the elevens.”
He sighed. “They run big. I’ll get you the tens.”
I smiled. “I’d like the elevens, please.”
He left for a leisurely jog down the Appalachian Trail, only to return with a pair of Size Tens of the boots I wanted. Ugh. I tried them on and, as I suspected, they were cramped and uncomfortable. “Yea, these are too small. Could I try the elevens, please.”
He sighed again. The kind of sigh I suppress when I’m at work and dealing with a moron. If I were a different person, I’d have asked to speak with his manager, but after two decades of retail work, I am certain he WAS the manager. “I’ll be back.”
This time he went snowshoeing in the Arctic. When he came back, he dropped the box of boots next to me and watched me with more focus than seems necessary when trying to sell someone footwear. “You’re putting that boot on the wrong foot.” He said.
"I am NOT." I said, with no trace of a smile.
"Are you sure?" He asked.
And I actually looked to see if, somehow, after thirty-three years of putting on my own shoes, I had somehow miscalculated which boot should go on which foot. I had not. “Yes, actually.”
Now I was debating letting my feet stay wet and cold to keep this bag of sighs from making a sale. I tried to think of where else I could get footwear. Unfortunately, I forgot there was a giant outdoor clothing and supply store nearly across the street.
"I’ll take these." I said with half a smile.
"You’re sure? We don’t do refunds."
I was pretty sure that was bullshit but it didn’t matter. “Certain.” I stared at him.
I paid the very reasonable price for the boots and walked outside. I couldn’t wait to cross the Slush River between The Boot Store and The Comic Book Store. And, sure enough, I walked through it without an ounce of slush coming in direct contact with my socks or feet flesh. I let out a very happy sigh. And that’s when the passing bus sprayed the Slush River directly into my face and all over my hoodie. Right, it’s about time to get a new jacket.
1.) I lost my favorite shirt.
2.) In the pocket of my favorite shirt is the key to my hotel room.
3.) Because we're in the penthouse, and you need a penthouse room key just to get on to the penthouse elevator (or to access the penthouse floor via the stairway), I can't even get to the floor I am staying on, to knock on the door, to see if my hotel roommate, Mazarine, is around to let me in.
4.) I could call Mazarine, but I don't have her number memorized. I do have it in my cellphone, but...
5.) My cellphone is in the pocket of my favorite shirt.
6.) I have imbibed just enough alcohol to be cranky about it.
7.) It is nearly 5:30 in the morning.
8.) After several hours searching for my shirt, I ask the concierge to give me another key. He does. When I go upstairs and in to my room, the first thing I notice is that there, on the bed, is my favorite shirt.
9.) I'm the kind of person who makes absolutely sure that when I remove an item of clothing filled with objects, I check all my pockets and transfer anything I need. Therefore, when I removed my favorite shirt in my room, I transferred the hotel room key to my pants pocket, which means that I had the key with me THE ENTIRE TIME.
When I still lived with Ben, he took a vacation to a woody retreat, and did a lot of acid. At some point, during the trip, he borrowed his friend, Lisabelle (last referenced here)'s cell phone. He was fairly certain he returned it, but when it was nearly time for he and Lisabelle to leave, she couldn't find the phone, and knew that the last time she had seen it, Ben was using it. To call me.
According to Ben, he spent the next hours cleaning the house they were staying at. Every couch cushion was flipped, and dusted for potential cell phone remains. Every jacket in the house was emptied of pockets. Every cupboard emptied, then refilled and reorganized. Every square inch of the house was covered. At this point, Lisabelle's poor pussy-whipped boyfriend was informed that he had to hypnotize Ben, to make him remember what he did with it.
The hypnosis didn't work, but during the hypnosis, Lisabelle put her hands in her pocket, where her cellphone had been the whole time.
Upon hearing this story straight from the twink's mouth, Sir Trick said "Wait. They thought to hypnotize you? She wasn't thorough enough to check her pockets, but she thought of hypnotizing you? Why not just burn the house to the ground, and use a metal detector to find it?"
I have spent the month of August trying to burn down my past and discover where I went wrong. While, technically, July is when I lost Ryan, August is when I lost dignity, Ben, Sora, my mind (when I moved to Arifuckenzona), the list is endless.
"Your life is a fucken novel on acid." JBob says. We've seen each other once in the past decade. About a year ago we met for lunch in Boston, just after Sora disappeared. We had a good time, and some good laughs (and I stewed about him being hotter at 31, then he was when we were in high school, sleeping in the same room). And since slam nationals were in Madison, where he lives, we agreed to hang out during the competition. The highlight for JBob was when, in order to psych me up for a particular poem, he got to repeatedly shove me, and slap me in the face. It worked.
"What do you mean 'my life is a novel on acid'?"
"Well, ok, you're part of this big weird community where most people seem to know you, and, at least on the surface, like you. But you've got two nemeses. One is this Punky Brewster looking gay kid with leggings, and too much eyeshadow. And then there's the thirty-five year old Gothtard who wanders around in his lame-ass black trenchcoat all the time, leering at you."
"You've got it wrong." I say. "Ben is not my nemesis, he's just...you know, Ben. And the Gothtard isn't my nemesis, I'm his. If I chose a rival, it would be someone who had a talent for what they do, or at least someone with dignity. That dingleberry doesn't even warrant a special name in my Livejournal."
"Well, that's because he already has a special name. A Blue Light Special name. In his case, probably a flashing blue light pulsing to the rhythm of some lame ass techno band from 1994."
We are walking to JBob's house. We are both fairly drunkwasted. We also spent some time in a Madison parking lot with a Boston poetry friend smoking a non-cigarette. I am vaguely aware of the turns we take between my hotel and his house. And when we get there, we resume smoking, and talking about high school, while the Olympic Opening Ceremonies play on his TV.
"I totally had a gay crush on Fledge." JBob says.
"Everyone had a gay crush on Fledge. He was cute, funny, and hung like a...like I'm too high to come up with something funny."
"Yea, but, I used to wait outside the showers to try and see him naked."
Well, this is uncomfortable. My hot, hilarious friend and former roommate is confessing a gay crush while we're both hammered and sitting on his couch. My hot, hilarious married to a girl friend and former roommate. God, I wish she was a bitch so I could sleep with JBob and not feel guilty.
"Well, I have to work tomorrow. So I should get to sleep. Do you want to crash here, or...."
"I'll, uh, I'll just go back to the hotel. Yea. The hotel. Thanks for having me over. This was" awkward hug "fun."
And he gives me spoken directions on how to get back to the hotel. Directions which I can't concentrate on because I'm thinking stupid stupid stupid just go back there and stupid stupid back to the stupid hotel but I think he was trying to no stupid stupid stupid just go. I've been walking aimlessly for about fifteen minutes, and thinking I'm hopelessly lost, when I look up and see a crowd of mostly-dressed-in-black-people in a circle around someone performing bad hip-hop. Clearly, I'm back in the poetry zone. And, sure enough, I see the hotel.
I want to turn around and go back
Every day is the worst day of your life, and I'm tired of hearing about it.
I remember discussing a mutual friend with JBob, and him saying "That person is like a black hole of negative energy. Every conversation sucks you into his despair."
And I remember thinking That's exactly right. Neither one of us knows a damn thing about how black holes work, but I get what you were trying to say. And I started consciously avoiding Mr. Black Hole.
That was over a decade ago. I perform poetry a couple of times a week. I work in a comic book store. I date men. I am surrounded by black holes.
The problem with trying to smack a black hole upside its head is that it sucks your fist in, and then the rest of you. Also, black holes don't have heads. They're really a problematic metaphoric device.
The thing is, back before I had confidence and trustworthy friends, I was a good listener. It was my only definable personality trait. So negative people flocked to me. Everyone had a love crisis or a family trauma, and, sure, I wouldn't be able to help solve anybody's problems, but I probably wasn't going to run away from their boring ass drama with my fingers in my ears, either.
I am still a good listener. I do still care most of the time. I'm sorry your Betta has fin rot, or the girl you met bagging groceries with the snaggle tooth and the bum leg won't return your calls. It's a damn shame your father doesn't understand you. He didn't understand you yesterday. The likelihood of him understanding you tomorrow is slim. I know this. My father doesn't understand me, either, but do I corner you in a basement bar and complain about it every week while you're trying to mack on someone hot? No. It's not your problem.
I'm tired of having personal epiphanies at your expense. Particularly when those epiphanies are I should be more selective about who I'm friends with.
And now this whole entry is negative, so let me tell you black holes (and you non-black holes who are reading this entry) a story:
Last week I was counting comic books in a different store than I'm used to (I work for a chain). A coworker who I'd never met before, but who's good friends with two of my new roommates, and I were exchanging good-natured jokes that violate every page of the sexual harassment guidelines they gave me when I was hired.
At around four in the afternoon, two obviously art students walked into the store.
"I'm an art student" the taller of the obviously art students said "looking for a graphic novel or collection that has many different artists in it. See I've got this class where our homework is to talk about our influences, and I really don't know that much about comic artists yet."
So I suggested Flight, DC's Bizzaro collections, and other things most of you don't care about. But the girl I work with is prettier than me, and lo but hot girls who know about comics are nerd black holes, and this particular obvious art student was sucked into her awesometude. My opinion was nothing. And that's when the shorter obvious art student started hitting on me for the next three gay hours. Hitting on me enough that I noticed it, and I am notorious for my cluelessness about people flirting with me.
He may have even asked if we had a line of underwear in our store featuring our employees because he wanted my face on his crotch.
I'm fairly certain that means that he's into me. And has no tact.
Tact is overrated.
We came up with a few comic ideas that may or may not come to fruition on the web. They're dirty comics. Maybe not as dirty as Sexy Losers used to be, but pretty dirty. We made plans to meet this past Wednesday to hang out and make plans to hang out at a time I wasn't at work.
He didn't show up.
The world didn't end.
I did not scowl, pout, mope, cry, kick things or otherwise Eeyore. Shit, I shouldn't even be telling you about the last part because it doesn't fucken matter. On Saturday he wanted my face on his underwear. That trumps him not being around on Wednesday by a lot.
I haven't seen Sorain over a month. I try to only mention it as a punchline. It's not worth mentioning, otherwise, because you're not the one who has to date him. Something, for which, you should all be grateful.
I'll try not to use the shitty day as fertilizer routine. I'll not talk about bows after rain or any other self-help claptrap. I'll only say that, from now on, every time you woe at me, you'd best be prepared to spend at least an equal amount of time entertaining me in such a way that I don't feel like crossing the street every time I see you in public, or sticking my dick in your mouth to shut you up. Because, let's face it, if every day is the worst day of your life, tomorrow is going to be absolutely torturous for you, but I see no reason why it should be torturous for me, as well.
Tenth grade shall be etched in my memory forever as The Year of The Porno. It was several years after my initial contact with porn (or perhaps my initial contact with myself in connection with porn), but tenth grade was the year I first found out about group porn.
I'm not talking about orgy videos or gang bang photos, I'm talking about the curious practice of a bunch of straight boys wanking off together while watching porn. I don't get it. I like it but I don't get it. I'd feel weird jerking off to gay porn while some woman was fisting the kitty, and not because I'm repulsed by pussy (I'm not, I'm just not turned on by it) but because I find it an unerotic distraction from my special time with porn. As a gay guy, however, the fact that I lived in a dorm full of straight boys who masturbated together was a huge turn on. That said, had I been out as a teenager, this story might not be such a fond recollection.
I'll never forget walking into the basement at 3 AM on a Friday night and hearing the fap fap fap of future frat boy self love. I didn't stay too long. I watched enough of the porn to remember that it was a Star Trek ripoff where the set is made of paper, and a woman actually ripped through the paper as a naked guy made the "fsssssssssh" sound of Star Trek doors opening.
There were four guys fapping away. They weren't the hottest guys in the dorm. I suspect, it being a Friday night, the hottest guys in the dorm were out cruising in a girls dorm getting their fuck on. I returned to my room with only my curiosity aroused.
I found out that the Friday night fapfest was a weekly occurrence. And while I knew that some of the regulars were guys I wouldn't mind seeing spew into a towel, I would have felt exposed if I ventured down there on a regular basis, so I tended to avoid the basement on Friday nights. On one particular Friday night, I was in the midst of a movie marathon. Alien, Terminator 2, Caddyshack. About halfway through Caddyshack, the seat & beat crowd came in and demanded we eject our movie so they could watch porn. My fellow marathon watchers were sophomores, like me. The sit back and whackers were seniors. Our dorm was so famous for hazing that freshmen had been banned from living there. The porno went in.
The opening scene featured two trampy women sucking an ugly looking guy's dick. After a few minutes, the guy begins fucking Tramp #1 while Tramp #2 shoves a dildo up the guy's butt.
A few minutes into the video I went upstairs to wrap my head around a bunch of straight guys jerking off to a guy getting a dildo shoved up his butt by a woman who could have easily passed as a man, had she not had an innie.
Of course I walked in on my roommate experiencing a fap-attack. In the three years I went to boarding school, I had four roommates, and I caught all of them in mid-jerk. Little phased me. (I bet they'd all hate to think that I'd used the word little in such close proximity to the image of them jerking off) JBOB put his trouser snake away and flushed.
"Can't I go anywhere without seeing dick tonight?" I lamented for the last time in my life.
"Oh, I'm just cranky because we were in the middle of watching Caddyshack when the Friday night crew took over the basement to watch a video of some chick sticking a dildo in a guy's ass. Bunch of homos." Yes, it's true what they say about people who protest too much.
"Dude, just because a guy likes getting a dildo shoved up his ass doesn't mean he's a fag." JBOB said, a bit too defensively. "I mean, it was a girl sticking a dildo up his ass. If he were gay it would be a guy sticking...whatever into his ass."
Of course, he was right. Our discussion drifted around various gender and sexuality issues until we came to the issue of guys jerking off with each other.
"I just don't get it." I said "The other day I walked into Seth's room to find out what the Algebra homework was, and there's nine guys sitting in a circle jerking off with a pile of nachos in the room. What the fuck?"
JBOB shuddered. "Dirty nachos. Bleurgh. Stupid fucking hockey mutants. I don't get that shit. Why you'd want to jerk off with a bunch of guys is beyond me, and the idea of the last one to come having to eat nachos with a bunch of other guys' come on it is---"
We agreed that Dirty Nachos was, along with Dirty Sanchezes, one of the most disgusting sexual ideas ever invented. Eventually we got around to discussing gay sex.
JBOB: "I mean, if I had to have sex with a guy, I'd want to be the guy getting fucked. That way I wouldn't get any pleasure out of it."
"There's something wrong with you. I'd want to be the guy doing the fucking so that I'd at least get to shoot my load. Besides, getting fucked in the ass sounds painful."
Then we started talking about pain in a very non-sexual way. What stayed with me, though, was the idea that he would rather be a bottom than a top, and he thought that enjoying things being stuck in your ass was not necessarily a gay thing.
JBOB and I never had anything remotely like sex. Walking in on him (to date, I've never been unexpectedly interrupted) was as close as we got. But I did eventually meet a straight boy who reminded me of him.
Randy lived up to his name. While I was working at Kookaburra Canyon in Cranberry Lake, it was my job to train new employees. Randy was finishing up his menu test when I came in. While I graded his test he kept looking at me oddly. I initially thought he was coming on to me. When I told him he passed he said "Is your name Insafemode?"
You can guess my answer.
"Oh wow. You used to be a counselor at the camp I went to. Remember me?" I didn't. "I was the kid who jumped off the boathouse and sprained my ankle." Now I remembered, he was the stupid kid. He wasn't one of mine. I had been sixteen at the time, and working with the eight to ten year olds. Randy had been fourteen. We spent the night working and reminiscing, and at the end of the shift, for no apparent reason he leaped on my back much the way the kids had when I worked at camp. Of course, the kids weighed about fifty pounds, and Randy weighed a buck forty. Had I been prepared, I would have lifted him easily, as it was I nearly fell face first into a table. "Sorry about that."
On a particular Friday night, while a new generation was lurking and jerking at my alma mater, Randy needed a ride home. He started talking about a girl he was casually seeing and how she liked to do E and let him fuck her. He was quite the charming conversationalist. "When she's feeling really frisky, she throws on a strap-on and fucks me up the ass."
I pulled over to the side of the road. "Bullshit. Why would you tell me something like that?"
"I don't know, maybe I'm hoping you'll take me back to your place and fuck me."
Who says that shit? Randy. I'm sure it was meant as a joke. Still, I pulled a U-ey.
"Where are we going?"
"My place. I've got a hard-on and a refrigerator full of beer." I am absolutely positive that it was not meant as a joke.
Randy was tall, blonde, and cut like a Bel Ami porn star. He wanted more than anything in life to be a Navy SEAL. I could never date anyone like him, but I could get him drunk and fuck him, though I didn't imagine things would go as planned. I figured we'd get drunk and pass out, have some really cool conversation that didn't involve either of us getting naked.
We didn't even make it to the refrigerator before he started taking his clothes off. "I have a few rules." he said.
"Tell no one. Seriously, I'm not gay, I'm just really turned on right now." Whatever,
There was nearly no foreplay. A bit of fingering to prep him, naturally, but no kissing or anything. Just him bent over the arm of the couch, upside down in the middle of the living room floor, laid down on the chaise lounge on my back porch. We fucked everywhere that night. And the next night, and a week later. By then we were making out first, caressing each other like lovers. The fourth night was so amazing we knocked over and broke my computer monitor and I didn't care. That time he spent the night, playing with my hair, nibbling on my ears. I knew that this was going to be my first post-Seith relationship. I sensed the coming of an overwhelming happiness.
Hence, I don't work for The Psychic Friends network.
Randy didn't show up for work the next day or ever again, A few weeks later a mutual friend told me that he'd run into Randy at the mall buying clothes for his move to Florida. Having no idea that Randy and I were anything more than acquaintances, he was quite surprised that Randy asked how I was and told him to pass along the message that he was sorry to move out without saying goodbye.
Running is not a sport. It's a survival technique. A zebra munches on grass. She senses danger and her ears go flat. Whether the lion is sighted or not, the exodus begins. Zebras charging through grasslands, stomping through the plains. No rest until the danger is gone. All this, and no Nike endorsement deals.
With the help of three women who didn't like her very much, I managed to outrun Beckee Krackow. I camped out on their couch for the remaining nine days in Wisconsin. We made dinners together, crashed sorority parties, closed down Hurricane bars, and made dozens of mix tapes that featured little digs at Beckee that no one but the four of us would ever understand. I was almost having the time of my life. But this fun wasn't something I'd planned. Wasn't the spontaneous product of a carefree life. This fun was the byproduct of running away from my problems. And even though I was fairly sure they wouldn't be catching up to me any time soon, I was still uneasy about their proximity to my back. Every jeep that passed was Beckee. Every man I made eye contact with was unHarry. Every joke I cracked made three people laugh, and two cringe.
This is the way it has always been. Jeremy Burdick hits me in the face with a rock, I run home. The Saint tells me that hanging out with Kevin Harris makes me look gay, I run away from Kevin without looking back. The first time I got tired of dating Beckee Krackow, I gave her a Valentine's Day present, and ran to the safety of my dorm. Everything running. It's a wonder my feet ever touch the ground. This stupid fear of getting caught being who I was. Staring too long at Saint Christopher's ass, or unHarry, or that stupid crying faggy baby Jeremy Bird Dick. I spent so much time running from who I was afraid to be, that I never took a break to realize who I was. And now here I was, running from this crazed psychopath, Beckee Krackow, a girl who had never really done anything wrong except love me.
And, shit, even my running wasn't very original. Simone, Rachael, and Susan had already rescued one high school ex that Beckee had trapped. Alex. unHarry's junior year roommate, a tall, goofy looking kid with a blond fro. "He was obviously freaked out the very first night he was in town." Susan said. "Harry picked him up at the airport, and he met Beckee and us at The Safe House." So those fuckers knew where it was before I showed up. I wondered why they pretended they'd never been there before. "And then one of Beckee's skanky ass friends showed up, and kept flirting with Alex all through dinner. He looked so uncomfortable."
I wondered if the skanky ass friend was Michelle. If she'd laid her foot in Alex's lap while she bragged about how she orgasmed while giving head. If Beckee took him home afterward and read some poetry she'd written about him.
"He was weird anyway." Simone said. "He was always looking at people like they were some sort of exotic meat."
Rachel nodded. "Gave me the fucken creeps."
If they only knew.
I hadn't spent much time in high school getting to know Alex. Pretty much all the information I had about him came through Beckee. According to her, Alex's father was one of those rich shit heads whose jobs required him to move all over the world. That Alex never really settled anywhere until Torpor Heights. Five years old, and friendless in Madrid. Caught torturing a parrot to death in Belize at age seven. At twelve, he half-blinded a girl with a rock in Ghana. When he was fourteen he did something in a former Soviet Republic that made him chuckle, but that he wouldn't explain. Something bad enough to make his father send him to boarding school back in America. At fifteen, he was assigned to live with Harold Brissette. I don't know how or when they started fucking. Whether it was rape or if they were just two curious, horny teenagers doing what curious, horny teenagers do.
"He totally cries during sex." Beckee said. We were backstage, rehearsing for Romeo & Juliet. I had a few minutes before I had to go out, so Beckee was sitting in my lap, complaining about her sex life with unHarry. "It's so annoying. It's like, he's terrified of the vagina. Like it's going to eat him or something. Rargh." She wrapped her legs around my arm. "I don't get what's so scary about genetalia anyway."
"Pussy looks like an unhealed scar." I said. "Or some chasm to an alien universe."
"Oh, please. If there's anything alien looking about genetalia, it's the cock. It's fricken hilarious. Big droopy trunk and this hairy, floppy purse behind it."
"Don't knock my sword." I said, grabbing my junk as punctuation.
She chortled. "Puh-lease. I'm not afraid of your sperm purse."
"You haven't seen Kilo yet."
"Keeloh?" She asked.
"Short for Kilometer."
It was her turn to grab my junk. To her credit, she refrained from replying with the appropriate more like centi or, cock forbid, milli joke. "There isn't a penis in the world that scares me."
"And there isn't a vagina in the world that scares me." I replied. Which was true. I wasn't scared of them, just repulsed by them.
"Well, then you're one up on my gay ex-boyfriend."
"So you guys are definitely broken up?" I asked.
"Do you think I'd be playing with your sword if we weren't?" To my credit, I refrained from replying with the appropriate truth. "I mean. You have to promise not to tell anyone. But. Ok. Harry is totally gay."
I blushed. "So you've said."
"No, I mean like. Like he and his roommate fuck." And I'm sure she kept talking, but I didn't hear a word she said. I was picturing Alex and unHarry. Trying to figure out who was top, whether they held each other afterward. When I came to, she was looking at me. I was definitely supposed to be saying something.
"Why are you telling me this?"
The question became, why did she tell me this repeatedly? Every time we got together there was some mention of unHarry and Alex having sex.
Now that I'm comfortably in my twenties, I understand. She needed to talk to someone about how this guy she loved, who claimed to love her, was gay. How frustrated she was. And since unHarry and I weren't friends, and, maybe in her eyes, were romantic rivals, I was a perfect candidate. She didn't know that I, too, was a stupid, confused sixteen year old closet case, and because of how quickly and frequently she'd divulged unHarry's secret, I was now terrified to tell Beckee Krackow anything that she could use as a weapon with her next boyfriend. So, a couple of weeks later, I gave her the stuffed bear, and stopped talking to her.
A year later, I was in the theater, hanging out with JBob and a few of the techies when I heard Beckee screaming. She and Alex were in the basement, supposedly working on one of the one act plays for an upcoming festival. It wasn't a long series of screams and crying, it was a short burst of "No. No. Get off me!" followed by silence. None of us flew down the stairs to rescue her. I cracked jokes about how that must have been the first time she'd ever said those words. JBob and a couple of the techies laughed. A couple of them cringed.
It was summer before Beckee told me what happened. How Alex had raped her in the basement that she had to spend three mornings a week, rehearsing in. I had just financed Jennifer's abortion when she told me, and I was all out of comforting words. I mean what could I have possibly said to take her pain away? Should I have told her about Jennifer? Should I have mentioned that I was starting to get the sneaking suspicion that my interest in gay porn wasn't so much a phase but an obsession? Not knowing the most soothing thing to say, I asked "Did you tell Harry?"
She didn't. She didn't tell Harry. She didn't tell her psychologist. She didn't tell a dean, so no disciplinary action against Alex was taken. And two weeks before he was scheduled to graduate, he raped a sophomore who did report it. But since, as far as the school knew, it was a first offense, they chose to let him graduate. After that, he disappeared for two years, until either Beckee or Harry invited him to Wisconsin. I don't know what happened there, either. Why he had a black eye and a limp when he showed up at Simone, Rachel, and Susan's. How, despite all that, he still smiled through most of the visit.
I have broken up with exactly three women who loved me. Twice the breaker, once the broken.
Jennifer: destroyer of worlds and children. During the summer break between my junior and senior years at Torpor Heights, she decided I was worthy of her company again. I told her how I used her as a shield for my first year of school, and she laughed instead of getting angry. I think this was progress. When I told her about leaving Kate for Beckee, she got quiet. A congregation after the priest announces he's vacating his position to pursue a career in child pornography. "So" silence "tell me more about this" silence "Beckee."
I don't know if she was jealous. I just know that we became lips and hands for a few weeks. Movie dates. Dinner. All the things we hadn't done during the four days before she'd broken up with me in middle school. She filled me in on all the gossip about the kids at Pilgrim's Academy, and I realized that I didn't care about any of them but her. And when autumn came in its typical premature fashion, we promised to be faithful to each other and call once a week and other stupid promises that neither of us had any intention of keeping. During the first week of school, I spent an hour feeling up Beckee in the basement of the theatre. Jennifer never called me, so I figured we were even.
The problem with Beckee was everything. I didn't like her any more than I liked Kate. She was funnier. She had her own personality, but I didn't care about it. I didn't love her the way I loved the idea of Jennifer, and every time I closed my eyes and kissed her I was thinking of someone else. And that's all Beckee was: lazy entendre, smile, kiss, hands under clothing, fumble, fumble, kiss, ear nibble, fumble, I've got to go. I would meet her for a free period between calculus and biology. We would eat lunch together. Some nights, I would go over to her dorm and lazy entendre, smile, kiss, hands under clothing, fumble, fumble, kiss, ear nibble, go home. I don't know which one of us was the most boring lover in the world, but I fear that it was me. So I decided to do the unspeakable. On Valentine's Day, just before calculus, I ran to the school bookstore and bought a stuffed purple teddy bear, exactly the color of Beckee's hair. In its hands was a big red heart that said "Available" on it. I wondered how long it would take her to realize what it meant.
Three days. Three days after Valentine's Day, she called my dorm for the thirty-seventh time. This time, I answered it. "Available??? A-fucken-vailable? You piece of shit. I can't believe you dumped me on Valentine's Day. And didn't even have the cock to tell me. A-fucken-vailable???" And I couldn't argue with her because she was right. And I couldn't talk to her anymore because she was right.
I didn't tell Jennifer about my second term with Beckee. But I did start talking to her again. Once a week promised phone calls. Reestablishment of us as a couple. Perfect barrier against needy chorus girls and aggressive theatre students. I told her how excited I was to have chosen and been accepted by a college: a tiny little four year school in Sulfur City Florida, a couple of hours away from Disney World. I even invited her to our school's version of the prom. Torpor Heights being appropriately hoity, but not quite fancy enough to be toity, all our mundane high school rituals had different names from their public school counterparts. Our prom was called The Shat. It was technically spelled with a capital C, and was short for the Chateau where it took place, but the evening was generally believed to be The Shit, so when it was over, it was The Shat. Jennifer couldn't make it, thus fueling the popular rumor that she didn't really exist. I had resigned myself to not going, when I received a written plea for armistice from Beckee. Could we go The Shat? As friends?
I accepted. Her mother flew in the weekend before from Wisconsin, and presented me with an antique cane that perfectly matched both my tux and Beckee's goth girl meets preppie prom dress. Contrary to my fear, I was not, at any point in the night, beaten over the head with the cane. I wish my night had been that simple.
Shortly after our absurdly expensive filet mignon dinner, Beckee and I returned to campus to dance, kiss, and all those other popular prommish activities. As we entered the lobby of The Chateau, we were greeted by gigantic silver and black balloons, the underclassmen orchestra playing an instrumental version of Head Like A Hole, and, oh fuck, "Jennifer?"
Jennifer: destroyer of smiles and proms. Dead stunning in shimmering silver architecture gown. Her hair, for the first time in the six years I've known her, cut shoulder length and the angle of her chin and her sparkling who is this eyes. "Surprise."
"Yes." Beckee growled. "Surprised."
Luckily for Beckee, unHarry had gone stag to The Shat, and was more than happy to pick up my discarded date. Still, the truce was broken.
"She keeps glaring at me." Jennifer said. "Are you sure she knew you two were just friends?"
And I could look her in the eyes and reassure her that I had written proof that Beckee and I had agreed to be nothing more than friends. But Beckee and I both knew how easily written words belie their intentions.
JBob and I had always joked about how our dorm was really a sanitarium. We even blasted the Metallica song of the same name, every night after study hall. Aside from our former roommates, and the poster child for safe sex that was Roadkill, there was no shortage of weirdos in our dorm. Right around the time that Denton was getting kicked out of the school, someone began shitting in the showers. It started on the third floor, prompting an all-floor meeting about sanitary conditions. A week later, there was an incident on the first floor. Then the second. And, eventually, even our own floor was hit. After four weeks of terror at the hands...or...ass of the Phantom Shitter, a few of the hockey jocks set up a sting operation, and a kid named Jaleel Johnson was caught dropping a deuce during a late night shower session. He was put on Disciplinary Probation for a semester, and the shitting ceased.
Shortly after his probationary status was up, the third floor was besieged by an even more terrible odor than was usual for a floor full of adolescent jocks. When a floor parent discovered that someone had shit in the communal trashcan, an all-dorm meeting was held. It didn't take long before the finger was pointed at Jaleel. "I mean, come on." David said. "The guy shits for fun. As soon as he is no longer in danger of getting kicked out of school, he starts shitting again."
"I swear, guys," Jaleel said, "it wasn't me. I mean, shitting is the shower is funny, but shitting in the garbage can is just gross."
The Second Phantom Shitter was never publicly outed, but during his free second period, screams could be heard from Jaleel's bedroom. After a few minutes, a couple of the hockey jocks came out of his room, laughing. Jaleel showed up at the dining hall that afternoon in a hat. His prodigious afro had been shaved off. From then on, all shit was directed into toilet bowls.
The hockey jock alpha male was a hick named Francis White. He was six feet tall, and two hundred and forty pounds of mostly muscle. In addition to putting the hit out on Jaleel's hair, he was commonly believed to be the mastermind behind the Charlie Denton kleptomania outing, and was rumored to be the Master of Ceremonies for a weekly gathering of hockey players that involved a game called Dirty Nachos.
"Dirty what?" I asked JBob, when he first told me about the meetings.
"Dirty Nachos." He said. "Basically, a bunch of the teammates get together in Francis's room the night after a game. They all whip out their cocks, and start jerking off onto a pile of nachos. Whoever finishes last, has to eat them."
"That. That. That is THE most disgusting thing I've ever heard."
JBob laughed. "Now you know why I don't play hockey."
"I thought you didn't play hockey because you were too short."
JBob was, in fact, five foot two. Some of the hockey jocks joked that JBob hadn't hit puberty yet, but as his roommate, I can attest that if he hadn't yet reached adolescence, then he was the hairiest prepubescent boy in the history of the human race. He had hands like mittens, and otter legs. Jonathan Fletcher Tork the Fourth started referring to JBob as ALF, after the popular alien TV star of our childhood. One weekend, my parents drove me home for a doctor's appointment and to announce the dissolution of their marriage. While I was there, I picked up the stuffed ALF doll that my grandmother had given me when I was in the fourth grade. While JBob was away at class, I put one of his hats on the ALF, and left it on his bed. When I got back from my own class, I found the ALF doll, still with JBob's hat on, hanging by the neck from a water pipe, with a handwritten note taped to his chest that said "You're next."
To make up for the prank, I bought him dinner from the best sub place that delivered to campus. "Mmmmm, turkey and bacon." JBob said, as he devoured his sub. "All is forgiven."
The next weekend, JBob's girlfriend visited from New York. I gave them as much space as I could, spending most of my day either at the library, or down in the basement watching cartoons. When she left, she gave JBob a quick peck on the cheek and said "Later Juicy."
"Juicy?" I asked.
"Yea." She said. "What do you think JBob stands for?"
I had no idea. I thought it was just his name.
"Juicy Buckets of Bacon."
My spleen burst.
"His real name is James."
"I swear to God," JBob said, "if you tell anyone, I will kill you in your sleep."
I didn't tell very many people. But when I was feeling frisky, I'd often poke him in the stomach and say "Juicy!"
He didn't kill me very much.
Though the two of us survived the year, both as friends and roommates, we decided to try our luck with incoming juniors the next year. Both our roommates ended up being slightly annoying, but not nearly as bad as Yao Wen or Denton. Still, my roommate got homesick halfway through the fall trimester, and moved back to Germany, and JBob's roommate moved to the other campus to be closer to the stoners he hung out with. We, briefly, entertained the idea of rooming together our Senior Year, but ended up tempting the fates of the admissions office. JBob roomed with a Korean student who spent most of his non-class time swimming and making lame jokes. My roommate was a Saudi Arabian with a serious addiction to masturbation. I'd walked in on him at least four times, and several of our floormates had caught him, too, so I asked if he minded moving down the hall to one of the singles. He didn't mind. This gave me all the time in the world to indulge my own masturbation addiction, without the fear of getting caught (I knew when to lock the door). I was in the midst of one of these sessions when the sophomore across the hall came knocking on my door.
I think JBob was the one who nicknamed my across the hall neighbor, Fledge. "He's a You in training. A little fledgling Adam." He'd said. "He has the same obnoxious laugh, he makes the same weird noises, and he tells the same stupid jokes you used to tell when we were roommates." He was right on every count.
In addition to his warped sense of humor, Fledge was a sci fi fan, and an aspiring writer. Once a week or so, he'd stop by my room, or invite me into his, to talk about ideas he was working on, or to tell me his latest terrible joke. The night he nearly interrupted my masturbation session, I pretended to not be in the room. He made some buzzing sounds, and a few beeps to indicate his displeasure at me not answering the door. I was determined to finish what I'd started. The problem was, that I had started the fantasy thinking of some non-descript, well-rounded ass. There was no one in particular attached to it, it was just the floating ass of pleasure, designed to please only me. If I'd stopped to examine it, I'd probably notice that it bore a striking resemblance to Kevin Harris's ass or, perhaps Jeremy Burdick's. But I didn't stop. And I didn't notice. But when Fledge started making those noises, the floating ass of pleasure started to expand. Soon, it was attached to a smooth back, with defined shoulderblades. Then there were shoulders, and soon, there was even a head at the end of the torso. Fledge's head. And he was making those noises, and he was doing that thing he did with his face when he was pretending to be deliriously happy. And then...and then...and then I toweled off, and knocked on his door.
"Knocked actually. Were you asleep?"
I shrugged my shoulders. "Kinda. What's up?"
He was. I missed the first few sentences of his conversation because his enormous penis was hanging out of the hole in his boxers. "Uhhh, Fledge?" I said. "You're, uhhh, hanging out."
He looked down where I was looking, and tucked it back in. "Sorry." He said. "It has a mind of its own." And he began talking about a band called Floating ass of pleasure, defined shoulderblades, that deliriously happy face. "You know?"
I told him I did know, though I hadn't paid a single bit of attention to what he said. I knew that, while I had successfully beaten it once already that night, my penis was itching for a rematch.
"And I'm pretty sure I could suck my own dick." Fledge said.
"I mean, I'm still pretty flexible from when I took gymnastics, and, well..." He patted his package. "...you know."
I'd like to think that at any other point in my life, I'd have been smart enough to realize that this incredibly hot, well hung, beautiful guy was hitting on me. And not with a fist, he was hitting on me with a sledgehammer. Unfortunately, having the self-esteem of a chalk stick figure in The Louvre, I thought he was idly bragging, and passed up an opportunity to take the virginity of the first acknowledged guy of my dreams. I was no longer a virgin myself. Well, I was still a virgin in the Christian or the Clinton sense, as none of the two pleasure centers below my waist had ever been in any way entangled with the pleasure center below anyone else's waist. I had, however, exchanged blowjobs with a hot Korean guy the night before he'd graduated, and I'd headed back to Cranberry Lake for the summer. When we were done, he'd gone through the school yearbook, and pointed out all the guys he'd found attractive. "What kind of guys do you like?" He'd asked. And, with a totally straight face, I'd told him I wasn't gay. I don't think ignorance is truly bliss, but denial is certainly amusing.
For the rest of the year, Fledge made easily dozens of suggestive and flirtatious commentary that I dismissed because I was too fat to be attractive, and besides, I wasn't gay, I just jerked off to the thought of guys. I dated women.
I'd used Jennifer as my fake girlfriend during my sophomore year. At the beginning of my junior year, one of those heavyset curly haired girls who always wore just a bit too much makeup, and sang alto in the choir, had developed quite a crush on me. I'd remained my usually oblivious self until she rammed her tongue into my tonsils in the hallway outside the auditorium. Kate and I had what I referred to as a platonic romance. I bought her a stuffed white bear shortly before Christmas break, and occasionally let her kiss me. I didn't kiss her back, but told myself that it wasn't because I was gay, I wasn't interested in her because she was fat.
Just after Christmas break, I was in a school production of Romeo and Juliet. Originally, I'd had the role of Paris, as our director had the idea of casting all black students as Montagues, and all white students as Capulets. When the black Romeo dropped out, the entire show was recast. In the new version, I was to play both Benvolio and Balthasar, with JBob playing Mercutio. The roles suited us, and we spent most of our backstage time swordfighting and making jokes. It was during some of my non-JBob backstage time that I first got to know our stage manager, Beckee.
Beckee liked to play with my sword. The prop. She would rub it and purr every chance she got.
"I think she likes you." JBob said.
"No shit." Even I was not that oblivious.
Of course, the problem was, that I was still not dating Kate. "Yea, but..." JBob said. "Kate is...well, you know, and Beckee is...not Kate."
But Beckee was dating a computer geek named Harold. The unharriest Harold in the known universe. One day, in mid-January, unHarry, Beckee, and I had lunch together in one of the dining halls on the other campus. While unHarry looked on, Beckee kept trying to unbuckle my belt, unbutton my jeans, or unzip my fly. unHarry wasn't the only person watching the little display. My choir teacher, my precalculus teacher, four kids from my psychology class, and the kitchen workers had a front row seat. As did Kate, who stormed out of the dining room. She was waiting for me by my dorm room later that night, "You can have your stupid bear back." She said, shoving it into my hands. And I probably could have explained that I wasn't really interested in Beckee, that she'd been flirting with me, not the other way around. But this was the perfect way for me to deKatify. How macho I was, being dumped by the fat girl because the hot purple haired girl with the big breasts couldn't keep her hands off me. How straight.
Contrary to rumor, Jeremy Burdick didn't beat me up. I didn't move to Arizona to join the priesthood. I didn't drown, trying to save one of my campers at Camp Davis. I was not institutionalized because of my schizophrenia. I just went away to boarding school. I didn't tell anyone, because I hadn't planned on going. Ninth grade hadn't been a hardship, I'd made a number of popular friends, and discovered that I was really good at American Sign Language, and working with kids. I had every intention of returning to Cranberry Lake High, and yawning my way through another year's worth of classes. My grandfather had other ideas. And my grandfather's ideas were always more important than my own.
My first real memory of him was when I was three or four. I was watching The Smurfs or The Snorks or some tirelessly friendly cartoon inspired by a Scandinavian comic book. My grandfather walked into the room, changed the TV to the news, and then walked out of the room. I turned the cartoon back on. He walked into the room, changed to the news, and walked out. I changed back to the cartoons. When he came back in, I asked "You want to watch the news?"
"No." He said. "I read the paper this morning. I want you to watch the news." And he turned the channel back to the news, and pulled the dial off the TV.
During the summer between ninth and tenth grades, I was a summer camp counselor in training. I helped run the sports program, and taught swimming lessons (and nobody drowned during them). I had planned on being there all ten weeks, but during the fifth week, my grandfather stopped by. He was captaining a boat from Jacksonville, Florida to Portland, Maine. I'd gone with him for the southern part of the journey when I was twelve. This summer, he wanted me to help out with the Cranberry Lake to Portland leg. I agreed, because I had no choice. I figured, it was a three day trip, max. And I was technically correct. We arrived in Portland the next day, spent one day at my uncle's house, eating lobster and catching up with relatives, and the next day, he rented a car, and we began driving, I assumed, home. I assumed wrong.
"It's Reunion Weekend at my old highschool." He said. And I knew I was doomed to spend the next two days with his fellow septuagenarians, listening to dull stories about their childhood, and how I looked just like my grandfather, which was a lie, as I was adopted, and shared none of his body or facial design. I also knew I'd have to take some sort of tour, where a smiling admissions officer would tell me how much fun I'd have there, what a great drama department they had, how I could volunteer to work with kids, and how I would yadda yadda smile love it there.
I knew that if my grandfather wanted me to go there, odds were I was going to go there no matter what I wanted. Plus, it meant I wouldn't have to watch my parents fumble toward their inevitable divorce. So when I got home, I told my parents how much I'd loved the school, and, sure, I'd really apply myself there, and could I please go back to my summer at Camp Davis now?
Three days after camp ended, my parents drove me back to Torpor Heights, carried a bunch of my clothes and belongings up the four flights of stairs to my room, and took me out to lunch. My mother cried. My father was proud of me. Back in Florida, my grandfather was proud of me. The only thing I was excited about was meeting my new roommate.
Through a fluke in the admissions process (or maybe a donation from my grandfather), I'd been booked into the biggest room in the dorm, a triple. But there would only be two of us. Whereas all the other rooms had a single, cumbersome wardrobe, our room had two walk-in closets AND two cumbersome wardrobes. We also had a bunkbed AND a non-bunkbed. My roommate, though absent when I had moved in, had already been in the room, and claimed a closet and the non bunkbed, which was totally fine with me.
It was a few minutes after my parents left when one of the student leaders knocked on my door. "Hey. My name is Daveed. I'll be living across the hall. You met your roommate yet?"
"Oh, man." He made Oh, man sound precisely like I'm so sorry that your puppy got murdered, but don't worry, you're going to get a chance to see him real soon, because you're about to get hit by a very big truck with very spikey tires.
"Oh, man?" I asked.
My very first roommate at Torpor Heights was a twenty-one year old sophomore named Yao Wen Handsome. A Chinese student, whose mother had recently married a very inaccurately named banker named Sean Handsome. Their marriage was some sort of business arrangement that, for some reason, meant that Yao Wen had to change his last name to his American stepfather's. Yao Wen had been in America for two weeks when school started, and the only English he spoke was "Yes", "No", and "I want fuck yo'r ice", which had been taught to him by one of the very unscrupulous hockey jocks who lived down the hall from us.
I hoped that his English would improve quickly, as THA had one of the premier English as a Second Language programs in the country. Alas, instead of teaching him things he could use like "How do I get to the Science Building?", "Do you mind if I use your stereo to blast my shitty Chinese pop music while you're trying to sleep?", or "Excuse me. I had some really spicy food for dinner.", they taught him annoying phrases like "Need you help now." and "Giant bresteses." Two things he liked to say almost as much as he liked to announce that he wanted to fuck my rice. No matter how many times I explained that I didn't like my rice fucked, he insisted that he would be really good at it.
After the third night in a row that he'd slapped me awake at three in the morning to ask for help with his homework, I started setting up a line of tennis balls in the little dip between my bunk and the wall. Every time I caught him walking in my direction, I'd chuck one at his head.
I wasn't the only person in the school who was less than pleased with the existence of Yao Wen Handsome. Next door to David (pronounced Daveed)'s room were two juniors. A shaved-headed punk fan named Jack Marple, and a purple headed goth rocker, who voluntarily went by the name of Roadkill. I wasn't present when Roadkill and Yao Wen began their war. I don't know who first insulted who, but I do know that I came home from dinner during the third week of school to find Roadkill running down the hall. Yao Wen was chasing him, with three of my tennis balls in his hands, chucking them at Roadkill, yelling "No shoes on bed! No shoes on bed!"
After the fourth time the dormhead was called to settle a dispute between Yao Wen and one of our floormates, I made a request that he be moved out of my room. I was assured that I'd have permission to request a change of roommates by the end of the week. Three weeks, and a dozen or so excuses later, I decided to take matters into my own hands. One of the other sophomores, who lived on the third floor, had the unfortunate pleasure of sharing a room with a kleptomaniac named Charlie Denton. Barely a month into the school year, and Charlie had been caught stealing two jackets, a dozen or so CDs, and Roadkill's favorite hairbrush.
"It's bullshit." JBob (Denton's unfortunate roommate) said. "He's stolen two of my Guns and Roses bootlegs, sharpied out my name, and wrote his own. And my favorite jacket disappeared my first day here. I asked the dormhead to transfer rooms, and he told me he'd get it done by the end of the week. That was two weeks ago. Fuck, dood, there's an empty room on your floor. I don't get why one of us can't move into it."
"I have a better idea." I said.
That afternoon, while Yao Wen was in class, JBob and I moved all of his furniture and clothes into the empty room, and moved all of JBob's furniture into my room. "This way," I said, "we can claim that you didn't know I didn't have permission to move Yao Wen's shit out, and, with any luck, the dormhead will feel sorry for you, and let things stay the way we want them." Which is pretty much what happened. Yao Wen came back from class, flipped out that all his stuff had been moved, and found the nearest Chinese interpreter to take his case to the dormhead who, initially, flipped out, then shook his head after Yao Wen left, and said "Well played. You guys can be roommates, but don't pull any shit like that or again, or I'll put you on disciplinary probation."
Little did he know, JBob and I had one more game to play before we felt we were even.
Every Wednesday morning, there was a mandatory all campus meeting at our Chapel. The student leaders checked each of us in at the beginning of the meeting, and we'd sit in our assigned pews, listening to the deans or the headmaster or a guest speaker fill our minds with morality or mortality or whatever opinion they were determined to inflict on us. JBob and I had loyally attended each one, but we knew that Denton liked to sneak out and take a cab into town and shoplift, since he had the two post-meeting periods open.
On this particular morning, I checked in with David, and JBob checked in with his student leader, then we excused ourselves to go to the bathroom. While our dormmates listened to our Headmaster explain how important cultural diversity was to a school like ours, JBob and I broke into their rooms and began playing a game of Kleptomaniac Scavenger Hunt Bingo. I took Roadkill's brush, and Jack's New York Dolls CD. JBob took David's drumsticks, and one of his roommate's Argentinean porno magazines. I took our resident Republican's U2 poster, and his roommate's favorite sweatshirt. And together, we went up and down all floors, taking one or two things from each room (including our own), and scattering them all throughout Denton's room. Then we went to our fourth period classes.
Neither of us were there to witness the beginning of the chaos. Seeing as he'd already caught Denton stealing his hairbrush once, Roadkill knew where to go when he discovered it missing a second time. And, of course, he saw Jonathan Fletcher Tork the Fourth's U2 poster, and told him about it. JFT4 saw David's drumsticks, and one of the other student leader's guitar, and on and on and on. When Denton came back, he was pulled into the dormhead's apartment. He was completely befuddled, and swore he was innocent. But he was wearing JBob's favorite jacket, and had the inside pockets stuffed with CDs that were stolen from the local music store. He was kicked out at the end of the week.
For the remainder of the first trimester, JBob and I got along famously. Despite his justifiable concern over my taste in music (I had just grown out of a pop phase, and had a Mariah Carey CD and some Paula Abdul tapes scattered throughout my U2 and Nirvana), we found we had a lot in common. Our honeymoon period was brief but enjoyable.
Both of us had work jobs (the most redundantly named program at the school) in the dining hall. He served lunch. I helped prepare dinner. One night, while squeezing whipped cream onto the lime jello, one of the salad ladies approached me with a petition. "Do you know that Yao Wen kid?" She asked.
I told her that we'd been roommates.
"Well, the faculty and students that work here have been having problems with the way he talks to people. And the way he touches them."
I relayed the story about my walk back to the dorm, after my first tennis class, when Yao Wen had touched my ass. How I'd firmly shook my head and said "Don't touch me." And how he'd touched me again, anyway. And how I'd cracked him over the head with my tennis racket and ran like hell to the dining hall.
"So you'll sign this?"
"What will it do?"
That week, it got him banned from the back of the line in the dining hall. He could still eat there, but he wasn't allowed to even talk to the cooks or the students serving the food. The next week, he was told he was no longer welcome at the farm. It wasn't too long before I came back from French class to find his new room empty. Some months later, my guidance counselor told me he'd been sent to "an institution better suited to his needs".