Honest Conversation Is Overrated
Actual Human Interactions Witnessed Or Overheard
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
In Twentieth And Twenty-First Century America
When Chic-fil-a decided to be more Openly Bigoted a few years ago, one of my very close friends, a woman who had stayed at my house when she was fighting with her idiot boyfriend, and who had invited me to her wedding before she and her idiot fiance broke up, a woman who introduced me to her best friends: a lesbian couple who lived in the South End, wrote a long post about how she was devoting her free time to protest in favor of Chic-fil-a's freedom to be homophobic.
Because she was my friend, and someone I'd always viewed as an ally, I refrained from being sarcastic, and asked her how she could reconcile the way that company was treating at least four people she cared about (the fourth being the guy I dated through most of our friendship), and she sent this long disconnected Jesus tirade about how Christians were being persecuted for blah blah blah, false dichotomy, metaphorical bible quote taken literally, etc. So I defriended her, and sent her a very brief e-mail telling her that I was disappointed that she valued a fictional version of a two thousand year old dead guy more than her living friends. I didn't hear from her again until the Boston Marathon bombing, where I sent her a reply of "I am unaffected." and presumed, correctly, that I wouldn't hear from her again.
Today, in the midst of all the rainbow memes, and wedding pictures, I scanned through my friends' posts and was pleasantly surprised to not find a single argument. Like, REALLY surprised. So it was with much disappointment that I found a solitary post, made by the woman I almost married twenty years ago talking about how "love won when Jesus died on the cross" which is...ASTOUNDING. You'd think that if you were going to be Jesus-y, you'd go with "love won when Jesus rose again" or "love won when...." actually there's not a lot of love in the New Testament, once the whole "let's kill the protagonist" angle starts up.
She went on to talk about how difficult it was going to be to teach her children about checks and balances when "there aren't in any in the new America". And how this wasn't about marriage equality rights, this was about states' rights.
Huh, where have I heard that recently?
As I've been doing more and more often recently, I wrote a long, calm, point about why I disagreed with her status, and then, instead of posting it, I erased it and defriended her.
I know there is a sentiment among many of my friends that you shouldn't be silent, and that you should fight through your feelings and argue with people about their ignorance and/or bigotry, but that's not for me. I've long grown tired of trying to use logical thinking when talking to a bunch of metaphor-comprehensionally impaired bigots who belong to really judgmental book club, which is #notallChristians but #yesallliteralists. How can I hope to compete logically with someone who, if he existed, has been dead for so long that he wouldn't even know that calendaric time has started flowing in the opposite order.
Also, when I get frustrated with people laying down irrelevant platitudes that they didn't even come up with themselves, but overheard on their news show of choice, I tend to say very specifically hurtful things that I can't take back like "I feel really bad for your children, what with them being homeschooled by a prejudiced idiot." or "I don't think someone who majored in violin at a glorified musical academy is really qualified to be discussing constitutional law." or "As the person who helped finance the abortion you got when you cheated on me, I think you are woefully unqualified to be talking about morality and so-called-family values." but that's not going to solve anything.
I'm fairly meticulous with who I am Facebook friends with. I don't expect everyone I talk to agree with me on what kind of poets I respect, or whether the last episode of Lost proved that the show was super racist, but if I see that you've made a post about Barack Obama where you use any pejorative term that dehumanizes him (I'll disagree with you about "stupid", but I won't be mad about it. I understand "disappointing", and any synonym for "liar" is acceptable what with him being a politician and all) or if you want to defend the use of racist imagery or using the law to impose your religion on people, or tell me how woman aren't qualified to (insert anything here...actually anything), then I don't give a shit that we used to go to Middle School together, or that we both really like X-Men comics, I'm done communicating with you.
------I don't want anything from this post. It's not here as a dramatic "if you do X, you better defriend me now!!!111!1!1!" statement. I'm happy to do the work of defriending myself if I see repeated ignorant bullshit. It's mainly that I'm sad that someone I used to be really close to, someone who, granted, has always been from a really weird family, a family who, after they moved west somehow found Jesus in every corner of their house, and at the grocery store, and on their toast, has finally pushed me to the point where I just can't communicate with her anymore
--------for those of you who've been around since The Insafemode Journal days, Yes, this is the same woman who called me at work to let me know that she had a half-brother who turned up. She was letting me know because her mother had given him up for adoption and "My mother would never have agreed to meet him, if he hadn't mentioned that he wanted to share with her the gospel of Christ. So maybe if you accept Jesus, you can get in touch with your birth parents." She was unimpressed when I let her know that if I wanted to get in touch with my birth parents, I just had to fill out paperwork with the agency that oversaw the adoption, as I was a ward of the state of Connecticut, not Jesus. And when I informed her that, in fact, my family abandoned Christianity specifically because my former-altar-boy father was told by The Catholic Diocese that he wasn't fit to be a parent, she started to talk about my family's shortcomings. I hung up on her, not just because I thought she was being an insensitive, unChristian ass, but because I was also in the middle of a nine hour shift waiting tables.
--------we now return you to your regularly scheduled series of posts about how annoying people are in retail environments
In an IM conversation with Dmitri, I mention that I am catsitting for Ben while he's away, and that I'm in the midst of reorganizing the apartment. Dmitri says "You make such a good wife." Me? A wife? I have a beard, and it's not a woman with self-esteem issues, it's facial hair. Ben is the one who wears eyeliner.
And so it is that I spend the last day of my Ben free time, cataloging a list of my exes in my head.
Before Jennifer dumped me for my supposed best friend, Scott, she listened to Billy Joel, Phantom of the Opera, Milli Vanilli, Roxette; the music that all the cool kids were listening to in 1989. Before Jennifer admitted that the first time we dated, it had been exclusively to get closer to the little greaseball bastard who played the role of friend when it suited his snobby, rich, not very well-shaped ass, she wore cute white sweaters, was a straight A student, and really wanted to be a writer.
After Jennifer dumped me for that whiny little reminder of why the pull out method doesn't work, she abandoned English for Science, starting listening to Sir Mix-A-Lot, Young MC, LL Cool J, and other artists that I would grow to like once the nineties started, but we were twelve and not supposed to be listening to cool music, yet. Sure, she continued to take violin lessons, but everything else changed. After Jennifer crushed my heterosexuality between her fingers in order to date someone that I know for a fact had a smaller dick and intellect, she switched from glasses to contacts, from modest clothes to garish pink sweaters and other Debbie Gibsonesque fashion that caused an entire generation of women to "lose" any photos taken of them from, say 1987-1990. Her beautiful straight hair had teased bangs and clumsy curls. I hated the new Jennifer.
Once Jennifer dumped Scott for someone way hotter, way gayer, someone I ended up trysting with nine years later, she put her glasses back on, she kept her interest in science, restraightened her hair, found a moderate stance for her clothes. Once Jennifer realized what a little douche-trucker-hat Scott was, and started dating someone with way more style, and a body that convinced me that male artists tend to be homosexual because, fuck, men are works of art, she started listening to Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sonic Youth, Soul Asylum, bands that wouldn't break on MTV until 1992. Once Jennifer and Scott went the way of Brandon and Dylan, we decided to be friends again. Actually, I never told her we'd stopped being friends, because then I wouldn't have had anyone who wasn't a complete loser to hang out with at lunch.
When Jennifer abandoned her poor, soon to be oversexed, tan skinned, boat owning boyfriend for a much older (seventeen!!!) AV geek with bad teeth and halitosis, she got rid of the glasses again, started wearing mostly black, listened to prog rock bands like Dream Theatre, Queensryche, Rush, and early Genesis, and picked up an unplaceable accent that hurt my ears so much that, not only did I stop hanging out with her, I told my parents I wanted to go back to public school.
I couldn't be friends with someone who didn't have their own personality. All she ever did was assimilate her taste to her boyfriend's. She would take one, and only one of his traits when they broke off, and reinvent the rest of herself. She kept the complicated love of Jesus that she learned from Chris the Old. Her compassion, and willing to listen to people came from Ryan the Perfect. Her sarcasm and since of humor, I wish I could claim, but actually came from Scott. It wasn't until I started not dating Ben that I realized what she got from me.
"Did you hear that they're getting rid of Vanilla Coke?" Ben asks, as we wander around the CVS in search of light bulbs.
"Yea." I say. "They're gonna replace it with Cherry Vanilla Coke, which is way awesomer, anyway.""
"Ewww, dude. Anything with that fake vanilla is so nauseatingly sweet."
"I like sweet things." I say.
I shoot him the You Have Got To Be Fucken Kidding Me Look.
He stops looking at the Christmas lights display, shoots me a hurt look. "I'm sweet."
"Sometimes." I say. "But you also have that tang of bitterness that I find so hot."
"Oh, sweet Christ, you like your men like you like your alcohol. Booooo." He picks up a box of lights. "They don't have any blue lights, ugh."
"Are we all set, then?"
He frowns as he picks up another box of not blue lights. "Mmmmmm. No. Don't forget to get some sort of munchy thing. We're going to be completely...yea."
"At a CVS? I want something substantial."
"So get one of those microwavable meals." He says.
"Bleurgh. They're so...unnatural." And since when do I give a fuck about something being natural or not? When do I care what type of food goes into my body? Since Ben. I got my occasional nicotine habit from Elvis. From Liam, I learned my appreciation of how absurd sex really is. From Ryan, I got my compassion, and ability to listen to other people's problems. Beckee taught me to be devious. And Jennifer? This is what I'm not sure, did I absorb my habit of adapting my image to fit the people I love from her, or did she get it from me, or was it the one product of our love that survived?
It's ten years since the abortion, and she is finally having her baby. There is grace of God and sweet hosannah in every sentence of her e-mail because this time the baby will be born.
Jennifer, I am happy that you are happy with the impending birth, and your faith to Your Lord is admirable, but don't expect me to join in the ecstasy. I know you haven't told your husband what we did. Nor your parents. Nor the father of the child you didn't have. I know this is probably eating you from the inside much more than it is eating me. But I need to know, how do you sleep at night when, over the course of three days, you send me an announcement of your pregnancy, followed by pro-life propoganda. You, of all people, know what sort of situations young girls get into. And if you think you made the wrong decision, fine, but unfuck you for wanting to take those options away from all those other young girls. If you'd had the baby, you'd be miserable and Godless. I'd probably being playing straight man while sleeping with men behind your back. Your parents would have disowned you, and you'd never have had the opportunity to meet your current husband. Is that the only world Your God approves of? If so, are you going to hell for murder or hypocrisy?
If you make good on your threat of making me godfather, be prepared. The first gift I give h(im)(er) will be a wish that (s)he grow will grow up to be as smart, brave, and beautiful as h(is)(er) mother was before she confused Jesus with judgment. Before she placed The Bible before her own history.
I hope your child will love you with the stubborn love you've given to your God. The way I loved you before you decided to be perfect.
I don't know how the marriage proposal happened. Movies, TV shows, romance novels, they all have these elaborate stories involving the Eiffel Tower or a the rehab center where the couple first met. There's always rings involved and one or more of the couple ends up on their knees, staring deep into the other's eyes, and saying "Will you marry me?" And the other person says yes and they live happily ever until the credits roll.
I was drunk. A bottle of Jack Daniels and a six pack of Heinekein drunk. She may have been too, I don't remember. It was summer again. Our last summer before college. I was two weeks into another ten week long camp counselor position, and she was a week away from going to Europe to visit all those exotic places where richer, soberer people proposed to each other or honeymooned. We were at a party hosted by one of my coworkers. The host and his frat buddies showed off their Stigmata Delta Piebald brands. DJs spinned terrible local hip-hop wannabes and bad eighties tunes. I confessed something stupid like "You know... Beckee. I mean. Beckee was so, you know, shallow, and shallow and shit. But you. You. I totally love you. We should get married." And she said yes, and we made out for a little while. And I walked her to her I hope she's sober enough to drive home car. I kissed her. Told her I loved her. Staggered back in the direction of the house in order to find more whiskey, since I was obviously too drunk to drive home, myself.
A few yards away from the sliding glass door that led into the kegful kitchen, was a jacuzzi. I was wearing a bathing suit. The two frat brats already in the jacuzzi were not. They were skin and water and slick and smooth and drunk and...and they were on opposite sides of the jacuzzi, flexing their bodies toward the edges of the what are they doing jacuzzi. "Sooooooo good. You want to try this?" The frat boy facing me asked.
"Fucking the pooljets." The frat whose ass was bending in my direction said.
Yes. "No. Thanks." And I walked around the jacuzzi until I had the proper vantage point to watch both of their asses flex. I watched and watched, comparing ass, back, and rhythm, mentally calculating which of them would finish first.
"What the fuck are you doing here?" Bernard asked. Bernard. Ugh. Bernard was a thirty-five year old pot head who taught archery at our camp. He had been a counselor at Camp Davis for almost twenty years, with the exception of one summer when the previous director of the camp had stepped down, and he had assumed that he would take his place. The CEO, thinking he was making a joke when he asked to interview for the position, had laughed in his face. As a form of protest, he'd taken a position at another camp. He was fired two weeks into the summer, when he was caught smoking up inside the archery shed. During his summer away, I had served as assistant archery director. The year that Bernard decided to come back, we both applied for the Archery Director position. He got the job, but only because they'd offered me a chance to run waterfront, a job with more prestige and three extra dollars an hour, thus making me, in his eyes, the most evil person on the planet. "I asked you a fucken question. What the fuck are you doing here?"
Watching two hot, naked frat guys fuck the airjets in a jacuzzi. "They're drunk." I said. "And...and you're not supposed to be in a jacuzzi when you're drunk. And I'm a lifeguard. And, you know, if they dehydrate and pass out, someone's gotta be here to help them. You want to watch em for a while why I go get a beer?"
"Fucken faggot." He said, and walked away, in the direction of the house.
I stayed a minute or two longer, and then headed into the house, where I passed out on a couch.
My heterosexual dream was shattered on August twelfth, 1995. Jennifer: destroyer of sleep and car rides. I picked her up at the airport on the eleventh. She was unusually quiet during the entire trip. I assumed this meant that she'd slept with someone. That she had realized that she didn't love me, but she at least had the tact not to break up with me while I was driving her home from the airport.
The next day, she called too bright, too early, to say that she was on the way over. She wanted to talk, but it was nothing she could talk about over the phone. I was being dumped.
"I'm pregnant." she said.
"But...but we were so careful." I said. "We always used a condom, and―"
"It's not yours."
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.
Pilgrim's Academy was my chance to start over. None of the kids in my new school knew that I had been third-grade famous for my Woody Woodpecker impersonation, or that Queen Popular Sarah The First had caught me picking my nose in fifth grade science class. Nobody had heard about the time Kevin Harris pushed me off my porch and broke my arm. Nobody even knew who Kevin Harris was. I was safe.
I've never asked my parents precisely why they decided I should go away to a private middle school. I think they believed that I was too smart for the public school system, and that's why my grades had been dropping. It couldn't have been because I was bored with the facts the teachers mumbled, and terrified of the small humans who were supposed to be my peers.
Whatever the reason, I'm mostly grateful. I've heard stories about what happened during my two year absence from the public education system: group showers, rat tails, stabbings, a pregnant girl, marijuana. The most exciting thing I can remember from my two years at Pilgrim's was when the Latin teacher had a nervous breakdown between third and fourth periods, and stormed out of her classroom yelling that my friend Scott and I were "trying to destroy" her and her "teaching curricula". That night, she called our parents, and the parents of a few of our classmates, and told them how "ill-behaved" and "dangerous" we were. After a brief investigation into our third and fourth period activities (the highlight of third period being that my teacher failed to collect the homework I didn't do, and the highlight of fourth period being that nobody blamed me for the fart someone dropped in the darkroom), the Headmaster issued a written and verbal apology to all the children and parents involved, and the Latin teacher was demoted to assistant librarian.
It was during the Pilgrim's years that I fell in love with the idea of Jennifer. Long brown hair, green eyes, nose that wrinkled pleasantly when she laughed at my stupid, stupid jokes. After voluntarily going to a couple of her cello recitals, and convincing her tutor me in Science, I finally got the courage to ask her out, and was stunned when she said "Yes." I was less stunned when she dumped me four days later, confessing that she'd only really gone out with me because she wanted to make out with my supposed best friend, Scott. And he hadn't noticed her at all, until she started tongue kissing me during lunch.
I'd like to say I spent the rest of the year shunning both my treacherous friend, and that filthy hobag, Jennifer. But I didn't. I continued to worship my ex-best friend's new girlfriend. And pretended to not hate Scott for his betrayal. After all, they were my best friends.
Unlike public school friendships, private school friendships are hindered by distance. No one in my school lived in the same neighborhood that I did. Only two of them lived in the same town, and neither of them were my friends. So, during most school vacations, I stayed home alone and began my affair with computers. Typing elaborate fantasy stories, and some of the worst rhyming couplets recorded by twentieth century man. I became really good at top of the line games like Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?, and King's Quest IV. During my Spring Break (which did not correspond with the public school's February and April vacations), I spent some time at the doctor's office where my mother worked, and riding in my father's work truck, eating sandwiches while he fixed electrical wires and telephone poles.
On the third day with my father, I ate a runny Grilled Cheese sandwich that had decided that, since it had defeated my throat with its power of burnination, it was more than up for the challenge of destroying my colon. Despite my life-long dislike of public restrooms, I had no choice but to run into the restroom that my father's many coworkers shared, and purge my body of this greasy affront to cheesdom.
I knew this was going to be a multiple part bowel movement. At least a three minute project. Unfortunately, I'd left my copy of The Two Towers in my dad's truck, and the only thing in the stall with me was a Wall Street Journal. I picked it up, and out fell a glossy magazine with a scantily clad woman on the cover. Club magazine. I was ready to put the potentially offensive periodical back within the pages of the newspaper. I'd "read" through my father's Playboys, and hadn't found anything interesting aside from the joke section. Slim women with large breasts leaning over cars, or kneeling on beaches didn't do it for me. But the woman on the cover was not like the women in my dad's Playboys. She didn't look like the kind of girl who liked long walks on the beach, and dreamed of curing cancer, or becoming a veterinarian. This wide-hipped, huge nippled goddess had probably dropped out of highschool after her third abortion, and decided that stripping only provided temporary fame, while posing for porn meant that her nineteen year old pussy would live forever.
I flipped the magazine open. I marvelled at the way she squatted to the ground, a whip held tight in her teeth. In the background was a bright red motorcycle, and beneath her was...a huge cock. Sure enough, the next page showed her leaning over the motorcycle, while a guy in a visored helmet and nothing else pointed his cock in the direction of her mammoth ass. My butt clenched. I leaned over and checked the room for a pair of feet. I was alone. I folded the magazine back into the Wall Street Journal, ran it out to my father's truck, and zipped it into my backpack.