|Something a boy finds exciting.|
It’s possible to die from being tired, you know. In fact, I’ve come close enough to hear the pearly gates creaking—the problem is, I'm too tired to walk through. Once I made it partway through only to be called back by someone “on earth” who needed their diaper changed. Here is a sample of my near-death experiences this week:
Here’s how it works: You have to get your degree. An absolute MUST. And then you should probably go straight into your master’s program since a bachelor’s won’t suffice to position you, especially given ‘the economy’ and ‘the ever-changing global marketplace’ and other such serious and mysterious forces. It doesn’t matter so much what your degree is in or where you get your degree, you just MUST get that degree! Oh, and of course you know that concurrently you will intern, volunteer, and lead student organizations (during the summers, it’s crucial that you find opportunities OVERSEAS or with NON-PROFITS.) Then you graduate with a resume that requires 9-point font to fit on one page.
How could I not be admitted to Harvard's freshman class? Surely I was the only applicant wearing a 1980's Bruce Springsteen t-shirt and bellbottoms scrawled over with Chinese characters. (FYI, that's the ivy league's most troubling quota category to fill each year. I was a shoe-in.)
If poetic transport hadn't dulled my reflexes, I would have run. But instead, I just sat there staring at him, half stuck in 19th-century England.
When I started shopping for my first car, I was convinced that the used car salesmen would prey on me. Before leaving the house, I sharpened my teeth and narrowed my eyes. On the lot I walked purposefully straight up to the slouching, sweating sales associate. I was NOT going to be taken advantage of, for I had a clipboard.
“Fire” is an egregious “Dare.” I never chose Fire, but Gorko always did. The flames cracked in her dark eyes, daring us to conjure the most horrific Fire imaginable for her, then she would jump up and complete it with cocky indulgence as we turned our faces away and sometimes begged her to stop. No, I can’t even tell you what some of them were (but one may have involved a cat and licorice and—no, I better stop).
My best friend growing up liked the Chucky films about demonic baby dolls. She’d sit in the dark, close to the TV, and lap up the horror. But this story isn’t about Chucky, it’s about me. Me and my friends playing in secret spaces away from our parents’ unmagical faces. We weren’t bad, like Chucky, but we were silly, and sometimes, to grown-ups, that is more unnerving. Maybe it reminds them of a time of color and freedom that has slipped away. Or maybe they are raw inside and out trying to keep things together. Either way, we stole away to avoid their eye-rolls, head shakes, and sighs.
Famous Dud: Jamie
After an outdoor Pop-Rock concert in Buffalo, New York, I told the backstage security guard that I was with a local newspaper writing a story on ticket scalping—which I was—and would like to interview a band member for the article. I walked with purpose over the gravelly area where the tour buses were parked, determined to be casual and professional despite internally gushing. The bass player came around the fender with a towel around his neck and a hand around his beer. I made eye contact, stuck out my hand, firmly shook, and relayed my objective. Because he was tired, the interrogation began with him reclining on an equipment crate as I modeled perfect posture and journalistic ambition on an adjacent crate, which was much shorter and unstable.
Early High School Dud: Matt
He was a senior, and I was a freshman. He a Montagu, I a Capulet (in that the relationship was destined for an untimely end … not that he would mistake me for dead and then poison himself). How cute was Matt? I’ll tell you. He was so cute that I could only look at him when clouds passed over his face.
He had auburn hair and a matching beard. I called him Pastor Red. Halfway through the service he would call all the white children forward—there were only white children—to sit on the steps with him and listen to “the children’s sermon.”
Chuck’s black feet were cracked, terminating in long toenails. His feet were black because he was black. In fact, he was the only black patient at the nursing home. But that wasn’t why I adopted him as my “buddy.”
But my grandpa was always dead on Grandparents Day.
You could hear him coming by the jangle of his keys and the shortness of his breath. It was Digger. Digger the Janitor. He wasn’t “faster than lightning” like Flipper, and no bounce was in his step like Tigger, but boy could he buff a floor. He was hardy and hard-working, like a beef-stew-eating ox.
Every Friday was “Chapel.” Girls had to wear a skirt or a dress, and boys had to wear a tie. I would rather have worn a tie because you can still play kickball at recess with a tie. In a dress you can only play with those banana-shaped scoopers and a wiffle ball.
There’s a lot of corn in Western Pennsylvania, or at least there used to be before the Super K’s landed and popped it all. In fact, the only thing there was more of than corn was old people. Those two facts led to a regional form of adolescent terrorism. We didn't invent corning—it was more passed on by older siblings. I guess you could say we just grew up around corning, or that it grew up around us!
“I hate vests,” I said in disgust. “They’re so ugly!”
Annie’s eyes waxed into full moons.
“What?” I intoned. “What’s the point—to hold your lungs in place?”
Her eyes pointed discretely but imploringly at Beth, who was right behind me doing her math homework ... in a big ol’ patch-worked vest in bright shades of suede with half dollar-sized silver buttons.
“I mean, on guys," I quickly qualified.
Beth looked up from her homework. My lips twitched into a smile. I stifled the urge to compliment her on how well her vest held in her lungs.
For messy projects we had to wear a smock. They were stored in a crate in the art closet, and had been donated by dads whose pens leaked through their work shirt pockets.
Yes, I have rode in a limousine. Twice in fact. It wasn’t for prom; it was for getting the most magazine sales!
Response: ♫ “Me llamo Juan. Me llamo Anna. Como te llamas tu?”
That’s how I learned Spanish from our phenomenal, blind polyglot.
This must be the most detested condiment of all.
Dear Cellulite and Acne Ad Makers,
Nearly every time I log into my email account I am assaulted by rapidly shrinking and expanding stomachs or butts.
I like hotels better than motels because hotels are higher than motels, which are not very high.