Imagine a fall day in 10th grade at your average school, with the usual scene. You've got your jocks, your geeks, and your freaks; your emos, homos, and bromos; some rejects and come-corrects; gods and goddesses; wankers, gangsters, and pranksters. You got your slackers, your skaters, and your haters; your modified genders, your repeat offenders, and your relationship menders; some friendly floaters, preppy boaters, and black trench-coaters; beauty queens, drama queens, and dairy queens wearing all shades of blue jeans. All battling it out for a piece of pie before they starve at the meal of life.
And then there’s me. Where do I fit in? I want my pie, too. So I play the high-school game. Don't really understand the rules, but you live and you learn, right? Even when you have no choice.
What happened was that Jason walked in and changed the game. It was like I literally woke up in the Matrix, like reality smashed my fantasy. Like I'm playing Uncharted; and Drake climbs a building, turns into me, and walks right into the chaos that is my life.
On a Monday in October, right outta 3rd period English, the chaos exploded. I was taking a piss in the stall cuz I’m pee shy. After I flushed, Jason knocked on the door, said he had to talk with me. He walked right in and offered me a pink pill, but I was suspicious of him so I didn’t take whatever it was. I didn’t really know him.
He looked sleepy and told me his girlfriend was a bitch and what could he do. She was mad at him for something stupid and he couldn’t get any from her. I told him I didn’t know she was a dyke and tried to coach him on how to get it back ASAP. But he said she’s too stubborn, he tried, and now he needs it bad. I gave him names of girls who were slutty or nice, but he didn’t want to cheat.
Jason was shorter than me—5’8’’— and strong, but still kinda thin. His muscles were tight and his neck was thick and he walked like he had springs in his shoes. His head was like a rock showing a curved line from his chin to his ear. His hair was real short and blonde and brushed forward, and he had a flat nose like a Roman gladiator that came in a straight line from his forehead. His lips were big and curved like a girl’s, and his eyes were set behind a uni-brow. When he wasn’t laughing he looked pissed off. I knew why all the girls liked him. Anyone would, I guess.
So, he got quiet and started rubbing his crotch, and let his pants drop. I was staring at his boxers, while he whispered, “c’mon, c’mon, like ten times. At first, I didn’t understand what was, ha, right in front of my face.
He tried to push me down. Then I realized. But I never did this before. No one taught me how to have sex—not my friends, not my parents, and not the fucking movies. And it was the strangest "closed-door" meeting I ever saw, even on the news.
It didn’t make sense, either, cuz he was a jock type and not gay or anything. He offered me the pill again. I asked him what it would do to me to purposefully “get off topic.” I was just nervous all of a sudden. I didn’t want to go anywhere on a high, anyway. I needed to think of something to do, to trick him back if he was tricking me.
Nothing at all came to my mind, so I just crouched by the toilet. I was totally lost. I didn’t feel conscious. I felt like I was not really me, but that I was looking down from the ceiling watching us both do this fucked up thing.
He wanted this bad and I had to figure it out, cuz he wasn’t saying anything. When he pulled it out and stroked himself, my only thought was that it looked like a purple hard-hat at the end of his fist.
Did I black out? I punched him—or it—and he let out a scream! Then I bolted from the stall and sprinted down the hall like a freak.
I stopped running when I realized I was in high school, and where was I going. Some teacher I never saw before stopped me and wanted the 411 on the last year of my life. They found Jason and brought him over. His face was red. I didn’t know if he was embarrassed or just in a lot of pain. He wasn’t talking, so I had to make up a story.
“He said something about a friend of mine and I punched him in the stomach.”
I didn’t want to nark on myself, but the real story was never coming out. They asked Jason if my story was true, and he nodded. They asked if he needed to see the nurse, and he shook his head. He didn’t have to go to detention because he’s a jock and they said we would fight in there. I was in detention for the rest of the day.
After school, Maria wanted to know every single thing that happened with Jason. Troy wanted to fuck him up. Svetlana laughed her head off, and Robert just shook his head. These are my friends.
When the school found out, I didn’t really care. Most people thought I was a freak for fighting with an all-star, and they just knew he would clobber me the first chance he got. But I wasn’t about being all cool and tough. Besides really wishing I knew how to fight, it wasn’t a big deal.
I was in detention all of the next day, too, to think about what I did. And boy did I. What did Jason want from me? Was someone was trying to ruin me and tell everyone that I’m a fag or a freak? When people start talking about you, it’s so hard to deny anything or get them to believe the truth.
I came to school that day with a buzz cuz the whole thing was depressing, and I was thinking I was stupid and queer for getting down on my knees. I sobered up by third period and planned what I would say if anything got out and how I would deal with Jason, if I saw him. I ended up going with the voice in my head that said, “Shut up and don’t go near him.”
The Grapevine Girls told me he was sick that day. I figured he didn’t want anyone to see his swollen dick. I guess he wasn’t gonna torture anyone with it for a while.
When he did show up in gym, on Wednesday, people were watching us to see if we would fight again. He gave me these big, mean glares, like I better stay away from his jock ass. He showed his buddies a “tiny dot" bruise on his stomach. They were laughing and he said, “It’s not like it hurt. I just looked at him and yelled, and his scared ass ran down the hall like a bitch.”
He didn’t say “like a fag.” Thank God! He was always calling someone that, but he didn’t use it for me. Anyway, I was still degraded. That’s what gym is for.
So everything that happened so far is obviously not the good part. Jason basically ignored me. His friends thought I was meaningless and why bother, because he didn’t seem to care. So the situation became history—to everyone else.
I didn’t forget, especially because only he and I knew what really happened. And who could I tell? I didn’t want to lose my peeps. I didn’t know if I was gay, if he was gay, or if we were girls; or if I was going to get AIDS and die and go to Hell. I thought penises were full of HIV. That’s how you get it. I mean, girls don’t squirt anything into you; it’s the other way around.
A couple of months went by and in high school years that’s a decade or more. It was like nothing happened. Christmas break ended and I was taking Italian, English, Geometry, and Home Economics. I had Home Ec with Svetlana, but a week into school she says she’s got too much work and needs to switch to study hall. That sucked cuz I hate study hall—can’t stand it. It’s so boring, I go crazy or fall asleep. And you are not allowed to sleep in study hall. Plus, I needed an elective. So I’m in Home Ec by myself. No problem; I get along with everybody.
Except Jason was in there, too, with his buddy, Drez. At first it bummed me out, but he wasn’t always an asshole. Before the whole mess he never even got in my business. We even chatted a little.
Like, a year ago during a tornado drill he was making faces to mock Principal Shoemaker who was worked up about how much chaos there was. Me, Jason and Rachel were huddled under a table in the library, while Shoemaker was telling people to go here, no there, that's too crowded, where's the procedure list? And Jason was making a new face with each new comment he made. First an angry psycho, then a spinning head, then a worried wimp, then a questioning dumbass. Rachel was already over the whole day at 11am, so Jason did stand up comedy for just me under the table until the drill ended.
But, now, in the third week after break, he’s all of sudden on my ass like never before, and I didn’t even do anything.
And that class was crazy. The teacher was oblivious to people spitting into jars of homemade jelly, or playing catch with knives. Her fly was open all semester! How is that even possible?
So, one Friday, we were rolling dough at our stations for a triple-berry pie. My partner—this out of my league chic—was sick. Jason and Drez were talking under their breath about everyone in class, like finding something about them to make fun of. I was two stations away facing them, and the station between us was taken by two of the lower class: Dean-n-Dan. And they were two of the same person except that Dean had an “E” in his name.
Jason and Brad kept cracking up. They were biffing little dough pellets at each other. Then Drez got on Jason’s side and they both bombarded Dean-n-Dan with dough. Dean-n-Dan were used to this kind of treatment, but got so upset by it anyway. They moved to the end of the table so Jason and Drez would have to angle their shots to hit them. Drez nailed this girl he didn’t want to bother, and then, because I was now in perfect range, they bombed me.
At this point they weren’t going to have enough dough for anything. I felt pissed for a minute that I would be treated like the scum of the school, but I decided to fight back. I dipped my pellets in berry filling and biffed them hard and straight.
This really pissed them off and they whispered curses at me. Jason hissed “Fag!” and he said it like he knew it was true. He looked right at me and it sounded like a secret. I tried to ignore it but my face turned red.
Just then the teacher came by to inspect our pies. She stepped on some dough and looked up at Jason. He poured his filling into the pan so she wouldn’t see that there was no crust.
This was just the beginning.
Jason wanted me dead, for sure. In gym, he would tackle me, or spike the ball to my head, bean me with anything, and laugh when I tripped or fucked up. I didn’t suck at gym, but I was no tri-athlete. Basically, he was so cool and I wasn’t. I knew he was just being an asshole. But what the fuck did I do?
At home in the mirror I questioned my bad karma. I was nearly six feet tall and skinny, with dark brown eyes and pitch black hair. My skin was pretty white, except in the summer. In August I'm actually darker than the homecoming committee is in December. I can’t even describe my hair—like stringy and windblown, unless I gave a shit and parted it on the side. My dad (who is no longer my dad) thought it meant I was on drugs. I wasn’t on drugs but I drink and smoke, so sue me. I never liked my big rounded nose, but Svetlana said it was what made me cute. She said it looked like a strong Russian boy’s nose. She also said my eyes are “deep and penetrating." Every morning I put on the least wrinkled T-shirt I could find and decided between jeans and cargo pants. I guess I did look like a heroin addict, but I would never do heroin.
Anyway, I planned on going crazy the next time Jason tried to fuck with me. I hate violence; it’s true. But I’m not going to let some muscle-bound jerk get the best of me. I told Svetlana that if Jason’s neck was any thicker, he wouldn’t have shoulders.
Jason must have found out that I get my clothes from my locker on Fridays before I go home. I heard someone walking around, and I knew it was him when he said “faggot” like it was the only word he knew. It bounced off the walls like a battle ball. Thank God no one else was there. I remember thinking my life was over. But I really just wanted to club him to death
He took a step toward me. I said, “Fuck you, you dick head.”
I was sure he would punch me. He lunged forward and got me into a head lock. It was so stupid.
“Whaddya gonna do now?” he said. What a dumb fuck. Didn’t he realize that jerks like him have been doing this to kids ever since 1635, when John Cotton built the first school in America? I yelled like a lunatic and wailed my arms to try to get out of the hold. I ended up knocking him on the nose with the back of my hand.
He fell back holding his honker. I didn’t call him a faggot, because I didn’t really know what a faggot was. He cursed me, holding his nose like a little kid who fell off his bike. I thought, Is this all I have to do to get this guy off me case?
Well, did it again. And me, a pacifist. First his dick, and now his nose. I kept hurting parts of him that stick out. I felt violent and accident-prone. Maybe violence for me was just an accident….
I knew he would make me pay, but he just swore at me, complaining that he was just playing around. When he calmed down I asked him what was his problem. He said he fights with his friends; it’s no big deal. He walked slowly to the mirror and looked at his shnozz. An angry clown looked back at him.
“I’m sorry about that, man.” I actually felt like shit. “Did I break it?”
“No,” he yelled, looking at me through the mirror. “But I think it’s fractured in a couple places.” Then he smiled wide and turned the smile into a pretend angry face.
“Good. Just so it doesn’t fall off.” I laughed and it sounded fake, hoping he was joking and not fucking with me. He faked a punch at my face and laughed when I tried to block it. I didn’t know where the fuck he was coming from.
“Man, I’m not an asshole all the time,” he said.
Yeah. Right. He has multiple personalities and both of them are psycho. But, if one of them liked me, I’d have a jock friend at school.
We left the crotch-scented locker room and walked around the school in a circle. He wanted to know if I liked skiing or rafting or hunting, and I said no. He wasn’t happy about this.
“I always wanted to go camping,” I said. Duh.
“You don’t like school, do you?”
“Uh, no not really. I just like hanging out with my friends, traveling, languages and video games. Kinda boring, I guess.”
“What games? X-Con?”
“Yeah, I’m awesome at it.”
“I just bought it,” he said, and he invited me over to play.
We walked to his house, which was halfway to my house, sort of. I guess I was going to call for a ride later. My friends were gonna think I fell and broke my brain. So his mom was home eating by herself and we went upstairs to his room to play. He sucked at X-Con cuz he only played it twice.
After he failed and passed the sticks, he got up and I heard him open his closet door behind me. He knew I would be playing for another hour straight. I paused in the middle of a mission (that was hard to do). When I looked back he was in his fucking underwear taking off his socks. I turned back around and tried to focus on the game, pretending everything was ok.
What was he doing? I stared at the screen thinking he was gonna ask me to suck on his dick again. I couldn’t believe I came over to his house. I couldn’t believe I was tricked, again. This time I came over on purpose! I felt acid in my stomach. I just kept quiet and kept playing, staring straight ahead. I started fucking upfor real and begged God not to let him force me to do anything.
“I’m gonna take a shower,” he said and he walked into the hallway. Out of the corner of my eye I could tell he wasn’t naked. I heard him turn on the shower. It was so hot in his bedroom, I wanted to open a window. Instead, I started over and tried real hard to complete a new mission.
I heard the shower turn off. He came back all wet, wearing a towel. “You’re still playing?”
“Yeah, I love this game.” I wanted to bolt, but I guess I didn’t need to. He had put on grey shorts and sat right next to me. “I’m on my 30th mission.”
“Whaddya wanna do now?” he asked. Awkward. His shorts were getting wet cuz he didn’t dry himself off.
“Uh…I gotta go soon. Sorry.” That came out fast.
“How much can you bench?” I wasn’t looking at him.
“Beats me,” I said. He picked up his dumbbells and stared at his arms as he curled them. Not as muscular as I thought. At least he wasn’t looking or acting like he did two months ago in the john.
“I wanna try it, though. Benching, I mean.”
“Just let me know. I got a set in the basement.” He said this still looking at his biceps.
I told him I had homework to do. “Oh, mom’ll be mad if you don’t get an A in math,” he said like I was Dean-n-Dan’s little brother.“You’re joking, right?” I said, in my I’m-gonna-tell-you-something-about-me smile.
“I have never gotten an A in math. But I got to study so I don’t flunk.” I felt comfortable all of a sudden. Maybe I could convince him that I was cool. He laughed like he was really joking in the first place.
I didn’t call for a ride; I actually wanted to walk home. It took 45 minutes, but I didn’t care. I was expecting to run but now I was dragging. I kept wondering if I left something at his house.
I guess we could lift weights if he was over whatever it was he wanted me to do. Maybe his girl was giving him some. I came home and didn’t say a word to anyone, which is weird for me. People are always telling me to shut up. I had nothing to say for once and went up to my room.
I played “Spiders” from System of a Down over and over again until I fell asleep.
Approaching guiding light,
Our shallow years in fright,
Dreams are made winding through my head.
The piercing radiant moon, The storming of poor June
All the life running through my head.
Through my head, through my head, head…
Dreams are made winding through her hair,
Dreams are made winding through his hair.