9) Joey came sprinting around third faster than he thought his little legs could ever move and slid in to home just as the ball got there. He knew he’d beat it. “Yerrrr out!” “Motherfucker!” yelled Joey. He meant to say it under his breath, but it came out louder and he didn’t give a shit anyways he said to himself. The ump grabbed his arm and escorted him over to his team’s dugout to inform his coach he would be thrown out if the kid said anything like that again. Joey’s fury of being called out still lingered, but he was already thinking about how he was going to get it from his dad now, who he knew was watching him like an eagle right then and heard everything.
The ride home was bad. Joey’s dad lectured him with anger in his voice the whole way. Kept saying things along the lines of keeping his temper under control and channeling it into baseball itself. Then going on to repeat as he had so many times before, that he had what it took and could make it into college or the big leagues if he worked hard. Joey’s twelve year old mind wasn’t experienced enough to challenge this statement with questions like, “what if I don’t want to work that hard at it?” Baseball was all Joey had played; all he knew.
When they got home Joey heard his dad telling his mom what had happened. He knew she’d be bummed, but not mad, like his dad. Joey heard his dad’s footsteps coming up the stairs later that night. He came into his room without knocking and informed Joey that he wasn’t allowed to play video games. “Who gives a shit?” Joey thought, since he really didn’t care about his Playstation he’d gotten two years ago. Then he told Joey he couldn’t go outside unless it was to swing the bat, throw the ball around with his dad, or go to practice. That one fucking blew.
Two days later, Joey was sitting inside after getting home from school. Looking out his opened window, he saw his neighbor riding a skateboard in his driveway, and even though he looked awkward as hell, it intrigued him. “Fuck it,” he said as he put on his shoes and went outside to ask his neighbor if he could try. His neighbor had just gotten the board that day, and said it was really neat, letting Joey have a try. Whoooshh! Joey ate shit, and scraped his elbow and landed on his hip. Later on in life, he would learn these sorts of things are called hippers and swellbows. They both picked up riding it sort of quickly, or at least they thought, since they had no comparison. In just a half hour, they were both riding down his neighbors slanted driveway, not going that fast, but feeling like they were sticking their heads out their parents car while driving. Riding it gave them the giggles, made them smile harder than ever, and Joey realized it shortened his breath, but not due to exercise. It was a excitement. It was freedom. He had no idea how strong that feeling would evolve into, but he couldn’t get enough. He knew his dad would be home soon, so after saying “one more,” about ten times, he reluctantly ran back inside his house. The next day at school, his excitement never ceased, continuing to run through his veins, as he daydreamed about riding the skateboard down the driveway when he got home. The rest of Joey’s life began then.
10) War of Follies
He trimmed a layer of stubble over his dark, angular jaw to look like a 5 o’clock shadow all the time. He kissed gently, so the sharp ends of the hair didn’t rub at my lips, but if we were at it for too long, I emerged with a pink tinge around my mouth like a wino slut. Still, I knew what I was getting into on that front. When he kissed elsewhere, the stubble had a more hostile impact. I had a different angular patch of hair to discipline, a camp of follicular soldiers in basic training. I usually waxed, but now…the danger of chafing was too vast.
His troops moved south in the open air. Mine were entrenched but vulnerable, quivering in the dark, awaiting the enemy’s nightly advances.
He fought orally, expertly.
He penetrated early and without faltering, deploying both the customary weapons and rhetorical strategy.
What, ho! I thought he came from the country of non-violent resistance! But indeed, this battle zone was only erogenous; the pain was hard to distinguish from the pleasure. My troops blushed at defeat and it took days to recover. I dealt one defensive blow, near the end, when I let the hair grow out overnight.
“What, are you fighting back now?” he whispered with a sarcastic growl, the sneering victor’s privilege.
“I couldn’t help it,” he wrote one night in December. It was the first of many times I heard him repeat the phrase.
“I couldn’t help it. It called my name with a sweet voice comparable to that of the sirens.” he continued, “Once it lured me into its lair, it paralyzed me with its beauty and when my defenses were down, it struck me with the fury of a thousand men. I should have known that I too would feel the sting of the thorns if I ventured to feel the soft touch of the rose….”
He was a compulsive cheater who recycled his favorite lines on his favorite girls. It should have been a preemptive warning to me when the most original speech he ever delivered was inspired by a thunderous queef, the vaginal battle cry of a siren scorned.