A thin pamphlet on getting older — at least as old as a true youngster gets. Read up on it there he will, under H.
hair . . . . .p12
No. Nothing. Not a thing on Mexican girl mustaches. Dark line of lip hair. Upper lip. No beard. But still startling. Took a bit to get eyes to quit roaming the hips of blond beauties and to look directly at those accented lips. Yes it took time, but now Frank wants to lick that lip hair. And if there’s hair up there then there might be hair. . .
Don’t think too hard. Don’t think word hard. Hardly fair that boys display their hard thinking hard thoughts. Hard not to think thoughts mind wanders away. . .
Crushed beauty. Gangly. Yes some girls get gangly. Frank thinks his steps step by the wide open choir room door clacking clacks while gangly girls, he thinks, sing a girl song. He thinks self-conscious straight back. Walk walk, don’t trip, big-bosomed blond soprano see him walking maybe maybe.
“Hey,” Julian says. “Going out for basketball?”
But boys. Do boys? Must shower. Won’t ask. Would Julian know? “I don’t know.”
“Come on. Think of the girls.”
Why not? Am I not? Define me: Frank. Define me in dictionary. Frank: lover of girls all parts of girls don’t think think.
Hey who’s that wee one wow. New? Or just. . . yoga pants salute to a fading view.
Dennis sits down by the two and says, “See that hot little ass pass?”
“Dude, she was what? seventh grade.”
“And I give a fuck why?”
Julian shakes his head at his friend. “Perv.”
Perv. Perv. But those young feminine curves.
“Going out,” Julian continues, “for the team?”
“As long as I’m more than a bench warmer. Hell no! Look at me. I’m built for a hockey goalie, not basketball.”
“Get you in shape, Dennis. Think of the girls.”
Frank says, “You always think of girls, Julian?” Say yes. Be my brother. Be not alone. With me. Define me: unexceptional.
“Of course. And I guess you think about boys, huh?”
“Gross, no.” And now I can’t ask. Dammed if I do, he’ll say I want to see schlong in the showers. Dammed if I don’t because I will probably see schlong in the showers. Unless I don’t try out. No chance then. Can’t try out. Just can’t. Although would like to. Only way to get real good. Start now. Don’t delay. All the girls watching me.
Stacy, Morgan, Martina. Kelsey, Claudia, Yeshey. Helena, Olga, Ariel. All the cute girls in this class. Who would girls list as the cute boys? I certainly can’t tell. A stud with square jaw like a testosterone Titan. Too much mythology class. Albert in there would make the list probably — small class — he’s got that shy guy cute kind of guitar-playing emo thing. Don’t think he plays though. Especially with that name. Albert. Awful Albert. Just go by Bert’d be better.
“Hey, anybody got the answer to questions six and eight?” Dennis digs through his backpack. Creased and ripped paper piles on his desk.
Julian says, “Get your own answers.”
“Egalitarian,” Dennis says. “Isn’t that what we’re studying? What’s mine is yours, what’s yours is mine.”
Frank asks, “Dennis, how can you know so much but be so dumb?”
“I’m only half dumb. The other half is tweedledee. Too late now; the history of this assignment is written — there’s Mr. Walsh.”
Wonder if Dennis will even find his assignment? There it is. Could get lucky unless. . .nope. He’s asking us to pass our papers up. No in-class correcting today. Wonder if his parents keep track of his grades? Mine don’t. Maybe only TV parents do.
“Turn to page 112. Stacey, if you’d read the first paragraph.”
Stacey blond blue-eyeshadow. Once had braces two grades ago. Cute blue braces amplified her eyes. Better pay attention to her voice. Her words I mean her words not her voice. Tempting though to turn to page 227. See topless tribal women. Nipples pointy. Way more than even the erect white women nipples in my dad’s porn stash. Wonder if he tossed it or re-hid it haven’t seen it anywhere in over a year? Maybe moved on to internet porn. Nipples those African women have must be good for suckling young. Men must enjoy too. Couldn’t paint them though like those women on that A&E special all nude except for paint — couldn’t tell a thing. Had to shave every bit of hair off I’d guess. Wax job too to get away with it. Wonder if those tribal women have hair taboos like us? Legs of those dancing ladies page 232 did look awful shiny. Will look closer maybe use a magnifying glass I’ve got in a drawer somewhere. Still hard to see black hair on black. Maybe magnify their nipples. Not really attracted to tribal women wonder if American black boys are wonder if that’s racist to wonder that?
“Frank, care to read the next paragraph?”
Don’t mind if I do.
Do girls want to date me? How does one know? Love letters locker but that’s so childish maybe if a seventh — but that’s taboo a taboo I wouldn’t mind imagine me blushing. What would I do? Take it home. Hopefully perfume probably lay the letter on my chest and lie in bed and masturbate.
Don’t think too hard. Hard.
Fantasy come true! I wish. But what would do is turn her down. Peer pressure not to be a perv. Though Dennis would be jealous. Cute girl curves. Yoga lady pants. The pressure to wear skinny jeans. Too much pressure too hard too often in school in everywhere wouldn’t want to show my mind every time all the time. Still, girls like to see boy’s butts.
“NA: sodium,” the science teacher says.
NA. Shorthand. Nice ass. Two basic girls in the mall say NA. A code between themselves. Too easily broken. Boy turns around and says thanks. Ha ha caught. Two geeky girls say sodium. No one knows what they mean. Difference between sodium to nice ass enough to keep their coded language to themselves. Ah, yes, maybe if I ever hear a girl say sodium to my back. Of course I could sodium girls. Just look dumb I would. Remember I saw a cute one at the mall. Big boobs.
“B: boron,” the science teacher says.
B boring protons neutrons.
B because I hate this bland class back to boobs. Big though even that flat-chested Lacee with the double ee. Flat though not necessarily not developing. She maybe even has some. After all, I saw at the corner of her mouth in math class. Like Mexican girls. Not Mexican though is she? Olive kind of complexion. All German Irish around here and fresh immigrant. Mexican, Asian. Asian hard to tell their ages sometimes. Just littler in general. Dainty hands for kissing. Who was that in English class kept his one hand in a glove of vaseline tender for his future wife? Villain it was. Mice and Men? Or Grapes of Wrath? Getting the two confused. One had a rapist, one had an old man nursing on a lactating woman. Gross both. Who’d want rape? Want her to lie back enjoy while I lick down the length of her body. Lacee or Stacey. The sweet ass of that yoga pants girl. Wee thing with auburn hair. Too hard too hard but too poor to pay attention.
“Unstable elements,” the science teacher says, her eyes scanning the students for just one — just one — whose mind is on the right kind of chemistry.
Fresh face four desks down. Oh Jesus, what is she doing here? Must be at least eighth grade then. What a little shapely body of the shape of girls’ she is shaping up to be a shapely women in the shape of a small package big joy my heart asks why is she here? because she must then be a grade or two up from what we thought. Freshman maybe even. Freshwoman. Freshgirl girly gorgeous.
Frank glances at the figure of the freckled, auburn-haired girl. Same girl Dennis had gawked at.
How I was just thinking of her last period. How the world conspires to bring two together. Fate! Fate, define me: hers.
Fate replies in Ms. Burgess’s voice: “Gods grab poster board. Heroes get marker baskets. Jenna, you just get a piece of poster board and sit by Frank over there.”
Jenna sits next to Frank smiles at Frank rises to get markers. Sit back down be cool.
“I’m the odd hero out.”
Cocks head, mouth still all teeth towards him.
Explain. “Half the class are heroes, the other half gods. We’re each paired — hero to god. My god moved away so I am a godless hero.”
“Oh,” she says. “So then I’ll get to be a goddess.”
“That’s right, though you’ll be picking from the bottom of the goddess barrel. All the favorites are taken.”
Win! Win! Joy of no tripped tongue.
Frank fingers the markers. Teacher gives instructions. Illustrate the myth of Apollo and Daphne with diagrams to boot.
“You know the legend?”
“Of course I do.”
She scoots close. Their heads lean over the poster board.
“They let you take mythology then because it fit your schedule?”
“They let me take mythology because I was in the middle of a mythology class when we moved.” Hot and terrible breath. A garden onion rotting in the summer sun.
Even with dainty hands sharp words cutting through teeth teeth teeth no gaps row upon row from Frank’s peripheral it seems like a triple set sharking in file behind.
“You know,” she says, beginning a new topic, “there are more gods than most people realize.”
Jenna asks, “And what hero are you?”
Raise of eyebrows, nose freckles stretched taut, ready to fling a volley of mini projectiles.
Hunger only strikes. A growl from him followed by her giggle.
“The hungry hero — never heard of him.”
“He captured Pegasus. Learned to fly on the winged horse.”
“Your hero rides a flying pony!”
“He also — ”
“Is his boyfriend a hero?” She leans into Frank, her foul breath floating around the rim of his nostrils.
“He killed — ”
“It on the dance floor. Why’d you choose him?”
“Like I was trying to say, he used Pegasus to kill the chimera.”
Jenna’s eyes atwinkle. Jenna’s smile a child’s petulant smile. “Your hero used his My Little Pony pal to kill a monster. How brave,” she squeals.
Define me: humiliated. Dennis can have this girl whatever the grade. Tongue in that festering mouth. Gods, why have you forsaken me? All politics for the immortals. Never easy for the heroes. Odysseus lost for decades. A whole crew eaten, drowned, dead. WWBD what would Bellerophon do?
Hop on his horse of course it’s Pegasus!
Never been better at failing to win. Might just go out for the team make her eye me on the court — you can’t have this. Of course she might just be into wrestlers or goths or who knows what can’t tell don’t care shouldn’t care actively not caring.
“Maybe some flowers?” she says, thinking of blooms on Daphane’s transformed arms.
Maybe a mint, thinks Frank, a rank odor of unclean fumes engulfing him. Yes. I do or did. He digs around in his backpack, pulls out a packaged white wrapped mint. “Mint?” he offers.
“Sure, brony-boy,” she says. Pops it in. Mere seconds pass before she’s up and away. The burn of cinnamon in the mint. A taste she abhors.
Jenna spits it in the trashcan and seeks teacher permission to find the water fountain. She goes and doesn’t come back the rest of the period, lost in the halls of her new high school.
Define me: victorious.
Down the hall careful not to trip pretty girl passes by bracelets jingle jangle on arms skirt a sky and butterflies dark rings around eyes brown lipstick and filigree of Chicano hair feminine mustache aching aching he eyes her. Food. Sex. Food. Fuck. To his locker first. Exchange of books. Relock locker. To the lunchroom second. Smell of classmates and cafeteria kitchen. On the menu: Mexican Pizza.
Frank sits down at a round table. Pale green tray with faded red plate of hexagon-shaped pizza, red apple, red jello, single serving carton of brown chocolate milk.
“And the word is we’ve more spots to fill,” Julian says to Dennis.
Dennis replies, “We? A) You ain’t on the team yet. B) Talk to the hand. I’m eating.” Half his pizza disappears.
“And you!” Accusatorily. “You’d be perfect. Fuck.”
Quiet Chris sits down, a flurry of hands head for his tray. The pizza and milk is left untouched, the rest is divvied out among friends: to Dennis a square slice of cream-topped graham cracker crusted lemon-flavored stuff pie, to Frank a fruit cup, to Julian the sweet steamed carrots neither Frank nor Dennis would have touched.
“Must I pay you?” Julian says to Frank.
“No. Just convince me. Tell me all about it.”
“What’s to tell? You go to practice. You learn how not to suck. Then you get the girls.”
“Sounds so simple.”
Dennis says, “Simple as a pyramid scheme. He’s been recruited to recruit. Says we already like he’s part of the team. You’ll be the same.”
“You’re full of it,” Julian says.
In mock Chinese accent: “Such wise words from wee brain.”
“And you?” Julian stares straight at Quiet Chris.
“What are you guys even talking about?”
“Not me,” Quiet Chris says, “I do the golf thing.”
Dennis shouts, “He wants to be the next Tiger Woods.”
“I’m not black.”
“Neither is he.”
(Eye rolls all around at Dennis)
“More like Arnold Palmer,” Quiet Chris says.
“Arnold Palmer ain’t Irish,” Dennis says.
Frank shrugs. “Maybe it’s not ethnicity.”
“Ethnic ethos — a modal golf champ.”
“What?” Quiet Chris questions.
A flurry of perfume, trays, skirts, legs. Brown curly hair catches eye. Romance sweep. Heart skips beat. Boobs.
“A,” Dennis says, “lesson in being white.”
Perfume fading distance legs receding from view attention back away. What guards a finicky heart? A flighty one? One half of all the gentlemen of Verona are scoundrels, salivating like Crab at every morsel. Lucky should a mistress be as nice as Bill Shakey’s only master of hounds.
“Golf, Chris. Golf,” Dennis illustrates, “is a politics of race as much as any other sport. Arnold Palmer had to sell it — handsome white devil. T Woody had to sell it — black champ of the 202 at 20. Now you, Chris, you freckled-faced, overgrown leprechaun ought to know how to play your ethnic card.”
“Must I ask which card?”
“Golf Irish — learn to golf drunker than a skunk on whiskey.”
“I don’t drink.”
“And a crying shame you don’t,” Dennis yells. “A thousand years of boozing ancestors and you won’t use your highly-evolved, Darwin-given liver for its intended purpose.”
Pizza and milk and red apple and red jello and fruit cup and pie square of lemon-flavored stuff move from table to mouth. Laughter fills the air — dislocated, boastful, young men’s laughter. A girl’s charming scream. Youth there all replacing hunger with fullness, hunger with mirth.
“Who could eat more?” Dennis asks. “I could eat more.”
There are nods all around sans Quiet Chris who either is never hungry enough to stop the vulturous scavengers he’s befriended or simply doesn’t have the words of protest ever at hand. Hunger waning, yet not yet fully full when the end of lunch sneaks up. A bell chimes. Everybody moves along. Frank finds himself in a crowd of fresh young faces. His face is one of the fresh young faces. Girl white top, hair dyed in streaks of blond, black leggings, kind of plain okay all right girl on his right. Boy behind, buzz cut waddles with red sports t-shirt, a bully among bullies but to Frank an ancient childhood friend now respect with distance. Ahead a strapping ass of another ninth grade girl he has known since he was little, never liked her a lot, never disliked just watched at some distance as she played always with another group of friends not his. Dark-faced Mexican male, what a mustache! plaid shirt and nice jeans, slick hair and darting eyes, a ladies-man surely for some Latina who will not ever be his alas walking on his right.
The crowd thins as students dart off in other hallways or reach their destined door.
Frank makes it toward the end of the hall where on his left is the door through which he will find his next class, but there is a half-circle of fellow students around it.
“Locked,” a boy-peer says to him.
Frank makes an attempt anyway. What is locked remains locked, and Frank looks at the piece of paper tapped to the front of the door, the same paper that has been tapped there for years. On the paper a complicated math formula is printed, a math problem which would require the heights of mathematical knowledge to solve. The words My Phone # are typed in bold above the equation.
Solve to call none of the kids can. To stay or go? Go where? Office. Locker. Boys bathroom hide chill act natural should faculty enter Hey, you boys but maybe an emergency — will see eventually — and if so then questions of Where did you go when Mr. So and So (he knows his name is Shaw) was being hauled away to the hospital? I didn’t know, sir, what to do, this being my first locked classroom, so I went to the john looking, thinking this the most likely place for Mr. Math Teach to be and, beings I am much more the literary type, before I knew it, the whole classtime had passed, what with a whole two or three chapters worth of graffiti written on the stall walls. Ah, you were jacking off, eh? Rubbing one out? Spent the period pants down, dick up, huh? No, sir, no that’s not it at all. Fly open for a piss at the urinal was all. Didn’t even touch it. That’s not. . .
No, maybe best to head to the office, explain the situation and get in a principal till the mathematician appears. But. . .
Courage take charge right thing to do vs. confident cool kid rebel damn the man and down with the system. . .
A system of higher Ed
Edumacation leading to a
Congradulation on your
Gradumatation. . .
Point being all given opportunity to learn but (oh, anthro section of sociology!) here Frank suddenly sees the wider system of sports interests, social relationships formed, a babysitting program staffed well with specialized educators and truancy officers for the unteachable. More than an education for everyone, especially the students, like him, Frank (for a second) senses how school is a world revolving around each child in turn, little centers each of a respective universe. Note: a center, not a sphere of influence themselves — each a center crushed with influence by the building and denizens around them. No one lives outside of their own little universe. Each persons’ reality subjected to pure subjectivity, never sensible to their own influential role as that role is not knowable, sensible, or intelligible to any Logos bearing the brunt of a crushing Edumacation system.
Overwhelming thoughts AWAY!
Here he comes — Mr. Shaw — key in hand to open the door to Mathland.
The perv. The homo. The hetero. These thoughts. A round swelling and receding. Swelling and receding.
She she she introduces herself to the room in his his his last class class class. Seventh grader Jenna math genius. Why why why? But but but no fire to her breath. Snuffed. Eye contact? Nay.
Still still still he is thinking. The perv(ert) foul thoughts of Jenna tight pants. The homo(phobe) fearful thoughts of shower room locker cock dangling down for his eyes to see. Hetero(sexual) fantastical thoughts of hair hidden females.
Why do I insist I do not like what I see when what I see is beauty of a sort — though dangerous in her own unique way — ? No friend no girlfriend no getting should she have been gettable . . .what’s the word? Simpatico. No. No. No. Just because I play with LEGOs still doesn’t mean I admit it to the world. I kiss your bad breath goodbye and banish you from my crushing heart but not my wandering, ever-uncontrollable eye.
Why do I fear men? Am I not a man in bloom becoming? It’s only an ick factor. To each his (or her) own. Still don’t want to see. Could be avoided if I don’t do basketball. Then again, High School locker room could be same as Jr. High. Shower curtains. Plastic privacy.
Why hair? Is this a fetish? No. It’s a fact. A part for the whole. Hole.
Holy holy holy
Sex in three parts:
clit, lips, cavity.
Hairy shadow of sex. The sprout of maturity. Au naturel fur cloak. Wear when ready to seek a mate. Oh yes yes no no mustn’t think oh on darling wonderful beauty bodies why a whole school teeming with them I among them social protocols seeking perfectly mutual sexual consensual bliss.
And so his thoughts do go round and round, parts swelling and sweating, waning and waxing. Too poor again to pay attention. A last math problem is solved, and the bell releases the kids into the world.
Julian? How did he get here outside the classroom door so soon? Left his last period early or skipped it entirely. No time to ask before Julian is tugging at Frank’s arm.
“Come on. We’ve got to get you a spot.”
“Maybe if I see the sheet.”
Frank says, “I’ll go but you’ve got between here and the signup sheet to convince me.”
“You’ll be convinced. Let’s go. There’s only so many slots. Hustle. The lockers can wait till later.”
So Julian leads the way, his mind apparently adribble with orange inflated balls, the swoosh of a hoop, the screech of shoes on gymnasium floor, the whistle of referees, the warning horns, and the presumed kisses of female admirers.
“Well then?” Julian asks.
“Still not convinced.” Frank is in fear. Full of fear. Fearful. Frank is in desire. Full of desire. Desirous. Real naked men vs. ephemeral but potential women.
“Hey.” Voice of a girl. Who? Knows name is Christy or Christa. One grade down. Blond Nordic boyish beauty.
“Huh?” Frank stammers.
“You’re going out for basketball?” Christy or Christa says. “I love basketball boys.” Steps up. Grabs his shirt. Kisses him. Contact with lips. Lip to lip to lip to lip. Top bottom full kiss. And — surprise — he never thought of hidden blond hair, a secret mustache. Frank feels the fuzz above his own upper lip.
She’s done. Turns and, as she walks away, calls out, “Hope you’re single. Ciao.”
He pens his name into a slot on the tryout sheet so fast. . .
Julian laughs. The deed is done. Only later will Julian reveal that he’d recruited the blond-mustached beauty from the play currently in production, an actress willing to give a real kiss to accompany hastily rehearsed lines. He knew Frank would take the bait he did bite hard. What else are friends for other than to placate us and play us (or, in this case, encourage us to play)?
But the kiss was physically real even if the words weren’t, and the mustache — unplanned but true. True to his fantasies. True to his dreams. Yes, he could find a girl, some soulmate whose upper lip would be fully mustached, whose lower lips would be likewise. Yes, Frank could find fulfillment. If blond brunette brown black red hair all held a potential entry under H for hair then his happiness was nearly already would be assured.
A foretaste is felt, a future he intends to fill. But a nearer future? Yes, Frank will find himself in young men’s horseplay. An ancient rite of towel-slapping the bare ass of one’s locker room neighbor. And, yes, soap and steam and schlongs in the shower. How will Frank fair? He will be fine.
About the author: Randal Eldon Greene is the author of one short novel and many even shorter stories. Greene holds a degree in English and Anthropology from the University of South Dakota. Originally from Nebraska, he now lives and writes in Iowa. His typos are tweeted @AuthorGreene and his website is found at AuthorGreene.com