Saturday, February 28, 2015

My Regular Child is Sluttier Than Your Honor Student

When I came out, my spirit animal changed. Yes, I believe in spirit animals. They're cool and very useful when it comes to assigning superficial characteristics to people you want to get to know. In my early years, my aunt described me as a Springer Spaniel--high octane, short attention span, and with a penchant for snuggling. After I came out, I was a Springer Spaniel with an erection. Other acceptable animal spirits included, rabbit, hamster, rat, squirrel and guinea pig. Essentially, all lifeforms with an inspired determination to copulate.

Time to go hump literally anything.

Allow me to explain. Before admitting to my family and friends and Twitter that I was l'homosexuel, I forbade myself to experiment with other boys. I had a secret to keep, and a facade of a straight person to maintain (which no one bought, with the exception of a few very sweet, very naive girlfriends). While I hid my inner gay, my body filled with suppressed hormones the way a Coke can fills with carbonation in the hands of a hyper maraca player. My parents knew I was hiding something from them--that was clear, but I was taken aback at how acutely aware they were of just how much was pent up inside me.

When I came out to my mother, she wasted no time declaring that sex was off-limits. I was 14 at the time, and wildly uncomfortable coming out in the first place, so when she became stern and said, "No sex until you're 18. Not in the mouth, not in the hiney," I was mortified.

And also disappointed.

The sole reason I came out was a boy named Jamie (whose name is definitely not Jamie, and whose identity I'm protecting exclusively to prevent him from contacting me) who, I swear to God, I saw in a dream before I met him. He was so good looking, my brain invented memories involving him that didn't actually happen. He was evenly tan, excellently dressed, and smarter than 90% of the entire school's population. He was also Brazilian, which was the most exotic piece of information I had learned about a person at that point in my life. I was aware that he had a boyfriend who was equally attractive and smart and universally loved, but the Coke can needed opening, so my mind zeroed in on the singular goal of getting it on. But first, I had to come out. I needed to be honest with whom I was in order to grant myself the permission of experimenting sexually without hiding behind a veil of lies. I'd like to point that, while this story will undoubtedly portray me as a base, man-whore, I was very loyal to my scruples in being honest. But I digress.

I came out to my parents and, sex laws notwithstanding, they were elated. My father even invited me to redecorate his living room, a decision he would later regret, (fast forward to a room of orange walls, green carpets and a poster of a palm tree--really, I should have been shot). They supported me fully, and opened the metaphorical gates to my new life as a certified gay. My extended family and many friends rallied in their grand nonchalance about my orientation, and I was able to put my unbelievable desire to make love on pause to be grateful for having such a kick-ass group of people on my side. Having jumped that massive hurdle of emotional climax and catharsis, I was ready to experience sexual climax and catharsis.

Spoiler alert--it never worked out with Jamie; who would have thought a sex-crazed 14 year old would fail in his attempt to break up an astonishingly attractive couple that involved a brilliant mixed raced Romeo and an overachieving brainiac that resembled The David? Mine was a doomed mission, but can you blame me for trying? In any case, the rejection led me to my first boyfriend, Liam (also a fake name and in no way an ode to that pre-teen in One Direction). Liam was a vivacious junior who was two years older than me. He had bright eyes, more energy than I knew what to do with, and a lot of Germanness, (tall, blonde, good at public speaking). He introduced me to many things, like theater, Bjork, and intercourse (hooray!)

I remember making first contact with his... down-there. The moment remains frozen in glorious gold carbonate in my mind. As Bjork sang about falling in love with a hedgehog made of salad forks, Liam and I made out. I lay beneath him as we kissed the frick out of each other, tugging and pulling on one glorious invisible rod of ecstasy between our two hungry mouths. Gradually (or what I thought was gradually), I slipped my hand between his jeans and his stomach, and felt what might be the largest penis I will ever encounter as long as I live. Even as a novice penis-toucher, I was astonished. My mouth froze on his and my eyes opened, staring into his closed eyelids.

"What's wrong," he breathed, eyes still closed, penis still in hand.

"Mmuh.. buffin..." I wasn't saying words, just sounds. I didn't know how to tell him he appeared capable of pleasing an adult horse. Not without embarrassing him anyway. Liam opened his eyes, not breaking his bedroom gaze and giggled. I smiled back and continued to look at him as though he was responsible for the size of his member. Are you kidding me? I thought. Just where in the god-damn fuck do we think this will fit? Hm? It was going nowhere without damaging me permanently, that was for sure. I experienced a flash of panic as I envisioned myself in the emergency room, bare ass in the air with nurses and doctors wailing at my bedside, "Why didn't he wait? Why didn't he listen?? HE'S JUST A BOY!" 

In another unprecedented moment of confusion and terror, I began thinking about my mother. This is why she didn't want me to have sex, I thought. She wasn't worried about STDs or decency, she just didn't want me to have to wear an adult diaper in the ninth grade. But, just as quickly as those horrible thoughts entered my mind, they left. The memory of my mom's sex-talk did not stop me from making out with Liam as if his face were a watering hole in the desert. Even his alarming endowment faded from a potential murder weapon to shaft of erotic pleasure (yes, you can roll your eyes at that, grab a bucket if you need to, but I'm not apologizing). I don't know why I've never said it before, but making out for the first time was a Richter Scale 10. My body literally shook as a molten wave of calm covered me from follicle to foot. It was as if the little men in my brain were operating on too much and not enough caffeine. The first kisses were the greatest, most unoriginal thrills of my teenage life.

In spite of my maxed out levels of euphoria, we did not have sex that night. Which is a good thing, because I think I would have burst into flames and died right there. I would not rise from the flames like a sexual phoenix, but rather I would go down in history as a sex martyr--Sam Ferrigno, Patron Saint of Coitus. His was a life of few years, but those last 30 minutes were really something, am I right? *fist bump*.

My relationship with Liam lasted less than four months, and I attributed the end to my hyperactive sex-drive and inability to focus.  Several more relationships followed before I even made it to senior year. To say I was slutty would be less accurate than saying I was extremely slutty and could not be stopped. After each sex act, I was overcome with guilt and paranoia. I felt I had dishonored my family and had surely, definitely this time, contracted AIDS, herpes, gonorrhea, swimmer's ear and the black lung (seriously, has WebMD brought peace of mind to anyone?). Yet, every time the dust settled and I would see that my parents were not tarred and feathered for having a floozy for a son, and that--thanks to contraception and an open dialogue with sex partners about the ramifications of blowjobs--I was not positive for STDs. Sure enough, as soon as I felt relieved that I worried over nothing, I gained a false sense of invincibility and started all over again.

Over a hot mug of bourbon one night (don't ask), my dad once pontificated that, if you have a son, you worry about one penis. If you have a daughter, you worry about all of them. And now, I'd like to add that if you have a gay son, you might as well crush a Xanax into your morning coffee until he's 45, because that shit rinses and repeats like a shampoo model with short-term memory loss.

My poor parents. I think at some point, they had to toss their hands up and let Jesus take the wheel, because I could barely keep up with myself at times. Other students were excelling with scholarship-winning GPAs and record-breaking athletic feats, and I created a massive web of sexual confusion and potential penicillin injections. "Just don't get crabs, okay? Please?" my father asked one morning after I walked two boys to the front door. Truthfully, I think my parents did their job. They never shamed me for having sex (even when they told me not to, and I did anyway because hormones), and they spoke honestly about why reckless sex is bad for your health and for your soul. Still, I brought home many boys, some of which I fully intended to turn into semi-long-term boyfriends. When teens start having lovers, parents worry about the potential havoc their genitals will incur on any stability in their lives. My folks were great sports, but I know they worried like all parents do. If karma is at all mathematical in its score-keeping, I will no doubt become the octo-dad to a brood of polygamous, bisexual man-whores.

Note to self: WebMD the dangers of mixing benzodiazepines with caffeine.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Vengeful Stink of Redemption

I'll spare you the eye-roll and avoid talking about how difficult middle school was. We all went through it and those who haven't, will soon enough. Anyone who was ever eleven years old knows that grades 5 through 8 are hell on earth. If a person is at all different, he is to preteens what a tired fawn is to a pack of hyenas. I was a closeted homosexual with logic defying crushes on my bullies, so I found myself in the limping fawn group of the social food chain. But that's it, really. I was gay, they were not, they were mean and, now that I think of it, kind of ugly for children. It's a tale as old as time, and I've little original flavor to offer. What I would like to share with you, is how I avenged myself on accident.

Yes, it was an accident--I had little, little control over the situation, which is why innocent bystanders were affected as well. They were punished for merely being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Truthfully, I didn't realize it was revenge when it happened. In fact, I hadn't regarded it as revenge until now--13 years later. In one minute, I was without any power to speak of, and in the next, I realized I had enough power to clear a room.

I am referring to the deadliest fart in the history of my life. Let's begin with a weekend field trip my 7th grade class took to a nature reserve.

It was winter, and our teachers caravanned the entire class to University of Rhode Island's W Alton Jones Campus. It is tradition for the 7th graders to go on a weekend-long nature trip for them to learn the value of teamwork, nature, and the benefits of eating leaves and dirt instead of chicken. There are cabins, there are nature trails, there are ropes courses. A handful of vegetarian college students either volunteer or are paid in peanuts to lead the annual tween sojourn into the woods.

As we unloaded from our buses, the vegetarians herded us into a large building that looked like a park ranger's headquarters. They talked to us at length about eating vegetables and beans, and occasional buckwheat and pinecone salad. All but one of them abstained from eating meat, and perhaps it was coincidence, but she always stood to the side of the group during presentations. I suspect she was marginalized by a habit of clubbing baby ducks for lunch.

We were intrigued by vegetarianism, but not sold. "What do you eat instead of chicken nuggets?" one of my classmates asked. Fiber was brought up as a selling point, which led to the discussion of fluid pooping which was enough to send all a hundred and eighty-whatever of us into a frenzy of fart noises from the boys and "EEWWWWWs" from the girls and dormant homosexuals (I remained quiet, managing a few giggles).

Before we left for Alton Jones, our Social Studies teacher, Mrs. Peters, predicted that the girls would behave like normal human beings and the boys would be inspired to fart as often as possible. Not only would our flatulence be overactive, but our shame would plummet. We're in nature! Farting is natural! Amen. I am not exaggerating when I say the evenings in my cabin were so inundated with farts that a white noise maker would have provided a less steady stream of sound. Our Vice Principal had drawn the short stick and was assigned to sleep in the advisor's room of our cabin.

One evening, he the room just as a particularly gassy boy named Steven lifted his ass over the edge of his bunk and released a staccato of rapid fire flatulence right into Vice Principle's face. His timing would have been more outrageous had the other 20 occupants not been launching their own thwapping fart-missiles in every direction. Again, I remained silent--from both ends. When everyone had finally fallen asleep, the quiet was almost unnerving. I tried to force out a little toot to make the silence less eerie, but I chickened out. Nobody, not nobody needs to shit his pants in a cabin full of thirteen year old boys.

The next day, we were presented with a variety of ropes courses and group games. First, we formed a large circle in a field just outside the Nature Headquarters. one of the college vegetarians named Sally walked to the circle's center and informed us all how to play Steal the Chicken. Beneath her feet lay a limp, rubber chicken, and she delivered the simplest instructions ever: "I'm going to say a characteristic or fact, and if it applies to you, you have to steal the chicken. But if I tag you, you are out and you must return to the outer circle.

Sally then dared everyone whose favorite color was green to come and snatch chicken away from her feet. Several of us advanced, and I don't know how it happened, but I managed to steal the chicken. The adrenaline caused my stomach to turn and feel like it might produce diarrhea, but a counter adrenaline came in and turned my nerves into a blood-thirsty urge to defend my fucking chicken at all costs. I double-triple-septuple dared anyone whose name began with a motherfucking M to come and fuck with me and my chicken. To my surprise, Sally meandered up to me with a hungry glean in her eyes. In a frantic bout of confusion, I swung out at her as if I were a single mother defending her child from jackals. I landed a balled fist on her shoulder blade, causing her to arch her back and stumble a little. She walked away with her arm cradled in front of her chest and another counselor told me to please relax. "Her name doesn't begin with M though!" I protested, as if this were good enough excuse to physically harm her.

"My middle name is Mary," she said, rotating her shoulder blade. I don't remember asking anyone to throw their middle names into the ring, but I felt embarrassed all the same. I appeared to not understand the range of variations the game called for, but also, I earned the reputation as the hyper student who needed containment. I recalled every martial arts class I signed up for as a kid, in which there was always a spaz case whose ADHD left his parents no choice but to encourage violence as a hobby.

I collected myself and refused to enter the ring. "No I wasn't born in November, you're mistaken." "Did she say 'all boys,'? I'm not so sure." Several other students jeered and flapped their hands in mock-pansy imitation of me. I did my best to ignore them and focused on doing the next activity with a cooler persona. The vegetarian forrest guides split us up into groups. Each group was given their own vegetarian/nature guide. Sally took a deep, smiling breath through her nose when she realized I was part of her troupe.

We didn't quite understand what she said next: "All right guys, lets go to the field."

We glanced around trying to make sure we weren't actually in a field already, but rather a valley, or a deep mirage. "We're in a field...," a rotund boy named John offered.

"This one will be different. Trust me."

We shrugged and followed her through a modest patch of trees and indeed came upon another field smaller than the first. Sally stepped in front of us and announced this was going to be an exercise in letting it out. The phrase triggered a response nerve and my diarrhea sensation came back. Letting it out? Letting what out? Please don't let anything come out. I was under pressure to not look like a fool again, so I was sensitive to anything that could be construed as a freak-bowel movement.

"I just want everyone to think of all the terrible things that bother you," Sally said, breathing deep at the end of her sentence. "Put it all in a ball right here," she said, pointing to her chest. "When it's there, hold it, and when I say go, I want you to all run as fast as you can in that direction and scream! When you can't scream anymore, stop and freeze. Then just... look around yourself, you know?"

Okay, Sally. I realized this was a let-the-stress-out activity, and my bowels became motionless once more. Nothing is going to be let out that I'd have to hose off. No need to get worked up over screaming and running. An ape could do this. Sally lined us up single file so that we stood shoulder to shoulder and said, "Take a deep breath... and... GO!"

"AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHH!" We all ran forward and screamed our brains out. We charged a line of trees in the distance like the Scots in Braveheart. One by one, we fell away, with myself and two others charging ahead. AAAAAAAH I continued, breathing in between screams. AAAAAAHHHHH (breath) AAAAAAAHHHHH (breath) AAAAAH. When I sensed a too-distant absence of my twelve group members, I turned and ended my scream as a question: AAAAAAAHHH? From about thirty yards off, everyone silently furrowed their brows in unsympathetic pity. Clearly, I missed the small bit about going only so far as one breath could take us. I walked back, bruised again by looking like an idot.

Sensing my defeat, Sally put me in charge of the next activity. We walked about a quarter of a mile through more woods and came upon a tall wooden pole, and a car tire.

"Your job," Sally said like a game show host, "is to get the tire over the top of the pole." I suggested the easy route and have someone throw the tire up to the top. A couple of my classmates made futile attempts, coming short by about ten feet.

"Okay, Sam," Sally said. "How else might this work?"

"A human pyramid!" I said, gleeful with my idea. I figured Once the tiniest member of the group was at the top, maybe she could lift the tire up and over.

"Okay! Sound good everyone? Great!"

The group stood before me and I relished my position: it was the complete opposite of being picked last in kickball. The first person to be picked would be the bottom center. Rotund John, the largest and strongest member of the group, looked at me with a silent fuck-you, as I instructed him to get down on all fours in front of the pole. We got halfway through the third row up before he started making muffled cries of pain.


"It's okay, John, Almost there." I coached.

"ffffmmgg, nnnnggokay!"

I told a sturdy girl named Laura to brace John with more support, and instructed a petit trio named Ricky, Leslie and Ryan to climb up and form another row. As they pawed up their classmates' strained bodies, John's wailing grew louder.

"AAUUGH!" His hands had begun to sink into the ground as his face turned a pretty shade of fuchsia.

"Almost there, John!"


"You can do it!"


"Okay..." Sally stepped in.


"Okay! OKAY!," she yelled. Ricky, Leslie and Ryan froze on their treks to the top of the pyramid, hands and feet covering various eyeballs and mouths. "That's enough! Climb down!" They dismantled, and I stood apart, unsoiled, a beatific look of disappointment on my face.

"That was a good try everyone. Excellent work!" Sally exclaimed, clapping her hands together as she knelt by John, whose eyes were beginning to uncross.

"But we didn't get the tire over the pole," Ricky said.

"You can't," Sally said, matter of fact. "It's impossible."

The twelve of us were silent, waiting for a punch line. "Huh?" Leslie asked.

"The exercise is to see how we approach an impossible task," she said, without a trace of irony. "Your teamwork was commendable. Really good work everyone." John's eyes regained focus and flashed between me and Sally, deciding which of us to smother first in our sleep. Fortunately, his wrists were in no condition to murder anyone. For a second, I thought they might be permanently stuck in a waving position.

A ropes course and several trust-falls later, Sally took us back to headquarters for dinner. For no apparent reason, a classmate from another group trailed me the whole way back whispering "You're gay," and "faggot" into my ear. The hate speech was a crummy punctuation on an awkward day of team-work failure. By the time we made it to the dining hall, I singly determined to eat my feelings. My stomach had been jittery, but I ignored it, grabbing brownies, pizza, hotwings, potatoes, garlic bread, and something called "ethnic rice." I even grabbed a vegan cookie for the hell of it. Whatever, I thought. I don't have to eat all of it.

About half way through the meal, I got pretty full. I felt the food slowly make its way past my chest, blocked from everything else I crammed into my face. I soldiered on, obligated not to waste too much. As I regarded another two full slices of pizza on my tray, one of the counselors/vegetarian forest guides clanged a trash can lid at the front of the hall.

"ALL RIGHT, STUDENTS!" He yelled. We all fell silent.

"YOU'VE ALL DONE GREAT SO FAR!" the other counselors applauded and we took our cue to clap, too. "But we've got... ONE MORE CHALLENGE for YOU, toDAY!"

Oh fucking fuck. I could barely sit up straight without my stomach pressing against my lungs. If we did another trust fall I would likely shart into someone's face.

Loud counselor man held up the large, metal waste bin. "You see this BIG TRASH CAN?" he asked. We nodded. We could see the big trash can. "IT. IS EMPTY!" Yes, it was empty. "If we can KEEP IT EMPTY..." Everyone leaned in to hear what would happen if we kept the can empty. I panicked, realizing I was about to be forbidden from throwing my 7th brownie and 10th slice of pizza away.

"If we can KEEP IT EMPTY... Mr. Potts.. WILL DANCE AROUND WITH THE TRASH CAN ON HIS HEAD!!!!!!" For some reason, the entire 7th grade was stupidly and radically thrilled by the possibility of this and wolfed down their left overs. A girl named Clara turned to me and said, "You better finish that."

"Ha! Don't you worry about that!" I said. I feared I might be the first person to actually eat himself to death, as it had become difficult to inhale. Dinner was almost over, but I managed to consume the last pieces of food on my tray. And, as promised, our beloved science teacher danced around with the trash can on his head. Everyone was elated and I tried to smile, focusing all my energy into being very still, and chuckling very softly.


Everyone cheered and applauded as Mr. Potts took a bow. I returned my tray to the counter and walked like the tin man to the nearest bathroom. I locked myself in the furthest stall from the door and tried to relieve myself of my obese food baby. Nothing came out, though. I seemed to have plugged myself up so focused on eating carbs that I forgot any fiber. The fiber!! Sweat beaded on my forehead as I experienced contraction like pains in my lower back and stomach. What's it doing in there?? I whispered to myself. There was definite diarrhea brewing, but it seemed to have not made up its mind about entering the great unknown. I recalled pregnancy exhibit at the Boston Museum of Science and began to lamaze-breath. Hee-hee-hoo. Hee-hee-hoo. A couple minutes later, the pain subsided. Unable to produce stool, my body decided now was not the time. "Later," it said, "when you're up for it." I pulled up my pants, washed my hands, and joined my classmates in a basement meeting room.

Everyone sat indian-style on a vomit colored carpet as the veggie counselors carried on about some campfire song featuring a moose. The kids in the front of the crowd listened half-heartedly, while the rest of us chatted amongst our assigned nature groups. I decided to spin on my butt to join a conversation when something shifted inside me. I felt something like a bubble move upward, and my diarrhea nerves were activated. Gas pockets the size of water balloons squeezed up and down and a searing thunderbolt shocked my pelvic region. Something was coming out, be it a fart, a poop, or Satan's cloven foot. I was in what my future literature professors would call, "A Point of No Return."

I begged my body to reconsider.

Oh no, please, not here.

Yes, here. It said back.

Please, not now.

Oh yes, now.

But... but.. everyone is around.

Who is everyone?

I'm begging, please no.

It is time.

You know this fart. You have been tormented by its jabs to the gut--don't deny it. It is impatient, it is bloated, it has no mind for tact or manners. It's the kind of fart you know is going to be bad before it leaves your sphincter, the kind that cannot be reasoned with. It cannot be, as my brother would say, "swallowed" back into your body for a safer exit some place else. It refuses to even be released in modest bursts, preferring to enter a room all at once in a single cloud of noxious devastation.

As my eyes watered from more rapid-fire contractions, I released a silent stream of air that lasted for five straight seconds. The relief was divine. I was a balloon popped, a rubbery carcass lying limp on the floor, unburdened by the responsibility of retaining air. I sat motionless in a moratorium of self awareness: life before this fart was over, and life after it was about to begin.

Then... the smell rose to my nostrils. Now, we all can tolerate our own smells. Though one's poo smell's much like that of another human, we tend to tolerate our own far more than someone else's. But not this time, This time was astonishing in its exception. As soon as I inhaled, I my pupils shrank. The hairs on my neck stood up, turned gray and evaporated into thin air. I felt the color drain from my cheeks as I glanced around looking for an emergency exit. It was too late for that though. One by one, the people nearby started to crinkle their noses as if smelling a gas leak from a stove. The nose crinkling spread like a ripple among the small pond of faces before me, which then evolved into full-on looks of shock, horror, and a little awe.

"Oh my god," several of them said.

"Oh my god," they said two seconds later.

"OH. MY. GOD!," some of them wailed.

"I think!... I think! (gagging sound) I think I can taste it!"

My classmates frantically turned to one another asking who did this. I denied it immediately, my face hot with guilt. Others were wrongly accused, and they retorted with offended glances and rebukes. Mr. Engel, our reading teacher, ambled to the windows and sent them up to let the air in.

"It's not enough!" Mrs. McVey shouted through both of her hands. Mr. Engel unlocked every door and flung them open. The Vegetarians/Woodland Gypsies  made their way closer to the windows, trying not to make a scene. One of the kids who had whispered hate words into my ear enclosed his head within a hood. His body heaved as though he were sobbing. The smell lingered for so long, we left for bed early. Not without pride, I openly admit that it was me, Chariho Middle School class of 2003. I did it. I dealt it. I supplied it and denied it... until now.

For all these years, I never considered this as an act of karmic revenge on my bullies. However, I can't help but compare it to the scene in Mean Girls where Regina George spreads photocopies of hateful gossip throughout her school. As her classmates turn violent and attack one another in the halls, she stands motionless at the head of the stairs, regarding her work with pride. Thanks to that and 13 years to mull it over, I consider this not as a story of shame and defeat, but as one of odd redemption. It wasn't Satan's cloven hoof that exited my body that night; it was the just hand of a mischievous God.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I Got a Bow and Arrow at Age 12 and No One Died. Really.

On my 12th birthday party I was given a bow and arrows by my parents. I had been asking for it for it since I was introduced to Legolas in 2001, but at age twelve, the memory of pelting William in the eye with a recorder was still fresh. Clearly, time softened the danger of an actual weapon. Perhaps Mom and Dad thought, "If he can turn a recorder into a projectile hazard, then maybe he'll wind up using the bow as a long bubble wand." In any case, my mom rounded the corner of the living room with an amateur bow that was literally shiny and red.

"Ohh, how, niiiice," Aunt Shmetty said, with an expression that betrayed her real thoughts, which were, "Someone will not survive this." My cousins geeked out along with me, and the adults smiled, imagining how they might explain future injuries to child services.

Thankfully, no one died, or even got shot. Early on, I managed to wield my charge with a surprising amount of responsibility. Even when my neighbor friends proposed we strap pillows to our chests and "dodge the arrows," I said, no, that's very unsafe. Instead, I, and whomever I granted the pleasure of coming along, shot the arrows into a wooden fence separating my Dad's yard and the one next door. It was good short-range practice for, well, shooting fences at short range. My Mom's yard was more expansive. When I was there, my friends and I practiced our long-distance shooting. I carried on for an impressive amount of time before I nearly ended my own parents' lives.


Dad's yard. Summer afternoon. 0 supervision.

Like most days of Summer for a young teen, I was stranded at home and bored. Dad was asleep after building a deck with his bare hands, and my neighbors were all away doing upper-middle class things, like picking out small plants at home depot or getting a casual lobster claw at the marina. I was left to my own devices, which involved the computer and my bow. I grabbed my bow and arrows and headed outside. The sun was warm, but not too hot, and the breeze was gentle, perfect weather to shoot things out of boredom. Shooting solo, however, was not as fun shooting with friends. I grew weary of the thwack thwacking the arrows made as they knocked hard into the fence. Before long, I realized this wasn't going to get any more fun than it was. With an exasperated sigh that no one heard (if a boy sighs alone in the woods...) I looked to the right and landed on my Dad's bedroom window on the first floor. It was bordered by long grass and freshly painted walls. His house was a 1950s style ranch, so everything was on the first floor, a.k.a., shooting level.

It had been over six months since I got the bow, and since then, I began to regard things with how well I could shoot them if I needed to. I didn't need to shoot the house, obviously, but I had already looked at it and my shoulder demon had already sunk his peer-pressuring claws into my neck, and asked me whether I could hit the house without waking up Dad. The fresh paint by the window begged to be pierced, destroyed with a single shot. I humored sensibility by saying out loud that it was a bad idea, but I had already decided. I darted off toward a tree about 40 yards from the house bow in one hand, arrow in the other. I turned back and took aim. My desire to shoot the house was winning out against a single shred of common sense, but it was a resilient shred. On the other side of of that window was my Dad's slumbering body, so I pulled back weakly and watched the arrow fall short. Thunk, into the ground it went. Nothing destroyed save a small inconsequential circle of dirt.

Ha! No harm done! I was brazened by the fact that nothing bad happened and drew another arrow. I pulled a little harder on the string and let go. Again, the arrow pierced only the ground, albeit a little closer to the house. By that point I had coated my fear in a severely misguided sense of assurance and pulled a third arrow back further yet and released. As it reached the apex of its arch, that assurance melted away and I realized all at once that I fucked up.

Oh boy oh no oh fuckfuckfffffuuuuck--thwick.

The arrow's head disappeared into the smooth, brown paint less than a foot from my dad's bedroom window. It stuck so perfectly at a 45 degree angle, it almost looked like it was meant to exist there, like an eccentric coat hanger. I was momentarily relieved it didn't crash through the window and through my dad's head, and then I panicked. From where I stood, I heard him grumble and rustle in his bed. I watched his hand pull back the curtain. "BUH," I heard him say.

Oh no! I thought, and ran behind the tree. I hid, the terror calling up memories of watching Jurassic Park when I was five. The raptor was coming and even though he couldn't see me, he knew I wasn't far. I stood stock still as the back door flew open and crashed against the hinge.

"SAM! WHERE ARE YOU?" He shouted.

As I trembled behind the tree, I looked down at the bow and realized I had incriminating evidence in my hand. In a moment of the sheerest, purest stupidity to date, I chucked the bow from behind the tree into an adjacent shrub (where, surely, only the keenest of investigators would locate it).

"Sam." There was both anger and disappointment in his voice. The culmination of my actions proved to him that I could be violent and obtuse at the same time. I stepped out to make my case that yes, this looks bad, really Dad, I know it does, but really, I never meant to, well, what I mean to say is this was just, well, an accident...?

He said no words. Just eyes. Left eyebrow raised in an angry point, pupils laser focused through my bull shit, lips pursed in an unseal-able straight line. It was weeks before I could use the bow again, which brings me to...

Mom's yard, accompanied by friends, in plain sight of 2 adults.

Normally, after a person fucks up in a major way at something, he will return learned and with more caution. Not I. In my mom's expansive yard with more room to shoot at nothing, and less people tp potentially kill, my foundation of safety weak. My friend, Shmarah, and I tried to see how far we could shoot arrows down the half acre field behind our moms' houses. Shmara's mom watched on from her porch, which was twenty feet from mine. The presence of an adult blanketed the scenario with a things-are-safer-now feeling. The bow was not the thing that had once come close to giving my dad an arrow shaped horn, but rather a mere toy. A really cool toy that could send an arrow down a half acre of land.

"You're really good!" Shmarah said. "You could definitely join the olympics as an archer."

"Really?" I asked, already envisioning myself blasting arrows with one of those robotic bows in front of the world, winning gold, and then making guest appearances on a series of game shows where the contestants and I try to outshoot each other blindfolded.

"Really," she said.

I smirked and sent another arrow soaring to the other side of the yard. We carried on like that for about half an hour, taking turns and bolstering my future as a professional archer. With each shot, I became more blasé with where I pointed and what I might have pointed at. At the end of our yard was a road that lead to a small cluster of apartment buildings. I didn't pause when a car slowly made its way down. As it arched its way forward, a lurch cartwheeled in my stomach as the arrow and the car began to line up. Had I shot higher, with a touch more pull, I would have hit it. The arrow landed directly in line with its front tire, coming short by about three feet. The person in the passenger seat turned her head toward us with her mouth agape. To this day, I'm not sure if she knew what happened. She was either appalled, impressed, or just yawning. I like to think it was all three.

"Be CAREFUL!" Shmara's mom yelled from the porch. Shmarah and I stood wide-eyed in near-murder adrenaline and ran to get the arrows from the ground.

"That was SO CLOSE." Shmarah gasped as we ran.

"I KNOW!" I huffed back. "We could have killed someone, or given them a flat tire!"

We scrambled around gathering our ammo and jogged back. Shmarah held most of them, while I held one arrow cocked into the bow string.

"That was really good aim," she said, running beside me. "It was, like, spot on."

At this point the adrenaline pumped mercilessly through my veins, and my ego started to think I was the son of Apollo. Not only did I have aim, but I also had the ability to judge the distance the arrow would fly! Yes! That must have been it. I missed them on purpose. I had gained masterful control of my bow--my arm extended.

We were nearly to the porch when our mom's appeared from around the corner. I thought nothing of shooting an arrow at them.

Thwang. Thunk.


The arrow landed about twelve feet in front of them, and Shmara's mom yelled a solid, "NNO!" My mom raised her eyebrows and allowed another adult to scold her child. "NO, NO, NO!" Shmarah's mom yelled. "We do NOT. SHOOT. AT PEOPLE! NO!"

My mom nodded her head with her chin brought down to her chest. She looked at me in the way that you look at someone getting in trouble for good reason. "Yep," she said with her eyes. "She's right. This should king of be a given." I was embarrassed, shrunken, and shaken. Why did I have this thing? Surely fate would not allow for another near miss. Not a fourth time. I took a break from shooting, and the bow was demoted from recreational weapon to Renaissance Fair accessory.

Every year, the 6th graders put on a fair where everyone dressed in medieval garb, and took on olden day professions. I went as an archer/fortune teller that charged 5 swedish fish for palm readings and let people pretend to shoot my bow for free. I brought no arrows, so both my parents and the school's administration said it was okay. An hour in, someone was shot in the face with a pencil.