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Love Lessoned

It was the last weekend of summer.

Like most kids I felt like the world was going to be over in two days, facing another ten months in the children’s jailhouse, aka school. No reason for me even to celebrate with new prison fashion either because I had not grown an inch over the last two-and-a-half months.

I had just left my friend’s place, you know the ‘cool’ type of friend. But just hanging, playing video games wasn’t for me.

I felt like I was in slow motion cutting through the hot, stinky air, the only thing holding me up was its thickness. The walls were closing in on the freedom of my summer, and there was no way I was going to spend it on a single bed stuck between two fellas toying with joysticks between their legs on a Star Wars comforter. I’d rather fuck my stuffed animals, or rub up against them for long periods of time and wonder why I couldn’t stop.

(My Curious George had become a shadow of his former self.)

I strolled through the middle of a park in what my parents called the projects: Government housing; an empty basketball court with a net-less hoop; and a place I was told not to go. I tried to pass through it every chance I got.

Where did the nets go? The best thing about sinking a basketball is watching it drop silky smooth through the mesh. Is there a basketball-net graveyard somewhere? Do people take them home after a great game? Do they know they are denying everyone the sweet sound of a swish when dropping it in?

I pulled out a cigarette I stole from my mother a couple weeks earlier. She was a heavy smoker, and though I was only a kid in public school I was constantly questioned whether I smoked because of the way I smelled.

Fuck them, I smelled like home. I sniffed that cigarette every chance I had, and I loved it.

The summer started with an event that created an assured marking of where kids should not go. There was a stabbing in the projects that left bloody footprints on the sidewalk and for some reason they were left to bake all summer long. A clear indication of which side of the tracks was the ‘wrong’ side, easier than a sign I suppose.

The stabbing was due to what my parents described as a love triangle, but it never made sense to me. If two people loved the same person they would have a lot in common and should not want to kill each other, right? Either way those bloody footprints were creepy as fuck and I crossed the street.

It was that moment when I found something glorious that would change my life forever: A tattered cardboard box full of Playboys, the elusive magazines always just out of my reach at the local convenience store. The playground, the magazines, the cool rides, always just out of my reach.

If I was of normal height for my age I probably would have walked by with my head held high, but thankfully on this day my pip-squeak nature and low hanging head came in handy in spotting this pot of gold.

Boobs, bigger boobs, more boobs, as well as that thing between their legs that was definitely not a penis. Why was this Holy Grail at the corner of this lot? Why would someone get rid of something so magnificent? There was nothing else out, no furniture, it wasn’t a yard sale, why the fuck would a garbage man leave these behind?!

I pulled down my mock-official Toronto Blue Jays cap to cover my face and looked around, paranoid, put the cigarette in my mouth and focused on the future in front of me.

A shiver ran up my spine thinking of the bloody footprints on the sidewalk that had been there for three months, now sunburnt into the street.

My heart racing, I focused on the beautiful box. This coveted prize was more powerful than any fear I could imagine. And little did I know it would possess a tremendous force, and exhibit control over me for the better part of my adolescent life.

I lit the cigarette, took a deep haul and stared.

After taming my intense coughing fit, I used my naturally hunched stature to bend down closer, pick up the top magazine and open it to the centerfold. I had heard of centerfolds but never seen one before. There was even a charming song on the radio about an angel being a centerfold. I was curious if this was she. My dick tried to bust out of my rugger pants like a swat team through a front door. I knew I had to take her to my place and really have a gawk, so I flicked my smoke in the box, rolled her up and sprinted home with my summer romance like a baton in my hand.

I was nine and in love.

I ran with an Olympic-like flame glowing behind as the rest of the magazines burnt up to the sky signifying my life had finally ignited. Or at least that’s how I remember it years later, my Goodfellas moment.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t have the balls to steal a smoke from my mom.

There is probably some guy still out there with those un-torched magazines, jerking off into stolen basketball nets, sinking jump shot after jump shot, listening to his swishes.

I raced through the back door of my parents’ house in a photo finish between my dick and the baton. I kicked off my Velcro sneakers and jumped seven steps to the basement. The phone down there was very private and I dialed my best friend Toby’s number.

Toby was more like a stuffed toy than a friend: dim, pudgy, shaggy and real loyal. Talking to him was more like dictating to a diary, not that I had a diary. We were real tight, and I couldn’t wait to share this magical portal into manhood I had found.

My fingers had never worked the rotary with such skill and agility. The time between rings seemed eternal. I couldn’t contain my excitement of seeing naked breasts much longer and was going to burst if I didn’t tell Toby immediately. Within a half hour Toby was in my basement and we had the centerfold spread out on the rug I had used as a dinky-car racing track so many times before. On this day the only thing racing on that rug was my heart…and the blood beneath my elastic waistband where my throbbing boy-unit had found a new and robust personality.

I made sure I looked at Angel’s face first, I didn’t want her thinking I was a perv. She had piercing blue-line eyes that I’m sure caused all kinds of men to go offside. Her face was framed by curly brown locks right out of a shampoo commercial. This woman made the most out of her first impression. Panning down to her breasts I felt like I had entered the third dimension, I felt like I could squeeze them and drink from them like water bottles.

Showing wisdom beyond our years Toby and I laid on our stomachs so we didn’t have to worry about any embarrassing bulges. Although if we put out our arms straight out I’m pretty sure we’d both be levitating off the ground and looking like Superman flying through the air. The hair was groomed between her legs like an upside down triangle. I had to be wary of this area.

Minutes went by without us speaking, we were newborns again, seeing daylight for the first time with no ability to understand what it all meant. Well I knew Toby didn’t understand it, but I was getting there.

“They are so round!” Toby blurted out finally.

I paid his simple-minded description no attention and glanced at the Casio on my wrist. It was just a matter of time before my mom hollered at me for dinner. I had to get my hands on Angel fast, so I darted my hand straight for her crotch. Foreplay wasn’t exactly my strong suit at this point. Toby tried to follow my lead, but my hand jumped from her groin and slapped his horny paw away.

My mom called for dinner and I told Toby he could touch her tomorrow. He asked me to promise not to open the magazine again until he came over then. I agreed and we shook on it. I made sure not to use the hand with which I had caressed Angel’s sweet spot, not out of respect for him but out of respect for her. This was going to be the toughest promise of my young life to keep.

That night I attempted to taste my first pussy, it tasted like magazine.

The next day, Toby stopped by for a look at our new love. We hunkered down in my basement away from the outside world loving this new urge inside of us. What lay across these three glossy pages was what mattered now. Feeling guilty about my broken promise I let Toby have the first look and went to get us some juice.

It was a day of celebration, so I didn’t hesitate, I pulled out the champagne of juices for kids, Welches white fucking grape. Usually I cut it with water, but not today.

I returned and caught him with his hand stroking the very part I had licked the night before. He didn’t even notice the wrinkles of love I left as he poked at her with his stumpy, pudgy fingers. I set down our celebratory drinks and yelled at Toby to get his grubby mitts off her. He looked up at me confused, his hand unmoved from her.

I punched him in the face.

Poor guy never knew I would come at him that hard. Shit, neither did I. Dripping blood and crying he ran up the stairs and out the back door. I couldn’t believe what I had done. I looked at Angel, her blue-line eyes looked up at me unimpressed and disappointed, just another guy gone offside in her name.

She would have covered herself up if she could. And I would understand.

Sadness and guilt swept over me.

I knew what I had to do. I closed the beautiful centerfold and went up the stairs. There were bloodstains on three steps. I tied up the magazine in a bag like you would with week-old food and put it in the garbage. I grabbed a bucket of soapy water and washed out the blood. Those carpeted stairs presented a battle worthy of remorse.

The next morning I planned to take paint to that sidewalk.

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Now I am Flying Through the Fucking Air!

I was enjoying my first bike ride in ages, making plans with myself to do it more, reveling in the feeling of freedom. The wind against my face, the thrill of the roll, the concrete surf, it was beautiful.

The reflection of the street lights on the damp roads created a cinematic look to the city and I was eager for the many twists, turns and sights the ride home was going to offer.

This was to be the monumental life-changing ride of my life: I was going to start drinking less, exercising more, volunteering, donating blood, helping seniors (by not stealing their drugs), and definitely, definitely easing up on beating off!

I was cutting across a four-lane road downhill and eyeing the next turn with glee when my front tire got stuck in the streetcar track. I tried pulling out quickly, but instead went shooting over the handlebars.

And now I am flying through the fucking air.

I am sperm about to splat.

A parked moving van with decaying brown advertising decals fills up the movie screen of my life. I am front row to a show about to end, and I can sense the credits coming soon.

That last thing I am going to see in my life is the word ‘cheap’ in fucking comic sans serif on the back of a parked van as it ends my life.

The sick irony is setting in, along with my fate, when I turn my shoulder into the van and avoid going face first into the ugly, taunting vehicle.

Hockey instincts save me from concussion. Now only if I could drop the gloves with this van.

It turns out a human shoulder smashing against a parked van sounds a lot like Bigfoot cannonballing into a pool of Rice Krispies. Those are the bones.

I pop off the ground immediately to a standing position, because fuck this van, it ain’t that bad. Then I hear a sound just like tape being pulled off a newly painted wall. Those are the ligaments.

An ambulance is on the scene within minutes. Impressive. I attribute this to my strong vocals and colourful use of language. The paramedic looks at my shoulder while I stand in front of him, dangling a shoulder halfway down the left side of my body. He is unsure of a diagnosis. Not impressive.

Five hours later in Emergency I am granted a sling and a painkiller. X-Rays reveal total obliteration of the clavicle and its surrounding ligaments. Take a bow Harvey!

Thirty hours after surgery, the good drugs have worn off and acute pain has set in. I appreciate your over-the-pant handjob Tylenol-3, but the oxycodone already hooked me up with a sweet orgy and I don’t feel you at all. Next time for sure T3.

I am alone.

Why the fuck is my book on the floor and not on the nightstand? I am locked in a staring contest with Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint. A standoff.

Twelve minutes, many groans and one yelp later I am on my hands and knees retrieving my book. A junkie in search of words, writers everywhere start wanking.

Reading, this is good, but in two sentences I am going to have to turn the page. That’s going to really hurt and I’m not sure Portnoy’s problems have enticed me enough to go through the agony of turning the page. Confused wanking writers everywhere scramble to their computers in search of illicit word junkie porn.

I hurl the book across the room. I remember pitching a no-hitter when I was nine. I had talent. The book bursts like a packed colon and spews shitty words across my wall.

They form the same sentence over and over again and circling me like wild rabid dogs.

The animals bark in unison: ‘You are weak!’

These loud English-speaking dogs are relentless. I’m not sure which is worse: The pain, the panic, or the power of these hallucinated, rabid and incredibly harmonic beasts.

More drugs needed.

With just one hand it is difficult to get the child-proof cap off the Tylenol bottle. What happened to the talented nine year-old?

How about a flip-top for these situations? There’s a large portion of the population that is childless, you ever think of that? And if I did have children, I’d want them to get this damn cap off for me!

The dogs and their barking are closing in while beads of sweat are leaping from my forehead like suicide bombers. This task will not beat me.

I have ingested many bottles of beer that weren’t twist-off without a bottle opener. I can do this. I push the bottle against my teeth, twist the cap and pop it off with my mouth. I think I just passed the gay test.

I take a swig, my first swig of pills.

I throw back three-ish times the directed amount, a respectable adjustment, I believe.

Fuck that streetcar track, fuck that van, fuck pulling out, fuck that paramedic, fuck that emergency room, fuck Portnoy, fuck those dogs, fuck suicide bombers, fuck child-proof caps, fuck the fucking pharmaceutical companies!

Fuck me.


White Whale

I need a mirror.

It has been 27 days since Marla left. On the night she declared me an unfit partner my adult self punched my adolescent self in the face. Or was it my idealistic adolescent self who punched the jerk-off adult self in the face? Either way, I saw my face and punched it; I broke my mirror.

The chill outside has turned my roof and walls into a local watering hole for the squirrels. It’s a rodent wonderland in there, a non-stop party. The scratching, the playing, the running, the jostling doesn’t stop — the way Marla and I used to be.

I can’t close my eyes because it feels too much like the scratching is on the inside of my head and it’s being done by Marla. I would direct her to freedom through my ear canal if I could.

I need to sleep. I need to leave this apartment.

I worry how I would exist in the company of others. The only human interaction I have had in the last month is yelling at jaywalkers in front of my building. I am proud of that, though. Those fuckers had it coming.

Lying in bed I’ve been staring at my ceiling for hours, watching it get thinner and thinner. It is just a matter of time before those oversized rats break through and I will be eaten alive. If Marla ever returns home she will have the pleasure of finding a gnawed corpse. Hope that makes you happy bitch. Just kidding, I hope that doesn’t make you happy.

I pull the covers off my body, I am completely dressed. When are these clothes from? My belly pokes out from the bottom of my shirt. My stomach has a growing ability to retain more while my brain continually retains less. I need to look at my face to make sure it is in fact mine.

Scurrying into the kitchen to unplug the toaster, I can’t believe I have to catch my breath.

I Windex the hell out of that toaster so I can take a look at myself. Again, winded. I never cleaned my toaster before but now the outside is shining, bright and clean. The insides will remain dirty, dusty and crusty. I peer at the sparkling stainless steel, there I am.

This albino infiltration on my temples is alarming. I really need to get into shape. Visine and a toque will be in charge of salvaging this mess for the time being.

Does this change in hair colour indicate a move into the fall season of my life? Is it the start of the third quarter already?  I still haven’t made half-time adjustments.

Something grand is in order today. Something sophisticated, something debonair, something like … scotch.

I am going to go drink some scotch at a bar on my old friend Visa. I drop some Visine in my eyes and ask Google the name of a good brand of scotch. Now I am ready.

Opening the door to the outside world is invigorating. The cold is the slap in the face I need. I probably deserve more of these.

I will jog there.

I look around and dread the brewing stink of spring but thankfully the snow covers up all the decay from the past year. I hope the Google suggested scotch does the same for me, the exposed dog-shit from my relationship is overwhelming.

I look into the window of a nearby Chinese restaurant and see the reflection of a red-eared hobo on the move. My ears start feeling frostbitten. My toque! I forgot my toque. Marla would never have let that happen.

There are a couple other runners out on the street, I give them a nod. Them; all dressed in stripes and bright colours. I don’t think we have the same destination in mind.

I breathe in a heavy dose of grease as I pass Starz Diner. The name is misleading, I have yet to see a patron in there with income let alone a celebrity.

They have recently added Indian cuisine to their busy menu of Italian, American and Mediterranean. They really have to stop changing for every asshole who walks in there.

I finally outrun the grease.

Maybe Marla would have stayed if she knew I’d be exercising and taking care of myself like this.

The pub is in sight; the wood panelling, the Irish font, even that grey bearded guy outside smoking. But my legs are getting heavy from running in the snow. I think of all those Brazilians becoming great soccer legends playing in the sand. Those guys get a lot of ass I’m sure. It is my turn now.

I burst through the entrance. Pele has entered the building! Immediately I can’t see, my glasses fog up and everything appears darker than it is because of the previous glare from the snow. I hope this perfect hue can settle into my brain. I grab a stool.

The scotch works quickly to warm me up, and after a few more my insides are downright balmy. I give cheers to my friend Leeza and the bartender gives me a strange look.

Fuck him, like he’s never given his credit card a female alter ego.

The bar congests with others looking to warmup, many of the female variety. I hope they are aware of their proximity to a soccer legend.

The scotch pulls the curtains closed for awhile.

When they open I am in a taxi, I am treating the girl beside me as if she were a body of water and I was a horse that had been lost in the desert for the last three days. I don’t remember ever using the dehydrated animal move on Marla. I am impressed I manage to pull off a new trick so quickly.

After a long, hard, and sometimes soft fuck I pull out and shoot a load all over the girl’s belly. I wish it was Memories of Marla that shot out of me. Perhaps a new marinade coming soon to your local grocery outlet.

I ask her where the washroom is to fetch her some tissue for her stomach and she directs me to her bedside table. There sits a box of Kleenex in a brass container. Next to it is a book, Stranger in a Strange Land, “The most famous science fiction novel ever written,” its cover tells me. I should read more, it would be nice to have something by the bedside next to the crushed roll of toilet paper.

A reader and a jogger, Marla if you could see me now.

“I know what you were doing,” she confesses while wiping the dressing from her tummy.

Well I hope you do, although at my age introducing intercourse to somebody her age would be kind of cool. Maybe I will introduce her to pizza next.

“You were whaling,” she continues.

“Whaling?” I respond in question even though I fully understand what she is implying. I have no idea what else to say.

“You and your buddies bet on who could bed the fattest girl at the bar. Don’t worry, I don’t mind, it was nice to feel sexy,” she says nonchalantly, even warmly.

She switches on her bedside light and puts on her reading glasses. Before picking up her book she turns toward me and kisses my head with the softness of a mother. I see a tired boy reflected in her lenses then burrow my head down on her ample tits.

I close my eyes and don’t hear any scratching. I am going to sleep tonight.