Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Green Crayon Story

As a person born after the 18th century, I grew up using crayons as an outlet to control my budding artistic "ability." Being a person growing up in the 1990's, I had a crayon set that had dozens of colors, ranging from gold and silver to lime green and burnt umber.

Aside #1: I've never seen "umber" used as a color outside crayon-speak.

As any kid that has ever owned a single crayon will tell you, when one of these wax sticks was worn down to a useless nub, it was a sad day for all involved. Even worse, when one broke into two equally useless pieces, the resulting anger unleashed from the single affected child could be dangerous.

Or, if you were like me, you'd simply throw away the pieces and get on with your life. Such was the case, one afternoon during the second grade. I'd snapped my "basic" green crayon in half while coloring something with the sort of feverish back-and-forth motion that is usually reserved for the most violent of those among us males who masturbate regularly. Not wanting to walk all the way to the trash can in the kitchen from my boy-cave located in the far back of our house at the time, I opted to throw the bits away in the bin located in the bathroom next to my room instead.

Aside #2: When I was a kid, I begged my parents to let me have a trash can in my bedroom, something they didn't give me until I was well into my teens.

I should have never seen that crayon again. But I did, the next day after I'd come home from school. Both pieces were sitting on the dining room table in front of my mother, who was sitting in her usual dinner-time seat, waiting for me. Immediately, she launched into what I now assume was a rehearsed speech about how she had been cleaning the bathroom earlier and had found the crayon pieces in the trash. Upon further inspection, she said, it appeared that the crayon had been bitten by a pair of human teeth, assumedly mine.

Now, I feel like I need to mention my age again at this point. I was in the second grade, around the age of eight or nine. I started reading when I was three or four. At the risk of sounding slightly egotistical, I was by no means a dumb kid. Sure, I'd done dumb things just like any other child, but I was way, way beyond the point of eating crayons. Wax, to me, just didn't seem appetizing.

Which is precisely why I was baffled when faced with this accusation. Not knowing how to handle being falsely accused at such a young age, I immediately started bawling and trying to string together a sentence to form a defense without sobbing in-between words. Taking my crying as a sign of admittance, my mother demanded that I go to my room and told me that we would discuss my punishment when my stepdad came home from work a few hours later. I don't know what happened inside of my head at that exact moment, but tears stopped flowing and the gears in my head started turning. I knew that once the both of them had rallied against me, all hope was lost, and that I would be labeled a "crayon eater" forever. So I summoned every bit of courage I had at the time, and outright denied having nibbled on that crayon or any other crayon before, and that the one in question had just broken in two.

Naturally, my mother was having none of this. Having been given the entire day to form this batshit crazy scenario in her head, she was convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that I had in fact taken a bite, her argument driven home by the fact that the crayons' edges didn't match up as if from a break.

Aside #3: I don't know if I colored with one of the broken halves before throwing it away, or if she'd tampered with them, but they really didn't match up. I'm still not sure why.

Then she brought something up that must have seemed like a trump card in her mind. A few days previous, I'd gone to the restroom and stood up to see that my feces was a dark green. Freaking out, just as any paranoid child would, I immediately ran to tell my mother about this revelation, dragging her by the arm into the bathroom to show her what had just come out of me. Being assured that "sometimes it happens," I thought nothing more of it.

Aside #4: Over a dozen websites tell me that this is a side-effect of either eating too much green food or an iron overdose. Being a kid that survived off of artificially colored crap and chicken nuggets, it very well could have been either.

But she did. Seeing my green poop as the final piece of the puzzle in her case against me, she would hear none of my arguments in defense of my maturity level. Logic didn't even sway her, refusing to admit that it was odd that I'd tell her about my bowel movements when I should have known the cause outright.

This was the stalemate we were in until my stepdad arrived. Taking her side just as any good husband would, all hope seemed lost. But some small part of me knew that an injustice had happened, and continued to refuse to admit that I'd done anything that they were accusing me of. Seeing this as insubordination and an outright lie, I was told that I would have to sit on the couch in our family room, doing absolutely nothing, until I admitted that I was lying and that I had in fact eaten the crayon.

I sat there for three weeks. Every day after I came home from school I'd make a beeline straight towards the couch and sit there until it was time to eat dinner, after which I'd go straight from the table to bed. There was no way I was ever going to own up to something I hadn't done.

And I never did. Eventually, my couch-sitting sentence was reduced to a few hours a day, followed by an hour, followed by nothing at all. My parents had given up on trying to get their version of the truth out of me, and we didn't really speak about it much afterwards. They never admitted their folly, and I never again tried to correct them. It became an anecdote lost in the sands of time.

Years later, after all of the wounds from this event had healed, the three of us were out to eat with my younger brother at a generic chain restaurant that gives children a packet of crayons to every child that walks in the door. Of course, my brother received one, along with whatever coloring placemat they were offering that month. Opening the crayons, my stepdad removed the green one and offered it to me.

"Appetizer?" he asked, grinning smugly.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Babysitting Story

Before I begin this story, I'd like to ask everyone reading to think of the single most depraved act they've ever committed. If you're cringing while thinking of it, you're on the right track. Now, think of how you would feel if that story was told to every single person you have met or ever will meet in your entire life. That, reader, is what I am putting myself through by telling you this tale. I hope you all enjoy it.

I've been in a lot of relationships in my life, and a lot of them have been, looking back, pretty fantastic. But as any serial dater like myself will tell you, the bad is always quick to follow the good, as was the case during my senior year in high school.

I had recently ended what was the most rewarding and longest-running relationship I'd been in at the time, and had began dating a girl that was two years younger than me, named Mia. Taller than me by about two inches, and by all accounts a "sensually curvy"-type of girl (the yin to my "concentration camp"-type body yang), we made quite the impression on the regular occupants of the schoolyard when we began dating. It seemed that by the second or third day of our relationship, everyone (including a teacher that we shared) knew about it. Neither of us cared, because we were too smitten with one another to waste a thought worrying about it.

Aside #1: Yeah, we were one of those couples.

Things went fantastically, for the first few months. Besides some initial rockiness when her ex from another state had found out about us, things were perfect. She was exactly the kind of girl I loved at the time: one that would hang onto my every word and provide genuinely impressive feedback to whatever teen-angst bullshit I'd decided to spout out. We were a match made in heaven, the two of us.

Then sex entered the equation. She seemed to have insatiable carnal desires when it came to me, once claiming that her body ached when it was not naked and near mine. With the both of us still being in school (and obviously living with our parents), it became near-impossible to satisfy her need on a regular basis. So we began to improvise. Everywhere we went became a potential "sex spot." Playgrounds, cars and outdoor walking paths were suddenly places to get laid, under my new mindset.

Eventually, we both agreed that our public displays of over-affection were becoming far too risky, and opted to sneak over to each others' houses in the dead of night on a regular basis. Unfortunately, it had to stop not much longer after it started. We were never caught, officially, but we had far too many close calls to warrant a continuation of this behavior.

Aside #2: Her dad had come up to her room no more than ten minutes after I'd left her house one night, claiming to have heard a noise. I would not be here today if he'd caught us doing what we were doing, especially when you consider the way we were doing it.

So we were stuck with no place to fuck. As with any sex-deprived relationship, the outside veneer of ours began to show cracks in its surface. We were fighting constantly, not being able to patch up our spats with sex. It was driving us both crazy.

Then, about a month into our mutual dry spell, Mia picked up a job babysitting for a couple that her parents had been friends with for the last few months. After a few weeks of this, and a lot of trying to convince me to do so, she had me over to their house one night after she'd put the trio of children she was watching to bed. We sat in their living room, cuddled, and watched a movie. Of course, things started to go beyond the innocent cuddle, only to be stopped by my suddenly-found list of morals.

We didn't have sex that night, though she begged me to. I had some issues with porking my girlfriend in a house owned by people I'd never met, especially when their impressionable children were sleeping less than fifteen feet away from us.

But the next week, all of my previously-held inhibitions were abandoned. It had now been two months since we last did it, and I was starting to go crazy. Mia had informed me that after I'd left the previous week, she'd snooped around the house and discovered that the master bedroom had two types of locks on it, one on the handle and a chain lock, to ensure that there was no possible way for us to be interrupted by anyone.

When I arrived that evening, we wasted no time. Leading me by the hand to the couples' bedroom, I began to notice a trend amongst all of their wall-hangings and paintings: each had a very, very heavy Christian theme. There were framed Bible verses and crosses lining the hallway to the room, which suddenly felt endless and Kubrickian. My moral compass was screaming obscenities at me in my head. But I ignored it. I was going to get laid, and I was not going to feel guilty about it. Period.

Swinging the door open, we entered the one room in the house that felt off-limits. Immediately, Mia slid the chain lock into place and pounced on me. I fell onto the bed, which felt far lumpier than it should have. Pushing her off of me, I stood up and looked at what I'd fallen on. Laying there where I had just been were a pile of children's clothes, freshly laundered and neatly folded.

Uncomfortable with this revelation, I asked Mia if we could avoid touching the bed, because it felt so wrong. Begrudgingly, she agreed, and led me over to an easy chair in the corner. Pulling my pants down to my ankles, she dropped to her knees and began to show me just how much she'd missed me.

Aside #3: If the quality of the blowjob I was receiving was any indication, it was a lot.

Soon, she'd pulled her own pants off and was on top of me. But the shape of the chair I was sitting in simply wasn't built for girl-on-top sex, so we moved to the floor.

Five minutes later, we heard a noise coming from outside. The knob on the door turned, and the person on the other side tried to open it. Impeded by the chain lock, the door only opened enough to allow a single, tiny arm to enter the room and wave around as the child on the other side called out Mia's name just like she had been doing with mine not seconds earlier.

Aside #4: If you ever find yourself wondering what the most fucked up thing I've ever written is, refer to the above paragraph.

I don't think I've ever gone from the missionary position to standing that fast. Matching my speed, Mia was re-dressed in a flash and unlocking the door to tend to the child while I hid silently in the bathroom attached to the room. We knew that if he saw me there, the chance of us being able to do this in the future were highly unlikely.

I don't know what she said to calm him down, but whatever it was, it had worked, and she was back in the room within a minute. Wanting to finish what we'd started, she began to unbutton my pants again. My moral compass wasn't just screaming at me this time, it had rounded up a few of its moral compass friends to yell at me in unison, warning me that I would come to regret what I was doing at this moment, and that no amount of awesome sex could possibly be worth the guilt I would carry after all was said and done. Once again, I ignored it, as the smaller head of my two began to take over. Thinking I'd already crossed over the threshold between "wrong" and "despicable," I stepped over to the bed and swept the neat pile of clothes onto the floor with a single arm, tiny socks and shirts flying everywhere.

Suddenly, we were both naked and having the type of tantric sex that even the most well-seasoned porn star would think was a bit much. We did it this way, we did it that way, we did it in ways that we'd never even imagined were possible before.

Aside #5: I'm actually ashamed on Mia's behalf for what she allowed me to do to her that night.

Once we were both finished, we laid out on the bed side-by-side, sweating profusely. Slowly but surely, we sat up and began getting dressed. Mere steps away from the bedroom door, Mia kissed me goodbye. Somehow, through forces unknown to me even to this day, this final embrace turned into her dropping to her knees for a second time that night. Working with the same type of sexual determination she had while we were in bed minutes previously, it didn't take long to get the job done.

Zipping my pants up, I walked towards the door to the bedroom. Inches away from the door handle, my hand stopped in mid-air as it began to rattle against both locks.

Terrified, I stowed away in the bathroom once more. Seeing that I'd done so, Mia opened the door to find the parents of the children that she was sitting on the other side. Knowing that there was no sense in hiding anymore, I admitted defeat and walked back into the bedroom.

I've never seen comprehension of a situation dawn on two peoples' faces simultaneously before, but that's exactly what happened the moment after I stepped into their view. Impressively and miraculously retaining their composure, both kindly yet curtly introduced themselves to me (neither offering to shake my hand, I should note), the husband mentioning that he "didn't know Mia was having a friend over tonight."

After this admittance, the tension in the air was palpable. Without moving a single part of her body besides her mouth, the wife offered to drive the both of us home, rightly assuming I lived nearby. Not wanting to make worse of a bad situation, I took her up on her offer. I made the wrong choice.

I've been in a lot of painfully awkward situations in my life, but sitting in the same car as the female half of the nice Christian couple whose bed I just had sex on, next to the girl I'd just had sex with definitely beats out anything else I've ever been through or could even imagine. I wouldn't wish the feeling I had in the pit of my stomach as they dropped me off at my house upon my worst enemy.

Needless to say, Mia never babysat for that couple again. In fact, they had called her parents and explained exactly what had happened, something that they rightfully never really forgave me for. If there was anything positive to be taken from the situation, its that Mia and I weren't together for much longer after that, and I would come to realize that I was much better off because of it.

I'm not the sort of person that looks back on events in their life with regret, so I can't say I'd take anything back that happened that night. But if I could go back and do it over again, I'd be sure tell the couple to change the carpet in their room and burn their bedsheets. I hope they did anyways.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Adidas Story

When I was in the ninth grade, I'd finally realized that the clothes on my back and the shoes on my feet were an important tool to show people what social group I thought I belonged in. During
my appearance-experimentation phase, I became friends with a kid my age that rode my bus, named Colin.

Colin was, for a freshman, a total stud. I, on the other hand, was not. With a nose far too large for my face, and an attitude that would have better suited someone half my age, I didn't exactly have women falling at my feet. Sure, the odd girl found my behavior charming, but they were few and far between. So I started to change and mature, using Colin as a sort of guide to do so. I'm not sure if he ever noticed, but I definitely idolized him, in the way friends do.

One week, Colin came to school with a brand new pair of black and white Adidas on.

Aside #1:
These were the shoes:
After seeing them on his feet, I wanted a pair for myself. Though initially cautious about buying a teenager a pair of all-white shoes, my mother finally agreed to take me out to get some of my own after a few days of begging and talking them up. I couldn't have been happier.

So naturally, we went to the shoe store one afternoon after school and bought a pair. I wore them home, and continued wearing them well into the evening. Before I went to bed that night, I even struggled to form a fitting outfit for my new shoes' debut, something I had never done before in my life.

The next day, I wore the fuck out of my new shoes. Compliments came in left and right, some from people I didn't know. Colin, instead of being weirded out, embraced our twin footwear and was amongst the complimentary.

The story should have ended there, but it didn't. You see, Colin didn't only ride my bus, he was also in my art class. The week I got my new shoes happened to be the same week that we were studying chalk pastels in said class. Normally this wouldn't have been a big deal, but Colin and I began talking about how plain our shoes were, and how cool it would be if we got different-colored laces for them.

Aside #2: Anyone that went to school between 1985 and 2005 knows that all kids fucking loved weird or colorful shoelaces, for some reason.

Then, unfortunately, we realized we had boxes of the perfect shoelace-coloring devices sitting on the table in front of us. With 15 minutes left in class, I quickly untied and removed my laces and put them on the table in front of us. Deciding to go with a multicolored effect rather than one single color, we each took one and went to work.

A few minutes later, we finished. Streaked with every color in the 24-pastel box, we both agreed that they looked awesome.

Aside #3: They looked awful. Seriously. Like someone had eaten Froot Loops, a rainbow, and a gay person before throwing up on them.

So I laced my shoes back up, and was on my way. Art class was during the latter half of the day, so I didn't have much longer before I went home. But in those few hours between coloring my shoelaces and going home, something terrible was happening to the tongues of my shoes.

You see, when Colin and I were discussing our coloring project, we reasoned that if it looked bad, I'd just go home and wash the laces. No harm, no foul. But the 14 year-old me didn't realize that the treated leather that they used for the outer sole of my shoes was porous, meaning that every single rogue, powdery molecule of the chalk pastels that we'd used had seeped deep into said pores, dying the material permanently. I tried everything to remove it: toothbrushes, soap, putting them in the laundry, and plenty of other things. But nothing worked. They were ruined forever.

I don't think I need to describe how angry my parents were. Let's just say that if "being sent to bed without dinner" was actually still considered a punishment, I would have been sent to bed without dinner. As it stood, I was grounded for a indeterminate amount of time, and had to pay my parents back for the money they'd spent on my shoes by doing tons of chores around the house.

For some reason, I thought this was the biggest travesty that the world had ever seen. So that night, I hatched a plan. Swiping a few sheets of printer paper from my stepdad's office, I decided to start a petition, rallying against my parents' decision to ground me.

Aside #4: There was a lot of Fox News on in my house at the time. Don't ask.

For the next three days, I gathered signatures from everyone I saw at school. Of course, I told them about the situation that had led me where I was, and every single peer sided with me unquestionably. After around signature #100, I started to get cocky, and began asking teachers to sign it. In my mind, getting a single autograph from a grown adult was worth dozens, if not hundreds of teenage signatures. But none of them would agree to sign it.

Aside #5: In retrospect, this was probably wise on their part, since my parents would have likely called and complained to someone important (because that's the type of people they were).

But finally, on the third and final day of my quest, my elderly female English teacher decided that she'd take the risk, and lend her name for my cause. Even better, she told me that she was going to write my parents a note on the subject, something that both surprised and flattered me.

After I got the pages back, I saw that her letter had taken up the entire bottom half of the last page, the top having already been filled with my classmates' multicolored handwriting. Impressed with myself, I read over what she had written. Then I read it again. And again. It went something like this:

To the parents of Tyler Walters:

I'm writing you this letter to tell you that your son has been distracting other students with this petition in every class for the last three days. His other teachers and I had a meeting yesterday, and decided that if this doesn't stop, we will have no choice other than to punish him for interfering with class.

Thank you for your time,

Aside #6: I'm paraphrasing, but as far as I can remember, this is almost exactly what it said.

I started panicking. They had held a meeting? About me? Seriously? I didn't know what to do. So I did what any stupid high schooler would do: I tore off the bottom half of the sheet containing my teacher's letter, and threw it away, not wanting to throw out the entire sheet and waste the other half-page of signatures I'd worked so hard to get.

Thinking I was off the hook, I took my finished petition home, with over 150 signatures spread across three-and-a-half pieces of paper. But the instant I crossed the threshold into my house, I could sense something was awry. There was a palpable tension in the air, one that had definitely not been there that morning before I'd left. Slowly walking into the kitchen, I found my mother sitting at the dinner table, reading a magazine. She looked up, and I could tell something was wrong.

Then the yelling started. The teacher that had written that note had called my house right after she'd written it, to ensure it was actually delivered. It wasn't, of course. But the teacher had gone ahead and told my mother exactly what it had said, and then some, claiming that I was a "nuisance," had "no respect for authority" (as evident by my petition, she explained), and was a "massive distraction to (myself) and others." It was absolutely devastating.

But that wasn't the worst part. After verbally annihilating me, my mother asked me for the three-and-a-half sheets of paper that had caused so much grief. After scanning it over, she asked me about some of the stranger names that were written down. I guess that I had been so caught up in collecting signatures, that I didn't notice that a decent portion were completely made-up by the assholes I apparently went to school with. Feeling like I'd lost some great battle, I sulked up to my room to begin what felt like a long-term prison sentence.

A few years later, when we sold them in a garage sale to people that had come by to pick through our junk, my mother was forced to sell them for a price considerably lower than the one marked on the tag, only because of the multicolored smudges. I couldn't help but smile a bit as the man that walked away with them told his wife that he was sure he could get them out with some "dish soap and elbow grease." He'd learn.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The Potato Salad Story

No one ever believes me when I say that I hate potatoes.

Aside #1: Except for French fries. Those don't count.

Mashed, diced, baked, it doesn't matter. I absolutely despise them. Not because of how they taste, or feel (as I so commonly tell people), but because I had a...traumatic experience involving them when I was around 9 years old.

My mother, stepdad and I had all sat down to eat dinner. I can't be sure as to what the main course was, but it doesn't matter. Amongst the two or three side-dishes that were sitting on the table, I saw one that I'd never tried before. It was potato salad, and my mother told me that I'd have to at least try it before I was to be excused from dinner. Not a big deal, right?

Wrong. After finishing everything else on my plate, the ominous, lumpy "salad" still remained. Using my fork, I cut a corner off of one of the potato chunks before putting it into my mouth. Almost instantly, I felt my throat close as my gullet simply refused to accept the food that was being shoveled down it. I spit it out into my napkin before being scolded by my parents for what had just happened. My mother, never missing a chance to make me feel guilty for even the tiniest thing, put her hand over her mouth dramatically and claimed that she had "lost her appetite." After she left the table, I was left to face my stepdad, someone I didn't know too well at the time.

Aside #2: He had married my mom less than two years earlier.

I didn't know it at the time, but I would soon discover that he was a very hard-headed individual. One that clearly didn't consider my choked-on slice of potato to be a "true bite."

Aside #3: If my life story ever becomes a sitcom, I'd love to have clearly exaggerated version of kid-me sketch out a diagram on a napkin of what should be considered a "true bite" in relativity to the mass of the object being bitten vs. the mass of the actual bite. Genius kids always get good ratings.

After unsuccessfully trying to coerce me into eating more (something I think anyone would refuse to do, given the situation), he began to get frustrated with me, telling me that I was absolutely forbidden to leave the table until I had eaten a single chunk of potato. Matching his stubbornness, convinced that the potato "bite" in question had nearly killed me, I continued my single-food strike until well after he'd left the table, minutes ticking by on the oven clock across the kitchen.

Soon, a few hours had passed. I kept sitting, refusing to budge until I either died of starvation or they were forced to let me get up. Suddenly, it was well past midnight, and both of my parents were asleep. Laying my head down on the table next to my plate, I fell asleep.

The next morning, I woke up with the sun. My mother was already up, brewing her usual pot of coffee. After seeing that I'd woken up, she walked over to me.

"Did you sleep here the entire ni-"

Her words were cut off as thick, white vomit spewed from my mouth and nose, all over the mostly-empty plate sitting in front of me. Rushing over to comfort me, my mother began to mop up my vomit with a dish towel after telling me that she was going to make me some chicken nuggets after I'd gone to the bathroom to clean myself up.

Aside #4: I've never really thought about it before, but I find it funny that my mom had no issue with seeing me vomit, but had a huge issue with me spitting out a tiny piece of potato that I hadn't even chewed once. Also, it should be noted that she made me chicken nuggets an such an early hour because normal breakfast food would have likely upset my stomach even more.

Standing up and walking down the hallway, my stomach felt empty. My kidneys ached from lack of urination. I could barely hold my head up. But I had won. For the first time in my life, I stood up for something I believed in, and never backed down for a second. Every argument or fight I've ever won, every time I've defended anything I believed in has stemmed from this one moment of pure, unabashed victory.

But as I mentioned earlier, winning came with a price. I have never, ever eaten potatoes in any sort of raw form in the ten-plus years since. I've tried, but I simply can't do it.

I guess there is just something deep, deep within me, buried in the back of my head, near all of my primal instincts and central programming that refuses to let the silent assassins known as potatoes make another attempt at my life.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The "Saw IV" Story

In my final year of high school, I was forced to take a third-tier drawing class along with a group of students that were one year younger than me. It took place after my designated lunch period, but during another, meaning that it was the most prone to be skipped on a day-to-day basis. The teacher, a 30-something, once-great artist that decided that family was more important than becoming famous, saw my not-giving-a-shit attitude and simply let me slide for most of the year.

Until finals came around. The year I was to graduate, my school had begun enforcing a strict policy stating that all classes must have a written portion of the exam to go along with whatever else the teachers felt like they needed to throw at us. Meaning that, rather than give us all fudged grades on shitty "art" that barely stayed within the final exam project guidelines, art teachers were now forced to actually grade papers based on facts, not "interpretation."

Which, of course, put an end to my away-from-class excursions, and forced me to interact with the motley crew of people that were out to discover and hone their artistic abilities.

Aside #1: I'm not going to sit here and make comparisons to The Breakfast Club in my attempts at describing how diverse the individuals were in this class. Not because that's a cliche, but because you couldn't understand just how different everyone really was. Classes this diverse would have made John Hughes rethink the classroom dynamic in a film setting, trust me.

At this point in time, I was fresh from being rallied back and forth between two girls for several months, and frankly, was not looking for any sort of relationship with anyone. And as any person that has ever been in this situation could have told you, that was exactly when two girls, two best friends that were in this very art class decided they wanted to jump my bones.

On side #1, I had Amanda. She was:

-An interesting person with stories I could relate to.
-Taller than me.
-Beautiful and curvy.
-A good artist, actually. Or rather, a decent artist.

On side #2, I had Tiffany. She was:

-Shorter than me, with a great figure.
-Loud. So loud.

Day after day, these two would compete for my attention, and I would gladly give it to them. At this point, I was so caught up in feeling sorry for myself over my recent heartbreak(s) that I would have gladly accepted anything of the sort without much fuss, never mind the fact that I considered them both attractive. They both appeared to be enjoying the game, neither ever seeming uncomfortable with the situation they had put themselves in.

Naturally, after a few weeks of this, they both gave me their phone numbers within the same three-day period. Tiffany had broken up with her boyfriend of nine months a few days previous (the fact that she had a boyfriend being news to me), and wanted to see me sometime soon outside of class.

Definitely leaning towards pursuing Amanda at this point, I made plans to see Tiffany on a boring Saturday afternoon, at her house, where her parents would likely be keeping a watchful eye over the two of us teens.

So around 1 'o clock on said Saturday, I showed up at her house. She opened the door, pulled me inside, and started furiously kissing me.

Surprised, but definitely not thinking ahead, I started kissing her back. We migrated into a room containing a TV set and a couch, the latter of which Tiffany had thought to cover awkwardly with several blankets. After sitting me down on the couch, she walked over to the TV and turned it on, for what I assumed would be background noise.

"Do you mind if I put this in, while we...?" her voice trailed off, as she held up the case for the movie Saw IV.

"Um, sure?" I answered, not sure of what to make of the scene.

She put in the movie, started it, dimmed the lights and walked back over to me on the couch. Sitting on my lap, she started kissing me again as the opening of the movie began.

Aside #2: For those of you that have never seen a Saw film before, every film begins with one of the series' infamous "traps" being sprung on a person or a few people.

Clothes started coming off, and things started getting...more passionate (for lack of a better word). Soon enough, we were both completely naked and kissing on her couch. What happened next should have been easy, except for one problem: having a gory film play in the background is not my idea of "setting the mood." Simply put, the film's content was distracting me to the point of flaccidity, despite the fact that I had a perfectly attractive, naked young woman sitting on the same piece of furniture as me, practically begging me to have sex with her.

So I did what any man would do when put into this position: I made the best of an awful fucking situation. First, I positioned Tiffany between the TV screen and myself, ensuring that it was out of view. Second, I forced blood to rush to my penis with pure willpower alone, in a feeble attempt to retain some piece of my manhood throughout this event.

Not long later, after what felt like an erectile marathon, I finally felt like I could say I had finished without rousing suspicion.

Aside #3: We fake orgasms too, ladies. But only when we have to.

"I'm going to go take a shower. You're welcome to join me," she told me, after we'd caught our breath.

"Um, I need to go home pretty soon, so I think I'll just go," I replied, still trying to act normally.

So I got up, got dressed, and left.

But the story doesn't end there. After Amanda had found out about Tiffany and I's tryst, she was, of course, upset. But not with me. Apparently, Tiffany had lied to the both of us about the status of her relationship, meaning that I was nothing but a trophy, and Amanda was nothing more than squashed competition.

Of course, Amanda wasn't too happy about this, and told Tiffany's boyfriend about what had happened (kindly omitting my name), and they broke up. Less than two weeks later, I received a call from Tiffany, crying, claiming that I had impregnated her. I only said four words before hanging up and never speaking to her again:

"I didn't come, bitch."

My First Guitar Lesson

I'm not sure if I've ever met anyone who has cycled through as many hobbies as I have. From the average (rock collecting!) to the odd (flying RC planes!), my collection of hobbies is a long one, at least compared to the average person my age. Nowadays, the reason I pick up hobbies is so that I can perfect them and never touch them ever again. I'm not sure why I do this. I suppose it's out of boredom, and I also suppose that it says a lot about me. But I haven't always been this way.

Before I hit high school age, I'd cycle through hobbies because I wasn't sure what I'd like, similar to most people in my peer group. I hadn't yet realized that everything interests me, and rather than take on several hobbies at once, I decided to go through them one at a time.

The first two were very, very normal: soccer and the Boy Scouts. No disrespect for those that stayed with either outside middle school, but a lot of us that were with you originally couldn't exhibit enough interest in either to keep up a good rapport with our coaches and Scout master, and were usually punted from the group.

Aside #1: I know this didn't happen to everybody. I'm not stupid. I'm just acting as if this very specific instance has happened to everybody, to imply that it's happened to me.

After failing at these two prospects, my mom and step-dad assumed that me being interested in sports or being a lifelong good Samaritan weren't likely futures for me,
so they bought me a guitar for my 13th birthday.

Being something of a guitar aficionado in another life, my step-dad didn't skimp out on purchasing me an instrument of fine quality. He bought me an Epiphone Les Paul Mini, complete with amp and guitar-and-amp-carrying guitar-and-amp case.

Note: Pictured above is the EXACT set that I had, except I'm pretty sure the amp had some sort of stencil across the front of it.

It was literally everything a budding player could want. It didn't have any scary pedals or weird bars sticking out of the guitar, it was the most basic of instruments for those with the most basic level of interest in playing it. And the fact that it carried the Les Paul name meant something to anyone who knew anything (or thought they knew anything) about guitars.

In addition to this gift, I also was given assurance that my mother would sign me up for a lesson in playing my newly acquired instrument, once my step-dad had taught me some form of basic string-plucking so I didn't go off embarrassing myself in front of a professional.

After doing so, three months later, I was signed up for my first lesson at my local Guitar Center. Walking into that store on the day of my first lesson (with my mom by my side, naturally), I was nervous and nearly shaking. We'd shown up early, so we were asked to sit in a tiled area attached openly to both the store and the hallway connecting the individual soundproof rooms where the actual "teaching" was done.

Sitting across from me was a girl who was approximately my age, who was holding the case for what was either a viola or violin. It was obvious just by looking at her that she was comfortable in her surroundings, as if she'd sat in that same chair dozens of times over the years, breaking it in to the point of maximum comfortability. While I, the "fresh meat," as it were, shifted uncomfortably in my plastic chair, the hard curves unknown, my feet not touching the ground, hands groping the neck of my guitar through its nylon carrying case. We were different beasts, she and I.

Minutes went by until a man turned around the corner, clearly having come out of one of the personally-sized rooms. He called my name, and I followed him back into a room with a number on its door. He shut the door, and introduced himself as Thomas. He was tall and buff, and to some people he might have been considered ruggedly handsome. His shoulders were double the width of his hips, likely as a testament to what appeared to be a Samoan heritage. He essentially had the ideal physique for a linebacker or a refrigerator, a variable man and woman's best friend.

Regardless, he was here to teach me, and teach me he did. Sort of. We spent the first 15 minutes of class with me awkwardly playing the three to four base chords I'd learned and actually remembered in the last few weeks, with me promising that I'd learned more but couldn't recall it at the moment.

Aside #2: I also remember a particularly embarrassing moment. in which I picked at the strings at the point between the nut (at the top of the neck) and the fret posts (where the strings are "strung" in, essentially), and claimed that it sounded just like a "creepy piano" tinkling. I hope that more than most of you understand exactly what I'm talking about, and understand how painful and jarring recalling this is for me right now.

After pretending to know more than what I actually knew about playing the guitar in front of someone who taught people how to play the guitar for a living, he pulled out his own instrument and began fooling around and playing a few dumb tunes. Being a dumb kid, I was amazed by his clear mastery of the guitar arts, and mentally bowed down to his talent and made him my master.

Aside #3: I really fucking love(ed) Star Wars.

"What kinda music do you like?" he asked.

"Uh, blink-182 and The Offspring are pretty cool" I replied, knowing that the latter of the two would be impressively considered "adult" taste for a 13 year-old (it wasn't).

"Aw, blink-182! They're that band with the song that goes..."

At this point, Thomas the Guitar Instructor launched into the most melodramatic rendition of "All the Small Things" by blink-182 that this planet has ever seen. Kind of. He sort of knew the lyrics, and the tempo was a little off, and the chords sounded a bit funny, but he got the general idea of the song down. Even more, he was very clearly impressed with himself for remembering (most of) the song.

Unfortunately, this was at a point in time where rabid blink-182 fans like myself had sort of formed a backlash against that particular song, because it was their most popular one, the single song that every person who had heard of the band had heard of. The least exclusive track in their catalogue. Every major band in history has had this exact situation occur to them at some point in their careers.

Here was my teacher, the man to whom minutes earlier I had dedicated the future of my musical life to. Singing my least favorite song (at the time) by my favorite band, out of key and absolutely terribly. I'd never seen someone I respected so highly, so quickly, fail so miraculously and without a single ounce of grace.

The rest of our hour-long session was spent with Thomas trying to tune my guitar with a digital tuner, before giving up on technology and attempting to use his voice. It didn't work.

I never went back. Aside from learning a dozen or so songs in the years since then, I've also given up on playing the guitar. My heart was just never in it.

My former guitar now resides in the closet of my little brother, stored there in hopes that he'll one day use it, become great with it, then buy me a house as thanks for inspiration.