Five

I had to wear a school uniform along with all the other kids in all the grades leading up to high school. High school didn’t have a uniform dress code. The other boys all wore clean and hip clothes that looked like they were from the same place, and mostly talked about girls. That was like, their code. The girls wore bell-bottom jeans mostly or tiny shorts or tiny skirts. In the last grade, some of the girls starting taking to hiking up their uniform skirts, but that was against dress code because shorts or skirts weren’t allowed to go higher than 3 inches above the knee. They’d pull them back down when they got scolded, only to hike them back up when the scolder left. That was their code. There wasn’t any of that kind of silliness in the rules to stop them here. Then there were the weird kids that dressed differently because they wanted to be the only person in the world to dress the way they did. They splintered off into different factions of kids that all thought they were the only ones that dressed the way they did while saying bad things about anyone else not like them. That was their code, too. I didn’t know where they sold the hip clothes; I didn’t ask, but I was sure my mom didn’t either. I didn’t want to be the only person in the world that was like me either. But no one could find out because no one talked to me because I wore my school uniform. My school uniform from last year, I mean. There was a faction of us that wore our uniforms, but we were spread out like were were one-man armies. I couldn’t ask if they felt like one-man armies like I did, they probably did, but we didn’t talk to each other like the other factions. Nor did any of the other factions talk to us. I think the radio silence was supposed to be our code.

My uniform polo shirt had gotten tighter around my belly. I sucked in my stomach whenever anyone else was around. Especially girls. I even had to start slouching so my chest would look less like the some of the junior or senior girls’ chests. I ate when I wasn’t hanging out with anyone because I didn’t know what else to do. I wasn’t hanging out with anyone, a lot of the time. My growing belly resulted from my boredom. It wouldn’t bulge in front of me as bad though if it wasn’t for my pants. The seat of the pants were to small for my seat this year. I had to lie down in order to hook the two ends together. I wished I could look like I was lying down whenever I put my pants on. They were tougher to put on after P.E. because there wasn’t a safe place to lie down inside the bathroom stall. But once they were on, it made my lower part look smaller. I thought that was good because I was glad a part of me looked smaller. My polo shirt, now no longer white, stretched, but my blue uniform pants had my back, my backside too.


Four

Kittridge High School Academy was about a decade old. Newly formed and originally re-enrolled with nearly a third of the students that attended Hornby High School, and thenceforth, split the district. They also took the 8th grade graduating class of Lawrence Preparatory and a few others. Hornby High School had overpopulated classrooms, and a big problem with delinquents. Gang violence and graphitied walls from buzzed haircuts and baggy jeans. H.H.S. didn’t have a uniform policy like K.H.S.A., but the third of the students that were taken didn’t seem like delinquents anyway. They weren’t as savage looking, nor did they look like they were in gangs. Like the cliched popular high school kids in some movies. I’d even heard that K.H.S.A. had received a 20 million dollar grant for construction and education programs because one of the departments exceeded expectations and others showed tremendous promise, or something along that line. I even felt a bit fortunate to be enrolled. But it seemed like K.H.S.A was life raft of survivors rowing away from a sinking H.H.S. I liked that idea, I thought as I looked at the newly built clock tower during break period. It read two minutes til the bell. I ducked back down and quickly scarfed the rest of my lunch beneath the bleachers. Pizza in the shade. I was a survivor.


Three

I could go a week without showering. My parents weren’t home enough to force that habit on me. When I was younger, they’d bathe me in hot water. Boiling hot. I’ve only used cold water to shower for as long as I can remember. It wasn’t as though the cold water was preferable to me, it wasn’t, it was freezing and sometimes it even hurt. It was because I felt like I couldn’t trust warm water from the shower head. Warm was closer to hot than cold was, which I considered to be the warning temperature of the water that I’d bail the shower from. If it was warm, it could switch into scalding and hit me before I could escape. So I safely used cold water instead. I easily went a week without showering.

I turned on the cold shower one evening. Unbuckled my belt and my size 34 khaki uniform pants fell straight down. I had stopped wearing underwear because there wasn’t any danger of uninvited hard-ons in gym class anymore. I pinched my socks off with the toes of on the other foot and took off my white uniform polo shirt, knit-vest with it. (The vest was optional, but made my tits less noticeable.) I soaped my body, arms, shoulders, pits, the whole belly, ass, flanks, and feet. I rinsed in quick circles while squirting shampoo onto my hair, then rubbed my whole scalp into a bubbly foam, then rinsed that too, before I shut off the water. The process took no more than 7 minutes, (I timed it several times with the watch my dad gave me.) and always watched the dirty water and the bubbles escape into the drain. I was freezing but I always wanted to watch that filth escape before I grabbed my warm towel. During the shower I took that evening, was when I noticed it. Protruding an inch and a half, squiggly, thick, dark brown; my first pubic hair. But all I thought was, “what the fuck is that!?”

Forgetting to dry-off, I quickly struggled my dirty clothes back onto my body in a wave of anxiousness. Suddenly, I started taking off my clothes again. I had no idea what it was, or why it was on my body. I sat on the toilet seat cover and examined the pubic hair. I didn’t know what a pubic hair was because I had missed the Sex Education class in the 7th grade, nor did I receive the talk from either of my parents. The hair looked like a terrifying mystery, pointing outward and off-centered from that flabby fat area of skin next to and above my dick and below my belly. It was a hair that grew an inch and a half without being noticed. My belly hid my dick from view usually, and my sad sight of a body, deterred me from looking into full-body mirrors. I didn’t beat off very often, just when I had my mother’s Victoria’s Secret catalog, but besides that I didn’t think anything exciting could happen down there.

I was scared. I didn’t know who to go to about it either. I decided remove it. I looped my finger around it, inhaled and exhaled a few times, held my breath and yanked the fucker out. It stung. Bad. My eyes watered, but not a single peep escaped through my gate of clenched teeth. I flushed that thing away like it was my shit. I searched the area around my dick for any stragglers. All clear. Everything was normal again. I dried off, put my dirty clothes back on and left the bathroom. I didn’t understand how anyone could enjoy a damn shower.


Two

Fuck P.E. I hated that class the most. It was the class I was most passionate about. Richard Johnson, was my teacher, and he was so supportive, informative, and encouraging. He was irritating. I was 5’7” coming in at 180-185. I didn’t like standing on scales so I wasn’t sure. Dick, which was appropriately short for Richard, always cheered me on while the class did something physically strenuous. Well, strenuous for me. Like the warm-up laps. Sometimes Dick would run with me because I fell behind, as usual, and he’d shout eye-rolling things like, “Come on!” and “We can do it!’ and I’m thinking, Yeah, I know you can Dick, you do it all fucking day, dick. What a dick. The girls in the class (the class was hopelessly co-ed) all loved him. He was fit, nice, told dull jokes, and only the girls would giggle. He could have them all. I didn’t care about their mandatory sports bras or their loose fitting sweatpants anyway. Dick. I think johnson was another name for a dick.

It was a whole process, having to get up for school in the 8th grade. My alarm would go off at 7 a.m. and I’d hit snooze, and it would go off 5 minutes later before I hit the snooze again. But P.E. was my 0 period class of my freshman year. An optional period that preceded all other periods of the day. It showed me what my clock looked like at 6.am. It was ugly. Everything looked ugly; milk in the cereal, toothpaste, flipped underwear, blue yawning skies above a mile walk. All in my P.E. uniform because it was my 0 period. My day began in my P.E. uniform and ended in my P.E. uniform because wearing it to bed the night before would save me time in the morning. I didn’t noticed the smell after a while.

Everyone was groggy during that class so I didn’t have to make any conversation nobody wanted with anyone. Any talking would probably have been about how stupid the class was or how stupid a 0 zero period was. I thought the girls looked better without their make-up on, but it was obvious they didn’t think so. They looked the same almost, but some of them were nicer, looked happier after they caked them on at the end of class. The others still looked sad. I wondered about wearing make-up now and then.


One

Drobomir Cartright Asimovo Smolensk Class Schedule
Kittridge High School Academy – Grade 9

0 Period – P.E……………………………. P108-Johnson
1 Period – Algebra……………………… M203-Makiyama
2 Period – Intro to Theater………….. S301-Henderton
3 Period – English………………………. E102-Newman
4 Period – Computers 1A…………….. Admission Offi
Break Period B………………………….. Cafteria
5 Period – U.S. History……………….. D209-Campbell
6 Period – Biology……………………… M113-Lee

Orientation is mandatory. All students must arrive at
scheduled time to ensure prompt service. Student i-
dentification pictures will be taken. So don’t forget to
dress for success! Uniform Dress Code must be followed
at all times on campus. (Review p.3 under “Uniform
Policies” for allowed attire.) We hope to see 
you all
there!

Welcome to Kittridge High School and hope you all
have a great school year! 


Part II


Eleven

A month and a half after I began resuming the rest of my eighth grade year at a new junior high school, my father had received a phone call from a hospital. They informed him his mother, my grandmother, had had both a stroke and an aneurysm that had caused her to fall into a coma. I only knew this because I’d overheard him tell my mother (whom had only been back for a month) in the kitchen when he arrived home, earlier than usual. I was sitting on the floor, sketching on the coffee table. The walls were paper thin to the point where it was nearly impossible not to hear everything. Including the sounds of my parents fucking, which my brother and I had gotten used to but still found irritating. Morris was in our shared bedroom playing a video game.

After I’d finished hearing that part, their voices stopped before continuing in another language, French. I recognized the smooth, flowing syllables from a movie I had seen. After their conversation, my father left the house silently and without a glance at me as he walked by. My mother retired to her room for the evening. The  living room suddenly became cold as I sat alone on it’s floor while feint sounds of gunfire, explosions, and musical fanfare were carefully sent to loom in the lifeless, nonchalant air that was the living room. I started a new sketch of which the pencil in my hand that seemed to have begun leading it’s point where it pleased. It placed lines where it may, and that felt almost consoling. More-so when I believed I’d heard a quickly muffled sob from my mother’s room. It may have been a whimper all the same. It felt strange.

Lawrence Preparatory became my new school. It was a uniform school which meant all students were subjected to a uniform dress code and it’s guidelines. I liked that because none of the other kids would notice the same art four articles of clothing I had (which consisted of two shirts, white and off-white, and two pairs of pants, both blue jeans). I also liked it because I knew it would be harder to figure out how much less money my parents made than theirs did. I’d always known their parents made more money despite the uniforms. It was the way they spoke to each other, the absence of a poor posture, the smiles they had in their little groups, pant creases, wrinkle-free shirts; they just generally looked more crisp and sunnier.

With the same uniform, the furthest I could get it from looking  unkempt was after it finished in the dryer. I would fold and plant them between my oblivious mother’s mattress and it’s box-spring. Even then, I felt like a wolf in a sheep’s clothing. More-so because I knew we owned an iron. I was never shown how to use it. I had maimed myself once, trying to learn. My hair had also reached a long enough length below my bottom lip. I wanted to hide my face, because I had so many beauty marks (which I found ironic) on it. I just generally looked blurry with an overcast and I knew it. I was just trying much harder to make my image seem intentional, but sincerely too embarrassed to ever say anything at all.

When I walked through town (mainly to find a replacement comic book store), I would occasionally overhear someone mention to another, my resemblance to Kurt Cobain. He was the rock musician that had died a few years earlier. Often on days my hair greasy carnival red hair covered my chubby face. However, most of the students carried on as though they really loved him, so that eased a bit of tension. The only music I’d heard of was Rod Stewart’s music. My mother loved it. My father had (and still does) his mullet hairstyle but I didn’t want to emulate that.

I began to feel as though it were possible for people not to be afraid of me so much so, that I believed there was possibly a chance I could make friends here. For a while, I believed all of it.

I had never heard any of his work before, only seen pictures here and there. He looked like he had the same clothing situation as I did, only he had intended it. To be different and he was praised for it. I thought they praised him only because he was a famous rock star, but  it seemed like those who really were different could not have been given any kind of break. Those that claimed non-conformity had started groups where a strong, loud mutual distaste was shared for those were indifferent. That could have been anyone, I thought. I wanted to be indifferent to everything but I looked different because I didn’t have a way to afford otherwise.

The outcast members of my peer were nicer to me, despite my being academically exceptional and not wanting to listen to their music.

I couldn’t stand anything on the radio stations everyone always talked about. It seemed the radio was guilty for telling most of us kids where we belonged, anyway. And if you had MTV, you had an idea of what you’re supposed to look like while you’re there. More of an authority. I looked poor which led me to want to look richer, which I couldn’t do, and being compared to a popularly different person that dressed poor, whom hollered annoyingly sad songs unproductively with thought-provoking mantras to angry teenagers, eventually led me to feel even worse for being poor.

I gave up trying to find a comic book store and stayed home as much as I could. Being outside among the people I wanted to get along with, in general, led to me feeling even lonelier than I’d possibly imagined. I had already kept a fuckload of irritating shit to myself, and I just didn’t have anymore room.

At home, I could sketch my drawings without interruptions, play video games with amazing storylines, laugh with all my favorite actors, and shoot all my imaginary friends in the face without an inkling of guilt. Morris wasn’t home often because he was tricked into one of those groups. At the least, during school I would be guaranteed a poorly kept sheep costume. Everyone has always said an education was the most important thing, so I just had to stick with it and stand tall. My intelligence towards what I saw going around me, only ever made me more miserable. Of course, anyone was always the tallest in a room if no one else was in the room. In any case, I knew I was safe staying with the things I knew. I knew that it was improbable for me to deal with any and all consequences with the routes I knew were safer. The comic book stores I wanted to find were replaced with dumb music stores.