The true story is -- we grew up close to one another.
Mike and I lived in the cul-de-sac, Brandon behind us, the three of us spent birthdays together, we were Tigers and We-Be-Lo’s in the same pack, when we were nine Brandon invented a game called “Lobster” that we played with chalk and a tennis ball in his driveway and when Brandon won “Lobster” the rest of the day went great and when he lost he’d cry, he’d throw punches and shoes, we’d all be split up and our mothers would have one-word phone calls that went, “Lobster?” and: “Lobster” and: “Right.”
Those nights our parents would say: “Listen to me. No more Lobster” and over our plastic Radioshack walkie-talkies we’d laugh at them because: you’re an adult. Listen to yourself.
And also: there’s no way you take away Lobster.
When my parents told me we were leaving the cul-de-sac -- someone was building something called “Wetherburn”! It’s in a thing called Manheim Township! New neighbors and new kids to play with! New afternoons of whiffle ball and bike riding! Maybe even you kiss a girl there! Although admittedly No-One Else Is Actually Living There Yet! Admittedly there isn’t “grass-per-se” or “trees-per-se” yet because We’re Early Adopters and that means we’re on the front edge of something great! -- I locked myself in my bedroom, I wept, I spoke in long and shaken sentences to my Luke Skywalker action figure(1).
Later, over my RadioShack walkie-talkie I heard Brandon’s voice. First he said, “Come in Big Bag, this is Wombat. Come in, Big Bag.” His voice was low, soft. Then he said, quietly, “I heard the news.”
We’d never lived apart from one another, we hardly had any other friends, we bought our first Zips together, I couldn’t form words.
Brandon said, “What happens now?”
And I didn't say anything, and then I said, “No more Lobster” and I wept.
After, I turned off my plastic RadioShack walkie-talkie, I spent the rest of the night focusing the small red infrared light from my lazer-tag handgun on the “Ski Aspen!” poster my mom gave me for my birthday. That September I was pushed into a urinal and flushed on my second day at Bucher Elementary, my toughskins soaked to the bone; that same weekend I broke my left hand at Overlook skating rink. I spent October afternoons laying on the dirt and stones of my backyard, my broken wing folded against my chest -- I’d count the chemtrails crisscrossing the cold evening sky, I’d imagine each a path that might lead me back to my former life, back to Brandon, back to Mike.
The pick-up is tomorrow. It’s at the Pressroom from 6:30 - 8:30pm. It’s BYO Toughskins(2)..
(1). He was missing an arm, he was also missing a head, I called him “Adam” because I wanted more than anything to be called Adam. When I went to Camp Conrad Weiser I introduced myself as ‘Adam” to everyone I met, and then that night my counselor pulled me aside and said that I kept lying about my name he’d lock me in the “kaibo” and that scared me so badly I didn’t poop that entire week.
(2). If you wear a pair of toughskins we’ll give you a free bonus handshake.