Tag Archives: miami university

Candy Everybody Wants

23 Jun

The cracked yolk of the sun has broken over the red brick path in the center of town, and it still remains early enough to be quaint. Most everyone is still sleeping. The only ones out are the coffee-and-walk senior citizens, a few one-night stands gone wrong, the sullen employees hosing down the bar patios, and the stray bleary-eyed student accompanied by visiting parents. Jackie leans against a light post outside of a Wendy’s, burrowing her hands under her armpits as she peers down the street with puckered lips and a squint. A slight ring of black eyeliner encircle bright blue eyes that look out of place on her dark complexion, which is splashed with a few patches of imperceptible freckles and framed by the two jagged slits of dark brown hair that swoop down from the sides of her bangs. Poking out from behind them is a pair of elf-like ears studded with modest diamonds. She’s barefoot, holding a pair of heels, and wearing a hooded Michigan sweatshirt over a sleek black dress that clings halfway down her thighs. In the morning light her preparation for the previous evening looks somewhat pitiable.

“Thanks for coming,” she says, wiggling her painted toes as she glances down at them. I shake a cigarette from my pack and hand it to her before she can ask.

“How was last night?”

“Terrible” she mumbles, her lips clamped as she lights it. Jackie has been smoking for three years, but still handles a cigarette like a naïve middle-schooler. “I got raped.” Her bangs flutter upwards as she exhales. “Well, practically.” She says it as if getting raped were something akin to losing your friends at the bar or running up too high a tab.

“What does ‘practically’ mean?”

“I don’t want to talk about it.” She slides her arms around my pathetically slender hips and places her chin on my shoulder. “Can we just not talk about it?”

On Saturday morning the sidewalks around the houses off-campus are usually strewn with broken bottles and vomit, so I carry her on my back for the last two blocks back to her place, no small task given that I only outweigh her by about fifteen pounds. ‘Faster!’ she cackles, digging her knees into my ribs and tightening her grip on my neck. This is as affectionate as she’s ever been in public with me. Normally she won’t even hold my hand unless she’s drunk or her friends aren’t around.

I met Jackie during our sophomore year on a night she had walked into a bar to find a girl with a tattoo on the small of her back licking her then-boyfriend’s ear near the pool tables. She led her friend out the door by the hand and marched to a party she knew of across campus. She fucked two people there, in the same bathroom, two hours apart. I was the latter, and the fifth person she’d ever been with. I’d imagine she’s approaching the twenties now.

Somehow, I always seem to end up with her, or girls like her. There’s a myriad of reasons as to how this can happen: too many drinks, a lack of new music, the thrill of slumming, the notion of possibly being a muse of some sort, the stimulating conversation, the possession of drugs, pity in a few cases; sometimes I serve as nothing more than a break from the norm. We all stray from types every now and again.

I’m brooding and I’m heartfelt and I’m capable of fostering the idea that actual caring exists beyond a mutual appreciation of beauty (not normally found amongst a crowd of suitors that sings “Born in the U.S.A.” with a patriotic sentiment). And she’s right to think that I care. And because I care, I’m not usually a part of all of what are considered the more glamorous aspects.

The Saturday nights of balancing on heels in slit dresses, flashing hollow laughs and smiles; none of that is reserved for me. I get the Thursday evenings in bars, the quiet evenings in, the hooded sweatshirts and jeans. I don’t normally get to animalistic groping in the bar bathroom by way of fifteen minutes of light conversation, I don’t get to drunkenly toss her over my shoulder like a dominated Neanderthal as everyone laughs, and someone makes a crack about sex. Instead I get to clean up the mess. I get solemn shifts to the bedroom signaled by way of hour-long, occasionally tear-filled conversation. And maybe she is spoiled and selfish and petty. But then again, if we were to fly over a gold miner from Uzbekistan and let him observe your life for a day, what do you suspect he would conclude?

‘Do you have any pot?’ she asks as her heels hit the concrete of her front porch with a thud. My back crackles like bubble wrap as I let her go.

‘Back at my place.’

‘I can borrow Anna’s car.’

Jackie wants to get high with me as often as she wants to sleep with me, which is about once every other half moon. The posing of the question is more of a direct statement that she wants to, as she assumes that I am willing to appease her at any time (she is correct). She dashes in to change and grab the keys and twenty minutes later we’re cruising the narrow strip of road wedged between inert cornfields in an immaculate silver Honda that still smells like a new car, despite the fact that it has thirty-six thousand miles on it.

A gaudy sparkling disco ball hangs from the rearview mirror, along with a beaded necklace and a tassel from her friend Anna’s high school graduation. The backseat is littered with a pile of sweatshirts, some clothing catalogs, and a pair of cork platform shoes. There are three CD’s in the center console – Garth Brooks, Christina Aguilera and a mix titled ‘Slutty Songs’, but Jackie had asked me to grab 10,000 Maniacs from my room. Her mother used to listen to Natalie Merchant while she made dinner.

She wants to hear the one with the one with the ‘who-who-who’s’, and as she bobs her head along to it while taking a pull from the joint I smile at the fact that she’s singing along to a warning against the spoiling of children.

‘Play the one with the banjo next’ she says, coughing as she hands the joint over to me.

‘A lot of them have banjo in it.’

‘The one about the boy named Jack.’

‘That’s about Jack Kerouac.’

She just smiles and sings along with the ‘who-who-who’s’, pouting her lips and floating her hand out the window. I want to be her, the sun shining on my highlights, riding around with someone who adored me, singing along to breezy music with flamboyance a few hours after I’ve been (practically) raped.

In The Air There’s Aftershave Lotion

23 Jun

You sent your kid here to get an education, and, boy, are they ever getting one. Your daughters are learning about laxative cycles, how to time them right so the body doesn’t become immune to them, and to drink lots of water with their meal – it fills the stomach up faster, makes the food easier to get up and not taste so much like bile. Your sons are learning just how much grain alcohol to put in the punch to get the girls incapacitated but keep them from the emergency room, what to say in order to linger after carrying her mumbling, lifeless body into their room, how much is costs to have Planned Parenthood tidy up the aftermath.

Many will walk out with an uncredited minor in pharmacology. If your family physician hasn’t already slapped them with a prescription back in middle school at the first site of restlessness, they’re learning about Addies. First as a study aid, then as a party aid. After awhile, they’re learning to empty the RX capsules and crush the little wax pellets to get around the time release. Dextroamphetamine, amphetamine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, benzodiazepine – they’ll know the going street rates and how much you can drink on them before blacking out by the time they’re sophomores.

They learn quickly which bars serve unders, which sorority is the easiest, which fraternities have been slipping GHB into drinks, who’s got the best coke. They figure out a few tricks – washing the X’s off their hands, carrying a flask, memorizing the astrological signs on their fake I.D.’s, how to spot herpes, what to say to the doctors to get bumped up to fifteen milligrams, which gas station caffeine pill gets you through when the script runs out early. When funds begins to dwindle near the end of the semester, they’ll learn to fleece their books for alcohol money, like junkies at a scrapyard. And like junkies, they learn every which way to make it hit a little harder – beer bongs and gravity bongs and keys carved into cans. The odds are staggeringly high they will learn all too well about the interest rates not mentioned by the loan sharks offering pizza and t-shirts, or about what withdrawl feels like, or the pullout method as a form of birth control, or the habits of the crab louse, or which HPV types cause warts, or that no doesn’t always mean no.

Your daughters will be taught that they were asking for it – what with the short skirt and the drinking. Your sons will be reassured of the same, told that bitches do this sort of thing all the time, make up lies to cover up their indiscretions, offered up a steady stream of alibis to refute the girl’s story. They’ll all become more comfortable with its inevitability, slowly but surely, until it reaches various degrees of acceptance. There are rules here, after all — if she doesn’t have the capacity to slur a protestation loudly or forcefully enough, then it wasn’t rape rape.

Thursdays kick off the weekend in this town, but Friday still holds it’s traditional place as the steam whistle to signal freedom and abandon, where the real learning takes place. The bustle begins a little after dinner — trips to the liquor store, across the state line to pick up kegs and moonshine, to the apartments of grass dealers slinging Kermit green chronic for fifty an eighth (seventy-five to unwitting freshmen), to dorm pharmacies to get a slice of Adderall re-ups and dentist office Vicodin. They’ll return home to shower and get ready, everyone chatting about frat parties, house parties, their buddy’s band’s show, while they have a few drinks and put together song mixes for the pregame, where they will get themselves drunk and stoned enough to go out and get drunk and stoned.

By the time the carnival spills out into the streets and up the hill to the bars, most of them have drank away the better part of their common sense, what remains easily talked out of by slurring sycophants. Your credit card pays for their shots and five-liquor concoctions, served in plastic, as none of them appear to have learned how to handle glassware. They have learned how to play the game, live within the tribe, and they do it well. Your daughters know that your sons want vacant, seductive promiscuity, and they deliver, their Friday night banter more hollow than a porno, their bodies toned and tanned and on display. They need but sixty seconds of flirtation to get your sons to put it on your tab. Your sons see this willingness to appease, and the game is played, liquoring them up on your dime, every word not a line of communication, but an angle or a pitch, just waiting for a chance to strike. Sons use daughters, daughters use sons. Everyone has an ulterior motive out here, and everybody knows it.

Come closing time, the main drag of red brick is littered with trash and vomit and broken bottles as police lights flicker everywhere, tending to bloodied fight victims, freshmen passed out in the bushes, acts of mindless vandalism. Glassy-eyed drunks, separated from their pack, rendered incapable of rational thought by Jagermeister, lurch through the dark alleyways like vacant zombies, driven only by a search for food, alcohol, sex and sleeping arrangements. Girls sit slumped against trees in sundresses, holding their shoes, weeping aloud with no regard to the public as their carefully applied make-up streams down their face. Couples engage in white-hot screaming arguments that ring out across blocks. It’s as noisy and messy and drug-fueled as any forgotten ghetto. And you pay five figures a year to send them here.