“Who in the world am I? Ah, that’s the great puzzle.”
I’m on the shorter side, not too tall, and I’m on the lean and mean side, not too chunky. I get through doorways easier than most. I could probably go down a rabbit hole if I was in the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ movie. That would be some kind of out of body out of Lakewood in Ohio on my street in my backyard in my mind adventure! On the sports side of life and limb I run cross-country.
I have freckles, like my dad, blue eyes, and brown hair that I keep trimmed. I keep it aerodynamic. I keep it regulation for St. Mel’s I don’t change my hair all year. But next summer when school is over and done, I’ll get a full cut, grow it out, and let it flow chop until school starts again in the fall.
Flow chopping is when your hair is in a circle. It’s all about letting your rage flow. It’s all about being in flow with the boys.
I’m stronger than most guys my size, but not super muscular. I’m more like lean meat. Keep your body rangy and your mind sharp. My dad used to be that way when I was a baby, but he’s bulked up since then, gone big-chested. He’s not as sharp as he used to be, either. He repeats himself, he’s gone grown-up, he’s gone it gets me paid in full and I’m full satisfied.
I’m named after St. Sebastian. He was a bodyguard for the Roman emperor. He was a core tough dude. Fee fi fo, walking to Detroit.
In pictures St. Sebastian looks bigger than me, especially his pecs. He’s got them, for sure. I’ve been doing push-ups lately. I hit the weight room after track and get down on the bench. I do all the machines and I’m up to 85 pounds. I’m on the dumbbells, too, but I only do fifteens. My forearms aren’t that strong, yet, but they will be.
St. Sebastian was the man, until he got on the wrong side of the boss and got busted into pieces.
He was shot to death after he became a Christian. But the arrows didn’t kill him, so the emperor’s flunkies clubbed him to death again and threw him into a sewer. He was buried in France, but later Protestants looted the church and tossed his bones into a ditch. He couldn’t catch a break. After they found all the parts of him, they sent him to other churches all over so it wouldn’t happen again. He’s all over the place.
He’s the patron saint of sports. I wear a sacramental medal of him. I kiss the medal right before races.
I was good at football when I was young, but I was never big enough, especially as I got older. I was a crash test dummy. Now I love running. I’m not an all-star athlete, but I’m more physically fit than most rooms full of average guys, but maybe less than some, too. I’m more than fit enough to be on the cross-country team, so I’m absolutely in the better half.
Many guys are physically fit because they’re in sports. They’re all jacked to begin with, or they’re good at certain things, like soccer or football. There are others who don’t play sports, not at all. At St. Mel’s you’re either fit or you’re unfit. The ones who are unfit are usually the ones who don’t play sports. They either don’t want to be told what to do or they don’t want to exert any effort towards anything.
Whenever I’m running, I feel totally free. It just flushes everything out of me. That’s when I do my best thinking, bright and bushy. But race day is different. It’s like running across a frozen lake with the ice breaking up behind you, the ice-cold water reaching for your legs. It’s time for getting it on time, one step at a time, fast. I don’t think much during races.
My teeth are almost perfect. I’ve only ever had two cavities, but I did have one tooth pulled. I was in 5th grade. One day I woke up and it hurt bad. It wasn’t even loose. There was something wrong with the nerve and I had to get it pulled that same day. It was so horrible it was horrible. The dentist gave me a shot of Novocain, but it wasn’t enough. When he pulled on it the first time it hurt too much and he had to stop. He gave me two more shots and after that it was all right.
I hate pain, even though I can take a lot of it, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. Mr. Rote, our religion teacher, says we measure our pain by God, whatever that means. A lot of my prayers are thanking God I’m mostly healthy. We talk about evil in class, but I think the worst evil is pain. When my grandfather got old, before he died, he was in pain all the time. He was always hunched over, but he never complained. He could hardly walk. Dad said he just had to accept it. IT SUCKS TO BE OLD! When you’re a grown-up it’s right around the corner and you might as well brace for it.
I’m allergic to dust mites, pollen, and I’m deadly allergic to walnuts and pecans. I get itchy eyes from dust mites and pollen, sneeze a lot, and feel like crap. I had to get special microfiber covers for my mattress and pillows. If I eat nuts, I feel sick and then get sick. My throat hurts, it’s hard to swallow, and my stomach goes upset. It’s deadly, so deadly I need EpiPens, two of them, just in case. They pierce your skin. A needle shoots out and epinephrine makes it all go the way of the saints, so I don’t have to go to the hospital.
Thank God my dad and stepmom have insurance. The pens cost an arm and a leg, but they don’t cost us anything. If I was on my own, I would have to rob a bank.
My left thumb is different than my right thumb. It happened three years ago when I was eleven. My dad and I were buying a massage for my stepmom. We parked in the Beachcliff shopping lot in Rocky River and when I got out of our big body family Toyota van, I slammed the door shut, except I slammed it on my own thumb. My hand was still in the door. I slammed it on my own thumb, where it got stuck!
It was terrible. I couldn’t make sense of it. “Open the door, open the door!” I screamed.
When my dad finally jerked the door open my nail came off. We had to get x-rays at Lakewood Hospital. My thumb was broken and when the nail came back it came back different.
I have a scar on the left side of my neck, too. It happened last summer when I was playing Nazis and Jews at summer camp and got whiplashed. It was my own fault, but it was the fault of the jerk who was chasing me. I told him he wasn’t a real Nazi and I wasn’t a real Jew, and did he have to barrel after me like it was life and death? The doctor says I’ll probably have a tattoo reminder of it on my neck for the rest of my life.
I have a good personality. It’s better than most, for sure. I am definitely cool to the touch. I’m just being who I was made to be. I think it’s better to be yourself. Don’t try to copy anybody else, even though they might be smarter or more successful. Even though my personality is my personal property, it seems everybody, especially my parents and my teachers, all the grown-ups down on me, are always trying to change it.
I like to think I’m brave and have the character to rescue someone. I’d like to be a hero. Everyone knows I don’t have a quiet personality. I never look behind me or to the side. That’s not my identity. I don’t want to know who I used to be. That’s over and done. I’m only interested in who I am now.
The past is where I grew up, and I liked living there, but everybody knows YOU CAN’T GO BACK TO YESTERDAY.
I’m nice to everybody, unless they’re a jerk. Then I’m not going to be nice to them. I don’t mind what some guys think of me because I know there are other guys who don’t think that, not at all. There are many nice people like me, who are kind and considerate.
You can’t judge a book by its cover. That’s what a lot of people do. I don’t do that. I’m open-minded, but I don’t like it that grown-ups always try to put things I don’t want into my open mind. I don’t like it, at all.
I’m not too emotional. I’m more of a happy person, not a crazy high and low guy. I know everybody gets sad and depressed. I try to give them a smile. I like doing that. It’s right under your nose and it’s better than being mean. Everybody looks better when they smile. Some of my teachers smile as though they just want to get it over with. It’s like they’re visiting a disaster site. I get ticked off if people never smile, or if they smile only with their lips, not their whole face.
It’s sad when people die, but I feel they wouldn’t want you to be unhappy. You obviously can’t be happy, but don’t be depressed. That’s how I feel. It’s not worth the effort to be so sad. I might be down about something dumb for a few hours, or even a whole day, but then I’ll just forget about it.
When you smile, you forget. When you remember, you get sad. Never look back is what I say. I take it smart.
Some of the guys at St. Mel’s are so emotional it’s almost absolutely unbelievable. And it’s all a GANG OF GUYS, not even any girls. They don’t know that no one wants to hear their sob stories. They talk about how someone stole their girlfriend, how their parents are control freaks, and how their teachers don’t understand them. They want emotional support, like an IV pumping out of your face, which is like them talking.
I’m not like that. I only tell my close friends what I honestly think. I’m not going to blab it out like a sob train to the whole school. Going to Detroit is the way to go.
Those guys put it all on Facebook. They tell everyone what happened, when it happened, and why it happened. It’s not worth it. Who cares? Nobody cares. They think they have a lot of friends on Facebook. They couldn’t be more wrong. That is the biggest joke of all time. The Facebook gang is laughing all the way to the bank. Don’t be waiting for a friend request from any of them! Twitter has wiped out Facebook, anyway. I’m done with it, although I’m still on Facebook all the time.
There are a butt load of jerks and more at St. Mel’s. There are tools, the cocky guys, and whores. A tool will say they are your best friend. You are friends with them, you talk to them, but they go right behind your back and tell other people. So, they are tools. A cocky guy is someone who thinks they are the best at everything, even though they aren’t. They are insecure. Even if they are good at something, they are so cocky about it they are annoying. The whores are just sad kids, all lonely.
They’re never who they really are, letting themselves be who they are, so they can’t be a real friend. A friend to EVERYBODY is NOBODY’S friend.
Who upsets me more than anything are the attention seekers, especially in class. They want attention over the dumbest things. It makes me pissed off. One guy who is in one of my classes is always raising his hand to say something dumb, or if we have to do something, he asks the teacher to come check this or that. He says he just wants to make sure he’s on the right track. He goes on and on. He wants all eyes on him, since being the poster model is what he does. He needs to shut up!
I just don’t like to hear their voices. It’s totally dead annoying. The guys who make me more upset than anything are the queer bags. They’re the guys who are man whores, guys who will try to get with anyone. They’re just thirsty for a partner, anyone who will pay attention to them. They would probably even steal from bullies to attract a little attention.
Bullies rattle me more than most. I was bullied a lot in middle school. It was horrible. My dad would call the school, and tell them about it, and even go to the school. They would say, “We know, this kid, he’s a bully,” but nothing would ever happen. Nothing ever got done, no whipping, no hanging. At St. Mel’s it’s so different. They don’t tolerate it, at all. But guys still get bullied. It rubs me the wrong way. I know how it feels. It sucks, so they really tick me off a lot.
I’m popular at St. Mel’s because I know how to make friends with my classmates, and sophomores, too. I don’t try to win any popularity contests. That’s just how it is. I’m not modest, but I’m not conceited, either. I don’t try to be popular. I try to be nice and that translates into popularity. Not with everybody, for sure, because there are plenty of scrubs and haters in the hallways.
The only skunks who bite me are people. DOGS NEVER BITE ME, although Scar almost bit me once. I barged into my bedroom and he was sleeping on the other side of the door. My hand was in his mouth before I knew it and even before he knew it. When he looked up it was a toss-up who was more surprised. Was it him or was it me? His tail was wagging, and he was snarling at the same time. He left teeth marks on me, but no bloodshed.
Scar has personality, like me. Sometimes I think I might have been a dog in a past life because dogs will sometimes do a double take when they see me. I think they can see the inside of you. Scar always knows when I’m coming home, even though I might only be turning the corner up the street. He runs to meet me. No one else ever knows I’m home until I come through the door and ask what’s for dinner.
Except when it’s raining. Scar is jumpy about water. A neighbor sprayed him in the face when he was a puppy to keep him from barking when we were all in Michigan for a long weekend. She did it a bunch of times. When my older sister Sadie and I found out we waited until she flew to Las Vegas with her ugly friends to lose money and broke all the windows in her Audi with baseball bats.
It is fun running up and down the street and in the park with Scar. Dogs are so fit and fast. Dogs are my favorite people sometimes, definitely at home. Scar is short and sweet, like me. Nobody thinks cats and dogs go to Heaven, but I think animals were there a long time ago, before any of us, no matter what Mr. Rote says, who doesn’t even have a dog.
What does he know?
Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus