ars autobiografica III

My mom had remarried a couple years earlier, to a complete ass-hole. L was a surly insurance peddler. His parents had kept him on a leash as a child. He thought he was pretty smart. Figured he could talk my mom into moving us into a more blue-collar edge of town where the schools were lousy so he could catch a tax break. Though he never succeeded in doing that, he did manage to mangle the better part of three years of my life. He was a fairly abusive guy, sometimes in the physical sense. He tried to restrict what my sister and I could watch on TV. Claimed MTV would rot our brains, but didn’t seem to mind my listening to his old Black Sabbath records. Go figure.

Anyway, that shit starting hitting the fan when I entered high school (If you’ve seen or read “This Boy’s Life,” my situation was pretty parallel). I started lifting weights and playing football to get out the mounting aggression I felt toward the cockholder my mom had married. Or maybe I just enjoyed the extra time away from the house.

I really never understood all the crap they feed you about high school being the ‘best years of your life.’ That’s pretty sad. I mean, you’re just pubescent, you start getting all of these near-uncontrollable urges, your face breaks out and no matter who you are or how hard you try, you can’t please everyone and ‘fitting in’ takes on a very disproportionate importance.

So, I spent the first year or so of those years hitting the weights, ‘jocking out,’ if only for my own protection. My grades started to hit the shitter, except for Spanish and English. I could blame it on that bastard or on myself being at one of those awkward stages. I just accept it as the way it was and uncontrollable.

The end of my freshman year of high school, I took a job setting up and then operating rides at a church festival. I was 15, but lied and told the carnies I was 18, so they could hire me. All I really remember about the time were these semi-toothed career carnies asking me if I knew where in town they could score crank or “sweet asshole.” I was pretty naive about drugs and pretty quiet about sex then and, sadly, unable to help them with either.

I took my carny pay to Puerto Rico with me that summer, did some fishing with my uncle and cousins, bought a guitar I wouldn’t be able to find on the mainland, scoped out all the beautiful women of the island, drank real Pina Coladas and experienced my first tropical drunk, spent a great day at El Yunque and hopped a hydrofoil to St. Thomas with my mom and sister. I remember a voluptuous caramel-skinned woman at a restaurant making eyes at my mom. My mom divorced the jagoff later that year and a healing came upon us all.