Dec 8, 2013
A Piece of Cake
Posted on Mar 10, 2012
By Mr. Fish
In his satirical lexicon on human nature, “The Devil’s Dictionary,” Ambrose Bierce defined truth as “an ingenious compound of desirability and appearance.” In deference to the profound wisdom offered by that definition, it’s not hard to see why I’ve spent my whole life being fleeced by bullshit and blindsided by a reality indifferent to truth.
The summer began with me playing canasta shirtless against my twin sister, Dawn, on my grandparents’ screened-in front porch, a freshly uncapped bottle of Yoo-Hoo by my side and a fat brass medallion the size of a hockey puck bearing the zodiac sign for Leo hanging to my navel from around my neck. It was 1978 and I was 11 and in my mind’s eye I looked like a younger, whiter version of Isaac Hayes, but, because I was wearing mirrored sunglasses, my sister saw me only as a moron she could hustle out of all his bicentennial money.
It was supposed to be the summer when I figured out girls, from learning about how their filthy mechanical innards made them run to honing my erudite skills as an aficionado of their wildly diverse design aesthetic. I had had the conversation with my best friend, Beats, some time around Memorial Day about how his older brother, Cray, who was a high school sophomore, had gone from being a hapless and hopelessly unpopular honors student with a complexion that made him appear as if his face had caught fire and then been put out with an ice pick to being a gregarious C-student with clear skin, a mustache and a top dresser drawer full of mesh bikini underpants, all because of something that happened to him at an unchaperoned Halloween party at the Cenlar twins’, Betty and Becca’s, dad’s house in Chester Springs, Pa.
“All I know is that there was a hookah and a hot tub and then, all of a sudden, my brother wants a Nehru jacket and a pierced ear for Christmas,” Beats whispered to me, his eyes bugging out of his head, over a game of Electronic Battleship in his basement. “Then my mother shows him his report card from the second semester and then he shows my mother the hickeys on his chest and then my mother asks him if Betty and Becca are identical or fraternal sluts and then my brother tells her to stop hassling him about his social life and then my mother tells him that he’s going to need more than just chlamydia and a mood ring to get into college and my brother says that he wants to talk about Christmas and then my mother says she already got him his Christmas present and that it’s a baseball bat that she’d like to get from the attic and show him 40 or 50 times.”
Whatever Cray had contracted in Chester Springs dressed as Paul Stanley from Kiss, Beats and I wanted to contract without the commute, the wig or the platform shoes, first with serious academic study of any and all schematics available on the female thingamajig and then, when we were ready, with real hands-on experience. Having lost our one and only copy of Sunshine and Health—a 1963 nudist magazine that Beats found in a church parking lot depicting what mediocre golfers, canoeists and pingpong players look like when they enter middle age without clothes on—to a fleet of bulldozers and a new strip mall, we were in desperate need of fresh research material.
“All you need to know is that there’s blood involved,” said Dawn, smoothing a short stack of $2 bills with her hand before folding them into her “Charlie’s Angels” vinyl purse along with all my bicentennial quarters.
“Blood?” I asked, feeling woozy all of a sudden, no longer invested in checking the backs of the playing cards to see whether they were marked. I removed my sunglasses and looked deeply into my sister’s face. “There’s blood?”
“Lots of it,” she said.
“Why is there blood?” I wanted to know. “Whose blood? Is it the man’s blood or the woman’s blood?”
“Listen,” she whispered, standing to go, “I’ve already said too much.” She shifted her eyes this way and that. “I could get in trouble if I told you anything else,” she said. “I’m sorry.” Then she was gone.
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