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Phuck Is Not a Four-Letter Word
Posted on Apr 1, 2011
By Mr. Fish
Walking back across my bedroom to kick, for the millionth time in a row, at the exploded sleeping bag and tent that had been dragged from the hall closet and heaped in the corner, I considered going into the kitchen and grabbing a couple cans of Dr Pepper and shoving them into my backpack. Then I remembered the NO CARBONATED DRINKS! rule, which, according to my brother, had been implemented after his friend Hugo Jaffee, after carrying a liter of Mountain Dew over rocky terrain in the Poconos, opened the bottle and ended up spending the better part of the following autumn in a physical therapy program having his part painfully retrained to appear on the proper side of his head.
Figuring fuck it, I flumped down onto my little brother’s bed, accidentally sitting on Sam, forcing a stream of stale tap water to arc majestically into the air from the tiny piss hole at the tip of his cashew-sized shaft. As triumphantly as a choir-led amen at the close of a prayer, the stream rose and fell beside me like a ribbon loosened and flung from a virgin’s dress.
I was saved.
None of the other Boy Scouts seemed to notice, or at least they didn’t seem to care, that there was a toy baby leg protruding from the top flap of my backpack. Sure, I’d gotten to the trail late and had to run about two miles to catch up with everybody else in my troop and, sure, nobody talked to me when I caught up with them because nobody in the troop liked me, but you’d think that at least the scoutmaster, Mr. Jinx, would feel obligated to say something to me after witnessing me burst through a grove of trees choking and spitting on my own exhaustion like a werewolf. Then again, I thought back to the beginning of the month when Podgie Benigno, who was the hairiest 11-year-old that I’d ever seen in my life, while rubbing two sticks together furiously for 45 minutes to start a campfire for his cooking merit badge, had his elbows catch fire and how Mr. Jinx, when asked where the first aid kit was, suggested, without getting out of his beach chair or putting down his gin and tonic, that we respect the significance of the cooking merit badge and honor its intent by eating Podgie’s arms. In essence, Mr. Jinx was the sort of absolute sonuvabitch that lazy parents revered, not because he completed the parenting that they, the parents, were too lazy to commit to, but rather because he justified their disregard for the well-being of their sons by being a shitty parent to them as well. It was Jinx’s job to turn little boys into little men since nurturing them as adolescents required patience, compassion and something brighter than a dimwit.
With Sam’s naked leg sticking out of my backpack and a growing concern that I might never find the privacy necessary for me to drink soda from him like a Saigon whore, I fell in with the herd of 20 other hikers and started walking. Having interrupted no conversation with my arrival, none continued, eyes meeting eyes only as confirmation that I was something to be mentally stepped around. It was then that I considered the virtue of camaraderie over isolation. After all, it was during long stretches of self-imposed mental exile without the distraction of other voices when men were forced into conversations with themselves and faced with the terrifying possibility that they were not worth knowing.
I remembered reading in school about dog sled racers in the Alaskan Iditarod and how they frequently suffered hallucinations as a result of their isolation, their brains thrown into sudden panic no doubt at the realization that they were spending the best years of their lives riding in what amounted to a shopping cart on skis behind a pack of dogs slaphappy enough to recognize the word Mush! as an excuse to run headlong into the woods, their eyes like pinwheels. Of course, any brain faced with such a bizarre portrait of itself will attempt to create an entirely different reality in which to place itself, damning the one that it’s actually in. I feared that I might be beginning this hike with a terrific personality and ending it with absolutely none to speak of, having ingested it during the course of the day like a box of Cracker Jack, my self-destruction predicated on the false notion that there was a prize to be claimed at the center of my soul.
It was then that Mr. Jinx turned around to face us and command, “Canteen/piss break, five minutes!” Dutifully responding like pennies released from a fist, Scouts fanned out in all directions, rolling behind trees and boulders and shrubs and into gullies to pour scant amounts of ammonia and lemonade into tiny foam puddles before regrouping themselves into grumbling pairs and threesomes and quartets to sit and pull canteens from their packs and to upend them against their lips. Finding a tree of my own, one too skinny to provide complete invisibility, I took 49 seconds to take a three-second piss and to shake absolutely nothing off my very modest modesty, contemplating the whole time how I was going to get Sam’s plastic meatus out of my backpack and into my mouth without drawing the attention of all the normal kids around me, figuring that lynch mobs weren’t so much rehearsed as they were spontaneously inspired.
“Well,” I whispered to my brother, standing three feet away from the lifeless doll that was our mother, “that’s her, all right.” He agreed with a whispered yep. Then, with neither one of us trusting the authenticity of the oh-so-popular five stages of grief, we stood dry-eyed and said nothing more, him because he wanted to remember our mother looking so much less agonized than she had appeared to him three days earlier and me because I believed, with absolute certainty, that if I made a sound I’d wake her up, which would embarrass both of us, each overcome with average tears and made ordinary by a warm and all-too-comforting embrace.
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