Excerpt from Book:

Snapshots from Home
Stories from Dysfunctional High School

There’s this girl, right? She is one sweet honey. I guess I been chasing her about two years. And when I finally got up the nerve to ask her out she said yes, so I’m all happy and thinking everything’s cool. So we go to a few games at the school, not that I’m into that. It’s like yeah, “Go Cobras,” and really I could care less. But she likes that. She’s one of those girls that has all that lame school spirit so I go. It makes her happy. And since none of the other guys would be caught dead at a high school football game I’ve always got a date on game night. So I buy her a hotdog and a soda and hold her real close. And it’s cool.


She’s pretty easy going. She knows I hate the games so she goes with me to the Battle of the Bands in the local clubs on Thursdays. I know she hates rock, but she wants to please me. And hey that’s cool too.


We even kissed a few times and I thought, all right! I’m in there. But then this girl builds this wall. She builds this giant skyscraper wall every time I ask to meet her parents. I figure maybe she thinks that I’m just another guy playing some stupid game. She thinks that maybe I’m not serious. That maybe she just looks good on my arm. And maybe she does. But I’m still serious. I really want her to be with me. Only with me. The thought of some other guy even looking at her makes my skin just crawl.


So I’ve got to make this decision. I decide I’ll tough it out. I decide I’ll do something to show her that I’m for real. I saved my money for a guitar for a while. I guess I’ve been saving about six months and I see in the pawnshop that there’s finally one that I can afford. A red Stratocaster… clean, fine, the bomb! I really want it. I can taste it I want it so bad. But do I buy it? No. I’ve got to get to this girl. I’ve got to show her I’m for real. She’s like great Rock n Roll, like early NIN maybe. Without her I can’t play. I know this because in the pawnshop I try. When I think of her the tune sounds like a riff of gods. When I don’t think of her, when I put her out of my mind… I’m off key. I sound like disco and I cringe.


So forget the guitar. Forget all my dreams. Forget the band I was going to start. Forget the touring we were going to do our first year out of high school. I’ll give it all up for this girl. I’ll live without rock. I’ll get some stupid geek job. I’ll stick around this two-horse town and I’ll make her happy. And I cringe when I think of how much this sounds like love.


I let the guitar go. I take a chunk of my money and I buy a geek class ring. I know I’m turning into a complete loser, but I don’t care.


I mean, me? A class ring? That’s almost like actually doing homework. But I don’t care. I get it for her. She’ll love it. Something solid. Something every girl wants. A (dare I say it?) commitment. (What is she doing to me? I used to be so cool.)


What is she doing to you? You used to be so cool. That’s what my friends say. And as I watch them leaving one by one, I gnash my teeth. And as I hear them say there is no band, I die a little. And as they tell me to call them when I’m over the lovesick crap… and not until then. I taste rage. What am I doing to my life? And why don’t they get it? Some friends!


So I tell myself it doesn’t matter and I polish this stupid ring with the big ugly red rhinestone in the top. I get flowers, candy and the ring and set out to school the next day. I give her all the gifts and she just flips. She is crying but she says that it means she’s happy. And I’m happy too. Finally I’m in. Finally she knows I’m not just having fun. She knows she’s the girl for me.


So I wait. A week goes by. And another. And another. She never invites me to meet her folks. I’m starting to get really upset now. Maybe because she lives in that big house in the King William District, she thinks she’s too good for me. Just because I live in some crappy apartment… Daddy won’t approve. Maybe she’s playing games. Maybe I’m just the little rich girl’s charity case. And now I’m starting to taste rage again.


I ask her at school what she’s up to. She says that she doesn’t know what I’m talking about. I tell her I want to meet your parents… and she just says no. A flat out no. I ask why and she won’t say a word. She stands there staring at me. Looking right through me at the lockers behind me, at the floor, at the ceiling. Not into my eyes. She stomps away and throws the ring in my face and now I think maybe I am crazy. Because now I want to choke her.


A week goes by and we make up, but she acts all sweet and still won’t say a word about me meeting her parents. So I play along. After all I’ve been through… I’ll show her.


I stomp over to her house after school dragging all of my friends with me. This’ll show her uppity parents. I’ll bring those snobs every greasy rocker in the school. I’ll march them all through her living room. Past the designer furniture. Across the Italian tile. Up the spiral stairs. Through the hedges cut in the shapes of giraffes or whatever. I’ll show her. She cost me friends. She cost me the band. She cost me a fine guitar. And now I’ll show her and her snotty parents that we rockers are just as good as them. This is one party that I can’t wait to crash.


So I slam my hands against the door. I smash the knocker as hard as it will go. I’m not leaving until she answers. I’m not leaving until she invites us in.


She stands at the door. She looks all shocked. She tells us to leave, but we push past. I freeze in place. I see her mother, lying face up on the couch. Vomit all over her dress, the room smells like urine. Liquor bottles sprawled all over the floor at the bottom of the couch. My friends see this too… and it’s too late. I can’t take it back. I can’t make them unsee her alcoholic mommy all smeared with filth. I herd my friends out of the door and no one says anything.


I still see her at school. Sometimes our eyes meet. I can’t see her love in them anymore. Just an old photo stuck in her head. The snapshot of how I betrayed her. And some portraits just can’t be erased.


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