Wow, it's been awhile, hasn't it? This summer was just crazy -- we took our toddler on road trips to Maryland, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Ohio, I worked on more revisions to The Real Friend and had another (minor) back surgery, my mother got married -- but I can't believe it's already almost
(*Love it or hate it, I'm starting to think that in a hundred years, first world countries will refer to the seasons of the year as Winter, Spring, Summer, and Pumpkin Spice Latte. My local Starbucks has a simple sign on the door: "PSL: It's Here." It's attained a level of ubiquity that took Cher five decades to develop. But I digress.)
Anyway, the summer was so nuts that I neglected to post anything here! So here's a little bit of short fiction that I dreamed up during our road trips. If it sticks with me, I might develop it into something bigger, but for now it's just a fun little nugget of a story. Hope you enjoy it!
One innocent bet had led to this catastrophic afternoon.
“You’re only twelve, son,” Dad said. “There’s no rush—we just want to give you the information you’ll need later.”
“I saw you with that Jenny Strathmore two weeks ago, Greggy,” Mom added. “Your hand was up the back of her shirt. I saw it.”
I rolled my eyes. “It was a bet, Mom.”
Jenny and I had been friends since second grade, and we’d been secretly watching her older brother Paul and his girlfriend making out. Paul had slipped his hand up the girlfriend’s shirt in one fluid motion and unfastened her bra strap.
After we’d retreated to my house two streets away—and stopped laughing—Jenny had made a bet with me. “If you can unhook my bra one-handed without looking in under… thirty seconds, I’ll give you my Turbo Soaker XL,” she had dared. “But if you can’t, I get your Indiana Jones hat.”
It was a week into summer vacation, and the XL was the best water gun we’d ever seen. I had handed Jenny my wristwatch and ordered her to keep time.
Thirty seconds later, defeat had stung. “That strap has more damn hooks than a tackle box,” I had protested. “How do girls even get dressed in the morning? Do you get up at five?”
“And that’s not even counting styling my hair,” Jenny had added. Then she had snatched up my Indiana Jones hat and perched it on her head, smirking at me as she adjusted her strap back to normal. All of a sudden the sun had gotten really hot and I’d had to run inside and take a shower. But that was beside the point.
The worst part wasn’t the information itself. I had already heard what I figured I needed to know at school. The worst part was that Mom and Dad had decided to give me the talk during our family trip to Nannie’s farm. In the middle of a cornfield. Together.
“I know at this age you are starting to have… urges,” Mom said. “Some of the girls in your class are starting to… develop.” She glanced at Dad, probably because she realized she was incapable of completing a sentence without a torturous pause.
“It’s normal, son,” Dad added. “I remember back when I was in junior high, this one girl, it was like overnight she—”
Mom’s glare stopped his words on a dime.
“Aaaand that’s why it’s important to learn about this now,” he continued, “because you always want to be respectful. And part of that is learning to control your impulses. I remember when I met your mother, she was in this red bikini—”
“—pretended I had forgotten my goggles back in the locker room. If you need a moment, just pretend you’ve forgotten something somewhere else. Girls believe it because guys don’t have purses.” He nodded knowingly, like he’d just said something really profound.
“Oh, darn it all,” said Mom. “We forgot the book.”
“It’s called ‘Inside Your Changing Body,’ and it’s very helpful. Lots of diagrams. Oh, well. We did shadow puppets when you were little, Greggy. This shouldn’t be much more diffi—hey! Wait!”
That was when my survival instinct kicked in. If I sat there another minute to see Mom and Dad’s cornfield shadow puppet show, my brain would explode. I rocketed off the ground and took off running. I pulled off my bright red shirt as I ran, hoping I’d be harder to find among the tall rows of cornstalks. For once I was glad to be short for my age. If I could find my way to the highway, maybe I could hitchhike out of the state.