Did you know Kristy Castle's parents are out of town all week?" asked Brock.
"Yeah, Katie and Molly are over there now," said Billy.
"They're probably watching movies on Kristy's parents' big fluffy bed, eating ice cream in their t-shirts and little pink panties."
"Who's Kristy Castle?" I ventured.
"She's an amazingly fine freshman girl -"
"- who needs to lose her virginity to me."
There we went, bantering and bragging, down the hill from the starry darkness of the winding streets into the fluorescent buzz of the shopping plaza as it shut down for the night. The Tom Thumb grocery store, Time Out For Burgers and I Can't Believe It's Yogurt smeared the sky with the colors of their electric signs. A plan was hatched to call Kristy Castle and innocently inquire what she might be doing. Billy and Brock couldn't decide who should call - I, a melancholy phantom of our high school halls, was useless in that regard, but I suggested recruiting Chip Westlake, then closing up at the video store. We plied him with promises of beer and reverential testimony in school the next week, if he won us admittance to the house of our pink-scented dreams.
"Didn't you used to help her out in geometry, Chip?" Billy asked.
"Oh yeah, she owes me big time. She'd always wait for me in the hall before class, and I'd let her copy the homework."
As we waited for Chip to finish with the cash register and make the call, I drifted off down the aisles of the store. And quite unexpectedly I was gripped by the sensation that my self had left my body and was now looking down at it from somewhere above my shoulder. Could that be me? I felt sure I was glimpsing myself as others saw me: a body - this awkward ape - and a "personality" - that sum of mangled speech and unintended gestures, spurting unbridled out of me from God knows where, so poorly conveying my thoughts and feelings. The truth hurt. But there was something else: What was I? What was observing these fragments of my existence and yet was not them?
I sat down on the floor, hidden from my friends by the store's racks. Slowly the strength in my legs came back, and I began to hazily comprehend something I could call "myself." A something that endured while, adrift on confusing waves of stimuli, I blundered through every social encounter, my frightened eyes riveted to my shoetops, shame thick in my throat.
No, that oafish person was not me. As I looked at all the video boxes depicting bawdy, robust American teens, pursuing with healthy dumb determination their one great desire, I saw that within me existed a pristine image of my self as I wished to be. That was me - the esthetic vision, the ideal.
And it was a template, an instruction book. I would be the graceful kid, the eloquent kid, the sensitive kid who's tough in the clutch. The kid who's seen exotic places other kids have not; who devours books the other kids can barely understand; the kid who wins the girl, the scholarship, the limitless future by the sheer world-conquering depth of his feelings. I would be that kid I knew from every teen flick, pop song and music video that had ever stirred my heart.
The Sacred and the Profane
A Conversation with Douglas Rushkoff
Reinventing the Wheel: A Review of Nothing Sacred
They Gonna Crucify Me: A 'Lapsed Jew' Responds to Nothing Sacred
Plus these other attractions:
Meditation and Sensuality
Anything You Want to Be
Josh Graduates High School
Zeek in Print
Spring 03 issue available here