Perhaps I was dreaming of a world in which I could always peg my pants expertly, instead of merely cutting off the circulation in my legs. Perhaps I was dreaming of a world in which my MC Hammer Pants and Hypercolor shirt were the talk of the town and drove the ladies wild.
Perhaps I was dreaming of a world in which I didn’t want to blend into the background and just make it through Junior High without drawing attention to myself.
Perhaps there are fates worse than death.
What’s so funny?
I sat up and opened my eyes, a bit of drool still clinging to my cheek. I’d fallen asleep in Mr. Himmelspach’s seventh grade science class. Mr. H. had a very soft voice when he taught. I might have continued sleeping if it hadn’t been for the laughing.
Man, it was loud. What were they all laughing at?
I was wearing my favorite baggy print Hammer time pants. My parents had bought them for me in a mall in Twin Falls. I was so proud. I had put them on in the store and worn them for days. They felt great, especially when I danced in them. They were billowy and stretchy and purple with pink highlights. Hot pink was really popular.
The good and the bad
One of the good things about the billowy pants was that they hid my little chicken legs from scrutiny and ridicule.
One of the bad things about the billowy pants was that they were swaddling my little, inopportune erection which had taken center stage to the great delight of my classmates. It was a really bad way to discover insomnia relief.
What to do? What to do? No way to deny it. It’s a carrot. It’s the remote control. Oh crap, did I bring my rolling pin to school?
I probably should have said, “U Can’t Touch This” and done some dancing.
Instead, I put on my most serious face, tucked my traitorous weenie into the waistband of those sabotaging pants, and stared down into my textbook with all the gravitas of the faces on Mt. Rushmore, pretending that I’d never heard of anything so fascinating as mitochondria.
The teacher was unable to regain control. I finally stood up and ran out of the room with as much dignity as possible–which wasn’t much, since I had to waddle along with a weird gait meant to grant me some modesty.
I went into the bathroom and sat in one of the stalls. I didn’t cry, which surprised me, but I couldn’t get my breathing under control. I had this thought: If only I had the water of Lethe.
If Greek mythology tisn’t your thing, Lethe is one of the rivers of Hades. It means “forgetfulness.” If a person was splashed with the water of Lethe, he or she would forget everything.
The fact that I knew this was just one more reason that I stood out. I read all day. I was too smart for my own good. I could name the Greek Gods and I wrote poems about robots.
I was already a foot taller than anyone else in the school, including most of the teachers. I was having mild tics that could no longer be ignored. I wore a floor length Triple Fat Goose winter coat just because it had enough pockets for all of my paperback novels. I couldn’t throw a giant kettlebell around to impress anyone. I couldn’t tear cards or bend steel.
All I could do was hope for the best, and that hadn’t happened.
And now I was the kid with the worst nickname in school. Until that point, everyone had just called me Twitch.
I never would have believed that I could hate any name worse.
I never told my parents about it. My mom probably would have said, “Oh, they’ll forget as soon as it happens to another boy. Maybe they meant it as a compliment.”
My dad would have said, “They were laughing so they wouldn’t cry. There’s no grander sight than a Hanagarne man with his pants down.”
I wouldn’t have believed either of them, but I would have wanted to.
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