Monday, August 29, 2011

excerpts from INTIMATE TEENAGERS - a novel


Everybody always said Seinfeld was a bad actor because he could barely keep a straight face through most of his scenes – even ones in which his character was receiving terrible news of one sort or the other. I think this particular trait in fact made Seinfeld a great actor, because that’s how people should react to crises. They should giggle and have to hold their mouths closed because it’s all so absurdly hilarious. When you look at a situation, with all the scientific knowhow we have these days, all the cosmic forces that once appeared divine or destined now seem chaotic and arbitrary, and should warrant no more than a shoulder shrug, a smiling shake of the head that seems to suggest: “Go figure.”


We play Halo in our underwear, eating Cheerios. She says she hates playing with me because all I want to do is shoot the marines on our team and listen to them beg for mercy. After one such spree I develop a terrifying erection and am unsure whether it’s the result of simulated murder or a little patch of pubic hair coming out of her panties that I can see in the reflection on the TV. I grab her off the couch, carry her to the kitchen, bend her over the counter and fuck her. I bum a smoke before I leave to meet Claire at the mall.


It happens like this sometimes, after sex. She says she can’t go to sleep if someone is touching her so we separate to opposite ends of the bed. We are both awake but I'm pretending to be asleep because if she thinks I’m awake she will want to talk to me and I can’t stand her. It’s hard to fake sleep in her bed though, because I’m always too hot or cold and have to keep moving my feet and arms in and out of the blankets.
“Hey, you awake?” Her voice sounds hopeful. I lay still, consider my options, and after a moment make a guttural noise in the affirmative. “What are you thinking about?”
I wait a long time before answering. I can’t hear anything, not even the blood circulating in my brain.
“What hospital rooms are going to look like in the future.”
She turns over and goes to sleep.


I wonder if I got hypnotized whether I could remember stuff that happened while I was blacked out. Like if that Mark Wahlberg movie even really exists, or why I have a pair of Dolce and Gabbana sunglasses in my car. Jamey fell out of a third-story window at a hotel last night.


Alicia and I have been driving for an hour, past gas stations and whole towns the colour of mud and abandoned mills and all the other mundane tragedies of rural America. We’re listening to the soundtrack from Midnight Cowboy, which she miraculously has on cassette.
“People living lives as routine and unremarked-upon as a pair of tits on premium cable...” Alicia says, staring out the window.
It’s raining hard. The flecks of dirt on the windshield look like weird lumpy birds against the sky. I have nothing to say.
“I imitated Gena Rowlands from A Woman Under the Influence last night at dinner with my mom and dad but I don’t think they got it.”