You know how I said I saw you in Corky’s crying face? Well that’s not the only place I saw you in those days. On the contrary, I started to see you all over the place.
I saw your grinning mug in the mirror whenever I was on a good one. I saw your loving eyes in between every pair of legs I ever cajoled my way into (more on that in due time). And I heard your sweet, treacherous voice soliloquizing in my mind, egging me on to wonderful, woeful actions. I didn’t take a lick of advice from anybody back then, but when it came to you, I did every god damn thing you told me to.
It might have seemed, to the impartial observer, that I had begun a drastic and dire transformation once I met your acquaintance, and that you made me act completely contrary to my nature. But you and I know that’s nonsense. You brought out the real me, didn’t you? The terrible, terrible beauty inside that had been merely hibernating, slumbering for years and patiently awaiting your trembling, waking hand.
I, like Gregor Samsa, awoke one fine morning to find that I had transformed into a bug. But unlike Greg, I was ecstatic about it.
As a child, I always did what I perceived was expected of me. Not the right thing, exactly, but the thing that would allow me to essentially slip under the radar. The path of least resistance, so to speak: I figured out early on that if I did what was expected, things would go more smoothly for me. I didn’t want to do most of these things, admittedly, but the fear of what the consequences might be if I didn’t was encouragement enough.
When I met you, I left the path of least resistance in favor of the warpath.
All of a sudden, I decided that I didn’t want to do a lot of the shit I had been doing. I didn’t want to go to high school anymore because that place was a total drag and chicks still wouldn’t fuck me even though I wasn’t fat anymore. The teachers were just wasting my time anyways: it was my senior year, and their only concern seemed to be passing as many of us as possible so we could be cut loose on the real world. None of the students seemed to be interested in learning and the teachers were more than willing to accommodate their intellectual laziness.
So I decided that it would be a better use of my precious time if I stopped going to actual high school and did independent study. I had always been an exceptional student; I loved school and I loved learning and both seemed to come naturally to me. But every hour I was confined in a classroom was time that I couldn’t spend with you, Dionysus. And my thirst for you was insatiable.
So I fed my parents some line about not being challenged enough at school and how independent study would allow me more time to prepare for my post-high school life and to think about things like college. All of this, of course, was a complete and utter lie.
Independent study was an absolutely fantastic program, Dionysus. I was given work to do at my leisure, and my only responsibility was to show up once a week, at a different local high school (so I didn’t even have to see those peers I so loathed), to hand it in and speak with an “instructor” for about an hour.
So I blew through that shit no problem, receiving top marks for my troubles. The best part was that I would still receive the same diploma as everybody else, since the program was technically the same curriculum as regular high school. No G.E.D. for me. God bless the public education system.
Even at that age, it was important to me that I not appear lesser than those around me. I worried about my social status and station in life in comparison to others, all the while never really doing much to get to where I thought I should be. It was all appearance and affectation, Dionysus: Better to be a crippled man in a tuxedo than an able-bodied one in rags, you dig?
Because I was to be awarded a diploma from my high school, it meant that I could also attend the graduation ceremony. I wrestled with whether I wanted to or not: I was still convinced that I hated these people (and the school itself for that matter), so why would I want to grace them with my dignified presence?
I’ll tell you why, Dionysus: appearances. I wanted to show them that I was just as good as (and probably better than) them. Because not only had I earned the grades to technically be a valedictorian, but I was so fucking smart that I had figured out the con job that high school actually was and split for greener pastures.
See how fucking smart I was, Dionysus? Me neither.
So I got that silly gown and that square hat with the superfluous tassel on top. Actually, my mother got it for me, but that doesn’t matter. Despite the fact that I had a pretty cynical outlook on the entire thing, she was proud to see her son graduate high school. My father may have even been proud too. I don’t really know.
What I do know is that I hated wearing that fucking getup and I didn’t really care about how anybody else felt about it because I only did what I wanted to (god damn it) and I certainly didn’t want to go to some stupid fucking graduation ceremony.
I made it to rehearsal, at least. It was early in the morning, and they lined us all up and called out names in an orderly fashion so that us kids wouldn’t get unruly and fuck things up for the parents I suppose. I remember standing there and looking around at all these fucking people and knowing that I was better than them, just fucking knowing it, and also knowing that they thought they were better than me, even though they totally fucking weren’t, Dionysus.
So when I heard them call my name, I split. I just walked straight off that football field. I didn’t look back and I threw that stupid fucking cap and gown in the first rubbish bin I saw.
When I got home, I told my parents that I wasn’t going to graduation, and even if I had, that they wouldn’t have shown up anyway because they didn’t really care about me at all, no matter what they claimed, so they could just go fuck themselves.
What I did instead is I got really god damn drunk. I started at eleven in the morning or so, right after I lit out of that rehearsal.
Sadly, this wasn’t an isolated incident for me; it was like many countless others to come. Be that as it may, this particular time is rather unique in one aspect only: I remember exactly how much I had to drink that day. I couldn’t tell you the same information regarding most of my misadventures.
I drank thirteen Sparks that day. I had a thing about Sparks back then. I think it was the fact that you could keep drinking them long after you should have passed out because the caffeine would keep you going. I remember it was thirteen because I have a strange relationship with that number for one, and for two, I would later brag to my friends about how much I had drank. I don’t know why I thought that drinking until you spewed orange frothy acid everywhere was an accomplishment, but it was, Dionysus.
Feeling nice and drunk, I decided to go driving. I wasn’t going very far, after all, (just down the street to a friend’s) and my little truck with hundreds of stickers on it certainly wasn’t a target for cops. There are no cops (not yet, at least) in this story, Dionysus– just cats. Or, to be more precise, one cat.
So there I was, driving down the street, obeying all the rules of the road and exhibiting the most proper driving etiquette, when, out of nowhere, this black cat jets out into the black street and gets hit by my black tire before running off into the black night.
Clearly I hadn’t killed the thing, but I had to have done a number on it. This really shook me up, as I’ve always had a fondness for cats, especially black ones. Being the mixed up sort of fellow that I was, I saw them as a representation of good fortune. But not this one, apparently.
So I kept driving, shaking the entire way, and by the time I got home and crawled into bed, with all of my clothes still on, I was crying–not for the cat, but rather for myself.
Because I had a funny feeling that someday I would be that cat.
And oh, how right I was about that one, Dionysus, although there was no way of knowing it then.
<;/3 Sir Rateval Hurtlinge
P.S. After I walked out of that graduation rehearsal, I wouldn't step foot on that campus for many years. I never even bothered to pick up the senior yearbook I had already paid for. I also heard they still called my name at graduation, which, of course, made me hate those bastards even more.