Back in school I was part of this study group
in a class teaching manners and etiquette.
Most of it didn’t take. Etiquette? Yeah … right.
I can’t even spell that. Word’s auto-correct
fixed it after the fact and Jack picked a whole
shitload of pickled peppers. Many peppers.
Red hot chili peppers in the blistering
sun. Green peppers in briar rabbit’s garden.
This class I was in? It was preparing us
to dine with class at the Manchester Inn out in
Middletown. Things like how to behave, where to
put this fork and that spoon, not to run away
with dishes and silver candlesticks like Jean
Valjean… Hey, it’s Two-four-six-oh-one! Oh no.
He’s singing again. Get used to it, bub, ‘cause
Wolverine (aka Hugh Jackman) can sing
and dance and kill you with his hand claws if he
goes into Berserker Mode or whatever
the hell it is that he does. I don’t even
know. I don’t like comic books. Damn it … once more
I’ve gotten sidetracked. The study group in class.
There was this girl in there who had a fever
and the only prescription for it was Kwap.
She used to sing the jingle to the song “Log”
from Ren and Stimpy. It went like this: “It’s Kwap.
It’s Kwap, for hyperactive kids.” And so on.
There was another girl in the group who got
migraines all the time. One day this blind kid, a
boy named Sebastian, asked that girl if she would
like her temples rubbed to ease the searing pain.
She said yes, because the question was asked with
honesty and concern for another’s well-
being. As he gently massaged the sides of
her head, I looked back at the poor girl on the
meds and saw her face turn white, then red, then blue.
Sadly that class didn’t teach how to act when
a lovesick girl chokes on her medicine. In-
-stead I sat there saying nothing, watching her
die in front of me. It was awful. “Hey … Yer
Blues is a hell of a Beatles song,” I told
her that day after the bell rang. She smiled
and faked a laugh, then inhaled deeply and looked
back towards the only boy she had eyes for.
Shame he couldn’t see her gaze. He loved her too.