Strove to find a way to punch people in the face by using the Internet.


More Fun with Roommates
One time I narrowly missed becoming another man’s woman. Apparently.

It all started with my old high school buddy Chris Robertson. Chris was a great guy, and one day after a couple of beers, he took my hand, unexpectedly kissed me full on the mouth and, eyes full of tears, said, “I want you to be my woman. I’ve wanted it for a long time, and there’s nothing in the world I want more. Be mine.”

Ha ha! Not really! …As far as you know.

Anyway, Chris was kind of moody. He was significantly younger than his two older brothers and diabetic, and had been coddled by his parents to some degree, making him a bit spoiled. And when he’d drink, his blood sugar would go awry and he’d just become a total mess, alternating between sloppy rage, crying jags and an incomprehensible, yet vaguely menacing, sort of mumbling and giggling.

This stuff was all in good fun, really. He attacked me with machetes and butcher knives a few times, and I had to knock him unconscious once or twice… And there was the time he drank half a bottle of cough syrup at a party and decided to strangle himself by using a necktie tied to his bedroom doorknob… That was sort of funny and pathetic at the same time, something a slightly more sober Chris readily admitted a few hours later, laughing at himself with a self-deprecating cackle. In fact, even when these little dramatic episodes occasionally got out of hand, the fact that Chris himself would be the first to mock and belittle his shenanigans was a huge mitigating factor. And it always made for a good story.

But it’s one thing to have a buddy who has a fat sullen streak and the propensity to freak out every once in a while, and it’s another thing entirely to live with a buddy who has a fat sullen streak the propensity to freak out every once in a while.

Yes, Chris eventually moved in with me. And living together was a challenge. When he moved in, it was his first time leaving the nest. He had never developed certain life skills most people take for granted.

Once I saw him use a metal fork to fetch something out of a plugged-in toaster. I hollered at him, telling him that he could kill himself doing that. He told me to fuck off and went to sulk in his bedroom. Later, he called his mom to complain about me, but she confirmed the potential dangers of the deceptively placid toaster and even sent him a special non-conductive wooden tong he could use should he ever again need to pry a goodie from the machine’s infernal maw.

Another time, while sitting on the back deck of a local punk club eating hamburgers, I warned him to slow down on the booze… Predictably, he told me to fuck off, and not long after I saw him vomit on himself. Not feeling particularly compassionate that night, I lost track of him, but when I staggered home at 4 a.m. he was passed out on the bathroom floor, curled around the cool, comforting porcelain of our toilet. This wouldn’t really be notable except that months later while we were doing laundry he discovered a chunk of semi-digested burger from that night in the rolled-up cuff of his jeans. It was remarkably well-preserved.

You know, I just remembered… Not long after the toaster incident Chris started dating a girl who was his match in the life-skills department… He met her when I brought her home and had sex with her, but decided not to pursue a relationship after she smacked me in the face full-force when I told her I thought the Dead Milkmen sucked. A day or two later she turned up in his room. I snickered a little, but tried to conduct myself around them with as much politeness as I could muster. I couldn’t muster too much, of course, and as a result the tension around our place increased.

A week or two into this and, unbelievably, I caught her doing the very same metal-fork-into-the-toaster thing. Once again, I screamed, and she ran crying to Chris. He very gently explained that she could hurt herself that way, and demonstrated the use of the wooden toaster-tong. It was kind of heartbreaking and sweet, really, like watching someone with Down Syndrome teach a monkey to wear pants.

They seemed perfect for each other, and eventually got a place together. However, she was an English major at the college, and soon after entered her society-mandated humorless lesbo-commie phase, parading around with a vaguely militaristic cap, overalls, a stern expression and armpit hair. I didn’t see Chris too often around this time, but when I did he looked even more miserable than usual. Chris had always hated commies.

Anyway, before he moved in with her and had his balls removed, we were living together and it was a little tense, but it’s not like we didn’t still hang out. One night we were drinking on the porch and decided to hit the town. At one point during the revelry Chris says he’s going home. I find another ride, but remind him that I had lost my keys, so he’ll need to leave the door unlocked. A pretty straightforward exchange.

Complications arise when I make it home, a little after the bars close at 2. The front door, you see, is locked. I commence to pounding and yelling, hoping to rouse Chris, but it’s to no avail. Perhaps because of an alcohol-induced coma, or possibly just out of meanness, he’s refusing to let me in.

I’m drunk, pissed-off and panicked. My ride, a vague acquaintance, tells me that she wants to get home soon, lest her husband become enraged at the late hour and beat her, but she’s willing to give me a ride to a friend’s place or something. Pondering that creepy fucking statement through the drunken haze in my brain, I ask her to take me to Ben’s house.

Ben is quiet and reliable, the kind of person you can count on in this sort of crisis. He’s also deeply, deeply weird. Before I met Ben, I used to work with a jolly fratboy who referred to his mysterious, nocturnal roommate as “the vampire.” The first time I went to Ben’s place, I thought it looked familiar… I looked around for a minute, then remembered I had been there for one of the fratboy’s parties. Two and two came together in a flash and, delighted, I exclaimed, “Ben! You’re the vampire!”

“Yes,” he replied. Ben never said much.

But he was as demonstrative during sleep as he was reserved in the waking hours. He’d sleepwalk like a motherfucker, creeping around performing arcane, inexplicable tasks and having detailed, peculiar conversations with people while totally unconscious. A girlfriend once woke him during one of these esoteric somnambulant rituals and asked him just what he was up to… “I was holding down the blue rays,” he said, sighing.

So I had this strange woman drive me to Ben’s, thinking he’d be awake, or at least involved in some ghastly mockery of wakefulness, and I could use his phone to call Chris and wake his stupid ass up.

But Ben isn’t home. The abused wife leaves. I stagger around Ben’s neighborhood for what seems like hours, drunk and tired and wondering what I’m going to do. I decide the best course of action is to go back to Ben’s and sleep on his lawn.

I get there, and Ben’s home. He was out running errands, buying groceries and, possibly, draining blood from his victims. As best as I could in my state, I mumble my way through an explanation, and he lets me in to use the phone.

I call home, and after a few rings get our answering machine. Fuck, Chris still won’t wake up. I call back again — still nothing. On the third call, I try yelling into the machine. “Wake up! Chris, wake up! I need to come home and sleep! I have to work tomorrow!” No response.

Desperate, I call back a few more times. Ben sits on the edge of his bed, quietly watching. “You know,” he says, “It’s possible that Chris never made it home.”

Never… made it… home. The idea fills me with anger. He knows I don’t have my key! He promised to leave the door unlocked! And he never even bothered to go home!

“Give me the damn phone,” I say, finding a sudden focus in my rage. I dial our number again. “Chris, I know you’re out there, partying, even though you said you were going home and would leave the door unlocked for me. Well, this is it — I’m really pissed this time! Really pissed!” I slam down the phone.

After about 30 seconds, I decide that my message didn’t sufficiently convey the extent of my feelings, so I ask for the phone again. “Chris, I don’t think you know how pissed I am, man. I’m going to get you,” I growl. “I’m going to get you, and there’s nothing you can do about it. You can’t hide.” I slam the receiver down again.

I sit there for a minute or two, thinking about the situation and becoming even more enraged. I grab the phone and dial. “Chris, I’m going to beat the holy living shit out of you. You’re going to wish you had never been born. I’m not even going to give you the chance to make an excuse. I’m just going to open up and start hurting you the second I see you.” Slam!

And, predictably, a minute later I dial again. “You’re going to feel pain like you’ve never felt before, you miserable piece of shit. I’m going to break every bone in your worthless body. You’ve done a lot of crummy shit to me, but this takes the cake. I’m going to beat you, and beat you, and beat you, and there’s nothing you can do.”

This pattern repeats itself for about 15 more minutes, with my invective getting increasingly violent and detailed. “I’m going to peel your skin off, Chris. I’m going to light your fucking head on fire and piss it out, and then do it again. I’m going to rip out your right eye, but leave it attached, so I can point it at your other eye, and you can watch that eye being ripped out up close and personal.” Etc. Ben sits there, amused and a little alarmed. I finally tire, and crash on the floor.

The next morning, after a few shitty hours of drunken, uncomfortable sleep, Ben takes me to work. We stop by my apartment, hoping Chris will be there and I can grab a quick shower and change of clothes. Sure enough, he’s there. I throw open the door and burst into the room, snarling. Chris, who’s standing at the answering machine, jumps a few feet into the air and starts trembling. I push past him into my room and get ready for work. When I come back out, Chris is sitting on the couch with some kind of a homemade bandage wrapped around his head. I glare at him and leave, thinking, “If he thinks pretending to have some sort of head injury is going to spare him a beating, he’s got another thing coming.”

On the way to work, Ben tells me how obviously terrified Chris was. He was just shaking and pacing, Ben says, and wouldn’t say a word. “Good,” I say, but inwardly I start to soften. The guy was a fuck-up, but he’s still my pal. The scare ought to be punishment enough. I’d let him stew until I got home, and then make up with him.

I’m at work a few hours when Chris calls. He’s crying, and I feel terrible. “Dude, I’m not really going to beat your ass,” I say, trying to console him while wondering why he’s being such a blubbering pussy. He’s sobbing, making weird mewling noises and incoherently mumbling. The first articulate thing I can make out is him saying, “Last night I took some acid…”

Oh boy.

It turns out Chris had given this girl a ride home when he left. She invites him in for a drink, and he accepts. After some drinks and foolin’ around, they decide to go to a party, and she offers him a hit of LSD. He accepts that too.

So they get to this party, and he starts tripping, but gets freaked out by “these weird paintings of monsters” all over the place. Before long, he’s in the midst of a full-blown, drug-induced panic attack. He wants to go home, but is in an unfamiliar part of town, and is afraid to drive. So he decides to wait it out a bit.

A few terrifying hours later, he makes it home. He’s still feeling kind of wobbly and nervous, but decides to listen to the messages on the answering machine. Not surprisingly, he finds the tape of insults, screaming and violent threats somewhat less than soothing. He starts freaking out again, pacing around and wondering if he’s going crazy. Maybe those messages were just some kind of sick hallucination… He listens to them again to be sure. And a minute or two in, I burst through the door in a homicidal rage.

So Chris isn’t doing so hot.

I do my best to talk him down. I also make a few calls to friends and his girlfriend, who agrees to go keep an eye on him. Apparently, by the time she gets there the crisis is pretty much over. He’s giddy, and dancing around in some kind of homemade tinfoil hat. And he’s back to “normal” by the next day.

A few weeks later Ben and I are laughing about the whole thing. “There’s something else to the story; something I didn’t tell you before,” Ben says.

“Oh yeah? What?”

“Well, that night, while you were crashed on my floor, I did some sleepwalking.”

“Uh oh. What’d you do?”

“Well, I woke up at one point, and I had a hold of your boot,” Ben says. “I was dragging you across the floor by your boot. You slept through the whole thing.”

“What the fuck were you doing? Holding down the blue rays again?” I laugh.

Ben suddenly turns very serious.

“I suspect you were fixin’ to be my woman,” he says.



How People Get Here
So my brother Neil hipped me to this cool site-monitoring software that you can use to see how people find your Web site. Here's a list of words and phrases from the past five days that people actually typed into popular seach engines to find the Diary of Indignities:

bad girls who smoke crack
what makes living trust go bad
funny q-tips
funny fucking shit
britney spears blowjob video + smoking gun
patrick hughes art apartment
first child advice funny
uncle fucking
bad news in emergency nursing
funny advice
the hughes are fat ass wipes
amway bad news
bad bad fucking girls
female figure four leglock
kill mites eyebrows
advice to children
bad affects of tamarind
sunburn itching
really bad shit
opaque eyed pencil neck geek
all good shit
naked uncle
glen hughes mustache
advice on what to wear
ladies difference in appearance from losing 50 pounds
shit ass
robert crumb inflate
blueberry costume wonka
jenny karate camping punch shorts
long lasting fuck advice
always your uncle
head punching foxy boxing girls
moss ladies fucking in turkey
qtip pee hole
irish curse penis size

I can only hope that these brave, insane search-engine poets found what they were looking for here. And I'm seriously considering starting a merchandise section, so I can sell those Jenny Karate camping punch shorts that all the kids seem to love these days. Quality camping punch shorts are hard to come by, and I can wholeheartedly endorse the durability and comfort of the Jenny Karate brand.

There was some other crazy shit too, but it involved stuff I really don't want to reprint, lest it encourage more sick fuckers to come here. I mean, uncle fucking I can understand, but some of the shit people are looking for really disturbed me... Well, mostly. One pervert managed to deploy the phrase "pooping and peeing" in a way that made me giggle a little bit. But I still don't want those kinds of twisted fucks on this site.

One last thing: why so much cursing? Have we lost all sense of decorum? Disappointing.


Live! Crack-Smoking Action! With Your Host, Dirty Mike!
I used to want a good nickname. (Shut up! Bad News Hughes isn’t a nickname. It’s a persona.) In my teens and 20s, it seemed like every third guy I knew had a good nickname: Chuck From Hell, Bob Chicken, Frank Boy Cool, The Saucy Pirate, etc. (Okay, I admit I totally made that last one up. But I think it’d be hard to argue its potential.)

Anyway, one day I realized I had a nickname: Pat Hughes, spoken real fast like it’s one word. “Hey, it’s Pathughes! Get him!” “Put your damn pants back on, Pathughes!” “Do me a favor? Don’t tell Pathughes about the really fun party I’m having.” It doesn’t confer any special attributes, reflect superhuman abilities, incorporate the word “atomic” or have any kind of a ring to it, but it’ll do. At least it doesn’t serve as a blatant warning, like say Stabby Jim or Dirty Mike.

Not that warnings are always heeded. When I was 17, I got kicked out of the house and overlooked the obvious, signing a lease on an apartment with Dirty Mike. At the time, I thought a shared love of punk bands the Misfits and Naked Raygun was a perfectly solid foundation for becoming roommates. As it turned out, though, there were compatibility issues of a much higher degree of complexity than anything I anticipated lurking just behind our happy domestic facade. Like, for one example, Dirty Mike liked to snort a lot of bathtub crank and smoke a little crack cocaine once in a while. And I didn’t.

Well, I didn’t like to smoke the crack, anyway. I must admit I gave the speed a try once or twice and discovered it pretty much made me feel like I always felt — anxious, nauseous and borderline violent — only crappier, and so I ditched that shit pronto.

Before I had moved in with Dirty Mike he told me the story of how he had earned his nickname. As a teen, he went to school on Halloween dressed like a hobo. To create his costume, he took a shit, and wiped his ass with his shirt. Which he then wore.

His creativity resulted in expulsion, something that needled him even years later. “I mean, that’s what bums really do,” he would mutter while relating the story and grinding his teeth down to brown little nubs. “I was just trying to make a realistic costume.”

Somehow this anecdote didn’t dissuade me from moving in with him. In fact, at the time, the story seemed to land him somewhere between “genius comedian” and “brave martyr.” “Subhuman asshole” didn’t get added to the mix until after I had lived with him for a few weeks and my precious Samhain tapes ended up stolen and sold to support his drug habit. And I watched him smoke crack.

At first, he would be fairly discrete about it, and retire to a back bedroom to enjoy a rock or two. Occasionally, he’d invite a few redneck biker friends over for a little crack party. Eventually, he’d just fire it up while we sat there with our friends, enjoying the special garbage-dump ambience we’d created.

I didn’t even give a shit. I was pretty beaten down by the time Dirty Mike started openly huffing down that sweet crack rock. In fact, I was as sick as I’d ever been in my life. Stress, poverty, booze and poor nutrition — er, make that no nutrition — had put the atomic whammy (say, that’s not a bad nickname) on my immune system something fierce.

The first physical manifestation of my malaise occurred the day after a show by a punk band called the Descendents. I woke up around noon, briefly considered going to school (I had fallen out of the habit, mostly because I was lazy and hung over all the time but also because it was when I was at school that my tapes tended to disappear) and finally decided to shower, shave and go hit up the goddamn Hare Krishnas for a free meal.

Rubbing my hand over my strangely lumpy face, I thought, “Man, the pimples sure came out in force last night,” and started to squeeze a big one. Then I noticed the “pimples” were all over my chest, neck, arms, legs and ding-dong. What the fuck could this be?

Hmmm… I had recently been over to a friend’s house, where his little brother was sick with chicken pox. Could this be chicken pox? Shit, everyone has that when they’re little, right? Turns out the answer was no. A quick call to my lunatic mother revealed that, indeed, while I had contracted my share of entertaining rashes and ailments as a child, somehow I managed to dodge the pox. Well, no longer.

Chicken pox wasn’t so bad, actually. I had transmitted it to at least three or four people at the Descendents show, which for some reason seemed really funny at the time. And it gave me a solid reason to stay home from school and get high on Benadryl for a few weeks.

And the thick, pink layer of dried calamine lotion that covered my face and neck came in handy when the cops dropped by. They didn’t seem to like standing too close to a lumpy, crusty, candy-colored leper, so I’d get trotted out in my ratty blue bathrobe to tell them we didn’t know anything about the case of beer just boosted from the 7-11 (actually sitting in our refrigerator) or the runaway kid whose parents were desperately looking for him (actually hiding in my closet). A few cursory questions from them and a (very real) wheeze or two out of me and they’d be on their way, off to something safer and more fun, like getting shot at by bank robbers.

Toward the end of my pox convalescence, my lunatic mother broke into my apartment around 7 a.m. and started throwing things around and screaming. Seems the school had called her about my absences, and this was her way of checking up on me. I wasn’t a big fan of my mom at the time, seeing as she was supposed to give me money out of the child support she received from my father so I could buy food (and, um, smokes), but refused. Instead, she’d keep the dough, bag up totally random old stuff I recognized from around her kitchen (what the hell was I going to do with canned pumpkin?!) and bring it to me, lying to my dad all the while that she was using his money to buy me groceries.

Anyway, crazy ol’ mom was rampaging around and hollering, rousing me and the three or four dudes that had crashed on the floor the night before. We sat there, bleary, for a few minutes, trying to decipher her incomprehensible ranting, when I decided I had enough and took action.

And spit on her.

Yup, I spit on my mom. Does it get any lower than that? Just hocked a big, green loogie (no shortage of material for that, either) right out of my mouth and on to her.

Look, I know this is indefensible (unless you’ve met my mom), and I’m not proud of it, but I have to be honest. It felt pretty damn good at the time. And it shut her crazy ass right up, too.

I glanced over at Dirty Mike and the other guys, their faces lit up like Christmas. Clearly, my act of defiance was the greatest thing they had ever seen. They couldn’t have looked more surprised and delighted if I had spray-painted the Black Flag logo on President Reagan (r.i.p.) while jumping a skateboard over a tank of piranha and Nazi skinheads. After the shock wore off, they actually started cheering, and mom cleared out.

Soon after this wonderful exchange, my dad came to Gainesville to pick me up and take me to the doctor. Ostensibly, this was to give me a check-up after all that chicken pox nonsense, but really he wanted to get me tested for drugs, after hearing about the mom-spitting incident. And who could blame him? Though I suspect he probably knew exactly what I was feeling at the time, and was maybe even a little jealous.

No secondhand crack fumes had flown up my nose or anything, and the visit to the doctor turned up no evidence of drug use. It did uncover that, in addition to chicken pox, I was also suffering from pneumonia and viral bronchitis. No explanation for why I occasionally threw up blood, but whatever.

Satisfied that I wasn’t on drugs and not really giving a shit about the other stuff, dad returned me to Gainesville. Soon after, the carpet caught fire and we were evicted. Dirty Mike took to the streets, and I moved back in with mom. Things went downhill from there. But that’s a story for another time.

Dirty Mike? Why, he got his act together, passed the GED and through hard work and perseverance eventually became a successful investment banker and philanthropist, of course, and… Shit, you know, I don’t know what really happened to Dirty Mike. And I don’t fucking care.



Like a Rock… Oohhh, Like a Rock
I’ve never been one for regrets — all too often I’m generating indignities so fast that I don’t really have much time to stop and reflect on all the dumb shit I’ve done, except of course when I’m writing stuff down for this site. But if I paused to savor the various layers, shades and nuances of heartbreak caused by, say, that bitch Jennifer Testa ditching me back in ninth grade to go out with that asshole with the Trans Am and the nunchucks, I’d be giving short shrift to the hot flush of shame that hit me this morning, when I cut my ear. Trying to shave it. Fucking ear hair. What the fuck kind of cruel biological joke is fucking ear hair?! And fuck you, Jennifer Testa, I am so, so over you.

Anyway, I’m not one for regrets, but if I could go back and give a wee Bad News some advice from the future, it’d be something along these lines: “Don’t try. Just don’t do it.”

Because some people just aren’t equipped for cool. Maybe it’s the result of an inherently comical physical appearance — cool people sure as shit don’t have to try and shave their ears, you know?

Or it’s because of a geeky enthusiasm for minutiae and detail: “Excuse me, that’s incorrect. Devo released ‘Girl U Want’ as the first single off their 1980 breakthrough album, Freedom of Choice. The surprise success of ‘Whip It,’ which is often attributed to their novel use of the video medium, paved the way for a an upsurge in interest in ‘Girl U Want,’ as well as future singles, which, while not performing as well on the charts, still blah de blah de blah…”

Or maybe it’s because someone doesn’t drive a Trans Am while waving nunchucks around like a fucking idiot and has to get around on their dad’s old 10-speed and pay for lunch with those big, pink tickets that announce “I’m poor” to the world, Jennifer, so fucking sorry I’m wasn’t a rich karate dickhead with a Members Only jacket, just a sincere, decent guy with a pretty good record collection, for a ninth grader; a guy who made you laugh and who walked you home from the bus every day and who your mom liked and, uh... Ummm... Was I just saying something? Well, whatever. Sometimes it’s a combination of these factors.

Style plays a big part in this stuff, probably never as much so as in middle school. In sixth grade I was aware that style existed, mostly because many other kids didn’t miss a chance to remind me that I didn’t have it. Occasionally I’d even try to give it a go, in hopes that other kids would think I was cool. Not surprisingly, this never worked out to my benefit.

Partly this was because I just didn’t relate to the popular style at the time, which in Gainesville was kind of a mellow California surfer look based around the brands Ocean Pacific, Lightning Bolt and, for borderline losers, Hobie Cat. If I would’ve been loyal to my personal aesthetic, I would’ve dressed like Sid Vicious or maybe Dracula from the neck down, topping off the ensemble with a full-head Godzilla mask, Dr. Who scarf and samurai sword. But I got my ass whooped often enough without drawing excess attention to myself, and swords weren’t allowed at school, so I never really gave that look a proper try.

I loved rock ‘n’ roll music back then, mostly punk and new wave stuff but also classic groups like Led Zeppelin, The Who and The Kinks. There were a handful of older proto-stoner kids at my school who dug similar stuff and dressed in a classic dirtbag style — lots of denim and black band T-shirts. They weren’t exactly popular, but they were tough and received a wary kind of respect from the jocks and popular kids that was pretty appealing from my somewhat battered vantage point. There was no way I could afford all that Lightning Bolt shit, but the dirty rocker look was certainly within my budget, so I grew my hair long and decided to give it a whirl.

I used to tag along to garage sales with my mom on weekends, mostly to buy old records. I started looking through piles of T-shirts too, trying to score some tough-looking rock gear. I scored a Who concert shirt, which was good enough, but unfortunately yellow. I also picked up a T-shirt with a Mr. Bill logo. Now, Mr. Bill was an unfunny Saturday Night Live segment featuring a clay guy who got crushed a lot and, while I had never actually seen it, I was vaguely aware from reading Rolling Stone that Saturday Night Live had some counterculture/rock 'n' roll cache, so I started wearing Mr. Bill about three times a week, and even had it on when they took school pictures. It was dark blue, too. Still not black, but a good start.

Around this time my mom would sometimes take my sister and I to Lake Wauberg on the weekends. Access to the lake is now limited to University of Florida students, who mostly use it to scream and thrash around and tip their canoes and generally become hysterical upon sighting 3-foot alligators sunning themselves on the bank. And swimming is prohibited, I think because of some deadly water virus or poison moccasin infestation or something biological. But back in sixth grade the south end of the lake was operated by the county as a kind of piss-warm, murky pool-alternative for poor, scumbag area kids who couldn’t afford the 75 cents it cost to swim in the city pool, and it suited me just fine. We’d go, I’d submerge myself in the dark, gooey water and then go home and pick ticks off my legs while mom poured hydrogen peroxide in my ears to kill off mites and bacteria and such.

And one day, while splashing around in the dark green slime and pretending I was about to emerge from the depths and level Tokyo, I found it.

A rock ‘n’ roll T-shirt. A bit faded… But black. Just floating there, waiting for me. Holy shit.

Bob Seger, it was. A black Bob Seger shirt, with a design that featured some horses running majestically in front of a mountain or some lightning or something.

Now, I fucking hated Bob Seger. The only thing I knew from Bob Seger was that shitty “Old Time Rock ‘n’ Roll” song, which I recognized even at that young age as wholly bogus chunk of conservative bullshit. It didn’t seem like there was room in Bob Seger’s world for exciting new groups like my favorites, The Clash, so as far as I was concerned he and the Silver Bullet Band could go fuck themselves. But remember, I was trying to adopt an aesthetic I didn’t truly feel. All I saw in the shirt was a possible entry into the mysterious world of cool, or at least potential camouflage.

So I snagged the shirt, wiped off some of the algae, and got my mom to wash it. And then I proudly wore it to school the following Monday.

It was exciting. I just knew I had entered into a different world. One, I anticipated, with fewer beatings and insults. I sat in my first-period class, thrilled and feeling truly alive.

A few cool kids were sort of neutrally checking me out, glancing at each other with raised eyebrows. Probably figuring out the best way to induct me into their ranks, I thought. After a few minutes, Julie, a popular blonde girl with very white teeth and an impressive collection of expensive Jordache jeans, looked over at me, sneering, and in a quiet, flat voice said, “Nice shirt, dude.”

“I know!” I replied, too excited at the attention to hold in my enthusiasm. “And I got it for free! I found it in a lake!”


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