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


Negative Ding-Dong Vibes
I was determined to get everything I could out of the situation, so I did the thing I thought best, which was put her finger in my mouth and start sucking away. Really go for it, you know? I was licking it and working that shit all around, while trying to picture potential practical applications. I may have even drooled a bit.

“Goddamn, I hope this works,” I thought.

It didn’t, of course, but I tried. And she tried. And we did our best, and god bless. God bless Cheryl and her game little heart.

...Man, you know, I tried a lot of things in that house. Like LSD. It was great! Well, the house, not the LSD. Actually, the LSD was pretty great too. Up to a point. Here’s a tip, kids: don’t mix LSD and speed and sit down to watch the movie Demons in a cramped apartment full of people you don’t know and and and and aah aah aah aaah AAAAH I CAN STILL SEE IT WHEN I CLOSE MY EYES

I also tried skipping school for two or three days at a time in that house, snuggled under blankets fully clothed in the bitter-ass cold with a hot older girl who looked like Aimee Mann, her hoodlum skater little brother, a tremendously flamboyant gay dude, 14 packs of smokes and whoever else happened to get sick of school and wander by that day. We’d sit through 57 minutes of terrible hair metal just to watch the same Big Audio Dynamite video come around every hour on Gainesville’s ramshackle MTV rip-off, which was owned by Bill Cosby and called (heh heh) TV 69.

The woman who owned the house was the mother of the hot Aimee Mann girl, and she pretty much let us do whatever we wanted. She wasn’t there a lot, because she worked two jobs, one driving a wrecker or something. Something garage-y. And after her shifts she’d go visit her current boyfriend, who was usually a big amiable dirty guy with a black crescent of congealed grease under his fingernails.

This mom described herself as an old redneck, but she wasn’t, or at least not in the way most people think when they think “redneck.” When someone like her refers to herself as a redneck, it’s just a casual kind of tongue-in-cheek self-deprecation. Any real country boy, of any race or background, knows the difference between rednecks and rednecks.

I always bristle at the casual use of “redneck.” Part of the reason is that, despite clear evidence showing I split the difference between misanthropic creep and know-it-all snob, I walk around imagining myself a man of the people. Earthy. I have no need for your ballets and lattes and big-city Foucault books and caviar and such – I’m happy to grab a corndog and an issue of Hustler down at the demolition derby. A lot of things people turn up their noses at as redneck, such as fishing and Natural Light and shooting guns and cheese grits and tearing around some muddy field in your truck, are actually a pretty fuckin’ good time.

In my social circles, most people who use the word redneck do so carelessly. It’s a pejorative mindlessly thrown around by my tribe, the privileged liberal suburbanites. A rhetorical trick that reduces anyone with the misfortune of being born working-class and Southern to a cheap, dismissible stereotype… A phantom scapegoat, easy to blame for a lot of things. I mean, rednecks exist, yeah, but they’re a lot more rare than people think, and people only really organize around the concept en masse when a batch of big-city crackers get all up in arms and go traipsing around throwing the word at everything that says boo. In that way it’s sort of like Al Qaida.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not claiming to be a redneck, or joining up with the sad old blustery oppressed-white-dude crowd, or defending shit real rednecks pull, or waving the rebel flag. No, the only flag I wave, of course, is the one with Ani DiFranco and Susan B. Anthony holding hands over a flaming swastika made from erect penises.

In addition to my delusional self-image, the other part of the reason I’m not down with all that knee-jerk stereotyping is just because of the shit I saw growing up, the fact that if you slow down and pay close attention people from all walks of life are often a lot more nuanced, and interesting, than most people give ‘em credit for, and you can’t necessarily make accurate assumptions about someone’s outlook on life or politics or whatever just because they have a NASCAR sticker on their truck. Like the way this tough, beautiful country gal provided a bona-fide sanctuary for me and all these fey, damaged kids. For a few months I spent days, even weeks, there, sleeping on the couch and eating her food and bumming her cigarettes, and she never batted an eye. Shit, the gay dude, Jimmy, had fled a nasty situation in his hometown and ended up making her garage into an apartment, and it’s not like any of us ever had any money or coughed up for bills or rent.

I think it’s a common thing, these strange little temporary surrogate families that seem to spring up in low-income areas. I was talking about it with a teacher meth dealer friend of mine at an art show the stick fights last week. He looks at these things from a practical point of view, and worries about the future of fucked-up, half-abandoned kids engaging in all sorts of ill-advised shenanigans. But, fuck, I can still see it from the other side, and remember feeling safe there, remember how much better even a void feels when you’ve got nothing at home but emotional and physical violence. These homes might not be bastions of responsibility and character building, but to me they’re fucking beautiful.

And so are the women, taking in the homos and misfits and freaks and building nests and sheltering a batch of malfunctioning kids when their own kin will not, and doing it on practically no money. These women come home tired after working all day in a shop or pharmacy somewhere to a messy house full of kids who have spent the day fucking around watching TV and dying their hair, possibly while high on the pot. And they don’t mind, maybe because they’d do the same thing given the chance, or maybe because the mothering instinct is so strong and they know on some level, intellectual or molecular or whatever, that their sensitive little charges aren't very good at dealing with the world and desperately need somewhere to go that doesn’t fucking feel like war.

Maybe I just want to mentally rewrite the years I spent as a freeloader, but I think our warped little gang of punk-rock peacocks gave a little something back to the household, a measure of color, a dose of tawdry, junkyard glamour. I mean, the things we did with our hair… At one point, I had a black-and-blonde checkerboard dyed into the buzzed hair on the left side of my head, and a strip of longer purple hair in the middle that I could spike up into a preposterous mohawk. Who wouldn’t sally forth to some shitty job with a smile in their heart, knowing they were going to come home to that?

I found myself absorbed into the household by way of a devastating crush on the daughter, Tracy, who had just moved to town and I met while she was working part-time as a hostess at the Sizzler. I was just a junior in high school and she was a few years older, but we spent one startling night with her letting me ineptly grope her on the living room floor, an experience that seemed to pretty much convince her I was worthless, even as a plaything. But it turned me smitten and I hung around all moony-eyed, sniffin’ after her in hopes she’d give me a second chance.

That never materialized, but I was lucky to be taken on as kind of an apprentice homosexual by Jimmy. He helped me cut and dye my hair into all sorts of remarkable permutations, gave me tips on how to dress, got me into bars, let me listen to his fantastic record collection and sometimes had good weed. I hoped I could get another crack at Tracy’s mesmerizing pantaloons by befriending him, which caused him to sort of vacillate between absent-minded, reflexive support and outright exasperation while I moped around after her, but after a few weeks I realized that, while I didn’t want to slip him the bone or anything, he was light years more fun to hang around than she was. Why he tolerated me at all is a mystery to this day. Maybe, like Tracy’s mom, or perhaps those helpful television queers, his own mothering instincts kicked in, triggered by this fuck-up who obviously needed plenty of fixing.

One time the mother announced that she’d be gone for a few days, so of course we decided to have a proper party. It was a pretty good one, not too many people, but plenty of beer and marijuana cigarettes. And it was one of those parties that started at like three in the afternoon, too, making it feel even more like we were getting away with something.

At one point I walked into Tracy’s room, where Jimmy was sitting and watching a pornographic movie with two girls. I, of course, was momentarily transfixed, and stood in the doorway for a minute or two watching the action before it hit me.

“Uh, this doesn’t seem like your thing, Jimmy,” I said.

“I like watching the blowjobs,” he said.

Fair enough. I liked watching the blowjobs too. In fact, I had vague plans to someday get me a blowjob. I can’t remember for sure, but it’s entirely possible that, at that point, I had never experienced one. And from what I could see — in Jimmy’s movie, for example — getting a blowjob looked like fun.

A little later, I staggered down a dark hallway to the bathroom. Someone was in there, so I leaned against the wall to wait, closing my eyes and pressing my face against the cool wall. Eventually, the door yanked open and the light from the bathroom snapped me out of my little reverie. And there was Cheryl.

Cheryl was about my age, and smart and pretty. She had a good haircut, a nice dark bob, and dressed well, too. Just offbeat enough to run with our crowd, but nothing that would attract the wrath of jocks or get her kicked out of Denny’s. You could tell she was slumming a little, hanging around with our types. You got the feeling that she had an escape route, that she had the potential to amount to something. God knows why, but she pulled me into the bathroom with her, closed the door, and we started kissing.

A minute or two of this, and, high as a motherfucker and with a head full of pornography, I was feeling kinda bold. So I took a rare gamble and went to feel a boob. Surprisingly, she didn’t move my hand away or pepper-spray me or anything. I pawed away, wondering if this was really even happening, when she suddenly stopped kissing, pulled away a bit and opened her eyes.


It took me a second or two to process this. It was kind of like walking into Disney World on a beautiful day, smiling and taking it all in and wondering which ride to hit first, and having Mickey run up to you out of the blue and yell, “I’m sorry, but I’m a virgin and I can’t have sex with you I can’t give you a million dollars in gold doubloons!” You know? Like, that’s OK, man, I wasn’t really expecting it and I’m honestly pretty happy just to be here and... Wait, doubloons?

The implication of Cheryl’s statement barely had time to work its way through my clogged synapses when she blurted out something even more startling.

“I will give you a blowjob if you want, though,” she said.

A blowjob! Well... Alright.

We fumbled with my pants for a second or two and she started up. I leaned back against the sink and stared down at her in amazement.

Soon, though, it became pretty apparent that this wasn’t going anywhere. She was just kind of mouthing around half-heartedly, like senile ol’ Grandma Dustpussy going at an ear of corn without her dentures in. I was kind of disappointed. I mean, I was grateful, but I kind of hoped she’d display a little skill or enthusiasm or something. Shit, the whole thing was her idea.

My ding-dong must have given off a negative vibe, because it wasn’t long before she looked up at me and kind of shrugged.

“I’m sorry,” she said.

“Jeez, you don’t have to apologize,” I said. “You’re, uh, doing great!”

She grimaced, clearly unconvinced by my attempt to be encouraging.

“I’ve never really done this before,” she said, shrugging again.

Well, there was no way I was going to let this opportunity slip by without making the most of it. I decided I’d give her a blowjob lesson.

“Here, give me your finger,” I said. “Try it like this.”

I started suckin' and a-licking and rolling it all around like I had done it a thousand times, looking at Cheryl and waggling my eyebrows up and down a few times as if to say, “Eh? Whaddaya say? Doesn't this look like fun?”

She stared back, expressionless and clearly unmoved by the number I was doing on her finger. But then, despite my enthusiasm, I was no expert.

She gave it another try, but, unfortunately, it was more of the same.

“No, no,” I said, pulling her up and grabbing her finger again. “Like this.”

I squinched my eyes closed and summoned up Jimmy’s porno flick and tried to imagine some shit that would really feel super-duper good on my weiner. Cheryl gave it another go, but no dice.

“I’m so sorry,” she said. “Really.”

Shoot, who was I to complain? I was just glad someone was even willing to give it a try.

“I better not tell anybody about this,” I thought as we snuck out of the bathroom.

Of course, everybody found out about it anyway, as I discovered a few weeks later while arguing with Jimmy.

“Why don’t you go fuck yourself?” I said.

“Why don’t you go give somebody a blowjob lesson?” he replied, while Tracy and everyone, clearly in on it, laughed and laughed and laughed. I should have known better than to try and get one over on Jimmy. Fuck.

Later, I'd sometimes use the experience to try and play off like I was all blasé and worldly when bullshitting around with a bunch of dudes.

“Blowjobs, eh,” I’d say. “They don’t do much for me. I can take ‘em or leave ‘em.”

Nobody was ever impressed by this. They either assumed I had never received a blowjob in my life, or they’d get all quiet and look at me like I just said, “Eh, I like poo. It takes a big steamy pile of poo to get me off, otherwise I just can’t be bothered.”

At some point the whole experience grew in my mind and became so traumatic that for a while I actually started refusing blowjobs. Beautiful women would accost me in the street, and I’d be all like, “No, no, please, no. I’m spoiled, ruined. Go hoover your succulent lips around the member of someone who’ll appreciate it, who can still feel. My loins are barren.”

I don't know what happened to Cheryl, but I bet she went on to, like, win blowjob competitions. I bet she sucked the chrome off a trailer hitch, and a golf ball through 30 feet of garden hose. Which, by the way, is really hard. I couldn’t get that damn ball through but about eight feet before I passed out the paramedics standing by had to give me oxygen.

Anyway, now it’s been so long that I’ve more or less forgotten what blowjob even looks like. Pretty pathetic, for a guy that once tried to give someone a crash course in technique. Ah well, that was a long time ago.

Recently, though, I’ve stumbled across a photo or two on the Internet of what I believe might be blowjobs, and they looked... OK. I suppose I'd be willing to give that shit another try, just out of curiosity.


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