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

6/27/2006

DIARY OF INDIGNITIES
Kiss Me, You Retard
Oh, I just remembered — one time I made out with this retarded kid in church.

Ah, shit. I, uh... You know, I actually shouldn’t say "retarded." I should say "Down Syndrome."

You see, like your average low-grade racist, homophobe or everyday commonplace hypocrite, I employ a double standard when it comes to certain types of pejorative language. For example, I distinguish between Down Syndrome and retarded.

This is chiefly so I can go around applying the latter term to everything around me with only minor flashes of guilt, instead of an attempt to remain in the good graces of polite society. You want that? Go read Good News Hughes. I think this week he wrote up a story about a lovable puppy. I’m the guy whose retarded friend fried his own poop.

I know from personal experience how few things are as delightful as watching some dickhead squirm his way out of a semantic dead end, so allow me to explain in detail: in my stupid brain, Down Syndrome describes a medical condition. Like other — let’s face it — less than ideal medical conditions, such as having a gross hairy unibrow or being Irish, that’s something only a real creep would mock or deride.

Conversely, retarded, at least to me and my labored justifications, is not a condition but rather something implying choice — deliberate, willful action. Like that time Sean Atwater looked up from his sandwich and said, "Hey, you know what they say? They say if you took your intestines and stretched them from end to end it would reach all the way to the moon."

Ha ha, the moon. He really said that. There were like 11 guys in the room, all sitting around eating food and watching the NFL draft, nodding and going, "Oh, really, I didn’t know that, how interesting," while I sat there dumbfounded for a minute before blurting out, "Motherfuckers, do you know how far away the fucking moon is?!"

You’re in deep shit when I’m the voice of reason.

Anyway, retardation can be activated or exacerbated by outside forces such as marijuana, a license to drive or the Bible, but ultimately the responsibility for that shit lies with… Well, the retard who propagated it.

I’m not saying a guy with Down Syndrome can’t be a retard, just that in my little world the two things aren’t necessarily tied together as cause and effect. Shit, it’d be almost disrespectful to say they can’t — people with Down Syndrome can be just as retarded as anyone else. They can also be just as boring, petty, sheeplike or surly as you or me, and nobody can take that away from them.

Oh, and even though I don’t want to appear insensitive, even though I sort of am, and I swear I got nothing against folks with the Down Syndrome, I’m not afraid of them, either, and I’d totally fight a guy who has Down Syndrome, no problem, unless he’s big and mean or one of those Special Olympics dudes that’s in particularly good physical condition.

You know, I just realized — I don’t want to fight anyone with Down Syndrome. I don’t really hang around anyone with Down Syndrome, but thinking back most of my interactions with people who have the condition have been pretty positive. This is more than I can say for just about any other group out there. And hell, no bullshit rationalization would be complete without an analogue to a Some of My Best Friends Are Black story, so allow me to share an example: two years ago I was in the checkout line at a grocery store, wearing my Four Horsemen T-shirt, a cherished artifact from the bygone days when professional wrestling wasn’t so damn lowbrow.

Anyway, the guy bagging my stuff, a dude who pretty obviously had a touch of the Down Syndrome, glanced over at me and did a brilliant double take before fixating on my shirt, staring at it with unblinking, wide eyes like I had a set of big juicy titties under there.

"The Four Horsemen!" he yelled.

"Yup," I said.

"I love the Four Horsemen!" he said. You could tell he was excited. The cashier looked nervous, and started exchanging looks with the other cashiers and bag boys.

"Me too," I replied. I was getting a little excited as well.

"The original Four Horsemen was Ric Flair, Ole Anderson, Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard!"

"I know," I said.

"But the best Four Horsemen was when they had Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and Barry Windham!" He was practically yelling.

"I know!" I said. I guess I was kind of yelling too.

"Luger sucked! He was a bad Four Horseman!" he yelled.

"Paul Roma too!" I yelled back. Before he could yell another reply, though, two burly stock guys being commandeered by some douchebag assistant manager with a child-molester mustache each grabbed my new friend under an arm and dragged him away.

I gazed after him, sadly, and maintained eye contact as long as possible. The look he gave me said, "It’s alright. You and me, maybe we’re not made for grocery society. But you can still run — go, save yourself. We dared to soar today, and they can never take that away from us. These stock boys, these petty managers and cashiers — they’ll never quench the fire in our hearts." They got around a big pyramid of soup or some shit and he was gone.

The cashier tilted her head at me in a way that invited punches and said, "We’re sorry about that, sir."

Sorry for what? For dragging away the only guy in the store capable of having an interesting conversation? I doubt it. Reluctantly, I gathered up my grocery bags and left. A better man than me would have beheaded the assistant manager with a clothesline, sprinted to the back of the store, put a couple of piledrivers on those two stock-boy meatheads and freed Four Horsemen guy from the walk-in cooler or wherever they hide people too awesome to conform to their safe little square-ass grocery regulations and then run out of the store with a giant bag of money. And gone on to have adventures.

I think about that guy every time I go to the store and some lame white guy with too much gel in his hair gets all fake-buddy on me while bagging my groceries: "Heyyyyy! Noodles! I’ve been meaning to try some noodles! What do you think of these noodles, sir?!"

"What? Uh, they’re, um, good," I say, while in my head I’m like, "I think you’ve been instructed to say that by some assistant manager, probably the one that took my pal away, and instead of pretending to care about noodles you need to shuck the fut up. I mean fuck the shut... Aw, forget it." God damn it, I get so upset I can’t even mount an effectively snappy comeback in my own fantasy.

Wait, where was I? Oh yeah, the making out. No, I never really got the opportunity to make out with the guy at the grocery store. The make-out session was with the kid in church and — OK, well, technically I didn’t really make out with the kid in church, either. It was more like he made out with me, and I kind of just let him.

Growing up, did you have these weird churches that would get buses to drive around and kidnap kids during the summer, and lure them in with ice cream and stuff so they’d love Jesus? We did.

One of those buses came around one summer day when I was about 11. They were pimping the free ice cream, so I went ahead and hopped on. Plus back then I believed in all that kinda stuff, and even though I knew I was going to have to sit through an hour or two of boring churchy talk before getting a crack at the goodies I felt like it was a healthy way to spend a hot-ass Wednesday afternoon. Mom, of course, being crazy and a lesbian, was always sprucing up the house with Wicca and spells and crystals and the Goddess and shit, so I was on the lookout for opportunities to get a little Jesus infusion and inoculate myself against the hippie paganism that was always hanging around trying to drag me down to Hell.

Sometimes if I was careless about inquiring after denomination during these little bus rides I’d get kidnapped off to a Baptist day camp, where the church ladies and clean-cut regular kids pretty much made you feel like a grain of dirt just by their shiny all-American existence. Plenty of sweet tea at those things, but there’s nothing like hanging around well-adjusted normal people who have all their teeth and wear recently laundered pants and stuff for a few hours to reinforce just exactly what rung of society’s ladder you’re on. Kind of made me uncomfortable.

This time, though, the ice cream landed me the jackpot. I was so excited when the kidnap bus pulled up to the church, because it was this terrifying renegade non-denominational church that had intrigued me for years. At night the church would shine this megawatt giant blacklight on itself, I guess to make it look all holy and impressive and full of magical Jesus, but really it just made it look all haunted and creepy as fuck. Me and my sister would actually bug Mom to drive us by it if we were anywhere near that part of town at night, chanting and calling for the Spooky Light Church like other kids do for Dairy Queen.

It was almost as good in the daytime. An unearthly, eldritch glow didn’t seep out of it or anything, but it was run-down and plenty seedy. I felt right at home.

I don’t really remember what all kinds of heretical made-up stuff they indoctrinated me in for the first part of the day. They would collect kids from all over the city, so like everyone else I was busy sizing up all the unfamiliar faces. Gradually everybody relaxed, though, after we all realized they had only culled from the dirty, poor and weird neighborhoods and no Baptists were going to come along to make us feel inferior.

I shuffled from one classroom to another for a few hours with the other loser kids, listening to various pastors and ministers and cantors and such drone on about how listening to the Beatles was going to send us all to burn in a lake of fire or how we’ll need to know how to field-strip and clean these surplus M1 carbines when the race war comes, blah blah blah. They kept taunting us with that ice cream, promising us cold creamy treats and eternal salvation if we sat through two more filmstrips about how the Bible says it’ll be our duty to someday beat our wives or whatever.

Eventually they rounded us all up and herded us into a large auditorium for a little final brainwash. I got sat in the very front row, right in front of the podium or altar or whatever it was. Next to me was a kid with Down Syndrome.

This kid noticed my fancy digital watch right as the church folks started up their little lecture. Now, these days you couldn’t impress a backwoods Yanomami with that thing (and don’t think I haven’t tried), but at the time its sleek, biscuit-sized, red Light Emitting Diode face was at the cutting edge of new technology. The kid stared at it with interest while I looked straight ahead and acted like I was listening, trying my best to impress God with my ability to pay attention to things that are boring.

I felt a tapping on my watch and looked down. The kid was poking at it, curious. He looked at me with his eyebrows raised, and I guessed he was curious why the watch wasn’t showing the time. I returned my gaze to the front of the room, but, happy to show off a little, quietly pressed the button that activated the display.

Man, that kid broke into a big smile, so I thought I’d really show him something, and slyly pressed the button again to show the date. His eyes got wide. I pushed that bitch again, and the seconds popped up. My new buddy was transfixed, like I had a set of big juicy titties under there. I ran through that sequence of technological marvels for him few times, staring straight ahead all the while, before noticing that the guy up there in front of me giving the sermon was starting to wise up and disapprove.

Not wanting them to make an example out of me and zap me with their eerie nighttime holy ray, I quit fooling around and concentrated my efforts on the business at hand. Something about the glory of becoming a child bride of The Leader, I don’t exactly remember. This didn’t sit well with the kid, though. He wanted more sweet watch action.

He started tapping at the watch and pulling at my sleeve, but I was unmoved. After a couple seconds he figured out the button trick, using it to access the endless amusements of the time, date and electronically ticking seconds. I was confident in my battery’s reserves and happy to let the guy mash away. I was even proud of myself, seeing as how I was the only one there with the foresight to bring along a gadget to occupy the restless Down Syndrome kid.

A few more minutes of preachifyin’ and button mashing went by before I noticed that people were starting to stare at me. Pretty sure of what might be causing that, I glanced over to my left and was startled to see the kid bent over in his seat and kissing my watch. He was really going for it, no tongue or anything, but definitely generating some impressive smacking noises. I sat there frozen — I mean, I was a man of the world and everything, but having a kid with Down Syndrome go nuts and fellate my fancy watch in church was kind of a new experience.

Shock quickly turned to horror as the kid started kissing my wrist. Then, like Pugsley getting bonked on the head and confusing himself with Gomez, he began working his way up my arm, leaving a little trail of drool behind and making a big loud kissy noise each time he planted one on me. I didn’t know what to do. Punching him in the head and screaming presented itself as the first option, but somehow doing that seemed unfair, not to mention the kind of thing you want to avoid in church.

He was up to about my shoulder and my mind was racing. What could I do? Politely ask him to stop? Throw my watch to the other side of the room and hope he chases it? Maybe pray? People were starting to mutter. I didn’t want to make a fuss.

He paused at my shoulder, nuzzled it for a moment, then reared his head up and grinned as I turned to look at him. The entire auditorium paused, waiting to see what would happen. He lunged forward before I could react and kissed me, rather wetly, right on my eyeball.

The pastor or whatever he was roared in anger. The entire place went nuts, completely outraged. Kids pointed and shouted while church ladies fell to their knees in prayer. A couple of adults grabbed the kid, one on each arm and I think one around his neck, and hauled him out of the room.

"Please, everyone, please!" someone yelled. "Stay in your seats! There will be ice cream, ice cream for everyone! We’ll get through this!"

As everyone settled down I just sat there, a little moist, and wondered why this kind of shit always happened to me. Maybe I was too prideful in my LED watch and God wanted to teach me a lesson about folly or something, who knows. Ew, do you think my watch gave him a boner? Until just now I didn’t think to check. I mean the kid with Down Syndrome, not God.

Anyway, the main church guy struggled through the rest of the sermon, but nobody was paying attention. They were all glaring at the back of my neck. I simply went blank, sending my mind far, far away.

They wrapped shit up and marched us out to some courtyard, where we all stood around glumly eating our ice cream. The kid with the Down Syndrome was nowhere to be seen. The deacons and church ladies and stuff rationed me out a tablespoon-sized dollop, treating me with an attitude somewhere between suspicion and faint disgust. All of the other kids stood around in little groups, staring at me with open hatred and refusing to talk to me. But I was pretty much used to all that.

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