Boys: A Backlog

by | Oct 10, 2023 | CNF, Issue Thirty-Five

  1. Tommy, the tiniest boy on the 1st-grade playground, becomes the object of your desire as you chase him, screaming Daddy, please, Daddy, momentarily forsaking your very own doting daddy at home.
  2. Craig Roberts, your 5th-grade crush, passes you a finely-creased square paper with a red X crisscrossing from corner to corner, which reads Dear Jenny, if you’re getting this, it means we’re breaking up, signed in his stiff big-boy script, flooding you with full-body relief.
  3. Kenneth Barsanti and Brian Taylor, your elementary school nemeses, crouch behind bushes at the top of the stairs on Ramona Avenue, 10 miles west of the San Francisco Bay, and leap out shouting Shrimp! Midget! Pipsqueak! propelling you down the steep hill toward home, where your mother consoles you with good things come in small packages and they like you, followed by if it was meant to be, it was meant to be, triggering a fountain of fast and furious tears.
  4. Mike Green, your Hebrew-school flame with a jet-black Jew-fro, grins after your spinning 7-Up bottle lands on him at your first coed party in your basement, where friends in halter tops flaunt Farah Fawcett layers and breast buds, but seconds after you step into the dark room, Mike leans forward toward flat-chested you for a kiss, cutting 7 minutes to 7 seconds.
  5. Eric Goldschlag, your 16th-birthday summer fling, lures you to 2nd base on the last night of your youth group trip in the land flowing with milk and honey, where everyone crams into one hotel room, draping heads over bellies and hips, hands over legs and lips, as Eric kisses and caresses you, Joey kiss-caresses Amy, Marcia kiss-caresses Craig, Craig kiss-caresses Joey, playing with your mind: Do this or do that? Are you doing it right or wrong? Does anyone else have the same compunction?
  6. Hoyt, your 26-year-old 11th-grade advanced algebra teacher and off-limits-for-obvious-reasons infatuation, consumes your thoughts despite your age difference and differing faiths, provoking you to cut school and consider tattooing I love you on your eyelids, winking your way through 3rd period, and fighting like Indiana Jones against Good-Jewish-Girl guilt, knowing your next of kin would never forgive you for marrying out.
  7. Phil, your 12th-grade-youth-group-leader-cum-first-real-love, enters rabbinic school in Jerusalem when you enter college in Chicago, where you pine for him on a daily basis until, partway through your junior year abroad in Paris, while writing weekly sky-blue aerogrammes to each other, him using the future tense, you sticking to present, you grasp your father’s parting words before you left home try to roll with the flow and then, six weeks into your senior year, on your hometown honey’s 25th birthday, you over-flow from familial and societal expectations and dump Phil, by phone, picturing the headlines: Nice Jewish Girlfriend Refuses to be Rebbetzin, Dying to Make up for Lost Time.
  8. (Failed) attempts [to compensate for 1,354 days lost] with:
    1. Scott the MBA student, who treats you to dinner at swanky restaurants in downtown Chicago and sweet talks you back to his pad more than once and then just-desert jilts you, making you question your character judgement;
    2. Bob the best college friend, who shares his bed in his Big Apple apartment on the eve of your departure for Paris for a dream-come-true bilingual assistant job, making you question your value system and core identity;
    3. Christophe the Catholic, who adores your boisterous American laugh and asks Why you live here when I want live there? his quintessential accent and umber eyes and fleshy lips spellbinding you in your 22-square-meter studio, making you question your roots as well as your deep-rooted longing to be French;
    4. Ken the American tourist in Paris, who seduces you with his sun-parched skin and alacrity to abandon his itinerary and spend the weekend at your place, where six hours after your last love- making, you reach in to remove your diaphragm but cannot clasp it, making you question the connection between consequences, ramifications, and karma;
    5. And Eli the Jewish, married, Estonian immigrant to America, who, on your last night at a conference in Mexico City before your return flight to France, woos you with a dozen red roses and tickets to rendezvous in London, which your Parisian friends proceed to encourage with pourquoi pas? making you question your decisions and worry about the weight of regret.
  9. Philippe, a single, French, Jewish immigrant to Israel, who you meet through a mutual friend soon after you arrive for an excessive stopover between job in Paris and graduate school in New York, lifts you over the Mediterranean waves in his Rodin-sculpted arms and flips you homemade crêpes for your 24th birthday, making any ifs, ands, or buts about his preference for the Jewish homeland and refusal to use electricity on Shabbat melt, and, for the first time, rather than look back and take inventory, you cleave tightly to the present, follow the flow, and feel it is meant to be.

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