Oh, and another thing:
There’s a pile, and it’s made up of all the bad. And the pile grows and infects like cancer, which is, according to scientists, also bad news bears. (Are you on my side yet?)
And the pile comes from anywhere:
She sighed. I did too, hoping, half-expecting to hear, “Sorry things have been weird this past week. Wanna swap saliva?”
But no saliva swap, not even a wet nipple fondle. Just “Have a nice break,” and away she drove. That night, we split up.
Into the pile.
Later, I stood in front of my mirror and winked both eyes at the same time. One was red. Was I getting pinkeye again? I’d had it three times that week. (Into the pile.)
I was depressed. I knew I was depressed because my shirt was untucked. I watched The Simpsons and tried to remember to laugh. When Homer did something, I went like, “Heh-heh.”
Two days later, we played Michigan State. And I know everything’s already been said about everything about everything, but dammit this is my column and I’m gonna talk about it! Weeeeeee!
Here’s what I remember:
From those moments before, when, for once, the Earth revolved at our own pace; to those moments after, we felt something slip through our fingers, felt the parties and the stomach pumps and those inevitable, hellish orgies evaporate into what-nows, into sad bagel dinners at home with your unopened Swiffer Sweeper and a red solo cup of recently expired milk. (Just me?)
We were Alderaan, were 100,000 voices crying out in terror and suddenly going silent.
(The Pile. The Pile. The Pile.)
And I cared too much — about this game, about that week-long quasi-relationship, about the size of my Adam’s Apple (my neck looks like a snake swallowing a foot).
Why can’t I care about something important? Like Sudan! Or even South Sudan!
But the pile isn’t polite. It doesn’t knock first. It bursts in, dropkicks your crotch and forgets to call your Mom. Loves, losses, suspiciously small ears? Depression doesn’t make sense, and it doesn’t take orders. It’s a real prick. (Just like Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir. Asshat.)
Twenty minutes later, still frozen in the stands, my friend Catherine turned to me.
Catherine: “What now?”
Me: “Now … we rebuild.”
So we did.
We walked to Fleetwood Diner where we stared at our reflections and examined our consciences. Catherine asked, “Do you feel anything yet?”
“Not since Thursday, no.” I ate my ham in one bite and pretended not to choke a little.
At 9 p.m., we went to our friend Clare’s apartment, where we vented to Finnegan, her pet pig.
“Oh, Finnegan,” I said. “Sometimes, I feel like you: Small. Pink. Constantly peeing. Never sure if I’m allowed in the bedroom.” Finnegan nodded and bid me rub his tum-tum.
Feeling nihilistic, I downloaded Tinder and matched with a lady named Cleotilde who asked me to text her my “favorite position, cutie.”
I answered: “Shortstop.”
Finnegan snorted and burrowed his snout in my crotch. “Oh, Finnegan! You naughty pig you! You make me feel wanted.”
At 10:52 p.m., we laughed about something. I can’t remember what, but it was probably something I said. Yeah.
At 11:30 p.m., we called an Uber (Can you relate now, heathens!) to take us to the State for a midnight showing of “They Live” (which, I know, makes me sound “refined” and “nifty.” To that, I say: Thanks, dude. I also have a picture of Tom Hanks on my fridge. Change your bermudas, ladies).
Never seen “They Live”? Know this: it’s the greatest 80s movie about a drifter finding a pair of sunglasses that show him the world is taken over and run by undercover aliens since “Flashdance.”
(Disclaimer: Never seen “Flashdance,” but I have seen that one part where the water goes Woooosh-sploooosh-splash on Jennifer Beals’s boobies.)
I watched, laughed, forgot history, and walked Catherine home. Then walked myself home.
In Kerrytown, a girl in pajamas stood outside and yelled at an imaginary man … or maybe I just couldn’t see him behind the tree? Nah. Imaginary. I missed the lock with my key, decided to put that in this column and, once inside, parted my hair the other way because life is too short not to know. (I sort of looked like Jennifer Beals. Or Lincoln Chafee.)
I sat on my sweet-ass, fucking awesome red couch and remembered all that’d happened, all I’d forgotten: My pile.
My hair, humor, body, jaw. My thoughts, motives, malice, fears, farts, dreams, doubts, posters, penis, writing, wrists, sweaters, saliva, nose, knees, voice, and the way I say, “Chic(aw)go.” That split, that loss, this baby raccoon – Wait, what are you doing! Get out of here, you! Varmint! Shoo! Shoo!
We cope with our pile, with our nuggets of pain. And it is painful. And there’s no reason for it, no secret to being so, so not there. But in our best moments, we behold our own pile and say, “This is my badness and my rot and I am proud. So suck it.”
At 3 a.m., I cocooned myself in my ex-girlfriend’s blanket and, nearly smiling, fell asleep.
It’s my pile.
And you can’t have it. Sharon.