Brad Pitt was Squinny’s favorite. When she got the brain cancer in elementary school he became my favorite too. This is how the principal described it over the sound system in her sloppy phlegm-like man voice (choking up after every third word): “Dear students, I am sad to announce that Squinny has the brain cancer and will not be returning to school for several months. Please say a prayer for Squinny’s speedy recovery.”
I think the principal didn’t mean to say “the brain cancer” but I guess that’s what happens when you’re the principal. Mistakes resonate and I was the only kid who visibly made a sigh at the principal’s grammatical faux pas. English was my favorite subject and every glitch for me was a dirty word. And no, the principal didn’t really call Squinny Squinny. She called Squinny One Of Our Dearest Students, which, in my freakin’ book, is a billion mosquito bites worse than a brain tumor.
“Let us pray,” the principal said, like a warmonger. So we did. All of us out of unison: “Our father, who art in heaven…”
Awkwardly we bowed our heads, mumbled, some students held their right hand over their heart obviously confused by the unusual request considering the Pledge of Allegiance was the most religious we ever got in school. Our teacher looked like she was about to pass gas. Struck by the bleak language of the Lord’s Prayer I strangely became jealous I hadn’t invented my own Almost Dorothy Prayer yet. That whole business about temptation and evil got me psyched.
“Thy Kingdom Come. Thy will be done.”
For a long time I thought God was great and heaven too but that was when I thought He was the curator of a fabulous kingdom filled with lots of art, kind of like Vatican Museum, but in space. That kingdom is here on earth, in Rome, I swear. I saw it with my own eyes and it only costs 14 euros. Enough about religion but I decided to become a Buddhist after I saw Seven Years In Tibet starring Brad Pitt.
In reality, Squinny was an ass, a red-haired half freckled faced freak like me, but she was clever, the kind of creature who’d spit in your Coke when you turned around. She had an irresistible edge, a face that said fuck you. At that age I hadn’t fully realized my powers yet. Squinny had. She hated to pray she hated to gossip she hated the song and dance. We hit it off from day two. Day one we fought to be first in line.
I met with the school counselor, maybe a professional psychologist or not, the day it was announced Squinny had the brain cancer. I never knew, and Squinny and I never discussed, how she felt about the tumor. The counselor assured me it wasn’t contagious but I wasn’t dumb. I shouted: “I’m a Buddhist, goddamn it! Not stupid.” Then stormed out of the room.
The night before the big announcement at school Squinny told me she wanted to have sex after she told me about the cancer. I told her I did too but it took me several years to realize she wanted to have sex with me that night. I think it was her way of asking for a hug or a plot to turn me into a homosexual.
|Neil de la Flor