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Beats, Balls and Bases


We pulled into the drive-thru hoping for some cheap and greasy late-night combo to stave off the inevitable hangover but found, instead, a homeless man humping the intercom. And without missing a beat Sam leaned over, rolled down my window and asked, hey, you want fries with that?


The man turned around and lunged at us, started beating his fist against my car door and spitting violently. I slammed my foot down on the pedal and he fell face first behind us – and we just left him there lying on the ground, moaning with his pants around his ankles.


We must have told that story a hundred times once we got back to our dorm, mastered the back and forth of it – he tried to masturbate on us, Sam would say, but we beat him off in the end, I would follow. Though even then I was troubled by the jokes we cracked about his special sauce – the way we transformed his attack into a punch line, treated his illness like our crazy adventure.



Benny had the brains, says Marc, and I had the balls – which would be funnier if he were speaking metaphorically, if he wasn’t referring to our final night in Marrakesh when we ordered sheep offal off a menu, as though eating at a local café could have offset that ever-insistent sense of dislocation.


And though it’s been fifteen years, the details come back now with such texture, such vivid intensity, I could almost forget that we’re lying on hammocks under the shade of a huge umbrella, that the uneasiness in my stomach is from sipping highballs all afternoon, that the weight on my chest is from my one-year-old, who’s fallen fast asleep.


But it’s all flashes and fragments and soon we find ourselves struggling to piece together what happened after we got back from that café and found an abandoned, balled-up litter of newborn kittens in the stairwell of our hostel – our wives watching us warily as we argue over who suggested finding a shovel, who thought we should look for milk.



Chloe had already made out with Kenny earlier that night, but that didn’t stop her from taking my hand and asking if I wanted to see what was going on downstairs. And though Kenny and I weren’t that close, I felt implicated as we walked down to the basement and heard all my friends chanting: how low can you go?


My entire understanding of relationships, at that point, was based on those after-school specials where the guy moved too fast or the girl found true love, so I wasn’t really sure what to do when Chloe suddenly thrust her tongue inside of my mouth and started plunging it like a clogged toilet.


After the lights came back on, one of my buddies asked if I was going to try to get to second base. And though I didn’t love being the only single guy in eighth grade, I wasn’t ready to commit, felt such relief when Chubby Checker’s voice boomed from the record player and we all returned to playing limbo.


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