Price Breaks and Heartaches
A journal of retail and failed romance
Paper Hearts And A Red Haired Tart
(The following story is based on the secret testimony of the miserable souls who survived this mortifying ordeal.)
It was orientation day, and several dozen freshman students milled around in the grassy central courtyard of Scotia County Community College. Yours truly was there of course, enjoying my first day of college. It was a new beginning for me, the beginning of an era of independence and self determination. Save for the fact I was still living with my Mom and my Dad was paying for almost everything
I was chatting up a pair of girls, they were cute, bubbly and clever, but not too clever after all this was a community college. I figured I was in like Flynn.
Then Kevin K. Hanson and his entourage strolled into the courtyard; they were like the droogs from 'A Clockwork Orange' except instead of bowler derbies they wore baseball caps with filthy sayings on them.
When I saw them I remember thinking Please God don't let them recognize me.
Then he shouted, “Hey! It's Albert Louis Bruno III!”
The Lord and I have always had that kind of a relationship
Kevin and his two friends swaggered towards us in a classic pincer movement. There was nowhere to run. Kevin's two friends were Marvin and Corey. Marvin was kind of a biker, he had the leather wear, the tattoos and the attitude; all he lacked was the money to buy an actual motorcycle. Corey was an accomplished mechanic and all around nice guy but whenever he got around pretty girls his voice tended to go up an octave.
“Albert, are you attending classes here too?” Kevin clapped me on the back.
“For a start yeah,” I said. “I want to get my feet wet before trying my hand at an out of state school.”
“Yeah, feet wet,” Marvin chortled then turned his attention to the girls. “Speaking of getting wet, I don't believe you've introduced me to your lovely friends.”
“Come on Marv,” Corey squeaked, “be nice.”
Kevin dug his pinky deep into his ear swirled it and pulled it free with a tiny pop. He looked thoughtfully at what he had found before flicking it into the crowd, “So what are your majors? I'm here for computer science.”
One of the girls gave him a quizzical look, “I didn't think this school had a computer science division.”
“It doesn't but all the other schools bounced me so I figure I can get my grades back up here and then reapply.”
“Man you're hot,” Marvin said to the other girl. “I'd like to feed you a Snickers bar and eat the peanuts out of your shit.”
And with that both girls made their excuses and fled from us as quickly as they could. I had to admit I was amazed, that was actually a line worse than the ones I had used on Athena. I watched them disappear into the throng of students, “Thanks a lot guys.”
“Plenty more where they came from,” Marvin said.
“They were cute though.” Corey’s voice was returning to normal.
“Besides Albert this is college,” Kevin was now going to work on his other ear, “it's a buyers market. Everyone gets laid in college.”
That might be true but I was very afraid I might be the exception that proved the rule.
I am sure what you just read leaves you with many questions such as- “What is the deal with these guys?”
“And I thought you didn't like Kevin K. Hanson?”
“And in what mad soulless world would that Snickers line ever work?”
At the very least I can answer those first two questions for you.
Since high school I have had a love/hate relationship with Kevin K. Hanson. I mean he was a nice guy and all but he was just so goofy. I mean I'm a pretty weird guy myself but my oddness is offset by my strange sense of dignity and my irony. Kevin was just Kevin, he was like a wild Id. If he needed to scratch it he scratched it, if he wanted to say it he said it, and he didn't have a single shred of personal dignity.
Now I admit to hanging around him, in those days I thought a friend that was a pain in the neck was better than no friends at all. I didn’t find Marvin that irritating, so long as there was nothing remotely female within 20 yards of him. He used the exact same kinds of come on lines my brother used. I had already learned that vulgarity in the pursuit of intimacy only worked if you looked like Antonio Bandaras. Sadly Marvin looked like Cheech Martin.
Of course if you’ve been reading along you know that Corey and I have been friends since high school but recently he’d started to become more and more withdrawn. He’d show up to hang out with you and then spend the entire time frowning and lost in his own thoughts.
Every time I went out in public with these guys I spent most of the time cringing at their antics. Were they really the fools though? After all I was the one spending a lot of free time with guys I wouldn’t admit I knew in polite company. So why did I bother? Did I like their company more than I realized or was cringing and making smug comments easier for me than actually going out and trying to get new friends?
So as you imagine I wasn’t sure what to do next. Should I avoid them? Change schools? Kill them and harvest their organs for bizarre experiments? I didn’t know. All I was sure of was that none of us were going to break down and talk about our feelings.
We were men of the 1980’s after all.