Which was definitely one of the weirder things to wake up to. Not, for some reason, the weirdest thing I've ever woken up to. That involved a few chickens, a box of cereal, and copious Silence of the Lambs quotes.
...this was back when my older brother still lived at the house. Before he moved in with his common-law-wife, his best friend, and his wife's older brother in that apartment downtown. The one that I try not to visit too much, because I am reminded of Utah.1
“I'm old! Ancient! Decrepit! I am Bea Arthur!” the screams continued, wailing into the night. Or, well, morning. It sounded like my dad wasn't going to shut up, so I decided that getting up might be a viable plan.
Some people spend a lot of time waking up, and getting ready for the day – especially on the first day of school. I spend the same amount of time as normal: I roll out of bed, put on whichever clothes are nearby, and wander downstairs. Most of the time, without ever opening my eyes. But because it was the first day of school – the first day of my high school career2 – I went into the bathroom and actually styled my hair.3
By the time I got downstairs, Dad had flung himself across the table (not the dining room table, but the table we actually use) and was wailing. Max, my dad's boyfriend, was sitting at the head of the table, calmly reading a motorcycle magazine.4 Auggie was staring at Dad in that blank, vaguely sociopathic way he has. Oly was... nowhere to be seen.5
“Morning Max, Auggie, Bea. We got any Captain Crunch left?”
Dad actually stopped wailing long enough to glower at me, and bite his thumb at me.6
“Look for yourself,” said Max, whose sense of humanity has been severely impacted by living with my dad for nearly a decade.
There was, indeed, still a bowl's worth of Cap'n Crunch. I soon returned to the table with the bowl (plus milk! And cereal!) and a can of ginger ale. A few bites in, I finally gave into the curiosity. “So, Dad, what made you realize that you're older than dirt?”
“We received our invites to the twenty year reunion today,” Max said calmly, carefully and artistically tearing various pages in the magazine. “Here, Auggie, run this back over to the Hydes' place, would you?” he added, offering the now-completed magazine.
Auggie gave him a long, long look, before taking the magazine and sloooowly walking away. Max, his monthly task complete, pulled his boyfriend off the table and sat him in a chair. Like he was human. Max is quite hilarious that way.
“I love that it's this letter that makes you realize your age, not the fact that there are children who run around and call you 'grandpa',” I commented through a spoonful of colorful sugar cereal. Dad mouthed 'vacuum' at me, and Max gave me a disapproving look. Which, really, I hoped he was joking about, because come on. That's not even half as bad as anything he lets Dad get away with. And aren't parents supposed to think the antics of their children are adorable, and those of their spouses are worthy of disapproval?
“I,” Olympias Turati said in a grand voice, from the top of the stairs, “Am NOT going to start high school with a twelve year old.”
Which was impressive and insulting the first time she had said it, but she had been saying it ever since we had started sixth grade together, and she had realized what that had meant. With slight breaks around grading periods, because she was sure I would be held back – hell, I was sure that I'd be held back.
“Yes, yes, now eat some damn breakfast,” Dad grumbled, finally pretending to be human. Oly drew herself up to complain and protest... and then paused and shrugged. And shoved me out of my seat to finish off my Cap'n Crunch.
I mentally called her all sort of horrible names in my head, and then kicked her a few times, before wandering out to get my backpack. As little thought I put into my personal appearance, I put the inverse proportion of thought and effort into my backpack.7 I had been packing it and organizing it all week, and I did one final check before putting it on.
Kit, my older brother – in a manner of speaking8 – was going to be driving me and Oly to the high school, because it was on the way to the daycare he takes his own kids to. Rather than deal with Dad's melodrama over the fact that he had graduated twenty years ago (hello, he wasn't even forty yet), or with Oly's melodrama over the fact that she's average whereas I am brilliant, or deal with the fact that Auggie is completely going to become a serial killer and Max is egging him on, I decided to sit on the porch to wait for Kit.
Kit drives this old beat-up van, one of the really tough, old school ones that can be stepped on by Godzilla and not dent.9 You can hear it from a few miles away, and all our neighbors hate it.10 And sure enough, there was the sound that has haunted my childhood since about kindergarten.
“Hey, buddy!” Kit said, having parked the car and jumped out to hug me. For all the fact that he's a high school teacher and was raised in foster care, Kit can be really naïve sometimes. Such as when he still thinks of me as the little kid he used to draw comics for.11
I gave him a half-hearted hug back, because I'm really not a hugger.12 “Hey Kit.” One of the kids crawled out of the mess that is the back of the van, and also attacked me with a hug. I blinked down at him, and tried to remember the name. Which would have been a lost cause if it was one of the girls, but of the two boys, one had recently got glasses. So... “Hey P3,” I added.
Peter Adessi III was an interesting kid. Interesting in the way that if I didn't know any better, I'd say he was a crack baby.13 I'm not entirely sure who his mother is, but she was probably a philosopher of some sort, because that was the kind of people that Petey – P3's dad – hung out with.
“So where's your sister?” Kit asked, ignoring the limpet clinging to my leg in favor of leaning against the car and looking cool.
“I am here, and I am ready to leave,” Oly said, breezing by me and my unfortunate little tumor. She was all decked out in her official first day outfit – camouflage pants, t-shirt with a pithy saying, black leather jacket she'd gotten for her last birthday, and a pair of big black boots.14 Of course, I saw all of this in a split-second, because as soon as I saw her, I was flinging off the midget clinging to my leg and diving for the passenger seat. “God-damn-it, Zack! I wanted the front!” Oly wailed.
“Then you should've moved your fat ass faster!” I snapped back. It had only been the last year that I've been legally allowed to sit up front – I take advantage of it as much as I possibly can.15
Kit shooed P3 back into the car, and got in the driver's seat, not bothering to tell us to watch our mouths. It would be pretty pointless, because Kit curses about fifty times more than either of us, and he's never successfully curbed the impulse when his boss isn't around. I'm actually not sure if he even notices the difference between curse words and not curse words anymore.
One thing I'll say to the credit of my sister – she doesn't argue too much over who sits up front. Partially because she actually likes the little kids, and partially because she knows to pick her battles. I may mock and argue and dislike her intensely, but she's actually pretty intelligent when she feels like it. Plus, she's not near as annoying as most teenage girls are. She's not into make-up, only into boys as far as characters on TV and in movies, and her hair often looks messier than mine. She is obsessed with clothes, but she goes for the more militia-esque attire.16 Oly is a complete pain in the ass, but she could be much, much worse.
I was hoping that Kit's miraculous driving record would be broken today17, because I could at least get a nap in while the police wrote a ticket. And while yes, this was the first day of school, it was only the first day for new students – freshmen and transfers. So today was just going to be a regurgitation of school rules18, tour of the school19, and gathering of schedules.20 Boring for everyone involved, except those who would be meeting friends they hadn't seen all summer.
I wasn't one of that number, for one rather large reason: I don't have any friends. Not that I blame anyone else – I'm kind of a complete jackass. I like myself the way I am, and I'm not changing just so I can gain followers. Unfortunately, this means that the one pleasure teenagers get out of school doesn't apply to me. Of course, I'm strange, because I quite like school. I'm just not a fan of homework, which is why all of my teachers wanted to hold me back all through middle school.
Sadly, it was not to be. Kit and his old clunker got us to school in one piece, on time, and without being pulled over even once, and I was left staring at the brick building that looked rather like a cross between a prison and the castle of a lower noble.