It seemed like they were all doing it. The year I was sixteen my life was nothing but a big blur of acid washed jeans pegged up against people’s ankles tight above their hips, penny loafers with the after market penny firmly but not easily placed on the top of their feet, tight terry cloth shirts with pure white puka shell necklaces accenting their low v-neck, walking around like the sticks up their asses had been there for years, and were in no danger of working their way out. They all seemed to be experts in hair mousse, hair feathering, hair layering, parting their hair in the middle no matter where it fell naturally, big hair, weird hair, and hair spray. As they walked by there was a flood of small floating Morrissey buttons dancing on their chests, pierced left ears (I heard the right ones meant you were gay, although my dad would say that either was a bit disturbing) and somehow thought they looked original by wearing a slightly different color of Wayfarer sunglasses. They all traded in their Timexes for Swatches, which they kept in their drawers at night because the ticking kept them up.

They all listened to K-Rock even while it was a small radio station out of Pasadena which they could only pick it up after dark. They all stayed up late listening to Lovelines, were personal friends with Jeb the Fish, The Poorman, and Richard Blade, and pretended to like Depeche Mode even though I thought they sucked. They were so bold to believe that MTV wasn’t a cable TV station, but rather a culture which to emulate. They were all in love with Martha Quinn, were dying to hang with Alan Hunter and Mark Goodman, and wanted to fuck Nina Blackwood.

I would always hear them talking about their Saturday nights as they would head up over the 405 to Westwood. I just know they never stopped to take in the beautiful twilight view of the Valley as they headed over the hill. They would watch movies at the General Cinema on Wilshire, douse themselves with Cokes and licorice, and complain about springs in the seats. After they would walk through the village buying up slices of pizza from Pete’s that you couldn’t eat until you blotted it down with a couple napkins, or a hamburger from Tommy’s, loaded with chili and onions walking into Ahhhhs! pretending to look at cards and I Love Lucy mugs, but really scamming on college girls for sport. They would end up at Dillon’s, the only under aged club in Los Angeles, headed to the fourth floor, spending the night listening to New Wave music, smoking cigarettes, making out with high school girls from Sherman Oaks dressed like Madonna, and occasionally sneaking outside to hit a joint that someone had managed to sneak in.

Everyday I that I made it to school I would pretend to read a book on the quad within earshot of all these details. I would revel in the exploits of their Friday’s spent partying with stolen alcohol and screaming girls. They would laugh about how they had found this park at the end of Wilbur where it was suppose to connect with Sesnon, but when city ran out of money the only thing left was a hilly park in the middle of no where. At night the dew on the grass combined with the cheap buzz made it a perfect spot for ice blocking. They would buy ice blocks at the 7-11, and carry them up to the top of the small hills and ride them down, mostly falling. And although I never did any of this, it was my youth as well.

And when I would tell these stories about the strangers who lived the life I wanted, and filled in the minutiae I couldn’t, the nurses would look at me with pity, and I always hated them for it. They could call me things like “honey,” and “baby,” while they injected me with whatever the drug of the day was, and they would tell me that everyone has their time, and this just wasn’t mine. And it was then when it would dawn on me that this wasn’t my time at all. These events that I would absorb so readily didn’t happen to me and thus they didn’t count. But then the drugs would take hold, and I could taste the grease on that pizza, and I felt the night air on my face as walked around with my buddies laughing and telling lies about our sex lives. And I had hair … that was feathered back which I would blow-dry everyday, and use plenty of mousse on. And my ass was freezing as I rode that ice block down the hill, and my back got all wet when I fell and landed on the dewy grass. And I made out with beautiful girls from Sherman Oaks and got high and every once and a while I reached up and went for second, and twice she just let me leave it there, and it was glorious. And drugs are beautiful because when I woke I up I was wasn’t sure right way that these things hadn’t happened to me, as I was throwing up and my mom was washing my head down with a towel that she never managed to keep cold enough to rinse the sweat away. I wanted to suggest to her a thousand times to put ice in the water, but the events got blurry as the day went on and I would forget, or just not care. I was never sure of anything.

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