Thursday, February 24, 2011

What's in a Name?

I’m not used to being called by my actual name. People calling me “Justin” is a recent change.

My mom tells me she named me Justin to avoid an easy nickname. It didn’t work.

By third grade I was “Little Hoffman.” It made sense. I was little, my last name was Hoffman, it was sort of inevitable. Really it’s Mom’s fault for not giving me normal-people size genes. I know the small people genes came from you Mom, you’re like, 5’ 2.”

By high school I was answering to Scott, Skinny Hoffman and Twitch, depending on how violent and/or drunk the crowd I was running around with was. There were some other names, but I’ll have to call around and ask.

In college the names Bobby and Roberto “’Berto” got tossed into the mix. Scott was used in moderation, usually when I was lying to girls to get myself or my friends laid.

Over the recent holiday break I was on the phone with my friend Skunk (what is with these nicknames?). She doesn’t smell. She just has a white streak through her black hair. I told her what I was up to in Columbus while she gave me the down-low on her life in Seattle.

“Did you hear Ajay is actually going to grad school?” Skunk asked, “I thought for sure he was going to drop out.”

“Who’s Ajay?” I asked.

“Ajay,” she said, slowly and loudly, as if I was a foreigner and repeating herself at full volume would make me understand her strange language.

“Who the fuck is Ajay? Was he one of Alex and Dexter’s friends?”

“Bobby, for fuck’s sake you dated him for like, how many months was it?” she asked.

“I can say with absolute certainty that I have never dated anybody named Ajay.”

“You practically blew a load every time he played that fucking guitar. Oh my God…” she trailed off and started giggling.

“What?” I asked.

“I’m talking about Jason,” she said, “You remember Jason, right?”

Jason and Ajay are the same person.

Jason’s family consists of Muslims from Pakistan. When he was born, they named him Ajay, but called him Jason around the American families (racist white people) of their uptight suburban neighborhood. It sort of stuck, and it wasn’t until very recently that he started going by Ajay publicly, a coming out, if you will.

Surprise! I’m Muslim!

I never knew his real name until Skunk told me.

Come to think of it, I can’t recall ever telling him that my real name was Justin. I was introduced as Bobby and answered to Bobby. It was the name he whispered in bed and it was the name he asked for a second chance when I decided it was time to stop seeing him.

Because my mind usually dives into chaos at the slightest nudge, I instantly started questioning the reality of my time with Jason, or Ajay… fuck what name do I go with now? He was Jason but now he’s Ajay, but I don’t know him as Ajay, but he doesn’t prefer Jason anymore and… fuck. I sifted through distant memories: drunken nights, concerts, car rides, rough mornings, delicious meals, parties.

We were walking to the bar. Jason was to my left, probably wearing those ridiculous skinny jeans and a flannel shirt of an unreasonably bright color. Skunk and other friends were trailing behind us. The summer heat and the walk made me sweat and my shirt was clinging to my back. I was holding the driver’s license of a friend-of-a-friend, eying it critically. He looked like me, but my cautious side was skeptical.

“Are you sure this is going to get me in?” I asked, “It says my last name is ‘Alvarez.’”

“Marty’s I.D. will work fine,” Jason reassured me, “The name doesn’t matter as long as the face is the same.”

“I guess you’re right,” I mumbled.

Jason laughed, “We should start calling you Marty.”

The feelings Jason and I shared were real. Some were created by pheromones and chemicals, some were trivial and misguided and silly, but they still existed in the odd little world we had created together.

Like KFC trying to call itself “Kentucky Grilled Chicken,” the names may change, but the reality remains.

Signing off,
- Marty Alvarez

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Danielle Part Two: Phallic Glass

Hey Danielle, still think I don't reference you enough? Well I just found this picture on my phone. Happy Holidays y'all.

Note: Danielle's glass cock, the one her boyfriend is so enthusiastic about, is appropriately a tequila bottle.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

A Typical Wednesday

Because I know you all are curious, this is how my Wednesdays typically go.

I wake up.

I wake up feeling sore as a result of yesterday’s trip to the gym.

I look at my phone, hoping to see 3:02 A.M. Instead I see 5:48 A.M. I make no attempt to relish the twelve minutes I have left until my alarm goes off, and instead rise from my bed. Even though my arms and back ache, I do twenty-five push-ups and twenty-five sit-ups anyway. I take a shower, get in my car, and begin my drive to work.

On my drive to work the new Britney Spears’ single comes on. I change the channel. I listen to Alanis Morisette and Melissa Etheridge and Sheryl Crow pour their souls from my speakers. I realize I relate to angst-ridden older women more than I should. I make a mental note to spend my upcoming weekend drunk and immature and listening to bad music like a normal twenty-two year old, I make a note to attempt to sleep with a stranger, someone with an exotic name or distinctive profession. Deep down I know I won’t do any of these things. In the darkness of the morning, when the roads are empty and the rest of the world sleeps, I begin to feel disconnected from the normal people that surround me in life, the people whose perception of reality is so different from my own.

As I pull into the parking lot for one of my jobs, a before-school program for elementary students, I’m snapped from my thoughts by the realization that I forgot to eat breakfast.

A mother comes in to drop off her child. She has a complaint. She wants to know why I put her child in time out for running in the cafeteria earlier in the week. As I attempt to explain that running is against the rules and that I was looking out for her son’s safety, she ignores me, instead claiming that I was simply “singling him out” and “being mean.”

I wonder why we’re arguing when both of us are in agreement that our top priority is her son’s well-being. I’m reminded of passionate arguments with lovers of the past, that feeling of wanting them pressed against you one moment and wanting to shove them out of bed the next. I suddenly realize that some strange part of me, a part I usually attempt to ignore and suppress, wants to sleep with this woman, forge a new connection built on a foundation of bickering and mutual goals. I attempt to ignore and suppress the feeling. I entertain a brief fantasy involving Alexander Rybak and Sendhil Ramamurthy. It helps and for now the feeling fades away.

Around 7:33 A.M. I tell a child to stop calling another “gay” even though he’s probably right.

Around 8:31 A.M. I shout “Girls, stay off the pole,” as the girls swing around the tetherball pole. My coworker glances at me and raises her eyebrow with a laugh.

At 9:00 A.M. I leave work, ready to savor the short amount of free time before my classes start. I suddenly remember I need to get gas, and lose some of that free time.

Halfway through lecture I realize I still haven’t eaten breakfast.

I spend the break between classes taking trips to the bank and post office.

Halfway through my second class I realize I still haven’t eaten breakfast… or lunch.

Throughout my day I exchange text messages with people I know I shouldn’t be talking to. I talk to them anyway, knowing that my conversations with them are helping to restore sanity and balance into their lives. I know that once they are repaired and functional, my job will be done. They will have no further use of me and we will fall out of touch. I accept this as okay even though I know it isn’t. I feel responsible for the well-being of these people in the same way I feel responsible for the children at work. This probably isn’t normal or healthy. I make a mental note to spend more time worrying that I describe most of my behavior as abnormal and unhealthy.

At 4:00 P.M. I go to work at my other job, a health sciences library. My coworker sharing the front desk with me is one of the newer recruits, and has yet to get used to my bizarre behavior and intentionally awkward oversharing. My previous coworkers were just as weird as me and understood. I miss that.

A woman comes in looking for a book. I do my best to help her, turning the monitor to her so she can see what I’m doing as I search the catalog. As our search for the book continues to yield no results, she becomes angry, misplacing her anger towards me instead of the situation. Like the discussion with the mother in the morning, this woman and I share the same goal but aren’t working cohesively to achieve it. I bite my tongue to restrain the laughter trying to escape from my mouth, because the entire situation just seems so incredibly ludicrous to me.

At 6:04 P.M. I realize I still haven’t eaten breakfast… or lunch… or dinner. I go across the street and buy some overpriced Chinese food. Some Wednesdays it will be overpriced Italian food. Other Wednesdays it will be overpriced deli food.

When I’m not conversing with coworkers or assisting patrons, I take advantage of the library’s silence, reading books about skinheads and drunk rednecks and sexual deviants and prison inmates, the kind of stories that I relate to even though the lives of the characters are so different than my own.

At 11:45 P.M. I get on the intercom to tell everyone it’s time to get the fuck out of my library. I wonder if I actually said “fuck” or was just thinking it. I make a mental note to eat more. I make a mental note to sleep more. I turn off the lights and wish my coworkers good night.

I get home at 12:07 A.M. and make sure my alarm is set for 6:00 A.M. I crawl into bed exhausted, but relaxed.

As I begin to drift into the immaterial void of sleep, a nagging thought begins to scratch the insides of my head.

What did I forget to do today? Wasn't I supposed to like, hump something? That's what people do on Wednesdays, right? No... it wasn't humping, it was something else...

There’s a stirring in my gut and I remember. I climb out of bed and walk to the bathroom.

Because nothing ends a day better than a late-night poop.