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It was the summer before college. The last summer, I guess, before the rest of my life. I was freshly eighteen and often stoned, chilling in a world that tasted like Rainier cherries and Sprite and air conditioning.
Then came that day in late July–the day my parents cancelled our cable subscription.
“No TV for the rest of summer?!” said my best friend Devin Resnick, who was appalled by this human rights violation. “Dude. No. No, no.”
“There’s still TV,” I insisted, but I was only playing it cool to dull the pain.
“Not any TV worth watching,” said Devin, who was lounging on the couch with me, his disgusting sockfeet resting kind of on my lap. He was the only person in the world whose footstink I could ignore. “Man. Sucks to be you. What are you gonna do?”
“Man, it sucks to be both of us,” I said, flicking one of his feet. “What are we gonna do all day?”
“Uh, go places?” was what Devin came up with.
“On what wheels?”
Neither of us could drive. Devin, not since he crashed the Corvette his parents had given him for his seventeenth birthday. And me, I’d never had a license, for the simple reason that my parents refused to pay the car insurance rates for a teenage boy.
“It’s a racket,” my dad declared. “Wait a couple years, when you no longer have the attention span of a gnat.”
I pointed out that if I had the attention span of a gnat, I probably wouldn’t have gotten into UCLA. Right?
“We just don’t want you to get in an accident like Devin,” my mom claimed.
“He only broke his wrist.”
“What if it was his face?” my dad asked.
“Then the Resnicks would have to pay you a lot to fix it.”
“You’re just proving my point,” said Dad, who was an orthodontist. “That mouth of yours is a masterpiece.”
Sure, pat yourself on the back some more, guy.
Yeah, Devin and I were stuck biking around, like we were fourteen-year-old losers. But it wasn’t that offensive; we were, after all, still kind of losers. We spent too much time on video games, and very little pursuing the girls who wouldn’t date us anyway. We’d never been very cool among our classmates, and now that we’d graduated, it wasn’t like the social invites were flooding in.
At least Devin could afford lots of good pot on his endless allowance. But this only made us even less inclined to get off the couch.
Except we probably had to get off the couch, at this point. There was no cable, and we were finally bored of my NES. Get off the couch and go where, though? I lived in the flats of the San Fernando Valley, several blocks north of Ventura Boulevard. In other words, suburbia central. Devin’s place was even worse; the Resnicks lived in the winding Encino hills. Every morning, Devin glided down the steep slopes on his eight-speed Schwinn, and showed up at my house dripping sweat. Then he caught rides home with our housekeeper, Berta, because a. it was hot as balls out, and b. the guy would never willingly bike uphill, considering he rode bikes exclusively for adrenaline. His goal for biking was maximum speed; he loved to tailgate vehicles, and zoom around blind corners.
Yeah…maybe you can see how Devin wound up crashing his sports car into the front window of Forever Young Tanning.
“No you didn’t,” Sherry Resnick kept saying, after he finally got her on the phone from the hospital. My parents were the ones who picked up when he called for help, and we were the ones who took him to the ER, too. “No, you didn’t. Stop being dumb, Devin.”
It took like five minutes to convince her it wasn’t a prank. Did Sherry really not believe a believable thing like her son crashing a Corvette? Or did she just *so* not want to deal with any of it, she was trying to tell the universe “no” over and over again, until she finally accepted that her evening plans were off, and she was about to have to do some serious parenting.
That was Sherry for you. Even though she didn’t have a real job, she was pretty much always out of the house. She was supposedly an actress, and had a face to match. But her beauty was generic, a tad flimsy; it wasn’t exactly aging like wine, especially not under that helmet of peroxide-blonde hair. She did go to a lot of classes and workshops, and seemed to get lunches with a variety of agents. She just could never get any work, not even with the intervention of Devin’s dad, who was a director.
“Because she’s not a good actress,” Devin wasn’t afraid to say. “Like…I love her, but she really just kind of sucks, dude.”
Based on what I’d seen of her VHS reel, I had to agree.
Devin’s father was both more and less of a mystery. For years, Dave had been living in a condo in Sherman Oaks six days a week–yet he and Sherry claimed to still be married. They’d only admitted they were separating, like, a few months ago. It was pretty weird. We didn’t really talk about it.
Not discussing things, by the way? Devin inherited that trait from his father–who couldn’t even talk about his job like a normal person. I mean, Dave didn’t work sarışın porno much anymore, but when he did, it was as a director and producer of cheap TV movies that ran the gamut from “Cold Hard Bullet” to “Last Roses of Summer.” He never talked much about this, dismissing his work as “dumb” and just “crapping out product.” And sure, maybe it was to him, but even his own son couldn’t tell me what company he worked for, or where they filmed. Devin had never even been on set before. Which was crazy for a director’s kid.
“I bet he doesn’t want the people he works with to think of him as a dad,” Devin had said before, rolling his eyes.
Devin both was and wasn’t aware that his dad sorta sucked. Sometimes he would desperately talk up the nice things his dad did (and Dave really did know how to be nice when he wanted to be). Or the nice things he bought. And then he’d give me this sideslanting look that sweated slightly; that said, Just you try and tell me he isn’t always what I want him to be.
And I would smile and say, “That’s cool, Dev.” Or, “That’s gonna be fun. Wish I was going to Mammoth this break.”
And he’d smile and say, “Dude. You’re invited, too. Of course you are.”
But I would never enjoy Mammoth as much as Devin enjoyed my regular old house. As much as he claimed to love being unsupervised, I knew deep down he liked that my parents always got home at the right time, and that my mom left us notes with smiley faces, and that Berta came by on a regular schedule.
Plus, there was a pool.
And as of last spring, we actually had the bigger TV, too. Not that it mattered anymore. Five weeks into summer vacation, my mom had discovered that her otherwise upstanding teenage son was watching Cinemax after everyone else had gone to bed. When my dad heard about this, and checked out some of Cinemax’s more egregiously pornographic late-night offerings, he suggested to my mom that they dump cable altogether–at least for the rest of summer–because “no one watches it anyway.”
“I watch it!” I had protested.
“Well, exactly,” said my dad, who then went off on a tear about the smutty dreck they showed on TV nowadays. And said that when he was a teenager he only had underwear catalogues, and it was good enough for him. At this, I stopped arguing and abruptly left, too embarrassed to want to hear any more.
My mom was more merciful, at least in theory. She wrote me a little note–no smiley face this time–explaining why the porn industry bothered her as a feminist. It made me feel agonized with guilt that I’d even been trying to watch the stuff.
Especially since I knew that if I got the chance to watch it again, I would. But for now, I was deprived. Sure, I was eighteen now, but I wasn’t about to take a freaking bus to North Hollywood just to humiliate myself by walking into an adult video store, with my actual human face on, and admitting to some clerk that I thought about sex.
So, that was that. We had no porn; we had no televised entertainment, period. The cable service had been cut off yesterday, on the first of August. No more Cinemax, no more HBO, no more MTV. It was an insult, considering this was the one summer where we even had time to watch excessive television. Our teenage lives had plodded by in educational camps, after-school programs, and hours of homework.
To be fair, while my parents had no excuse, I knew the Resnicks were partly just scared that without constant programming, Devin would turn into a delinquent. He’d never even exactly done anything wrong. But when you have the kind of kid who tries to film himself jumping onto a trampoline from the roof, I guess you figure drugs and shit are just a matter of time. And technically, they were right, in that he freaked out right before the SAT, and bought a baggie of Ritalin. I took one, too. I still felt guilty about it, because what if that was the only reason I scored a 1500? As for Devin, he got so jittery on three pills that he demanded emergency permission to leave the room to try and throw them up. It didn’t work.
He now claimed that marijuana was healing him after his brush with Ritalin abuse. I wasn’t so sure. His daily smoking had started during a mysterious period of depression in June, right around graduation week. I honestly thought he was upset about not getting invited to any of the cool-kid parties in our class–but even when Saba Rafizadeh invited us to her huge Malibu bash, his spirits hardly lifted.
I knew better than to ask. But he started smoking heavily right around then, and hadn’t really stopped. He’d gotten me in on it, too, and I had to admit, pot was nice. It was part of the reason that this summer, the summer of ’89, had been so awesome. You know, until today.
Ever the optimist, I said, “Hey, though, maybe we can really hang out together now.”
“Dude, we are hanging out.”
“But like, instead of sitting on our asses on the couch, maybe we could…I dunno, ask each other stuff? About life?”
Maybe he’d finally sex hikayeleri tell me what happened in June. Or not. He was just giving me the world’s most jaded look.
“Or, uh, about the universe?” I tried.
“Man, you’re already high, aren’t you.”
“No. Where the hell am I getting drugs but you, man?”
“Well, you wanna get high?”
Bracing for blowback, I finally said what I’d been thinking for at least two weeks: “Man, I feel like maybe it’s not great to be too stoned to think, so much of the time.”
Devin just scowled. Then informed me that he hated trying to think when it was hot.
“Well, we could take a walk. Or go for tacos or something.”
“Or take the bus to Santa Clarita, and go to Six Flags. Maybe tomorrow?”
“Waaay too hot,” he groaned.
The heat was probably why he was being so damn whiny. The A/C was between cycles, and it wasn’t pleasant. I sighed and stretched, trying to get rid of the sticky feeling of the leather couch. I peeled my balls off my leg while I was at it.
As for Devin, he flopped and rolled his way off the couch altogether, right onto the hardwood floor. He lay there dejectedly on his stomach, like a zoo animal at midday.
“C’mon, dude,” I said. “I can’t just sit around all day.”
“I can,” he said, digging in his backpack for some fresh leaf.
“No, let’s go in the pool. It’s been a while.”
“I don’t have a suit. I left it at my house after the beach.”
“Oh. Well, you can borrow my dad’s trunks if you want.”
“Ew, no friggin’ way!” Devin protested. “Swimsuits are like underwear. You can’t just share them.”
“So wear your underwear.”
“It’s white, I’m not wearing that in the water.”
“Pff, I’ve seen your dick before, I really don’t care.”
“Not in a hell of a long time.”
“Why do you care so much, dude?”
“I don’t,” he said, weirdly defensive–and gave in.
When I was changed into my trunks, I found boxer-clad Devin on the patio, dangling his feet in the water. I charged up behind him, and planted my foot on his back to shove him into the water with a massive splash. He tossed up an armful of water at me in retaliation as soon as he soon as stopped yelping in surprise. But he was laughing.
I took my own leap in, and cut through the water like a fish for a couple laps, before Devin seized me. We began to wrestle underwater in the way that made my parents always tell us to knock it off before paramedics had to get involved.
When my lungs were on fire, I thrust up to the surface, gasping for air.
“Uncle,” I panted.
Devin grinned and flicked his hair out of his eyes. I did the same, and then we started engaging in a lazy game of Mirror. We’d been doing it for years. We originally got it from Sherry, from one of her acting classes or something. I don’t know why we found it fun, but we did. In quiet moments we’d entertain ourselves by facing each other and mirroring each other’s movements. Eventually we would start to feel like we weren’t following one or the other of us anymore–we just felt like one single dude looking into a mirror.
The illusion was furthered by the fact that Devin and I looked somewhat alike. We both had brown hair, which we kept at the same length. Our noses weirdly matched. We were of similar height and build; I was taller for now, but for years we’d been switching off by the season, and it wasn’t impossible Devin still had growing to do.
Another weird thing about us was that we’d been born exactly one day apart. Devin first, on October 29th. Then me on the 30th. And we’d both been delivered at Cedars-Sinai. Spooky, right?
Berta called us los gemelos. The twins.
More fraternal than identical, of course. My irises were some kind of gray-green color, and Devin’s were brown, with a scar on one side from jumping off the roof onto that trampoline. He was better-looking, although he had worse acne, and still had to wear daytime retainers. My orthodontia had been done for a while now. My teeth were also whiter and more beautiful than Dev’s, but that was true against almost anyone; I was, after all, my father’s walking showcase.
After our round of Mirror, we floated around, and–despite Devin’s previous resistance–talked about life. It was so peaceful out here, with just the sound of the pool filter running, the splashes, our voices. My backyard was walled in with bamboo, so it really did feel like we were all alone, bobbing peaceably in our own watery world, shaded by the spreading fan of a fig tree. This was better than TV, but we always seemed to forget that.
When we finally got out and tromped inside into the sweet air conditioning, I tossed down the towel I’d dried my hair with and glanced over at Devin. He immediately whirled around, which got me rolling my eyes. Yeah, his wet boxers were now all but transparent. But for real, we’d been friends for like seven years. I didn’t know why he was always so uptight about his body…or at least its lower half.
“You şişman porno realize you’re just flashing me your ass, now?” I said.
He turned back around, but with his hands covering his crotch.
“Jesus, calm down, man,” I said. “It’s not like I have a big dick, either.”
“Fucking what?” he snapped at me.
“If you’re, like, determined to hide that you aren’t hung, I mean, calm down. I’m not, either.”
“Who the hell said I wasn’t hung?” he said, which I figured was just a snappy comeback, but then I realized he was being serious. I was forced to point out that, well, I had gotten an eyeful a minute ago. And no…it wasn’t very big.
“Man, fuck you, Nate,” he said, pulling his shorts on. “It’s fucking cold in here right now.”
“Hey, shit, I wasn’t trying to offend you. It came out wrong, I guess.”
But Devin just pulled a face and asked if he could use my shower.
“‘Course, go ahead,” I said, and he stalked off down the hall. I felt bad, now. I took a kind of wry attitude toward the fact that my dick wasn’t that big. But apparently this was a really sensitive thing for Devin. I hadn’t realized. We talked about a lot of things, but our dicks were not high on that list.
And while I wished I could apologize, I knew the best apology would be never bringing it up again.
I threw a towel on the couch and plopped down on it, still in my swim trunks, and turned on some lame daytime news just to have something to distract myself. I was learning about how hot it was going to continue to be when Devin made his entrance, a towel wrapped around his waist.
“Hey,” I said, eyes still mostly on the weather report.
“Hey,” he said.
And then he dropped his towel, right there in the doorway.
I just stared at him. I mean, I tried not to stare at him, and his hard dick. His very hard dick.
“Uh. What are you doing?!”
Devin calmly gripped the shaft, and gave his glans a flick.
“You wanted to see it, right? Well, check it out.”
I checked it out.
“Pretty big, isn’t it?” he said.
Yes, he’d grown up big, well above average.
“Listen, man,” I said, not knowing where the hell to look. Somehow I was just staring at his hard-on. I guess it was difficult not to; that thing was pointing right at me. “I was just screwing with you, earlier. I wasn’t trying to piss you off.”
Devin shrugged. “It just caught me off-guard to be, like, naked all of a sudden.”
“Yeah, well, you actually being naked caught me off-guard just now.”
Devin shrugged again with this devilish smirk and then walked over and plopped his bare ass on my couch.
“Whoa, what’re you doing?”
“Too hot for clothes,” he announced. “It’s not like there’s anything you haven’t seen, now.”
“Dude, what the hell,” I said, laughing to hide that I was freaked out. It was just Devin, and it was just his body, and I was the one who’d tried to act like nudity was chill, earlier. And yet…I dunno. It was just really strange to be sitting next to him when he was extremely fucking naked. Like, not just naked, but visibly aroused. Raging hard.
“Berta’s gonna be here in, like, ten minutes,” I reminded him. “Unless she’s shopping today.”
“I know what her engine sounds like. You can hear it from a block away.” Devin’s hand had drifted straight to his wang again, now that he was sitting down, which just made this all even weirder. Then he looked in my direction and said, “Well? Go ahead.”
“I showed you mine, now you show me yours.”
I faux-laughed, all awkward. “No thanks.”
“Sooo,” Devin said. “You’re the one with something to hide.”
“No,” I said. “Look, I already said I’m not that big, I’m not gonna fuckin’ prove it to you.”
But when I glanced over at him, he was still wearing a wicked smile, and I realized that he wasn’t messing around. And that if I didn’t show him my dick, he was probably going to find a way to make me do it anyway. Pants me, or something. Devin was that kind of guy. I always forgot how annoying it was, until he trapped me in a situation like this.
Not that we’d ever quite been in a situation like this. I mean, it’s true that we’d jerked off in the same room before. But that was a long time ago, and we’d stacked pillows between us to block off the view.
“It’s just me,” Devin said. “What, are you chicken?”
“No,” I said, and stuffed my hand down my trunks.
“What’re you doing?”
“You showed me your boner, not just your dick,” I said, standing up and making for the hallway. “And you know what, I’m not gonna try to get it up while you’re looking right at me, it’d probably never happen.” Although I’d actually plumped up a bit just sitting there with him; maybe I wouldn’t have had a problem after all. But it would seem to have no problem getting hard while he stared at me. Right?
I ducked into the hall bathroom and, feeling either idiotic or clinical–this had to be what it was like to donate sperm–I gave myself an inorganic hard-on. Then I strode back into the living room and sat quickly back down, with my hand covering my junk. I fixed my eyes on the public TV station, which was now running a story about a local mom who was, quote-unquote, standing up to speeders in her neighborhood. I exhaled, hard. I took my hand away.
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