Memoir

88. Oh I Have Been Out Searching With the Black Book In My Hand

Lee G. and I sat on my bedroom floor doodling while we listened to The Alarm’s Declaration.  I bought the album because when I saw Nigel Twist on the cover with his fucked up mouth and his Yoko sunglasses I thought that maybe — maybe — he was Ace Frehley unmasked. (I’ve spent two minutes trying to write a clever punchline to that anecdote, but does it really need one?)

Rather than being disappointed when I realized that Nigel Twist was the drummer and that songs like “Shout to the Devil” were heavy on harmonica and acoustic guitars rather than crunchy metal, I was thrilled.  The album immediately entered my power rotation, especially the cuts “Marching On” and the sparse, acoustic version of MTV staple “The Stand.”

“Are you going to get your senior portrait made?” Lee G. asked.

“Hell no.  I’m not going to that school on a summer day to get my picture taken.  I hate getting my picture taken.”

“Me either.  Did you get your schedule yet?”

“English, Typing, Newspaper, Art, and two study halls.”

“Why two study halls?”

“I’m going to spend them in the art room.  What are you drawing?”

“Me.”  Lee G. slid his sketchbook across the floor.  In his bold, cartoony style he’d drawn a round-faced character with a mulleted mop of curly hair a la Michaels Stipe and Hutchence wearing large, round sunglasses, hoop earrings and a large bow tie.

“That doesn’t anything like you,” I said.

“It will.  I’m designing my new look.”

“What’s with the bow tie?”

“I think it’s cool.”

“I like the glasses, but not the tie.  I think I’d go for a tank top.”

“You should design yourself,” he said.

I pushed his sketchbook back to him, turned my own to a fresh page and started doodling.  First was the face, long and narrow, balanced on a thin neck.  I exaggerated my Bowie hair until it was more Peter Murphy — bangs covering half of my face, a sharp rooster tail proudly moussed high above my left ear.  I changed my earring from a stud to a hoop and added a little liner to my one exposed eye.  I draped a tank top over my torso and wrapped my legs in billowy fabric that pegged at the ankles and pushed the doodle over to Lee G.

“This looks like Chris,” he said.”

“No, it’s my own design,” I said.  “Chris doesn’t have a rooster tail.”

“It’s cool,” Lee G. said.

“Thanks.”

“We’re going get so much shit from the rednecks.”

“Fuck them and the rest of this narrow-minded town.  I can’t wait to get out of here.”

There was one month left in our last high school summer, but we were already gone.

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