The Autarch / 9 September 2002
It rained all day on 3 September 2002, the first day of school. I’d slept in my pants to make them look less new. Call me The Autarch, I said, but self-imposed nicknames never stick. (I ended up with Fibe last year, short for Fi-Bar, a nutritional supplement that unfortunately made its way into my brown bag each Wednesday.) How did Mother score such a sweet nickname? Mother, a skinny young man with a head of hair like collapsing thunderheads, who totally made up an explanation of the four bases which messed up my one big chance with A. Rautio (“OK so you’re telling me first is or is not a thorough working over with a cat o’ nine tails?” etc.) — just suddenly branded with the moniker right out of the freaking blue.
My pen Dr. Grip was stolen by three-fifteen. I have a theory who took it, her motive being that she wants to test the limits of what her deafening beauty can accomplish.
We injected nicotine into lemon tetras to see what would happen. We clicked mechanical pencils. We pressed the sin button. We said Here. We said Hola. We did lay-up drills. We made sure there was always somebody nearby. (Lunch in the cafeteria was like some kind of headache-inducing geometric proof.)
The most common facial expression was world-weary, I’d say. No one sported an umbrella. Book spines cracked, humorously false information entered into the inside covers. Windows fogged up, making the now-forbidden outdoors that much more intriguing.
The only place I could truly relax was in the bathroom stall, although if someone else came in all that relaxation pretty much went out the window. I hoped my generic shoes didn’t I.D. me. This kid across the street goes to a tiny school operating out of what was once a parish and he says they have unisex bathrooms if you can even believe it.
After the carpool dropped me off I poured myself a double-scotch-rocks in my collectible Shazam glass from Arby’s, ca. 1976. I watched maybe ten minutes of the Disturbingly Cold Intercourse Vol. 29 DVD. I peeled apart my Trapper Keeper and looked at the 150 pages of empty binder paper in dismay. I wrote my name and the date and my homeroom in the upper right-hand corner, wondered how many thousand more times I’d do that. That evil sea hag had given us homework on the first night, what is her deal.