Considerations | It's Called Freshman Year, Cuz You're, Well, Fresh

Via Issue 186, The Promenade Issue!

Written by

Harris Lahti

Photographed by

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Styled by

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Marta Minujín. “Simultaneidad En Simultaneidad” (1966). Performance Documentation (Digital Slides, Black And White And Color Photographs, And Ephemera). The Museum Of Modern Art, New York. Image Courtesy Marta Minujín Studio And Henrique Faria.

I have 47 heart attacks. I’m lactose intolerant but eat cheese fries every day at lunch. I play Block Dude in math class on my T-94x. Lindsay Knowles swivels around in her seat and I have another heart attack. I stutter a lot and am failing math. I switch to the jumbo pasta instead of the cheese fries. I’m comatose for hours afterward, like a snake digesting a large dog. The only stimuli capable of rousing me is the sight of Lindsey Knowles’ pink thong. A whale tail, Mike Morelli says it’s called. My parents say they’re making me try out for JV football and skim ten years off my life. The QB hands me the ball and I’m too ashamed to be tackled and make the team by accident. My dad buys me a $300 car. I beat Block Dude. A cop pulls me over on the way to the skatepark and asks what I’m on. I eat five Snicker bars at once. I call Lindsey Knowles and hang up. I pull my groin. I roll my ankle. I’m dyslexic and anxious and probably Borderline. I’m always in math class, even when I’m not. Lindsey Knowles swivels around to tell me she had unprotected sex once. Lindsey Knowles swivels around to tell me she drank a bottle of vinegar afterward to make sure she wasn’t pregnant. Lindsey Knowles swivels around and has no idea I haven’t even made second base yet. I beat Block Dude again. Everyday, I go to practice and then the skatepark. My legs never stop. My legs are the legs of a gladiator that are somehow attached to my body. With a sowing needle my mom picks a rock out of my palm. Lindsey Knowles is going to the homecoming dance and wants me to come. Matt Kramer’s brother drives. Matt Kramer’s brother’s car jumps and we’ve run over a skunk. What smells like shit?! the homecomers say. Then Lindsey Knowles grinds me against the gymnasium’s padded wall in the semi-dark until I almost cum into my Adidas sweatpants. My parents are very worried now. My parents hire a tutor who does my math homework for me twice a week. Lindsey Knowles swivels around and knows I’ve been calling. Lindsey Knowles swivels around and draws a circle on a blank page in my notebook and asks how big it is around. She draws another circle. Another. Bigger? There’s hope yet, my dad says, even though we both know I’m failing math. I diagnose myself with IBS. I diagnose myself with Mono even though I wussed out and didn’t kiss Lindsey Knowles at the dance. The circles Lindsay Knowles drew in my notebook are no longer my penis but snowmen now. They are the eyes that watch me melt into a basement couch at CJ Pagilaro’s house party after I split a 40 of OE with Matt Kramer. I think my parents love me too much. I think 9-11 had a severe impact on my young mind. I have passed the point of no return, I realize. My car jumps and I watch a deer sail off. Now I’ve squashed an opossum. Even three months later the thought of Lindsey Knowles grinds in my mind. I smoke my first blunt on a pizza delivery with Mike Morelli. I smoke again with CJ Pagilaro at the skatepark. I ask them if they failed math. No one has. And I’m convinced I have brain trauma from running headfirst into Newburgh’s defensive line. Then Matt Kramer’s brother is having a graduation party. Do you think your brother will buy beer for us, too? Mike Morelli says. No? So, at the party we resort to pouring the dregs of forgotten solo cups into a bucket and pass that around. And I get drunk on backwash and feel unafraid for fifteen minutes straight. Everything lines up. Coherent words pour from my mouth for the first time. A neighbor crashes the party. No one seems to know him. He teaches space cadet math at West Point. I like you guys, he says and invites us back to his house. He can’t sex murder all of us all, I figure and agree to go. His house is big and flowery. In the back, there is a four season room with alcohol bottles scattered all over the carpenter floor. Hundreds of them. Too many. Clearly, the neighbor is a sick puppy. He lies down on his back and crosses his arms over his chest and falls asleep like a vampire. Should we go? I say. Matt Kramer looks at me. Mike Morelli looks at me. CJ Pagilaro looks at me and his eyes are busting out of his head because we’ve only just arrived. We steal a few bottles of liquor. We steal a guitar. We steal some crackers and a block of fancy cheese from his refrigerator and go out back and build a fire. And even though he’s already gotten the fire roaring CJ Pagilaro continues to throw the sticks on. Mike Morelli hands me the guitar and I strum the few clumsy notes I know. Faster, Mike Morelli says. Faster! His eyes are crossing now. Matt Kramer’s Adam’s apple glugs. My fingers blister. Faster! And I’m playing with verve now. CJ Pagilaro throws more sticks on the fire. CJ Pagilaro throws gasoline and I can eat the entire block of fancy cheese, if I want to. This next one is called Block Dude. This one is called Lindsey Knowles, I say. My blisters bleed. The fire crackles. When I look over, Matt Kramer is sleeping in the dirt. When I look over, CJ Pagilaro is dragging a whicker lawn chair away from the porch. And where did Mike Morelli go? I have no idea. I can’t stop laughing. I throw the guitar in the fire and marvel at the glow.

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Harris Lahti, The Promenade Issue, Flaunt Magazine, Freshman Year, Considerations