Don't you love this? Because you would love this, it would make you laugh, it would make you cry, and it was created by the most published writer in America, a unique genius, a uniquely productive genius, there was not one major press that would put out a book containing this. For those reasons. Because of its quality, its uniqueness, and whom it was done by.
What this is speaks for itself.
“Did you ‘drate today, bro?” a meathead named Chad asked of his fourteen-year-old neighbor Remy after she had asked him a confusing question.
By “’drate,” Chad meant, of course, “hydrate.” Fluids were very important to him, as they are to all members of the meathead brethren. “’Cause I don’t know why you be asking me this,” he continued.
They were in the hallway of their building. Remy was the daughter of Chad’s friend who was named Vinnie but everyone called him T for some reason, so he was T-Vin, and his last name was Tevant so Chad called him T-Vin-T, which sounded like the stuff that blew other stuff up.
Remy tried to explain again.
“My mom has parent-teacher meetings at her school in Concord. My dad has AA and he cannot miss this one.” Remy also spoke French, German, and a little Polish. But she also spoke Chad. “Or his sponsor be like mad pissed homie.” Oh. That clarified matters. “And it it art exhibition night at my school and I can only go if an adult takes me and I want to see my painting in the exhibit.”
Remy’s school was not an ordinary school. It was a school for little artists. So Chad was a little nervous but he did not hate himself for it and it did not make him want to cut himself like some other things did and had before because even Tom Brady still got nervous at the end of games when the Patriots could lose—not like they were really going to lose. And not like Chad would either. He’d take one hard for his team when he had to and Remy was on his team. Team Chad.
“So you’ll do it?”
He stuck out his lower jaw which was his go-to pose to indicate strength, sacrifice, or when he was about to cum.
“I will, girl bro.”
“I love you, Uncle Chad,” Remy replied, and hugged him around the bellybutton, because that was all she came up to.
“Just Chad,” Chad said, because the term uncle made him feel old.
“JC,” the child replied, and Chad thought of another JC, and understood much, and understood much indeed.
In a way, Remy was almost his. T-Vin’s wife always liked Chad and they hooked up in the basement where the laundry machine was when she was a little bit pregnant with Remy—Chad didn’t like “too pregnant,” if you know what we mean—so maybe a little bit of him got in there. That was a tough time in T-Vin’s life, so while he wouldn’t have said this aloud, in a way, kinda/sorta, Chad was doing everyone a solid.
His heart pounded in the school parking lot. It was night. He didn’t like going to schools at night. Smart-dressed kids with smart-dressed parents walked with purpose towards the entrance. Chad had on his best Patriots sweatshirt—it was his 1980s throwback model and this one still had sleeves—but he didn’t know, man, he didn’t know. This was not his scene.
“Don’t be nervous, JC bro,” Remy said. “Art is fun and I want you to see my painting.” Then she said something that blew Chad’s mind. He wasn’t ready for it, really. But nobody could have been ready for it.
“I care what you think,” Remy concluded.
The paintings were really great, Chad could see. He couldn’t see lines, “per say”—a phrase he used and wrote a lot in work emails when he had to be on his smart game—but if there were lines he was pretty sure that everyone stayed within them, and that was half the painting battle.
“In this room are non-representational paintings,” Remy said, leading him into a classroom across from a small gym. He looked longingly through the tiny rectangular windows of the gym door. Oh how easier that would have been! Remy did not play sports, but, oddly, as Chad mulled in this moment, he still had affection for her. He probably wouldn’t even have had more if she was a girl quarterback. Cray but mostly true.
Chad did not understand the non-representational paintings very well. They weren’t even of anything. They were just fucking colors. He wanted to smash some of them. But they also reminded him of the cards one of his very first therapists would hold up in front of him when he was six and he was supposed to say what he saw in the shapes of the drawings on the fronts.
“That’s a football, that’s my mom’s head under the wheel of a bus, that’s me getting in trouble again and my dad telling me how I do bad, that’s Santa’s Village,” and so forth.
So that relaxed him a little.
They came to the room where Remy’s painting was. Many kids and parents and what Chad figured were teachers—you could always spot a teacher—were gathered around it. Chad was taller than everyone so he could look from the back.
In the painting was a man who maybe looked a little like Chad. He was sitting on top of a great round boulder on top of a grassy hill. For some reason it looked like the man had rolled the boulder there. Maybe because the grass going up the hill was crushed down like the boulder had made a path. The man was smiling. His flat right hand was above his eyes so he could see better in the sun and he was looking out over the far side of the hill that he had not already gone up like he was excited about seeing what was on the other side.
“It is deliciously absurd,” he heard a voice say. “It flirts with the non-representational,” said another.
That was enough for JC.
“Hold up, bros. Ain’t nothing absurd about this. And it sure as hell represents. It represents big time. You cannot represent more.”
A woman whose heart was in the right place asked Chad what it represented.
We all have moments—though we may have but few of them—when we are not as we were. But we are still as we have been. Somewhere. There is a difference.
“It represents…it represents…the indomitable human spirit and what it must necessarily endure to be truly alive.”
What a great night for both of them.
Chad could hardly believe it.
They rode back in silence. Glowing. Outside of Chad’s door, because T-Vin-T, T-Vin-T’s wife, and Remy all lived one floor up, the painter gave the art critic a hard hug around the bellybutton as they said goodnight.
“You got my painting,” she said.
“I got you,” he replied, and that night he did not get drunk at all, he just ‘drated.