“Bro, bro,” and “S’up, bro,” a meathead named Chad and a meathead named Ungar said to each other early one morning when getting on a school bus.
The double honorific was one Chad rarely used. We may say many things about the meathead. But the meathead can have true value. He can remind us that at any time in this life, someone may surprise us. And that is not a bad thing.
Ungar asked Chad if he was ready to do this shit. They were chaperoning a school field trip for Ungar’s daughter’s class to the salt marshes of Ipswich. Ungar volunteered Chad to help so he would have someone to hang out with when he got bored.
“I was on the ‘Ball last night, if you know what I mean, C-Note.”
This confused Chad. He thought maybe Ungar was choosing to reveal something at a strange time.
“I am here for you, Bro bro.”
“The Fireball. Glug glug glug ta ha ha ta ha.”
This was a relief.
Chad was drinking a large coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts with eighteen Splenda.
Once, Ungar had said, “you know, bro, I used to think that dude was named Duncan—D-U-N-C-A-N—like that king bro in Shakespeare, and he had a coffee biz, and it was like, “cray! diversified assets!”
Chad thought this was insanely intelligent.
The sea smelled nice. The sand was crunchy. Chad liked sand crunch. He didn’t like sand in his sandwiches when he went to the beach. Sandwiches were sacred.
“I am out, bro,” Ungar said, as he chased off with Emma his daughter.
She was popular. A girl on the bus had brought a lanyard she made for Emma and gave it to her and when Emma put it around her neck as Chad watched and smiled, the girl smiled so hard back at Emma that Chad smiled also and said “circle of life” and Ungar told him not to be gay.
“Hello” said a girl who came up not much beyond Chad’s thigh whom he had nearly walked into as he wondered what the hell he was supposed to do now that he was alone and kids and teachers and the Ung Man were gone.
“I’m Dolores,” she said. “I always get left behind.”
“That blows, Little Miss. People be like, ‘yo yo yo, let’s do yo yo yo,’ and sometimes there aren’t enough yo’s, you know?”
Chad liked this girl.
After he told her his name and she agreed to call him C-Note, they walked in a different direction from the one everyone else had gone in.
“Yo, my pops brought me here when I was a mini-Note. I got you. We’ll have fun.”
Dolores asked Chad if he had any kids. He said no and maybe he never would. And if he had a wife. He said that someday he would have a baby girl, which was confusing, but she thought she knew what he probably meant.
The sand became even crunchier.
“Don’t you think it’s like granola?” Dolores asked, and Chad liked this, because he liked granola a lot.
“The gran-gran is good for you, br—“
He stopped himself.
“You were going to call me bro, weren’t you? Why do you call people bro?”
Chad pretended to think for a moment, but he didn’t really have to.
“I call people I like bro.” Then he paused, because he did have to. “Or people I want to like me.”
“You get it. Girl bro.”
They had arrived at the spot Chad was looking for. It was a tidal pool and Chad loved to smell it. He ranked his favorite smells.
“People be like tearing it down, but the gym is the smell of self-improvement.”
Dolores was rapt. So Chad continued.
“Then gasoline is pretty good. Cut grass. And this tidal pool, practice child.”
“Ta ha ha ha ta ha.”
They leaned over the edge of the pool. There were urchins, rock crabs, razor clams. Chad pulled out a starfish and then the Swiss Army Knife he always kept on him, just in case. A lot of people want to take a big man down, his pops had once told him.
“O no!” Dolores shrieked.
“Nah, it’s cool,” Chad said, as he sawed off the arm of a starfish he had pulled out of the pool and set down on the rock they were crouched upon.
“This bro here, he don’t even feel this. And he’s like, ‘C-Note, you gotta understand, I’m outsmarting you, with your knife, super powerful that you are, because I don’t feel this and the parts you cut from me just grow back.”
Chad stifled a manful sigh, which was sometimes a prelude to a manful sob.
“And this right here is the circle of life.”
He plucked a hermit crab from the pool and placed it upon the starfish’s severed limb. The crab began to eat.
“Look at that dude nosh. Ta ha. Today has been a good day.”
Emma had taken the knife and stuck it through the back of a horseshoe crab.
“Bro, how come it’s just sinking and not fixing itself?” Dolores asked.
Chad said that that particular animal should maybe be their secret animal and she probably shouldn’t tell anyone and to only slice apart starfish. He could not believe how mature he sounded. It was true, perhaps: kids really brought it out of you.
They rode back on the bus together, and in the school parking lot Chad met Dolores’ mother.
“Damn, practice kid, your mom is smoking,” he said, before Dolores introduced them and raced off to their car.
“I was just out with, like, girl bro, just us. Ta ha. Kids. Kids, right? Sometimes they’re not…”
“Yeah. Nice. But sometimes they are.”
Dolores’ mom smiled. Maybe this was the one. A couple eighteen Splenda coffees seemed a good place to start.
“You know, I used to think Dunkin’ Donuts was spelled D-U…shit…N-K…wait…A-N, like that king from Shakespeare and it was like poet dude had a side gig. Ta ha ha. Ta ha ha ta.”