So, yes, I’ve been quite remiss in posting to my blog of late, so I am going to do something now that will make you forget all about my remissiveness and maybe even forget that I just said remissiveness.   I am going to introduce a writer friend and share an excerpt from her work.   You will like this.   And not just because she is much prettier than I am.   You will like it because you will be left awed and speechless by her literary prowess and masterful use of the………..  Too thick?  Okay, look, it’s good stuff, and as soon as you read it, you will see why.

Her name is Karen Palmer.  (Karen, this is Everyone…Everyone, this is Karen.)

The first thing of Karen’s I ever read was her novel All Saints and I was surprised I had never heard of it.   I think what I said in the Goodreads site about it was that it is perhaps the most underrated book ever.   It is a powerful story with rich characters and seemed to me while I was reading it to be just the kind of thing that would be perfect for the big screen, although I figure that its rather complex non-linear structure would be a filmmaker’s nightmare.   In book form, however, I highly recommend it.  I have put a link to where you can find it below, along with a link for her other novel, Border Dogs, which, sadly, I have not yet had the pleasure to read (I heard from another friend, though, that it is even better than All Saints).

The feast for today is an excerpt from Karen’s short story Virtuoso Mio.   I had this short in my Kindle for the longest time and the other day found the perfect opportunity to sit down to read it.   My first reaction was to be pissed at myself for not taking the time to read it sooner.   It is excellent.   It is also—you writers will appreciate this—a study in the art of creating tension.   What stands out is that Karen doesn’t have to do anything because it is the reader’s innate maternal/paternal instinct that creates the tension…all Karen does is let these feelings, feelings that we all share as humans, do their work.   Of course, this is normal and nothing new because it is really how all tension is created—or should be created—in fiction.   You must share something with the characters in order to feel tense about their situation, right?   So it is really an illustration of the old rule of writing to “show, don’t tell.”  All you have to do is show and our common understanding of the human experience does all the work.

Okay, enough of me babbling, to our main feature…Cell phones off, please.  (Virtuoso Mio was published in The Kenyon Review, received a Pushcart Prize, and is anthologized in The Bedford/St.  Martin’s Guide to Literature.)

Virtuoso Mio


 Karen Palmer

Perla Ramirez is cat-faced and sullen, foul-mouthed and resentful, and at twelve she is already a vandal, a pickpocket, a sneak, and a snitch.  The entire neighborhood hates her.  Does she care?  It seems she does not.  “Ay, Perla!” rings at her back wherever she goes, but she returns every curse with a violent “Fuck!” of her own, continuing unstopped on her furious way, spilling trash cans, breaking windows, spying on lovers, stuffing her pockets with candy bars, lipsticks, and CDs for the Walkman she pinched off a drunk.

Perla lives with her mother, Sonni, and baby sister, Lani, in three rooms on the sixth floor of a walkup on 137th Street in New York.  The skinny railroad-style flat is piled high with junk: stacks of old newspapers, tattered furniture, dead appliances.  In the kitchen a closet behind the breakfast table houses the john.  A pea-green bathtub stretches along one entire wall, clear to the window ledge; filled, the tub looks like a lake.  Hinged to its back edge, a heavy sheet of unpainted plywood serves as a makeshift countertop.  Here Perla’s mother stores their dishes, their bowls and glasses and plates.  Because it is such a chore to clear everything off, the three Ramirez women bathe together just once each week, every Saturday morning at six.  And since today happens to be Saturday, Perla, still half-asleep, sits huddled in tepid water, scowling at the weak winter sunlight that forces its way through the window’s coating of soot.  Sonni laughs, and Perla shifts her aggravated attention to the other end of the tub, where her mother lolls with baby Lani laid out in her lap.  Famously beautiful all over their neighborhood, Sonni at twenty-nine looks barely nineteen.  Her skin is unblemished, smooth as syrup; her arms are round, hairless, and soft.  Her eyes are the color of wet maple leaves.  She has dimples and curls, red lips, and even white teeth.  At the Cafe Reál, where she works as a waitress with three of her girlfriends, Sonni is considered the sexy one, her looks a calling, almost, and she smiles all the time, as if waiting for someone to take her picture.

Perla, on the other hand, never smiles.  She has her reasons, among them the fact that last year Maxie Otero threw a beer bottle at her and knocked out two teeth, his explanation being that Perla looked weird.  Now she looks weirder still.  And although Sonni keeps making promises that she’ll take her daughter to the dentist to see about the hole in her mouth, she never does.  They never have any money; but in Perla’s opinion, that’s no excuse.

The chestnut tips of Sonni’s breasts poke through the bubbles.  Perla hisses.  She crosses her arms over her own scrawny chest.  Humming, Sonni soaps Lani’s hair with a slivered white bar and Perla slips down till she is submerged to the eyeballs.  She opens her mouth and lets it fill with water, then rears up and spits across the lake.  The stream hits her mother right in the face.

”Ay, Perla!” Sonni squints one-eyed.  “What’s the matter with you?”

There is no good answer to that question.

Baby Lani looks as if she might cry.

“Maybe,” Sonni says, “you should go hear music at Carnegie Hall.”  She’s talking about the concert this afternoon.  Mrs. Davis, the director of the Youth Center, is taking a bunch of kids downtown to a piano recital.  It’s a gift from the City, an afternoon of culture for the underprivileged.  Classical music.  Fuck that,  Perla thinks.  She likes hip-hop, Aceyalone and Wu-Tang Clan and Krayzie Bone.  She likes the way the angry voices vibrate inside her skull, and in her chest, too, a feeling that pushes against her skin from the inside.  Sonni says, “It’s that Italian kid, eh, Perla?  What’s his name?  Luigi something something something.”

Perla is too smart for that.  The flyer is right there on the kitchen table and if Sonni really wants to know, all she has to do is look.

“I can still get Rita to watch the baby,” Sonni says.

Perla hunches forward.  The idea of ditching Lani is very tempting.  She wouldn’t even have to make the concert, she could go wherever, do whatever.  But there is a hopeful eagerness in her mother’s face she feels she must squash.

“I hate that Davis bitch,” Perla says, though really, Mrs. Davis is mostly OK, with her kinky gray hair and a gap-toothed smile Perla can identify with.  Mrs. Davis lets Perla drink black coffee on cold days, and once gave her a pair of Nike’s with lights in the heels that a grandson had outgrown.

Sonni cups a palm over Lani’s eyes.  She reaches over the side of the tub, fingers grazing the linoleum to retrieve a plastic cup.   Carefully, she rinses the baby’s hair.  Lani, squealing, hits the water with the flat of her palm.  Waves splash to Perla’s end of the tub.  The baby looks sly, as if seeking applause.  Lani is fifteen months old and has a different father than Perla, a white guy that passed on his papery skin and light hair.  Perla hates it that the baby is so fucking sweet, that kisses fall on Lani like soft summer rain.  Each night, the girls camp out in the living room—Sonni claiming the only bed in the apartment’s only bedroom—toe-to-toe on the orange Abortion Couch, so-called because wicked steel coils stab up through the weave; and sometimes, very late, when Perla can’t sleep for wanting something, she doesn’t even know what, she throws off the covers and flips around and crawls to her sister’s side.  She fits the earphones from the Walkman over Lani’s little pink ears.  She puts her cheek against Lani’s hot little temple.  Then she twists the volume, the tinny threads raveling from the radio’s heart, the sound growing louder and louder—she can’t help herself, she has to do it—until the baby wakes with a scream.

 To continue reading/download the rest Virtuoso Mio here (Absolutely FREE)

You can get your copy of All Saints here

You can get your copy of Border Dogs here

Stalk Karen Palmer on Twitter Here

There’s a skeeter on my peter, knock it off!

There’s a skeeter on my peter, knock it off!

Oh, there’s a dozen on my cousin’s,

I can hear the bastards buzzin’.

There’s a skeeter on my peter, knock it off!

Not exactly a song destined for the songwriters’ hall of fame.   I’d heard it at school and was now unable to dislodge it from my tongue.  It was a Saturday and mom had yelled me out of bed at seven o’clock to go to the golf course.  I protested because the swimming pool didn’t open till noon, but she cheerily countered I would have time to be her caddy then.  Oh Joy.  This was going to be agony.  It is every 8-year-old’s dream to be his mother’s caddy while she piddles around the golf course.

Our first stop was the practice range where I was the designated target and fetch-it boy, the layman’s definition of which is slave boy.  I stood at 90 yards and she hit 9-irons at me, then at 125 yards she unleashed her 7-iron at me.  She would hit a ball, I would fetch it.  If it didn’t fly straight, I would chase it.  And I did a lot of chasing.  She wouldn’t be turning pro any time soon.  I had to stay on my toes, though, because occasionally she would loose one right at my head.  Times like that I was thankful my parents had discovered how blind I was and had me fitted with glasses.  If they hadn’t, it would have become apparent when I stood there and watched a ball bury itself between my eyes.  On the positive side, I wouldn’t have needed glasses after that.

Actually, come to think of it, I always did have the nagging suspicion mother was better than she let on.  I could swear her aim improved on days she was pissed at me.  And maybe this was just another strategy that she was employing today, calmly lulling me into a false sense of security with the wild shots…and then BAM, right between the eyes.  Paranoid?  I don’t think so.  She was a lefty, not to be trusted.  I had to keep an eye on that woman.

In the meantime…

There’s a skeeter on my peter, knock it off…

By the way, in golf parlance what my mother was doing was called “hitting shag balls,” and what I was doing was called “shagging.”  I’m not sure where the term comes from.  I think it is borrowed from baseball, where shagging is retrieving balls that have gone over the fence.  Anyway, the term bears a special irony for me since years later I would be doing quite a different kind of shagging on that very, er, “shag range.”  As convenience would have it, a road runs next to the range and near the 200-yard marker the greenskeeper had cut a path into the range for his tractor.  It was an ingress that I conspired to sneak into on many a dark night as part of my earnest conspiracy to explore other ingresses (so to speak)…Or to shag (to speak more bluntly)…Or to fuck (to just come right out with it)…because it was behind the 250-yard marker and under the towering elm that I was in the habit of going parking (another euphemism for the aforementioned frivolity).

Actually, the term “parking” is something of a bad memory for me because the first time I took a girl there I was so distracted by what was to come (chuckle) that I forgot to put the car into park.  And of course we rolled back into the elm tree.  The only tree in three-hundred feet and I managed to hit it.  Luckily, no teeth bit down on anything delicate when we went bump, but, I repeat, the only tree in three-hundred feet and I hit it.  Sigh.

The next morning my dad saw the dent in the rear bumper and came in to brace me about it.  I panicked.  Then I lied.  I told him somebody had run into my car while it was parked and didn’t leave a note.  Big mistake.  I should have known he would get down and examine the dent closely.  He had and noticed tree bark in the scratches.  Ooops.  To my surprise, however, he took it with humor.  Sitting down across from me, stirring his coffee, he said, “Well…he shouldn’t be hard to find, Jon,” then looked up with a smile and continued, “because he was driving a tree.”

There’s a skeeter on my peter, knock it off…

Anyway, speaking of parking and wood, it was under the elm that I discovered the horror of cunnilingus.  Even the word sounds horrible.  Cun-ni-ling-usssss.  Sounds like a disease.  Something that requires shots.  I mean, think about it, if you had to choose between performing fellatio and cunnilingus based solely on the image created by the way the words sound, wouldn’t you choose fellatio?  It sounds dreamy and pleasant compared to cunnilingus…cunnilingus sounds like something that oozes and drips.  And I must say the act lives up to its billing.  The first time I came face to face with a vagina, I was convinced I was looking at something in dire need of medical attention.  But, no, I was assured that what I was seeing was indeed a normal, healthy vagina—without a doubt, the most convincing argument I had ever witnessed for homosexuality.  But I stayed strong.  I had to at least give it a sporting try, if only for appearance’s sake.  I had a reputation to build, a resume to write.  And I figured, based on my extensive research, it was what girls really craved.  So I did it.

By all accounts, I performed well and passed my oral exams with high marks.  I made a sacrifice (I hope it is duly noted).  I aimed to please.  I do admit, however, that if it were at all possible, cunnilingus is something that I would prefer to phone in.  That’s right, I think there should be an iPhone app for it…the Cliterator or something…programmers, get on it.  (Honey, just put your iPhone on vibrate, stick it between your legs, and I’ll call you…from Detroit.)

… OOOOOOHHHHHH, there’s a skeeter on my peter,

And I think it’s gonna eat’er.

There’s a skeeter on my peter, knock it off!

Mother’s friend arrived and we met up with her at the first tee.  And the cackling commenced.  I have no idea what they talked about.  Grownup smut, I imagine.  Secret words were spoken in hushed tones, or mouthed behind a palm, or spelled out.  I had my own smut, a song with the word peter in it, and I was careful not to sing it so the grownups could hear.  They had their smut…I had mine.  So there!

It was still early.  The dew had yet to burn off and sounds carried with extra crispness.  There wasn’t another player in sight.  We had the course all to ourselves.  Later, around noon, the first tee would be abuzz with banter and bullshit.  It was the one place where you met up with the foursomes in front of and behind you.  Bets were placed, jokes were told, and gossip was whispered…it was a regular party.  Years later, I would overhear something amongst the bantering that I never forgot.  It was, to me, a poetic condensation of middle-class W.A.S.P. America.  It was sort of like a Norman Rockwell painting but in words…

The day was a Sunday, noonish, the mood on the first tee, roguish — the main rogues were three elder golfers known to all as characters.  Their fourth was late.  He was always late for one reason or another, and his three friends were making sure the rest of us knew all about it.  Jovially, of course.  And then, there he was, rolling down his window as he pulled his car to a stop on the road next to the tee.  His three buddies let out a scolding whoop and demanded to know where the hell he’d been.  “Where do you think I’ve been?” he snapped back at them. “I was at church, you goddamn atheists!

It was irony with a twisting groin kick.  Art.

There’s a skeeter on my peter, knock it off…

I’m pretty sure mom’s friend was insane.  One day as I was eavesdropping on her and some of mom’s other friends (yes, I eavesdropped…it was one of my great talents as a child), I overheard them whispering about using Preparation-H on their faces to tighten the skin.  They were saying how it was like a facelift without an operation.  That night, after doing research at the dinner table by asking my parents a few cryptic questions, I decided my mom’s friends were completely nuts.

The next day I saw the group at their usual table, engaged in their usual whispers.  As I walked past them, I sucked in my cheeks so that my mouth formed a tight little anus shape.  My eyes popped out a bit.  As I was exiting through the door, still puckered up tight, I heard one of them say, “What a strange boy.”

There’s a skeeter on my peter, knock it off…

The first couple of holes all I could think about was getting to the swimming pool.  I wanted to get there before anyone else so I could pretend to be James Bond in peace.  That’s right, Bond, James Bond…in particular, the Bond of the movie “Thunderball.”  I would put my exceptional imagination to work and swim amongst the sharks in Largo’s pool, something much easier to imagine without little legs dangling under donut-shaped tubes with horsey heads.  Anyway, crowd or no crowd, I would look like Sean Connery.  The women would all swoon.  I would be brave, handsome, dashing…and my gun would have a silencer.

Actually, and I don’t mean to brag (yes I do), I was quite the swimmer.  I could hold my breath for an extraordinary length of time and I was damn near impossible to drown.  I know this to be true because I overheard the lifeguard tell my mother one day that his considerable efforts to drown me had remained unsuccessful.  I thought at the time it was a strange thing for a lifeguard to be confessing to a mother, but she didn’t seem the least bit surprised or upset.  In fact, she laughed at the confession.  (Indeed, I needed to keep an eye on that woman.)

But I probably deserved it.  I tended to be a nuisance.  I would search for ways to make the lifeguard chase me, and I usually found them.  For example, I would watch patiently while he methodically applied Coppertone and nose cream, and when I saw he was satisfied that he had covered every exposed piece of skin, I would hurl a bucket of water on him…freezing water I had retrieved from the baby pool, water pumped directly from the Arctic.  Two to five minutes later, depending on how successful I was at eluding capture, I would end up on all fours by the side of the pool, expelling chlorinated water from my lungs, gasping for life.  Then I would look for my next opportunity to irritate him, or some other victim, and the process would be repeated.  It’s amazing that I survived childhood.

… WEEEEEELLLLLLLLL, slap it on the keester,

And it won’t be such a bleeder.

There’s a skeeter on my peter, knock it off!

Ah, the pool.  I do have some good memories of the pool.  My favorite memory marks a major milestone in my life.  It was the first time I was ever slapped by a woman—well, the first time I was ever slapped by a woman other than my mother.  I look back on that slap fondly because it was entirely worth it.  I earned it with an act of cunning and bravery, and I wore it with honor.

Perhaps I should explain…

I had been told that She-Who-Slapped-Me was the homecoming queen.  I was too young to know what a homecoming queen was, but she was stunningly pretty and looking upon her I acquired a deep respect for royalty.  Every day I hoped she would grace us with her presence at the pool, and I always felt rewarded when she did.  Let me keep it simple and say that she was constructed specifically with the bikini in mind.  She was probably born wearing one.  She had a smooth, buttery belly and lonnnnnnng legs set apart by a space wide enough to park a Buick.  She looked like a very young Cheryl Tiegs.  Looking at her made my teeth hurt.

She liked to hang on the side of the pool and dangle there for long periods of time.  I knew why she did this, and why she picked the same spot to do it.  That was where a jet of perpetual water was emitted from a hole on the side of the pool.  The hole was precisely matched up with the (did I say wide?) space between her legs.  That’s right, and she wasn’t fooling me because I had long before discovered the joys of that hole.  I had even contemplated inserting myself into that hole but it was kind of small and I didn’t want a repeat of a certain incident with a Hoover vacuum cleaner.  Explaining to the lifeguard why I was affixed to the side of the pool was not a place I wanted to go.  Oh, he would’ve loved that.

There’s a skeeter on my peter, knock it off…

I was enthralled, nay, obsessed with the space between her legs.  I wished she would sit, stand, or lie still so I could adjust the focus of my eyes and study it in earnest.  She was seldom still, though.  The only time she wasn’t in motion was when she was hanging on the side of the pool in front of the water jet.  I tried to take advantage.  I swam up from behind her…underwater…like a submarine…the picture of stealth…and feasted my eyes.  The space between her legs was indeed, er, spacious, and the bikini’s crotch rippled and pulsated under the force of the water jet.  I wanted to reach out…and touch…If I…could just…feel…

I swallowed some water and almost drowned.

As I sat on the opposite side of the pool and recovered, I came up with a plan.  I would start a series of underwater laps, starting about ten feet from the bikini.  This would not be suspicious since everyone knew that I always did my swimming underwater.  I would end each lap a little closer to the bikini until, finally, my hand would brush up against heaven just before touching the wall.

I walked around the pool and sat on the edge at the planned starting point.  With a splash, I began my first lap.  I finished it about eight feet from the bikini, two feet closer, and came up with a splash, loudly and dramatically sucking in air.

Yes, notice me, Bikini, I am doing laps…quite innocent here…just doing my laps…seeing how long I can hold my breath…nothing to worry about over here…just a-doin’ my laps…

I started my second lap.  Then my third.  Each lap I veered a little to the right, like a guy with one leg shorter than the other veers when he walks.  By the fourth lap, I was almost there.  This next one would land me in paradise.  I was nervous.  The anticipation was making it more and more difficult to hold my breath.  I began my fifth lap.  My heart was beating like the climax of the Jaws theme.  It wouldn’t be long now.  I could see her…and the space…coming into focus.  I lined myself up.  I would let the back of my fingers and hand brush up against…it.  I needed to concentrate.  The moment would be brief.  I wanted to savor it.  Almost there.  Here…it…came………….

What I didn’t expect was for her to jump so violently at the first moment of contact.  She shot straight up and simultaneously performed something like a pirouette.  She did this with such suddenness and force that I’m lucky it didn’t snap my arm clean in two.  Instead it flipped me around as if she’d performed a judo move.  After regaining my bearings, I surfaced.  I had no choice in the matter.  The combination of swimming for such a distance underwater and then being pummeled in a Judo exhibition had left me bereft of air.  Unfortunately, when I surfaced, I was within striking distance of one very pissed-off, bikini-clad homecoming queen.

And slap she did.

She also called me a name but my ears were ringing too loud to make it out.  I’m sure it was apt.  I put on my best what-did-I-do look and feigned innocence…and backpedalled.  I worked hard to hide my elation, but I admit it was difficult.  My hand had tasted ambrosia.  I looked at it with awe and envy.  From that moment forth, or at least until puberty, I held the back of my right hand in the highest esteem.

By the way…

There’s a skeeter on my peter, knock it off…

We were now at the pavilion.  The pavilion was where the 5th and 8th greens and the 6th and 9th tees all came together for a party.  That was because holes 6, 7, and 8 formed a triangle that started and ended at the pavilion.  There were two things worth noting about the pavilion.  It had a concession that made the best damn hamburgers you ever did taste, and it had one of those old-fashioned hand-operated water pumps that delivered cold and delicious well water regardless of how unbearably hot the days got.

On this morning, the concession hadn’t opened yet.  Besides, it was too early for hamburgers, no matter how mouthwatering they were.  But I can’t stress the word mouthwatering enough …half a cow, I think, cooked over a charcoal grill.  People’s scores generally got higher on the holes immediately following the pavilion, though this may have been mostly due to the beer that the concession also sold.  On the other hand, it is hard to swing a golf club with a half a cow inside you.  Anyway, none of that mattered on this morning, because, like I said, it hadn’t opened yet.  The water pump, on the other hand, was always open.

Working the pump handle was one of the highlights of my young life.  I would pump water for all the grownups.  They would thank me.  It made me feel important.  I was the Pump Master.  However, I couldn’t pump the water for myself—my arms weren’t long enough or strong enough—and this proved to be a source of entertainment for all the adults, including, I am sorry to say, my mother and father.  The traitors.  I would push the handle down, sending a gush of water pouring forth, but by the time I had run around to take a drink, it had petered out.  If I was lucky, I got a drop or two.  And, oh, the adults thought this was so funny.  They all stood around refreshed because while I was pumping for them, they were drinking and splashing their faces.  But would any of them offer to help me?  No.  It seemed much more fun to slap their thighs and belly laugh.  I hated them all.  (I put it to you, this is why children are not allowed to purchase firearms.)

Finally, once I had given them a good show, one of them would come and give me a hand.  Thank you (you jerk), I would say (and think).

Then, one day we found that the greenskeeper had chained one of those long-handled dippers to the pump.  Once again, I played the role of Pump Master and they played the role of Bunch-of-Assholes, but on that day, a new character was introduced to the play…and his name was Vengeance.  Vengeance let them have a few laughs.  He even praised them for being able to find humor in his misfortune.  Then he surprised them by finding a way to fill the dipper, and, in one fluid motion, he slung it gracefully at the all-of-a-sudden-not-laughing bunch of assholes.  Then he slapped his thigh and did a belly laugh.

Speaking of which…

There’s some jelly on my belly, lick it off!

There’s some jelly on my belly, lick it off!

Someone spilled some Smucker’s,

So on your knees, you fuckers.

There’s some jelly on my belly, lick it off!

Okay, I didn’t really sing that verse.  I made that one up just now.  But the skeeter song was driving me mad and I started looking for ways to change it up.  What I really wanted was to stop.  Stop singing.  I tried.  I was determined to think of something else and forget the song, but before I knew it I heard myself singing it again while thinking about that something else.  My mother and her friend almost caught me a couple of times.  I thought of switching to a limerick…

There once was a man from Nantucket,

Whose dick was so long he could…

Wait…hardly an improvement.  Okay, how about…

There once was a woman from Azores,

Whose cunt was infested with…

Nope, even worse.  Jeez-us!  Where did us kids get these things?  If our parents had any idea the things we learned at school, they’d never let us out of the house.  Of course, I learned some pretty naughty things at the golf course, too.  In fact, we were now on the 7th hole, where later, when I was twelve, I would learn something very naughty indeed…

Around the time I turned ten, I started spending more time playing golf than I did playing James Bond at the pool.  Most of the boys I played with were older.  They tolerated me with equanimity—and to my defense, I was almost as good as they were so it wasn’t like I was holding them up or anything—but it was clear I wasn’t accepted as a complete equal.  I knew this because I wasn’t allowed to join their conversations about girls, and when I asked them to explain some of the words or phrases they used in those conversations, they would reply with “None of your business, numbnuts” or “Someday you’ll figure it out, numbnuts.”  And that’s another thing…they all had names and I was numbnuts.  I wasn’t entirely sure what numbnuts meant, but I was pretty sure it wasn’t flattering.  And then there was the mystery of the 7th hole.

The 7th hole was the hole farthest away from the clubhouse, out in the boonies, and a dense wood sidled up against the left side of the fairway.  The older boys would often disappear into the wood together and tell me to wait for them on the green.  They told me they were looking for balls—you know, balls people had hit out of bounds into the woods and couldn’t find—but it seemed to me that they never found many balls for all the time they spent looking.  I began to suspect they were sneaking smokes back in there…if I had known what marijuana was at that age, I would have suspected that’s what they were puffing.  Anyway, it was all very suspicious, and I was never allowed to go with them to see for myself what was going on.  When I asked why I had to wait on the green, they would say simply, “Snakes,” to which I would reply simply, “Yes, I’ll wait on the green”—I was not the bravest ten-year-old.

And that was that.  Then, one day, in the middle of my twelfth year, an older boy named Mike initiated me into the secret of the woods.  The secret being, yes, they were looking for balls.  But not golf balls.  It was an eye opening experience.  In fact, my eyes nearly popped out at one point.  (So that’s what the vacuum cleaner was supposed to feel like.)

Mike, who was fourteen at the time, was this natural athlete who excelled at everything he did and had every girl in school chasing him.  Why he fancied a little same-sex roll and tuck with me, I didn’t have a clue, but the girls could eat their hearts out because it was all good as far as I was concerned.  I was game and ready to be tamed, baby.  (Well, what do you expect from a 12-year-old?)  That’s right, I was naughty, I was very naughty, and, on that day, there were indeed snakes loose in the woods.

Which reminds me…

There’s a skeeter on my peter, knock it off!

There’s a skeeter on my peter, knock it off!

There’s a skeeter on my peter,

But two lips would be sweeter.

There’s a skeeter o……………………………

Well, it had to happen.  And it did.  We were headed up the 9th fairway and I forgot myself.  I was singing out loud.  Mom and her friend had gone silent, their nonstop chatter had paused.  I felt my heart spike with a shot of adrenalin and stopped in mid-verse.  I looked over my shoulder, my mouth still in mid-o. There they were, not five feet away over my right shoulder, both their heads turned 45 degrees in my direction…staring at me.  Then, they burst out laughing…loudly…in stereo.

Oh, the humiliation.

And the worst part, the 9th hole is a par 5 and we still had 450 yards to go before we reached the green.  450 yards of Teeheehee “Where’d you learn that little song, Jon?” Teeheehee.

Sigh.  Someone kill me.

Or, better yet, fuck it.  Are you with me?  Okay then…

All together now…

There’s a skeeter on my peter, knock it off…


[I thought long and hard whom I should dedicate this to and have decided, screw you all, I’m dedicating this one to myself.  This is my first post after quitting smoking and I feel I deserve it.

Quitting wasn’t easy.  When people asked me how the quitting was going, I would tell them how I hardly noticed not having a smoke, how easy it was for me to quit…I was lying through my remaining shreds of lung.  It was agony.  I was kicking dogs, stealing candy from babies, and beating up little old ladies.  Just kidding, I would never kick a dog, but you get the idea.  It was very difficult indeed.  In fact, it’s been two months now and I am still trying to think of some logical excuse why it would be a good idea for me to have just one smoke.

So, yes, I dedicate this one to myself.]