I hesitated only briefly over the “Publish” button before deftly clicking it, thus bringing another piece of my brain to life on the screen, for tens of tens of people to read and enjoy. I’ve done something similar about three times a week for a little over two years now. But this time was different. This time I was met with a jaunty little note that informed me that I had just published my 399th post. Now I’m not terribly good at math, but by my reckoning, that meant that my very next post was going to be the big 4-O-O.
As such, I decided to do something I promised you all I would do quite some time ago. Something I promised myself I would do as well. And here it is. The 100 Word Song originally written for “Car Jamming,” now fleshed out, and ready to become (hopefully), a real-life honest-to goshicles short story.
He had realized early on that any signs of kindness on their part, would be merely accidental. Or worse yet, intentionally cruel, under the guise of feigned affection
Wondering why they were so hellbent on being constantly brutal and mean, he carefully dabbed a stubborn tear away, smudging a bit of smoky eyeliner in the process. Rifling the tissue to the desktop, he muttered “Dammit!” while inspecting the mishap.
It wasn’t enough that he was abused for being true to himself, he now looked like a weepy rank amateur to boot. He knew, or understood at least, why they did what they did. He could see it himself sometimes, when he looked into the mirror. He would hear his mother’s final words, as she had hung up the phone on him for the very last time, “girls don’t shave their faces, and boys DON’T wear make-up. Grow out of it, Gabe!”
He was a child, and her words had seared right through him, as intended. It had hurt. And she knew exactly how to do that. She’d been practicing it for years, in fact. Some would say that she was the first bully he had ever had to contend with. It had hurt, but it was a hurt he eventually used to make himself stronger. Or so he hoped. It was a hurt, but just the first of many. And if he could survive that from the woman who birthed him, then what in the hell sort of power could some punk-ass borderline-barbaric classmates have over him?
He felt his fist hit the desk, much more than he heard it. Another “dammit!,” escaped his lips as he realized that that was going to bruise for sure. Quietly laughing despite the pain, he found himself thanking the angels that at least he wasn’t a hand model. Cradling the throbbing hand gently in the other, he took an unexpected moment to look at his natural nails. Finding them gnarled and bitten, he saw a deeper truth to that idea, based on how chewed upon they were, and he quickly began applying his Lee press-ons to cover his insecurity.
“Gabe? Err… Gabriella?” His father called out, concerned over the audible furniture abuse taking place. “Are you OK, honey?” Gabe smiled again. His father was never certain as to which name to call him, having not quite figured out the nuances of the scene just yet. That, and he always felt the need to yell through the apartment as if it were some sort of multi-winged expansive mansion, instead of the compact yet comfortable two-bedroom flat that it actually was.
Never one for needing a lot of space anyway, Gabe allowed his dad this second tendency without complaint, as he knew it was only done to accommodate for his feelings of inadequacy over not being able to provide “properly” for his son. Gabe truly didn’t mind, and understood the strain of a man who was told by his wife that of all he was, and after all those years, the only thing of worth was his wallet and every penny she could bleed from it. And she had bled both it and he dry, even though there wasn’t that much blood to give in the first. As he had done during their marriage, throughout it all he simply kept his mouth shut and soldiered on, in the hopes that he wouldn’t inadvertently say something that would one day prevent Gabe from having a somewhat normal relationship with her. Gabe was certain that his dad’s efforts, on this front at least, were to be in vain.
Instead of voicing all this however, all that Gabe shouted back was, “I’m OK dad, I just banged my knee on the vanity!”
“Oh, alright then.” His dad responded somewhat skeptically, “Let me know if you need any ice!”
His dad may have been weak-willed, but was too smart as well. Gabe knew he that couldn’t keep this on-campus bullying hidden forever. Couldn’t keep the “strong silent treatment” up for too much longer. But his dad had enough to worry about already as it was, and he didn’t want to add to that burden. Still, he couldn’t not be true to himself either.
Sighing, he looked in the mirror again, coming to firm grips with the fact that the “smudge-proof” style of eyeliner was only different from the other brands in that it cost a hell of a lot more. He’d never make that mistake again. And he realized he’d have to come to grips with those borderline-barbarian boys as well.
He knew one thing. Lauren Bacall wouldn’t have ever let them get her down. And Nana had always said that it was this iconic star that he resembled most, when he was dressed “that way.” Maybe it was high-time that he started acting like her as well.
Delicately clicking his freshly painted plastic nails against the vanity, to the beat of his favorite Waterboys tune that happened to be playing softly in the background, he sang along as he looked into the mirror one more time, and he smiled.