"You don't want to be my friend. I have dandruff and I talk to myself sometimes."

I angled my chin down so my eyes looked wider. More menacing. More cool.

"Yep," I told the mirror with my more-cool tone, deeper because my Adam's apple had nowhere to go: "I'm average. Stay away from me or you'll be average, too."

I took a step back and regretted it. That familiar pain jolted up my spine and burned in that same spot, right on the small of my back, except now it was accompanied with a feeling like someone just squeezed the hell out of my balls. I forgot to wear a back brace last Saturday and we lifted a drawer the size of Kansas. I slowly straightened and rolled my shoulders, smudged the mist away from my bathroom mirror with a fist, smiled ten different ways. Picked shit out of my teeth that I missed when I brushed. Turned and looked at the scars on my abdomen, my sides, one on my shoulder blade that looked like a star burst. Then I planted my feet apart and stared that mirror down like an old Western cowboy.

Chin down, eyes up, one corner of the mouth quirked, just like I did while I was sitting in the back of History class, so I looked like a crazy cool killer with an agenda. A crazy cool kid with nothing to do.

It's my morning ritual and I'm sure everyone has one. I wake up. Masturbate. Shower. Talk to myself in the mirror and imagine some hotass is staring back at me. I practice being vain and modest at the same time. Admire parts of myself that aren't there. My chin is vague and stupid-looking but I pretend it's as awesome as Will Ferrell. Not Will Ferrell's chin, but Will Ferrell.

I practice being cool and I pretend that if someone doesn't know me that they're missing out. Most of the time it works.

I guess it's what happens when you're a fourth Spokane Indian without any real sense or goal in your life. People'll believe your stories even if you tell them you're lying because your eyebrows're straight and loyal.

"Yeah—cool hair," I whispered into the mirror as I popped a zit. "Alright, you. Today you're mine."

When I'm not lifting heavy shit twice my size, I'm—well, there's this girl who's in my graduating class. I want to pretend to hate her enough so I get that sexual rage going, so I can catch her eyes with my animal vibes and deathgrip stare as I stroll past her door with my cool hair. Just a few weeks ago, right after our graduation ceremony, I came up to her with a ring I got from one of those supermarket toy dispensers and I got all Boy Meets World on her and asked her to marry me. She laughed at me and told me to "keep dreaming, loser" as she went off to take pictures with her dad and his big mustache, her ma with the traditional Bindi on her forehead and her Bangalore silk wrap thing, and her little brother. It was Love.

She's kind of ugly and she has no redeemable qualities but she's like the only person in the whole universe who doesn't care what I think so I want her. She makes me feel lame and average. It's hot. I dream about her sometimes and I could hear her voice real clear, too. I could hear it laughing at me, taunting me, rejecting me.

I patted the old red Civic as I walked down the driveway.

"See ya, John Wayne!" I called to Roger. He was watering the lawn without a shirt on.

"You headin' out?" He ran his palm up and down his belly.

"I'll be back, just gonna go annoy someone real quick."

"Alright," he laughed.

I walked to her house knowing there're other things I could do besides rove her front yard but it's summer and I'm too lazy to really do anything real serious with my life. A three legged dog hobbled across the street with a bag of Funyuns in his mouth. He looked sad missing a leg, but I didn't feel bad enough to go over there and pet him or anything.

"Hey, wimp!" I shouted. "Get down here, you owe me money!"

Curtains flew open from a second storey window.

"Ah, there's my Juliet," I smiled.

"Juliet" narrowed her eyes.

"Stop. Go away," she said.

She's said this for the past ten days. I've counted. She wants me.

"Let me up there! It's hot out here!" I said.

Her curtains flew closed.

Mission accomplished. Eleventh time, now. Even if it's like this the rest of the summer, or even long after that, I don't care. I don't really have a future anyway. I walked away humming a tune I imagine my father would've hummed.

I heard a door open and I looked across the street to see if Mrs. Williams was coming out, but I was wrong. I turned to see Juliet in jersey shorts, an extra large t-shirt with the Ghost Busters logo on it and her tough black hair. She stood akimbo for one, two seconds before she bullcharged at me through the grass on bare feet.

"Oh, shit—"

She tackled me at the knees, I fell down like a Redwood tree, and she squealed with glee as she straddled me and pinched the area between my shoulders and my neck.

I yelped a laugh. "Crazy bitch! Get off me!"

"Why do you keep coming here, shithead," she laughed through her teeth with wide eyes, now attempting a Vulcan neck pinch.

I wriggled and jolted out of control like I was in an electric chair. I might've came or pissed my pants.


"You're the most beautiful girl in the world." I flopped around and kicked my feet. "That's why."

She laughed again and socked me right in the gut. She dismounted.

I sat up. I was breathing hard and squinting up at her, the sun a halo over her head.

"I think our relationship is going somewhere," I said.

She ignored my comment and stood with her hands on her hips. She smelled like spicy curry.

"Look, chipmunk teeth. You're not the first person to say I'm the most beautiful girl in the world and you won't be the last. I'm so cool I'll scar your brain permanently with how cool I am. I already told you during finals. You're not my type. I'm only interested in girls and I'm way too cool for you anyway, so give up, you lonely old lady."

"I'm in Love with you," I declared solemnly.

"It's a free country," she said and walked off, down the walkway, flip flop flip flop, and disappeared. I stared at her front door.

"Damn," I said to no one and stood up. Grass stains all over. Defeated, exhilarated. Horny as hell. She was right. She's so cool I don't even want to deal with her anymore. Too lazy to invest in all that just for sex.

So I spent the next two weeks whacking off, trying to drain every quart of me that wanted her, purging her last words, her face, everything until all that was left was the generic girl of my dreams. Long hair, smooth skin, sort of Japanese-looking, someone who could easily be a Yoko or a Lillian.

I really am just a shallow guy.