I was surprised to see Julio return to our classroom after an absence of many days.
I decided to take him out with me for awhile, to bond a little.
He told me stories about being in jail, and I farted when trying to retrieve a stack of library books from the back seat.
In hindsight, I should have shared with him my own experiences with the penal system.
When I was much younger, my church youth group had a little play we would perform called "El Shaddai".
It was kind of like the "Turn around,bright eyes" performance that used to make the rounds on the church youth circuit.
El Shaddai had no dialogue; it was all pantomime and emoting, set to a soundtrack of Pink Floyd and car crashes.
Yes; we blew minds while winning hearts for Jesus.
My part was the Drunk Punk Rocker.
I wore make-up and stumbled around stage, waving a root beer bottle and trying to tempt the Christ/Ziggy Stardust character to abandon his virtue and come join me in an endless debauch of headbanging and awkward, party-so-hard facial expressions.
We performed this play all over the place, including at a maximum security juvenile detention center.
The audience was stoic.
During my performance, I heard someone yell "You don't know nothing! You don't know shit!"
The youth group leader told us to sit in the audience when our parts were over and try to "make a connection" with the young men around us.
I think I would be a good actor.
Like when I start doing a funny voice, I just don't stop. I lose myself in it.
I was making lunch for Julio and the others and I created this character, on the spot, that was just hilarious.
He had this loud, constantly cracking southern accent and prattled on about polecats and people who compulsively sniff their fingers.
At one point I peeked at Julio to see if he was loving the show, but he had headphones on.
Kids these days and their stupid tiny white head phones.
You could do an entire tap routine behind them, and they would sit there, a worthless, plugged-in and wired generation of vegetables, no clue that the joke was on them.
Except Jeffrey, he often has his head phones on, but they are not really plugged into anything, just wrapped around his belt loop.
You do your routine behind that fella and he'll be on you the second the breeze from your jazz hands tickles his neck hairs.
"What are you doing?" he asks me with a big toothy smile.
I am breathing pretty hard because I am quite fat these days.
In fact I put on some pants the other day and I could no longer button them.
"Don't wear them," my wife said, "You'll just be uncomfortable".
"Whatever. I can still rock these thrift shop brown khakis with the disgustingly deep front pleats."
But secretly I know the truth.
Each day is fraught with these moments of terrific clarity: I WILL NEVER BE ATTRACTIVE TO ANYONE EVER AGAIN!! OPA!!
It's over. In a few days I will be 36, and they will say of me, "He had a go of it." "Well at the very least you could say he was a living organism."
They will awkwardly shuffle their feet because, in truth, there is nothing more to say, and they all want the conversation to be over so they can mob the Triscuit and Swiss Cheese platter.
The slide from the fit and youthful days, into the haggard, flappy middle years, and on into drooling incoherence is so terribly sad.
I used to be able to smoke, and now even that is gone.
Several years have passed since I was a smoker, but the other day I caved and bummed one from someone.
It was like going to bed on Christmas Eve as a child, and waking in the morning as an old man. You dreamt of G.I. Joe and Nintendo, only to open your presents of sweaters and gray wool socks.
Sometime in the night, you had aged horribly and the Marlboro Light of your youth was now the Flaming Stick of Coughing and Vomit that will haunt you through all your final days.
I got about a quarter of the way through and knew I must bring up.
Luckily, lots of homeless guys get drunk and puke behind our classroom building, so not only did I have a designated area nearby in which to vomit, but I in no way lacked for companionship.
Anyways, the pants.
A half hour later, and I have so much gas.
Tight pants gas has no where to go, no method of disbursement; you swim in it, baste in it.
You hate it because you know that when there is a bad smell, people always assume it is the chubby white guy, unless there is a disabled person nearby.
The chubby white guy just looks like he had salami and nitrates for breakfast, that he never wipes with 100% success because he gets too winded from bending forward all that time.
He looks like what all bad smells would look like, if they were to take on human form.
Jeffrey busts me tap dancing behind him, as I was saying.
He checks his watch and asks me, "Were you dancing like a bro?"
I believe I was.
"You know who likes me in this classroom?" he asks. "Me! Because I'm a Me kind of guy."
I wish I had his self-confidence, his unabashed love of himself.
I just don't.