It was the tail end of another huge, drunken party. The couples had paired off in rooms. The singles had gone home. They either were driven home by me or they had snuck their keys and drove themselves home. Frankly, I was seventeen and I had lost track. I was sleeping over at my friend’s house and I looked at the kitchen table, not wanting to clean up. I didn’t make the mess, why should I clean it? I sat down between the kitchen table and the wall and just observed.
Calvin stumbled up the stairs. One of the singles, it was time for him to go home, but Football Player was his ride and he was blissfully coupled in one of the bedrooms. My skate-punk friend plopped down in a chair opposite me. He awkwardly leaned on the high chair, and I realized that he was drunk. This was a rarity for Calvin. Drunk, not high. I actually had never seen it before and I handed him half of a warm beer. He winked at me, “Just pretending to drink.” “Bullsh*t,” I thought to myself.
I envy people who drink. At least they have something to blame everything on. Oscar Levant (1906 – 1972)
I don’t know what had spawned this drinking. Maybe he had been “just pretending to drink” and ended up drinking a little too much for his weight. He was painfully thin. I’m sure that his sister fed him enough, but he was so tall. It’s just hard to eat enough to bulk up a boy who is that tall, especially when he skateboards so much. Maybe it had all gotten to him. Everyone was coupled up except him. He was left with Nerd-Girl, cleaning up the cluttered kitchen. Maybe he was stone cold sober. I had never seen him sober, so his personality change could have been his actual personality. I’m just guessing fifteen years later what could have been the reason for his drinking, but I guess that doesn’t matter now.
Over the next three hours, Calvin talked like I had never heard him talk before. When he was high, Calvin would talk a lot, but say very little. He would repeat words and phrases, which gave us the impression that he was talking, but he really told us nothing. “Destinate to skate” and “Scone Dog” aren’t really personally revealing. They’re just funny phrases that didn’t tell us much. But then again, people talk to me. Sooner or later, when people need to talk, they come to me. The kitchen became a confessional and I became the female eunuch.
It is the confession, not the priest, that gives us absolution. Oscar Wilde (1854 – 1900), The Picture of Dorian Gray, 1891
As I sit here at the keyboard, I’m reluctant to put down what I remember from the conversation. Confessions of this sort seem privileged to me despite the fact that I’m not a member of the clergy, a doctor or a lawyer. I don’t know what causes these desperate and personal admissions, but I enjoy them when they happen to me because for that one brief moment, I bond with a stranger. What if I jinx it and the confessions cease just because I voice them?
I said that I was going to tell you about Calvin, and here I am at the most revealing moment I ever had with him and I am reluctant to share. I sit here thinking about his beloved sister, who took him in when he had no place to go. Would she want to hear this story? Would she be upset if the whole world knew it? What about Calvin? What would he think if I told the world his confession after all that has happened? I need to think about this overnight before I continue?