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Friday, March 9, 2012

Chapter 1 and 2 of Johnny Oops


You can’t stop the future from happening. You can only alter your concept of reality. That’s where I come in. I’m a philosopher genius. I can effect change.

My name is Jonathan Wilbert, but my Mom and Dad, and all my friends, call me Johnny Oops because I’m a clumsy fourteen-year-old.

I may have the body of a 5 foot 2 inch tall, 95-pound awkward boy, but I have the mind of a true genius. My I. Q. is off the wall. I’m not one of those nerdy math wizards or a piano impresario. I’m a philosopher on the style of Nietzsche or perhaps Freud. He hated mothers too, didn’t he?

My father is a political science professor at Yale University. He holds some kind of Chair or something. I say why bother? I know who I am. I don’t need any furniture for proof.

My mother has a PHD from Radcliff College in Behavioral Science. She hates me because I interrupted her career, fat chance of that being true. She thinks I’m strange. I’m not strange, just different.

I try to act like a normal fourteen-year-old boy, but it isn’t working. I hate soccer. Playing the trumpet in the school band makes my lips swell, and the idea of watching cartoons with the other kids on the block really turns me off.

When I grow up, I’m going to be one of the leading intellects of my time. For now, I have more important things to do than watch Bugs Bunny say, “What’s Up, Doc?” What does that silly passé children’s colloquialism mean? That phrase will do nothing to change the chaotic state of the world in which I have to grow up.  Don’t expect me to diddle away my precious time on such trivial pursuits like my friend Billy.

Speaking of diddling away my time, I just had my first experience with sex. Wow, was that great. The best part is I can do the deed alone. I don’t need any girl to help out. I certainly don’t want to make any girl a mother. I read how that works. What if the baby turned out like my mother. I don’t want that kind of guilt on my hands. That would be awful. One genius prophet in the family is enough I hope.


It’s my own fault. I thought I had life by the cojones, and then fate grabbed hold and squeezed the complacency out of me.  I sold my father such a bill of goods on what a genius I was that he decided to go all out to assure that I have a bright future. Who asked him?

Dad used his muscle at Yale to get me into an experimental twelve month a year high school for gifted children called Esperanza. Us students call it Mount Hopeless. Yale has some input into the school’s curriculum; too much, if you ask me.

The school is so progressive, the word liberal and avant-garde fail to adequately describe this experimental educational adventure formed by a convention of intellectual Ivy League misfits. Even the cantilevered stainless steel and milky glass brick walls of this newly constructed schoolhouse smack of modernism gone awry. The building stretches upward towards the heavens in a thin column that sways in the wind, creating a surreal cloud-topped environment populated by a bunch of would be geniuses. I’m surrounded by other brilliant self-starters with their heads in the clouds, or up their ass. This is ridiculous. I don’t need peers. I need a flock to appreciate my wisdom.

I decided to separate myself from the other kids by evidencing my obvious superiority even to this august group of wannabees.  I invented a new religion called Dialectic Spiritualism. DS meets the needs of the time we live in. The short form definition is that people are allowed to practice a reasoned, logical belief in a universal entity that has overall control of our lives, a Supreme Being, the one God. May sound familiar, but my God is different. I swear.

Belonging to an organized religion is neither a requirement, nor a deterrent to the ‘practice’. All you really have to do is believe that there’s a reason for everything, even if you’re too stupid to understand what the reason is. That’s what I’m here for. I’m the interpreter. I’m the Messenger. The ‘practice’ involves an acceptance of the fact that we humans are weak, scared, insecure, and desperately in need of believing in a Supreme Being who will keep us safe and out of harm's way. Once you accept this doctrine, you’re automatically a member of the club. We don’t have actual churches in Dialectic Spiritualism. Our faith is based on need, want, and fear for our very lives. No symbols are required. To be a successful convert you simply have to believe. You have to have Faith.

Like most leaders of a new religious movement, I’m meeting some resistance from the uninformed who consider my views not secular enough for them. This Dialectic Spiritualism stuff is definitely not for the Atheists in the school. I’m not afraid of getting burned at the stake, this is the twenty-first century, but I’m being shunned. I don’t mind. I’m used to being alone. Even when I had Billy for a friend, I was alone. I notice I’m not the only kid here who is alone. Traveling through the halls in groups of one apparently is part of the school's dress code.

“If you’re uncertain about the future, if you’re unhappy, if you’re in need, come with me. All that is required is a reasoned faith in the Almighty.”

That’s what I tell my flock in my sermons in the hallowed halls of the Esperanza School. Somehow or other I’m starting to attract a crowd listening to my words of wisdom. I guess I have a pass from being shunned as long as I can offer these kids hope, or something to believe in. I can tell they are listening because they stop milling around, The nervous tapping of feet stops, crotch scratching ends, lipstick application ceases, and best of all, the various nervous ticks and twitches of these pseudo intellects come to rest. That’s the only recognition I get that they’re listening to the Messenger.

“Don’t be afraid," I tell them. “You’re the chosen ones. You’ve been selected in God's great wisdom to lead this country out of fear and complacency. Only you and I can make a difference. We are special. We have promise. It’s preordained.”

The third time I gave my sermon I observed no change in the reaction of my flock. The same ten kids were listening to me. I was beginning to get disillusioned. Then an event occurred that was to be a major epiphany in my life. A girl came over to me after my speech and introduced herself. She told me how much she enjoyed my sermon. I hadn’t noticed her before. Well, maybe I had.

Alice said, “You have given me faith. I now believe in the righteousness of Dialectic Spiritualism.”

For the first time in my life I was speechless. Alice was kind. She understood my shyness. She gave me time to compose myself. I was so grateful.

Alice has good words. In fact, everything about her is terrific. She has shiny brown hair, really deep dark sparkling brown eyes and the clearest skin I ever saw. I’m getting that teenage scourge called acne. She has the most beautiful sympathetic smile you could ever imagine. When she smiles at me, I melt inside. I feel all warm and prickly. I don’t know what’s happening to me.  I think I’m in love. Can you believe that? Me, the philosopher genius, in love with a girl. This is happening so fast.

We spend all our time together in between classes hanging out in the hallway, or the library, or if the weather is nice, on the tree-lined lawn of the school. Alice tells me I’m really brilliant. She says one day the world will come to appreciate my theories and words of wisdom.  I walk her home after school. We hold hands. I feel all sweaty in a good kind of way.

I almost forgot to mention that Alice has a great figure. She is two inches shorter than me and has the smallest waist. I can put my hands around it. She is starting to grow really nice breasts. They are small, upturned, and firm, and her nipples show through her sweater. 

What is happening to me? I am starting to want her in a carnal way. Boy, have I changed. Is this what love is all about? How could I have been so dumb? I can’t believe what I’ve been missing. No wonder people get married. Wait till I tell Dad. He worries about me. Nah, he’ll want to teach me about that protection stuff.

Alice and I aren’t ready for that yet. We want to take things slow, at least I do. We haven’t even kissed yet. I should ask Alice what her timetable is on kissing. Her opinion is very important to me. I want to be sure I please her. I never cared about making someone else happy before. If this is what caring for someone feels like, I’m all for this scenario. Love and caring actually do make you feel better.

I know the good Lord is looking out for me because Alice is nothing like my mother. She never nags me and when she looks in my eyes, I think I see love in her heart. We share deep thoughts together, how truly wonderful. Life is wonderful. I can’t believe how happy I am. All I know is that when I’m near Alice I get this burning inside me. She makes me so hot. Sometimes I think I’m going to explode.

I have been looking in the mirror lately and don’t like what I see. First of all I have three damn pimples replete with whiteheads on my forehead and one big one right under my nose that looks like it’s ready to pop. It’s disgusting. Secondly, I’m starting to get this red stubble growing on my face and coming right through my freckles. I look ridiculous. My cloths are really grungy; black frayed tee shirts, worn out jeans, and a western cowboy belt. I look like a throwback to the TV puppet, Howdy Dowdy. The worst is my red hair, which seems to go in all directions at the same time. I don’t know how Alice puts up with me. She hasn’t said anything, but I know she cares. Now I really need a makeover.

I cornered my Mom in the kitchen before breakfast and asked, “Mom, can I talk to you? I think I need some new clothes. The other kids in my school don’t dress like this. I need some real pants, shirts with sleeves and buttons on them, a pair of loafers, and a new narrow, real leather belt. Can you take me shopping?”

I thought Mom would fall on the floor in shock. She said, “I am happy to take you shopping if you promise to throw those dungarees out. They have reached a point where I think they can stand up by themselves. We’ll go shopping after school today.”

I bet this is making her happy. She probably thinks the new school is having a positive effect on me. I’m not telling her anything about, Alice.

“One other thing, Mom. Do you think the drug store has something to help me get rid of these pimples? It’s embarrassing. And while we’re there, can we get some kind of gel that will keep my hair in place?”

Mom said, “I’m sure they do, Johnny, we’ll stop by and ask Mr. Katz at the drug store on the way to the Gap. I’m glad to see you’re growing up.” If she only knew.

“The Gap? I was thinking more in terms of Banana Republic, Mom.”

“That’s a little too old for you, Johnny. Let’s start with the Gap.”

“OK, but I want real pants—no more dungarees.” That’s good old Mom, always trying to keep me from growing up. Too bad, Mom, I’m going to any way.

I grabbed my father in the hallway leading to his den after breakfast, before he went to work and said, “Dad, can I talk to you?”

Dad looked at me fearfully and said, “What’s wrong, Johnny? Do you think we have to have that little talk about using protection now?”

 “No, nothing like that, Dad. I just wanted your opinion on whether I have to start shaving yet, and if so, what do I do for a razor?” 

“I hope you realize once you start, you’ll have to shave every day, Johnny.”

“What do you mean everyday? I was planning on once a week, Dad.”

“Doesn’t work like that. I’m afraid your beard will grow all the time, Johnny. You will need to shave every day to be clean shaven, otherwise you’re going to end up with a scruffy red beard.”

I said,  “It doesn’t work like that? Are you sure, Dad? Oh, okay, can you get me a razor, blades and shaving cream?”

“I’ll stop at the drugstore today on my way home and fix you up, Johnny,”
“Thanks, Dad, this growing up thing is hell.”

I couldn’t wait to show Alice my transformation the next day. She was waiting for me under our favorite five star maple tree in the schoolyard. “So, Alice, what do you think of the new me?”

“I really like it, Johnny.” Alice said. “You look great. Your new clothes are cool. I love the blue shirt and khaki pants. What happened to your face?”

“I cut myself shaving. It’s no big deal. Listen, Alice, I wanted to ask your opinion on something. We have been going together for almost two weeks now, and I wondered when you think the appropriate time would be for us to kiss?”

Alice smiled and put her arms tenderly around my neck. She drew me to her and said, “Right now would be fine, Johnny.” I didn’t notice if any of the other kids were watching us. I don’t care.

We kissed and our tongues entered each other’s mouths, mixing juices and saliva, and only occasionally getting caught on invisible braces. I felt myself getting hard, and tried to pull away at first in embarrassment, but Alice held me close. She smells so good. We stood there, holding each other tight and kissing for a long time, my passion increasing with every passing moment. I didn’t know I could feel so deeply, so intensely. This must be as good as life gets. I’m in love.

The best part is I didn’t have to say oops once. I guess my clumsy stage is coming to an end, at least with my darling Alice. I’m fourteen, that’s not too young to be in love, is it? Watch out world, I’m growing up. There’s no stopping me now.

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