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Hey, this is Greg. You, me, and some pasta makes three.

Probable response:

Rachel: Huh?

Greg: I’m taking you out on a date. Greg style.

Rachel: What?

Greg: Listen to me. Our remaining days with each other are few, and precious. Let’s make up for lost time. Let’s be together.

Rachel: Oh my God, that’s so romantic.

Greg:

Greg: Damn it.

There just wasn’t a good way to do it. Mom was asking me to resume a friendship that had no honest foundation and ended on screamingly awkward terms. How do you do that? You can’t.

“Hello? Who is this?” said Rachel’s mom over the phone. She sounded aggressive and was kind of barking like a dog. This was standard behavior for Mrs. Kushner.

“Uh, hi, this is Greg,” I said. Then for some reason, instead of asking for Rachel’s number, I said, “How are you doing?”

“Gre-e-e-eg,” oozed Mrs. Kushner. “I’m fi-i-i-ine.” Boom. In an instant, her tone had changed completely. This was a side of her I had never seen, nor had I ever hoped to see it.

“That’s great,” I said.

“Greg, how are you-u-u-u.” She was now using a voice that women usually reserve for cats.

“Uh, good,” I said.

“And how is schoo-o-o-o-ool.”

“Just trying to get it over with,” I said, then immediately realized what a colossally stupid thing that was to say to someone whose daughter had cancer, and I almost hung up. But then she said: “Greg, you’re so funny. You’ve always been such a funny kid.”

It sounded like she meant it, but she wasn’t laughing at all. This was getting even weirder than I had feared.

“I was calling to maybe get Rachel’s number,” I said.

“She. Would. Love. To hear from you.”

“Yup,” I agreed.

“She’s in her room right now, just waiting around.”

I had no idea what to make of that sentence. In her room, just waiting around. Waiting for me? Or for death? My God, that’s bleak. I tried to put a positive spin on it.

“Livin’ it up,” I said.

This was the second brain-punchingly insensitive thing I had said in about thirty seconds, and again I considered closing my cell phone and eating it.

But: “Greg, you have such a good sense of humor,” Mrs. Kushner informed me. “Never let them take that away from you, all right? Always keep your sense of humor.”

“‘Them’?” I said, alarmed.

“People,” Mrs. Kushner said. “The whole world.”

“Huh,” I said.

“The world tries to just beat you down, Greg,” announced Mrs. Kushner. “They just want to crush the life out of you.” I had no response to this, and then she said, “I don’t even know what I’m saying.

Mrs. Kushner had lost it. It was time to ride the wave or drown in a sea of crazy.

“Hallelujah,” I said. “Preach.”

“Preach,” she crowed. She actually cackled. “Greg!”

“Mrs. Kushner!”

“You can call me Denise,” she said, terrifyingly.

“Awesome,” I said.

“Here’s Rachel’s number,” said Denise, and gave it to me, and thank God, that was that. It almost made me relieved to talk to my sort-of-kinda-not-really ex-girlfriend about her imminent death.

“Hi, this is Rachel.”

“Hey, this is Greg.”

“Hi.”

“Yo.”

“. . .”



“I called the doctor and he said you needed a prescription of Greg-acil.”

“What’s that.”

“That’s me.”

“Oh.”

“Uh, in convenient gel-tab form.”

“Oh.”

“Yeahhhh.”

“So I guess you heard that I’m sick.”

“Yeahhhh.”

“Did my mom tell you?”

“Uh, my mom told me.”

“Oh.”

“So, uh.”

“What?”

“What?”

“What were you going to say?”

“Uhhh.”

“Greg, what?”

“Well, I was calling . . . to see . . . if you wanted to hang out.”

“Right now?”

“Uh, sure.”

“No thanks.”

“Uh . . . you don’t want to hang out?”

“No, thanks anyway.”

“Well, maybe later then.”

“Maybe later.”

“OK, uh . . . bye.”

“Bye.”

I hung up feeling like the biggest douchebag in the world. Somehow the conversation was 100 percent what I was expecting, yet I still managed to be blindsided by it. By the way, this kind of awkward fiasco was always what happened when Mom tried to get involved in my social life. Let me point out here that it’s acceptable for moms to try to run their kids’ social lives when the kids are in kindergarten or whatever. But I have a mom who didn’t stop scheduling play dates for me until I reached the ninth grade. The worst part of that was that the only other twelve and thirteen-year-olds whose moms scheduled their play dates were kids with mild to serious developmental disorders. I’m not going to go into detail about that, but let’s just say that it was emotionally scarring and is possibly a reason I spend so much time freaking out and pretending to be dead.

Anyway. What you’re seeing here is just part of a larger pattern of Mom-Greg Life Interference. She was without a doubt the single biggest obstacle between me and the social life that I was trying to describe before: a social life without friends, enemies, or awkwardness.

I guess I should introduce my family. Please forgive me if this sucks.


Again, let’s try and get this over with as quickly as possible.

Dr. Victor Gaines: That would be my dad, a professor of classics at Carnegie Mellon University. No human being is weirder than Victor Quincy Gaines, PhD. My theory on Dad is that he was a party animal in the ’80s, and drugs and alcohol have partially unraveled the wiring of his brain. One of his favorite things to do is sit in a rocking chair in the living room, rock back and forth, and stare at the wall. Around the house he usually wears a muumuu, which is essentially a blanket with holes cut in it, and he talks to the cat, Cat Stevens, as if he were a real human being.

It’s hard not to be envious of Dad. He teaches at most two classes per semester, usually one, and that seems to occupy a very small percentage of his week. Sometimes they give him the entire year off to write a book. Dad has very little patience for most of the other professors he works with. He thinks they whine too much. Dad spends a lot of his time at specialty food shops on the Strip, chatting with the owners and buying obscure animal products that no one else in the family will eat, like yak tripe and ostrich sausage and dried cuttlefish.

Every two years, Dad grows a beard, and it makes him look like a member of the Taliban.

Marla Gaines: And that’s my mom, Marla, the ex-hippie. Mom led a very interesting life before she married Dad, but the details are carefully guarded. We know that she lived in Israel at some point, and we suspect that she may have had a boyfriend in the Saudi royal family, which would have been sort of a big deal, because she is Jewish. In fact, Marla Weissman Gaines is very Jewish. She is the executive director of Ahavat Ha’Emet, a nonprofit that sends Jewish teenagers to Israel to work on a kibbutz and lose their virginity. I should point out that the virginity-losing part is not technically in the mission statement of Ahavat Ha’Emet. I’m just saying, you do not leave Israel without getting laid. You could have an eight-inch-thick titanium diaper bolted to your pelvis, and you would still somehow get laid. It should be their official tourism slogan: Israel. Where Virginity Goes to Die.

Israelis get it on.

Anyway, my mom is a very loving woman, and she lets Dad do whatever the hell he wants, but she is also very opinionated and strong-willed, especially when it comes to Matters of Right and Wrong, and when she decides that something is the Right Thing to Do, that thing gets done. No ifs, ands, or buts. For better or worse. Whether we like it or not. This characteristic, in moms, is a colossal pain in the ass, and it basically ruined my life as I knew it, as well as Earl’s. Thanks a lot, Mom.

Gretchen Gaines: Gretchen is my older younger sister. She’s fourteen, which means that any kind of normal interaction with her is doomed to failure. We used to be pretty good friends, but fourteen-year-old girls are psychotic. Her main interests are yelling at Mom and not eating whatever is for dinner.

Grace Gaines: Grace is my younger younger sister. She’s six. Gretchen and I are pretty sure Grace was an accident. Incidentally, you may have noticed that all of our names begin with GR and are not at all Jewish-sounding. One night Mom had a little too much wine at dinner and confided to us all that, before we were born, and after she realized her children would have Dad’s also-not-Jewish last name, she decided she wanted all of us to be “surprise Jews.” Meaning, Jews with sneaky Anglo-Saxon names. I know, it makes no sense. I guess it shows that a vulnerability to brain fungus runs in the family.

Anyway, Grace aspires to be a writer and a princess, and like Dad, she treats Cat Stevens as though he is a human being.

Cat Stevens Gaines: Cat Stevens was awesome, once—he used to do things like stand up on his back paws and hiss whenever you entered the room, or run up to you in the hallway and wrap his arms around your shin and start biting you—but now he’s old and slow. You can still get him to bite you, but you have to grab his tummy and jiggle it. Technically, he’s my cat; I was the one who named him. I came up with the name when I was seven, having recently learned about Cat Stevens’s existence from National Public Radio, which of course is the only radio station that gets any burn in the Gaines house. It seemed like an obvious name for a cat at the time.

Only years later did I realize that Cat Stevens, the musician, is totally beat.

I cannot emphasize this enough: Dad has a strong affinity for Cat Stevens (the cat). In addition to sharing long-winded philosophical meditations with him, sometimes Dad plays Cat Stevens like a drum, which is a thing that Cat Stevens loves. Cat Stevens is also the only other member of the family who enjoys eating the meats that Dad brings home from the Strip, although sometimes he expresses his enjoyment by barfing.

Gamma-Gamma Gaines: Dad’s mom lives in Boston and comes to visit occasionally. As with Cat Stevens, I named her when I was a toddler, and now I don’t get a do-over, and me and my sisters all have to call her Gamma-Gamma. It’s embarrassing. I guess we all make mistakes when we’re young.


I found out about Rachel’s leukemia on a Tuesday. Wednesday, I tried calling her again after more nagging from Mom, and again she didn’t want to hang out. Thursday, she hung up as soon as I said my name.

So on Friday, I had no intention of calling whatsoever. When I got home from school, I went straight to the TV room to watch a movie. Specifically, Alphaville (Godard, 1965), which I was then going to re-watch later with Earl for research purposes. I realize you have no idea who Earl is still, even though we’re deep into this unbearably stupid book. Earl will be introduced soon, probably after I attempt to slam a door on my own head.

Anyway, I was barely into the credits when Mom walked in and pulled one of her trademark moves. She shut off the TV, opened her mouth, and emitted a nonstop stream of words. Nothing I did could make her stop talking. This is an unstoppable move.

MOM

You do not have a choice about this, Gregory, because you have been presented with the opportunity to make a very real difference in som

GREG

Mom what the hell

MOM

s rare and above all meaningful thing that you could be doing and let me tell you that it is not

GREG

Is this about Rachel? Because

MOM

nd I’ve seen you day after day just lying around like a dead slug and meanwhile a friend of yours

GREG

Can I just say something?

MOM

completely unacceptable, completely, you’ve got all the time in the world, and Rachel frankly doe

GREG

Mom stop talking can I just say something

MOM

f you think any of your excuses are more important than the happiness of a girl with

GREG

Holy shit. Please stop talking.

MOM

ou are going to pick up your phone, you are going to call Rachel, you are going to arrange to spend

GREG

Rachel won’t even let me say anything! She just hangs up! Mom! SHE JUST HANGS UP.

MOM

n this world, bottom line, you’re gonna have to learn to give, because you’ve been given everythi

GREG

UUUUUUUUURRRRRRRRRRGGGG

MOM

think you can “urrrg” your way out of this one, buster, you can think again, nuh-uh, no way, you

There was nothing to be done. I had to call Rachel. You can’t fight Mom’s unstoppable move. It’s probably how Mom got to be boss of a nonprofit: Nonprofits are all about persuading people to do stuff by talking at them. It’s like Will Carruthers talking you into giving him your Doritos “one time,” except that the nonprofit doesn’t have the additional persuasive advantage of you worrying that later the nonprofit is going to jump you in the locker room and whip your naked buttocks with a towel.

So yeah, I had to call Rachel again.

“What do you want.”

“Hi please don’t hang up.”

“I said, what do you want.”

“I want to hang out with you. Come on.”

“. . .”



“Rachel?”

“So you ignore me in school, and then you want to hang out after school.”

Well, this was true. Rachel and I had a few classes together, including calculus, where we sat right next to each other, and yeah, I made no effort to talk to her during any of that time. But I mean, that’s just what I did in school. I didn’t make an effort to talk to anyone. No friends, no enemies. That was the whole point.

If you think I had any idea of how to say this on the phone, though, you have not really been paying attention. I am about as good of a communicator as Cat Stevens, and only a little less likely to bite you.

“No, I wasn’t ignoring you.”

“Yeah, you were.”

“I thought you were ignoring me.

“. . .”



“So, yeah.”

“You always used to ignore me, though.”

“Uh.”

“I always figured you just didn’t want to be friends with me.”

“Uhhh.”

“. . .”



“. . .”



“Greg?”

“The thing is, you broke my heart.”

I’m smart in some ways—pretty good vocabulary, solid at math—but I am definitely the stupidest smart person there is.

I broke your heart.”

“Well, sort of.”

“How did I ‘sort of’ break your heart.”

“Uh . . . Remember Josh?”

“Josh Metzger?”

“In Hebrew school I thought you were in love with Josh.”

“Why did you think that?”

“I thought everyone in our class was in love with Josh.”

“Josh was depressed all the time.”

“No, he was all sullen and, uh . . . and dreamy.”

“Greg, it sounds like you’re in love with Josh.”

“Harf!”

This was unexpected. It had never happened before. Rachel had made me laugh. I mean, what she said wasn’t that funny, but I just really wasn’t expecting it, which is why instead of a normal laugh I made a sound like harf. Anyway, that’s when I knew I was in.

“You really thought I was in love with Josh.”

“Yeah.”

“And that broke your heart?”

“Of course it did.”

“Well, you should’ve said something.”

“Yeah, I was being really stupid about it.”

One of my few effective conversational tactics is to throw previous versions of myself under the bus. Twelve-year-old Greg was a jerk to you, you say? He was a jerk to everyone. And he had like thirty stuffed animals in his room! What a loser.

“Greg, I’m sorry.”

“No! No, no, no. It’s my fault.”

“Well, what are you doing right now?”

“Nothing,” I lied.

“You can come over if you want.”

Mission accomplished. I just had to call Earl.


“Hey, Earl?”

“Sup, ike.”

“Ike” is a good sign. It’s slang for “dude,” and when Earl uses it, that means he’s in a good mood, which is rare.

“Hey, Earl, I can’t watch Alphaville today.”

“Why the hell not?”

“I’m sorry, man, I have to hang out with this girl from, uh—this girl from synagogue.”

“Wha-a-at.”

“She’s—”

“Are you gonna eat her pussy?”

Earl can be sort of profane sometimes. He’s actually mellowed out a lot since his middle school days, believe it or not. Back in middle school he would have asked this in a much more violent and horrible way.

“Yeah, Earl, I’m going to eat her pussy.”

“Heh.”

“Yeah.”

“Do you even know how to eat pussy?”

“Uh, not really.”

“Papa Gaines never sat you down, said, Son, one day you’re gonna have to eat the pussy.”

“No. But he did teach me how to eat a butthole.”

When Earl is in full-on Gross-Out Mode, you have to play along or you’ll feel stupid.

“God bless that man.”

“Yup.”

I would teach you some pussy-eating technique, but it’s a little complicated.”

“That’s a shame.”

“I would need some diagrams and whatnot.”

“Well, tonight maybe you can draw some up.”

“Son, I don’t have time for that. I got like twenty pussies over here that I need to eat.”

“Is that right.”

“I’m on pussy deadline.”

“You’ve got twenty vaginas, all lined up in a row.”

“Aw, what the hell. What the hell. No one’s talkin bout vaginas. Greg, what the hell is wrong with you. Man, that’s nasty.”

Earl likes to mix it up sometimes by pretending that you’re being gross and he is not, when he’s clearly being much grosser. This is a classic humor move that he has perfected over the years.

“Oh, sorry.”

“Man, you’re sick. You’re perverted.”

“Yeah, that was really out of line.”

“I’m talkin bout pussy. I got a little honey mustard over here, a little Heinz 57, and a whole lotta pussy.”

“Yeah, that’s not gross. What I said was gross, but not what you just said.”

“Got some Grey Poupon up in this. Got some Hellmann’s.

Gross-Out Mode can last indefinitely and sometimes you just have to change the subject without warning if you actually have a message to convey.

“So yeah, sorry I can’t watch Godard tonight.”

“So you wanna watch it tomorrow?”

“Yeah, let’s do it tomorrow.”

“After school. Try to get some of them little steak tips.”

“OK, but I don’t think Mom is making beef tips tonight.”

Steak. Tips. Give Ma and Pa Gaines some love for me, ike.”

Earl and I are friends. Sort of. Actually, Earl and I are more like coworkers.

The first thing to know about Earl Jackson is that if you mention his height, he will windmill-kick you in the head. Short people are often extremely athletic. Earl is technically the size of a ten-year-old, but he can kick any object within seven feet of the ground. Additionally, Earl’s default mood is Pissed, and his backup default mood is Mega-Pissed.

It’s not just that he’s short, either. He looks really young. He has a sort of round bug-eyed Yoda-esque face that makes girls go all motherly and start cooing. Grown-ups don’t really take him seriously, especially teachers. They have trouble talking to him as though he’s a normal human being. They bend down way too far and speak in this ridiculous up-and-down singsong: “Hel-lo Ear-rul!” It’s like he gives off an invisible force field that makes people stupid.

The worst part is that his whole family is taller than him—all of his brothers and half brothers, his stepsisters, his cousins, his aunts and uncles, his stepdad, even his mom. It’s not really fair. At family barbecues, he gets his head playfully rubbed by someone about every ninety seconds, and it’s not always someone older than him, either. He is constantly being pushed out of the way by people who don’t even realize they’re pushing him out of the way. He can’t wander out into the open; if he does, his brothers take turns running up and leapfrogging over his head. You would be perpetually angry at the world, too, if this was your life.

However, from some perspectives, Earl’s home life is awesome. He lives basically unsupervised with two brothers, three half brothers, and a dog in a huge house a few blocks above Penn Avenue, and they play video games and eat Domino’s pizza pretty much all of the time. His mom lives in the house, too, but she usually restricts herself to the third floor. What she does up there is rarely discussed—especially with Earl around—but I can tell you that it involves Bacardi Silver mojitos and chat rooms. Meanwhile, downstairs it’s six guys in a house, living it up. Nonstop party! What problems could there possibly be?

Problem 1. Well, there is the troublesome matter of the house’s finances. There are no dads in the house—Earl’s dad is in Texas or something, and the half brothers’ dad is in prison—and Earl’s mom provides little in the way of income. Two of the half brothers, the twins, Maxwell and Felix, are in one of Homewood’s enterprising gangs—Tha Frankstown Murda Cru—and provide some of the family’s financial support by dealing drugs. Earl himself has done most of the major drugs, although these days, he smokes only cigarettes. So, there’s some drug dealing and gang activity in the house, which probably counts as a problem.

Problems 2 and 3. I guess I should also note that there’s a bit of a noise problem—video games, music, yelling—and a smell problem as well. There’s generally garbage lying around, often with little pools of garbage juice underneath, and the brothers don’t really do that much laundry. Sometimes someone will also get really drunk and throw up on the floor, and that can take days to clean up, as do the frequent hills of poop created by the dog. I don’t want to sound like a “pussy-ass bitch” (Felix’s words), but this is surely less than ideal, as living situations go.

Problem 4. It’s also not an incredibly scholarly environment. Earl is the only one still attending school every day; Devin and Derrick can go for weeks without showing up; all of the half brothers have dropped out, including Brandon, who is thirteen and probably the most violent and aggressive of the bunch. (For example, he has a huge painful-looking neck tattoo that says “TRU NIGGA” next to some pictures of guns. Brandon himself owns a gun and has already managed to impregnate another human being, even though his voice hasn’t dropped all the way yet. If the city of Pittsburgh gave out a Least Promising Human award, he would be on the shortlist.) Due to the noise problems mentioned above, the Jackson house is not a great place to try to read, or do homework, or do any kind of work; also, if someone finds you alone in a room with a book, sometimes this is considered sufficient grounds to whup the hell out of you.

Problems 5 through 10. The house itself is kind of falling apart—there’s a big chunk of the gutters lying in the front yard, and the ceiling drips in some of the bedrooms, and usually at least one of the toilets is clogged and no one really wants to deal with it. In the winter, the heating generally conks out and everyone has to sleep in their winter coat. There’s definitely a rat problem, and a cockroach problem, and it’s not a good idea to drink the tap water.

The video games, however, are solid.

So Earl and I, when we hang out, usually hang out at my house instead. By now Earl is almost a member of the family: the chain-smoking vertically challenged son my parents never had. They’re the only grown-ups besides Mr. McCarthy who even sort of know how to talk to him without pissing him off. Emphasis on “sort of.” Their interactions with him are always kind of surreal.

INT. LIVING ROOM OF MY HOUSE — DAY

DAD is sitting in his rocking chair, contemplating the wall, as he likes to do. CAT STEVENS is asleep on the couch. Enter EARL, on his way to the front door, smacking a fresh pack of cigarettes against the palm of his hand.

EARL

How’s life, Mr. Gaines.

DAD

echoing mysteriously

Life.

EARL

patiently

How’s your life.

DAD

Life! Yes, life. Life is good, as I was just telling Cat Stevens here. How’s your life?

EARL

It’s goin’ awright.

DAD

You’re going out for a cigarette break, I see.

EARL

Yeah. You want to come?

DAD

five seconds of unexplained staring

EARL

Awright then.

DAD

Earl, would you agree that suffering in life is a, a relative notion—that for every life there is a different baseline, an equilibrium, below which one can be said to suffer?

EARL

I guess.

DAD

The primary insight being that one man’s suffering is another man’s joy.

EARL

Sounds good, Mr. Gaines.

DAD

Very well then.

EARL

I’ma go smoke one of these.

DAD

Godspeed, young man.

Maybe 80 percent of the interaction between Dad and Earl is along those lines. The rest is when Dad takes Earl to a specialty food place or Whole Foods and they buy something unspeakably disgusting and then eat it together. It’s a weird scene and I’ve learned to stay away.

The Mom-Earl conversations are slightly less insane. She likes to tell him that he’s “a hoot,” and she’s learned that it doesn’t really do any good to try to get him to quit smoking, and as long as I’m not smoking, she’ll allow it. For his part, even on days when he’s mega-pissed, he tones it down when he’s around her and doesn’t do any of his trademark rage-expressing mannerisms, such as stomping his feet really fast and growling the consonant “ngh.” He doesn’t even threaten to kick anyone in the head.

So that’s Earl. I’ve probably missed a bunch of stuff and will have to describe Earl in greater detail later, but there’s no reason to believe that you’ll still be reading the book at that time, so I guess I would say don’t worry about it.


On the way to Rachel’s house, I realized that I had just been a colossal idiot.

“You idiot, Greg,” I thought, and may also have said out loud. “Now she thinks you’ve been in love with her for five years.”

Moron. I could picture the scene in my head: I was going to show up, ring the doorbell, and Rachel would fling open the door and embrace me, her frizzy hair bouncing, her biggish teeth grazing my cheek. Then we would have to make out, or talk about how much we loved each other. Just thinking about this was making me sweaty.

And, of course, she had cancer. What if she wanted to talk about death? That would be a disaster, right? Because I had somewhat extreme beliefs about death: There’s no afterlife, and nothing happens after you die, and it’s just the end of your consciousness forever. Was I going to have to lie about that? That would definitely be way too depressing, right? Was I going to have to make up some afterlife for reassurance purposes? Did it need to have those creepy naked baby angels that you see sometimes?

What if she wanted to get married? So she could have a wedding before dying? I wouldn’t be allowed to say no, right? My God, what if she wanted to have sex? Would I even be able to get a boner? I was pretty sure it would be impossible for me to get a boner in those circumstances.

These were the questions running through my mind as I trudged, with growing despair, to her doorstep. But it was Denise who answered the door.

“Gre-e-e-eg,” she purred, in her cat-voice. “It is so good to see you-u-u-u-u.”

“Right back at you, Denise,” I said.

“Greg, you’re a riot.”

“I’m illegal in twelve states.”

“HA.” This was a huge cackle. Then there was another one. “HA.”

“I have a Surgeon General’s warning tattooed on my butt.”

“STOP IT. STOP. IT. HA-A-A-A.” Why do I never have this effect on the girls I want to impress? Why is it only moms and homely girls? When it’s just them, I can really turn it on. I don’t know what it is.

“Rachel’s upstairs. Can I get you a Diet Coke?”

“No thanks.” I wanted to end with a bang, so I added, “Caffeine just makes me more obnoxious.”

“Hang on.”

This was in a completely different tone of voice. We were back to the old snappish, aggressive Mrs. Kushner. “Greg, who says you’re obnoxious?”

“Oh. Uh, people, you know—”

“Listen. You tell them: They can just shove it.”

“No, yeah. I was just saying that as a—”

“Hey. Nuh-uh. You listening to me? You tell them: They can shove it.”

“They can shove it, yeah.”

“The world needs more guys like you. Not less.”

Now I was getting alarmed. Was there a campaign to get rid of guys like me? Because that campaign would probably start with me.

“Yes ma’am.”

“Rachel’s upstairs.”

I went upstairs.

Rachel’s room had no IV stands or heart-rate monitors like I was expecting. Actually, I had been picturing her room as a hospital room, with like a full-time nurse hanging out in there. Instead, I can sum up Rachel’s bedroom in two words: pillows; posters. Her bed had at least fifteen pillows on it, and the walls were 100 percent posters and magazine cutouts. There was a lot of Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig, especially without their shirts. If you were to show me this room and make me guess who lived in it, my answer would be: a fifteen-headed alien who stalks male human celebrities.

But instead of an alien, it was Rachel, standing sort of uncomfortably near the door.

“Rachel-l-l-l,” I said.

“Hello,” she said.

We stood there, motionless. How the hell were we supposed to greet each other? I took a step forward with my arms out, for hugging purposes, but that just made me feel like a zombie. She took a step backward, frightened. At that point I had to go with it.

“I am the Zombie Hug Monster,” I said, lurching forward.

“Greg, I’m afraid of zombies.”

“You should not fear the Zombie Hug Monster. The Zombie Hug Monster does not want to eat your brains.”

“Greg, stop it.

“OK.”

“What are you doing.”

“Uh, I was going for a fist pound.”

I was going for a fist pound.

“No thanks.”

Just to summarize: I lurched into Rachel’s room like a zombie, freaking her out, then went for a fist pound. It is impossible to be less smooth than Greg S. Gaines.

“I like your room.”

“Thanks.”

“How many pillows is that?”

“I don’t know.”

“I wish I had that many pillows.”

“Why don’t you ask your parents for some?”

“They wouldn’t like that.”

I have no idea why I said that.

“Why not?”

“Uh.”

“They’re pillows.

“Yeah, they’d be suspicious or something.”

“That you’d sleep all the time?”

“No, uh . . . They’d probably think I was just going to masturbate all over them.”

I would like to point out that I conducted the above conversation 100 percent on autopilot.

Rachel was silent; her mouth was hanging open and her eyes were kind of bugging out.

Eventually, she said: “That is disgusting.” But she was also making snorting noises. I remembered the snort from Hebrew school; it indicated that there were some huge laughs on the way.

“That’s my parents,” I said. “They’re gross.”

“They won’t get you pillows [snort] because they think you’re going to [snort snort], they think you’re going to masturb[SNORTsnortsnortsnort].”

“Yeah, they have really gross ideas about me.”

Now Rachel couldn’t even talk. She had completely lost control. She was laughing and snorting so hard that I was a little worried about her rupturing her spleen or something. Nonetheless, a fun thing to do when Rachel is in the throes of a mega-laugh is to see how long you can keep it going.

• “I mean, it’s also their fault for getting sexy pillows.”

• “We had this one pillow in the house, they had to burn it, because that thing just got me so aroused.”

• “That was the sexiest pillow, I just, I just wanted to make love to it all night, until the break of dawn.”

• “I used to call that pillow the dirtiest names. I used to say, ‘You slutty pillow, you’re such a dirty slut, stop toying with my emotions.’”

• “The pillow’s name was Francesca.”

• “Then one day I came home from school and caught that pillow having oral sex with this table from across the street, and—OK, OK. I’ll stop.”

Rachel was begging me to stop. I shut up and let her calm down. I had forgotten how hard she could laugh. It took her a while to catch her breath.

“Oh—ohhh—ow—oohh.”


Date: 2015-12-11; view: 1184


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A Note from Greg Gaines, Author of This Book | The Greg S. Gaines Three-Step Method of Seduction
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