Archive for May, 2013|Monthly archive page

The Jake Chronicles 3/The Lab 2/

In The 70's, The 80's on May 3, 2013 at 12:19 pm

summer2I leave to pick up JJ. He lives close by, so it  takes less than ten minutes to get there. I pull in front of his house on April Lane, at the bottom of a steep hill. I turn down the tunes, the tail end of ‘Night Moves’ crackling through the a.m radio and  blow the horn. I’d go to the door, but JJ’s parents hate me. I’m not sure why- I’ve never done anything to them- hell, I  haven’t even been in their presence but on rare, unavoidable  occasions. Say if JJ needed me to help him carry something, or I had to knock on the door because he didn’t hear my horn. The looks on their frowny faces, during these ‘forced’ meetings  were unmistakably of the ‘bad smell’ variety.  (For the record- I smell quite wonderful- like something from a Christian Dior or Lancome gift bag, free with purchase) But because I know it’s nothing I’ve done outright  (JJ says they’re ‘just weird’ in a way that implies he knows why, but is sparing my feelings) I don’t press it because I don’t care. In fact, it actually makes my life easier- I don’t have to go in and do the whole ‘Hi-How are ya? Oh! That’s lovely!” thing with the ‘rents. Plus, they seem so grim that it’s entirely possible that they hate everybody. 


JJ comes dashing out- Lynyrd Skynyrd T-Shirt, depicting a bottle of whisky superimposed with Ronnie Van Zant’s face. He has a red and white bandana wrapped around his head, his dark brown hair spilling out from under it and falling across  his shoulders. He wears  faded bell bottoms and Adidas sneakers. He’s carrying all kinds of stuff:: Giant boombox, red and white Igloo cooler, switchblade in his mouth. You will never go out on the town with anyone more prepared for anything than JJ!  It’s like going out with MacGyver. He’s a good artist, and thinks outside the box (fun!) and we are both attracted to anything under-dog or off the beaten path. Yeah, he has a crush on me, but he feels just like a brother to me.

He insists we hang out, though sometimes if he’s drinking he gets jealous and trouble ensues. I have refused to hang out with him after witnessing some crazy behavior if I’m talking to another guy (smashing a boom-box to the ground, getting in fights) but he always re-establishes our tie (usually doing something humorous like drawing a ridiculous comic about said incident, or scoring kick-ass concert tickets) He always insists all’s fine, and that he’d rather be friends than not. I don’t really get it- I could only hang to a point if I had an (unrequited) crush. What can I tell you? JJ and I  are a walking, talking, very annoying J.Geils song. Love Stinks.

I look up at his house, which sits on a hill and notice his mother pulling back the draperies in the bay window to get a look and I sincerely hope what she sees pisses her off and sets her cackling for the next half hour. She probably has nothing else to talk about, and I’m glad to be of service. I play with my hair in the side mirror of the car, still feathered along the sides like Farrah’s.  I’m not saying I’m the prettiest girl in town, but I’m not bad, so suck on that Mrs. JJ.

JJ opens the passenger side door and flips the seat forward, depositing most of his stuff onto the back seat. He puts the switchblade in the glove compartment, noting that it is of legal length and not unlawful to have ‘on him’ then pushes the seat back, situates himself, and offers me a Marlboro. He knows that I smoke Newports.


“Eww! No!” I squeal. He laughs. Just being polite, he says. I pull away slowly, turning up the music as loud as it will go- very anti-climatic and ineffective with the am radio. (Manfred Mann’s misheard ‘wrapped up like a douche, another runner in the night’ all crackle and tin) I deliberately take one last look up at the peeper, and notice the curtains abruptly drop. Get a life, I think. I hope when I get older I have better things to do – that I won’t have the time or desire to criticize my kids’ friends because at the very least, I’m too busy doing other stuff.

We head towards the beach, the flaming twilight sun bleeding red and orange, washing out the brick buildings we pass, and almost blinding me until I flip down the visor. We bump over the railroad tracks, pass car dealerships with their strings of red, green and blue vinyl flags casually flapping in the wind, whiz by Dairy Queen and Duchess Hamburgers, Exxon and Texaco gas stations, the New York Bakery, and up the hill to East Avenue. We pass the Funeral Home, and cross the highway overpass at Exit 9 -Howard Johnson’s angular orange roof off to the right, St. Thomas’s church on the left. By the time we take a left at the cemetery and circle around the Minute Man statue, JJ has half a joint lit, and we are passing it back and forth. It’s burning my throat, so I ask him to crack open a drink. The traffic is thick on beach road, teens mostly, coming and going. JJ faces the backseat, up on his knees, reaching into the cooler- his faded denim ass facing out the windshield to the delight of passers by. A few horns honk, and I’m right back at’em. Summer nights at the beach are officially in full swing.


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