Guys I Wanted To Fuck in High School is a series of short essays about growing up frustrated in small-town Pennsylvania.
Everyone loves Mr. Haines because he’s awesome.
That’s their way of saying it – but it’s so generic. He’s awesome, all right, but what does that tell you? Nothing. Here’s what I’d say about him: he’s built and funny and young and his hair is blonde. His face gets red when he’s angry or embarrassed and he lets us get away with a lot more than other teachers. He’s smart and really interested in us, and can you tell I’m kind of obsessed with him?
His last name is the name of an underwear brand, so it’s not weird that I’m constantly thinking of him in plain white briefs, or today when he tells me to stay after class.
He’s saying stuff, but I have no idea what he’s saying, because I’ve made this deal with myself that I’m going to stare at his dick the whole time.
I’m sixteen and I’ve really just started to read and love books that aren’t sci-fi or fantasy or horror and there’s this book by Herman Hesse called Demian and it’s not the best book I’ve ever read, but it has this part about staring into someone’s eyes that I’ll remember for the rest of my life:
If you stare into someone’s eyes and they look away, then you know you have power over them.
So when someone’s looking at you, don’t ever, ever look away.
I’ve got this down.
In the halls, when the guys that pick on me walk by, I don’t look away. Maybe they pick on me more because of this, but they don’t win. And I don’t look away from my parents or the guidance counselor or teachers. They’ve all taken a sudden interest in my “behavior.”
I’m not dumb: all “behavior” means is that I don’t act like they want me to act. It’s only “behavior” because they notice it. They notice my punk rock t-shirts and the stories I’m writing and my foul fucking mouth. They only notice it because it isn’t nothing, and that’s what they want from me, a pleasant, unnoticeable nothing.
It bothers them that I don’t look away when they talk to me, so they look at each other and lose their power.
Not looking away gives another power, too: When you’re looking around, you see all the people that are looking down or have their eyes open but might as well be sleepwalking. Or like the handful of black kids in my school, what are they looking at? They look at each other and they look around nervously, but that’s it. Everyone who’s not black – which is almost everyone – is looking at them and the Puerto Rican kids, and it’s a sort of scared look, or sometimes a “poor thing” look. Or sometimes an I-fucking-hate-you look.
I know what it’s like, I guess, because for awhile, everyone was calling me “camel jockey” or “dot.” They were so stupid, they didn’t know the difference between an Indian and an Arab. Arabs don’t wear dots, stupid. They’d call me “sand nigger” and said when you suck your dad’s dick, does the dickhead have a towel on it? Mrs. Rothrock, my eighth grade cultures teacher, got mad at me for talking in class and told me that if I didn’t shutup, she’s send me back to Syria on a camel. I thought, “I grew up in Pennsylvania, you dumb bitch,” but I didn’t say anything. I just listened to everyone laughing and I shut up. I looked down then, because I didn’t know any better, because I didn’t even know who Herman Hesse was. I was too busy reading Piers Anthony and comic books.
So anyway, if I can look in someone’s eyes, then I figure no problem, I can stare at someone’s dick. Mr. Haines is sitting loosely in his chair, leaning back, his legs spread open. Why do guys always sit like this – like they’re just waiting for someone to come up and suck their dicks? Relaxed, leaned back, legs sprawled out. He’s talking to me, but all I’m paying attention to is his crotch, which is all stuffed and full of his dick and his balls, a big bulge in his kakhi pants.
I catch a few words – it’s about my report I just turned in. I guess he liked it, because it had “well-done” written on it in red ink. It was a report about skinheads because it had to be about “culture” and in my town there are neo-Nazi skinheads and KKK members, so I just wrote about my own town.
I wrote it in a night, and yeah, I made up some fake sources and fake quotes – but that was only because my real sources were kids from my school. Skinheads.
I’m still figuring out what “irony” is, I mean, I’ve pretty much figured it out, it’s just I’m not sure about this: Is the fact that the skinheads in my school hang out with me – even though I’m half Syrian, and even though the jocks are calling me a faggot – ironic?
Either way, it’s a good thing, because if they weren’t my friends, they’d scare the shit out of me.
Actually, I take that back, they still kind of scare the shit out of me.
They’re outsiders, too. I mean, you’d never see a skinhead on the football team. So maybe me being a sort of outcast is more important to them than my race.
Maybe being lonely is bigger than being angry.
I asked Jay and Chris for information so I could write the report. Jay sits at lunch with me and we talk about punk rock. He catches the yellowjackets that tap against the cafeteria window and will eat one if you pay him fifty cents. He brings a fake gun to school and people think that’s perfectly hilarious. He gives me a tape of music by a Nazi band called Skrewdriver, and I include the lyrics in my report.
Get on your boat.
Get out of here.
It’s a dumb song, but would be sort of catchy I guess if it didn’t have the nigger part in it. There’s another song about the IRA, which at first I confuse for the IRS until I find out what it really is. And there’s this song about violent uprising and the chorus goes, “You can shove your fucking dove/up your ass!”
Chris gives me a newspaper made by skinheads called American Skinhead. Well, he calls it a newspaper, but actually, it’s more like a zine. Chris is into tattoos. All the skinheads are. Jay has a tattoo of the word “hatred” on the inside of his lower lip. There’s a skinhead I’ve met once that’s supposed to have a tattoo of Hitler right on his groin, and Hitler’s arm is tattooed on his dick, so that whenever he gets a hard on, the arm rises up in a sieg heil. I know I should be repulsed, but thinking about his tattooed hard on makes me horny. Of course asking him to see it would make me dead. So I don’t.
The stuff from the CD and the zine go into my report, and Mr. Haines is impressed, but he’s not getting hard. If I can just stand here, looking, maybe he’ll pull his dick out of his pants and his dickhead will be flushed red like his face gets and I’ll get on my knees and suck it. It’s like when me and my friend Courtney found out that if you stare at a candle flame long enough, it’ll move when you will it to. At least that’s what it seems like. Get hard, Mr. Haines, I’m thinking. Get hard and pull your dick out. Now. Now.
Courtney’s half black and we talk about occult stuff and music and monster movies, and Jay hangs out with her too, which is confusing because he’s always talking about a race war. When the race war comes, will he save her or just stomp on her head with his Doc Martens? If we have to pick sides, I’m not sure what I’d do because there’s no side for someone like me or Courtney. Anyway, what is a race war? Will there be people in the streets with guns and helicopters flying above us and fires in windows?
People have been talking about race war since Rodney King got beat up a few years ago. Whoever was holding that camera definitely didn’t look away as all those police officers just brought their clubs up and down and up and down. Skinheads like Jay say that Rodney King deserved it and that he probably had a weapon and that if he were innocent, he would have just stayed down. I’m not convinced, but I tread carefully, because I’ve heard the skinheads call people “nigger-lovers” when they stand up for Rodney King.
One of the popular girls, Jess, called one of the other girls a nigger-lover in the bathroom once. At least that’s what I heard. Maybe there really is a race war coming, because I also heard that it got back to a Puerto Rican girl (so maybe Puerto Ricans and blacks side with each other, I’m not sure) and that this girl ran right up to Jess after school. And Jess jumped into her expensive yellow car and started to roll the window up, but the other girl thrust her hand in at the last minute. Then she grabbed Jess by the hair and slammed her against the dashboard again and again until her face was bleeding. When she was done, she made Jess give her the expensive watch she wears to school. I don’t know if this is all true, but I know I like the story.
Maybe that tells me what side I’d be on.
Is it racist against white people to pick the other side? I know what Jay and Chris would say, but I don’t think I’d agree. The white people always seem like the bullies. Even when they’re my friends, I’m afraid of them. I’m not afraid of the black kids, but maybe that’s just because there’s only a few of them.
Then again, I know when I jerk off thinking about Grady, one of the black kids, I think about him standing next to me at the urinal and saying, “See, I knew black guys had bigger dicks than Arabs,” and then I’d have to suck his dick. I know this is somehow racist. It’s like I can’t just think of sucking his dick, I always have to frame it somehow. I always have to think of it happening because he’s black, because he talks about being black.
Not like Mr. Haines. It doesn’t matter that he’s older, or that he’s a teacher. It doesn’t matter that he’d get in trouble. In my mind, standing here after class, getting hard in my pants and wishing he’d get hard in his, I think of him as an equal. I think he could maybe fall in love with me if he’d just get hard.
But he’s saying my name now, and fuck, I’ll have to look at him instead of his crotch. I don’t want to look him in the eyes, I want to stay right here staring at his dick until this works out for us.
He says my name again and I look up at him, right into his blue eyes. They’re so intense. His brow knots up a bit, and I say, “yes,” and nod like I’ve been listening the whole time. And then there’s this pause. I don’t move, I don’t breathe.
Who will protect us in this town, I think. There are skinheads and KKK people and bullies. There are dogs that run snarling to the edge of their yards when you walk home and stare too long at them. There are jocks and racists and homophobes and Christian crazies and angry teachers and this school, this whole school is crazy and I’m burning like a bright moving speck of fire every single day.
I look back down at Mr. Haines’s crotch and try to stay there, but it doesn’t work, everything is dispelled. I look into his eyes and can see he knows what I’ve been doing. He sits up straight and stops relaxing, and his face turns red. He says, “All right, you better get going,” and writes me a permission slip for being late to my next class. I take it and turn back, but he’s already in his own world of numbers and letters, writing in his gradebook.
And I walk out into the hall and everyone else is already in class. The halls are empty, which feels calm. I like times like this, when there’s no one to look at, just the lines of lockers and the sun coming through the windows and people in their classes, teachers saying things I can’t hear through the closed classroom doors.
I tuck my hard on up under the waist of my pants, but I’m never sure if people can see this or not, so I walk slowly so that it’ll calm down. I get to English class and walk in, and the same thing happens every time a kid walks into class late. The teacher keeps looking ahead at the class and talking, but he sort of reaches his arm out for your slip. So I walk to the front of the room and hand it to him, and all the other kids, the skinheads and the jocks and the popular girls all look at me, because they think I’m late because I’ve gotten in trouble, right? They think I had to be in the office because of my “behavior,” but I know them. I know how they talk about each other and hate each other. And how they pretend to be good kids but say racist shit in the bathrooms or pretend to be racist but hang out with me and Courtney. So I look at all of them and keep my eyes on them the whole way back to my seat and one by one they turn their eyes back to the teacher but I never, ever look away.