Best of the Net 2007  

One Guy Is Me

Two guys are getting ready to drive a long ways to meet a girl. One of the guys is handsome for a sixteen year-old and one of the guys is so-so. The handsome guy has a sense of style developed through spending time at the mall with his attractive older sisters. The so-so guy wears what he gets on Christmases and birthdays, but has a nice smile and doesnít talk too much. Before leaving, the two guys are in the handsome guyís bedroom and the so-so guy decides to try some product in his hair. The handsome guyís name is Matt and the so-so guy is Ben who to be honest is a younger version of me. The point of this narration is partly to show how much trouble is caused by handsomeness. But now that Iíve told the point of the story Iím not sure if itís worth dragging it out. Quickly: handsome tells so-so his product hair looks cool even though it doesnít and handsome knows it doesnít. Handsome rationalizes his lie by telling himself that heís trying to boost so-soís confidence because confidence is everything, according to handsomeís sistersí magazines. And to be honest, it does make so-so a little more confident, does make so-so think that maybe something special is going to happen this afternoon, new hairstyle equaling new possibilities of acceptance. Acceptance because acceptance is the most so-so has gotten so far, as far as the girls go, love and affection still floating on the distant horizon. So the two guys drive and smoke cigarettes and listen to tapes and stop for gas and drive some more until they get to the town theyíve never been to before, and outside the town is the farm where the girl lives, and waits, having been called from the gas station by handsome. And when they pull into the gravel driveway of the not-so-hot-looking barn and house handsome gives himself and so-so a piece of cinnamon gum to cut the smoke breath and says here we go. The reason Iím remembering this is because someone just told me that something I did was good, even though I now realize it wasnít, and their saying what they said was probably an attempt to keep me making not-so-good stuff so they can maintain their better-than-not-so-good station of observance. I really like the someone who told me this and am feeling deeply betrayed. So the girl came out to the car and insisted that we hang out outside, so we leaned against the car, then sat on the hood, and so-so tried to joke about Georgia O'Keefeís paintings looking like vaginas, and handsome called him a retard, which made the girl laugh, which made so-so laugh because he didnít want the girl to think he was a poor sport or anything. And then they left, the two guys, never even going in the house, because the girl said her dad was an asshole, and so they drove the long way home, tired, listening to tapes of heavy metal that became annoying to so-so, but handsome was feeling good and wanted to get burgers at the drive-in, and talk about the girl who he called pizza-face now, because he was surprised that he hadnít noticed her bad skin when they first met at the basketball tournament. It was dark out and so-so stared out the car window without arguing, hoping that this would lead to handsome losing interest in the girl, and then so-so could call her because he hadnít noticed or minded so much the chin zits, but had instead zeroed in on the new earring, the new piercing, the little turquoise heart that was small but shiny and cute in the way it paralleled the innocence of the girlís smiling and laughter. Her name was Melissa. So-so thought about Melissa all week in school, but then that weekend on Saturday morning over omelets, handsome told so-so about his date with Melissa the night before and told about putting his hand down her pants and his fingers smelling like rusty gym socks and how Melissa had been calling him all week, but he was more interested in one of the waitresses at the diner they ate in, and began teasing her by putting his spare change on the shiny surface of the table, and telling her this was her tip and if she didnít screw up she would get all of it, and when she brought homefries with onions instead of without, he slid a couple of the dimes off the table, and she gasped, and he laughed, and then she laughed and gave him a look and whispered jerk, and he winked at me, so-so. Is it okay if I give her a call then, so-so asked him. Who, handsome said in between mouthfuls of his mushroom cheese omelet. Melissa, so-so said and handsome said to be his guest. He recommended not smelling your fingers should curiosity compel you. When the waitress came by, he said my friend here is hungry for some seconds hah-hah, and she chose not to understand. So-so didnít have a car and neither did Melissa so that never worked out unfortunately, regardless of whether or not his hair honestly ever looked cool with product. But so-so never forgot Melissaís name and never stopped honestly wishing that he had owned a car and that he had helped Melissa get out of that too-uncomfortable-to-go-inside world, which probably caused Melissa stress, which probably led to Melissaís skin problems, which probably then would have cleared up as soon as she and so-so found their own little piece of heaven-over-the-rainbow that they would drive to without asking directions from anyone.

-Benjamin Krier (Failbetter)