“I am way past over this whole vampire thing.”
I nodded at Trix as she went on
“Then they started with the zombies”
“And don’t forget the werewolf thing.“
“But that’s okay, if they have abs like Taylor Lautner.” Trix emphasized this by poking my less than firm middle.
“You wouldn’t love me as much if I did.”
“Well, Zach, I certainly wouldn’t have anyone to share my nachos with.”
Ouch. Trix and I have had this love/hate/eat relationship since Eighth Grade. I have been hoping that love will win out, but so far the only thing that has grown is my waist size. I thought she hadn’t noticed. So to deflect attention away from my stomach, I changed the subject.
“So when do you want to work on the Geology assignment?“
“Can we do it early tomorrow? I have a thing to do in the evening.”
“In the evening? In the evening? What, do you have a date to the queen’s cotillion?” I chortled at her choice of words until she stopped me mid-snort.
“No cotillion, just a date.”
She made a point of looking somewhere else so I had a minute to rearrange the expression on my face from shock to horror and then back to friend.
“Oh, really, Trix? A date? “
I tried to keep my voice breezy. This is not an easy thing to do when you best friend inadvertently ripped out your heart, tromped on it, then shoved it back into your chest.
She brushed her hair back from her eyes, something she always does when she’s nervous or annoyed.
“Yes, Zach. A date. You know,that ritual that adolescents participate in as they enjoy food or large screen entertainment?”
“I know what a date is, Trix. Wait a minute, large screen entertainment? You’re not going to see . . . “
“Zach, I’m sorry.”
“No, that’s ok. I just thought that WE were going.”
The biggest monster movie event ever was opening this weekend. It was going to be huge. All of the worst creature features ever to waste celluloid compiled into one horrifying nightmare of cinematic dreck. And she was going without me.
“Zach, when Grayson asked I said yes before I realized that he was talking about THIS weekend.”
Grayson has been my archnemisis since third grade, when he chipped my front tooth by smacking me on the side of my head while I was getting a drink at the water fountain. It would do no good to remind Trix that he was a Neanderthal. She knew.
“So what time do you want to get going on this project tomorrow?”
She looked relieved. I was glad that I hadn’t starting on the all-of-the-things-that-are-wrong-with-Grayson litany.
“The earlier the better, before it starts to get too hot.”
The next morning, I was waiting outside Starbucks in my dorky cargo shorts and hiking boots. She drove up in her brother’s jeep. I climbed in, trying to look casual, and of course, I tripped and then bonked my head. Normally she would have had a field day laughing at me. Today, she acted like she didn’t notice. I hate it when things change.
It’s amazing how long it takes to get to the middle of nowhere.
“The assignment is to collect unique specimens. Do you suppose that means unique to us? It’s kind of vague.”
Trix had a point.
“I think I’ll hike up there and work my way back. You start over here.” She nodded, relived, I think, that she wouldn’t have to small talk with me for awhile.
The first interesting looking rock I picked up was actually a dehydrated cow pattie. Good thing I brought gloves. The next rock was actually a giant piece of old gum. I was sanitizing my hands and dropped my gloves. True to form I fell over trying to pick them up. My bare hand touched this burning hot goo. I didn’t want to find out what kind of disgusting animal excretion this might turn out to be, so I just sanitized again and started looking for things that might actually count towards ending this nightmare of a day.
Famous last words.
It only took two more hours of pointless wandering to find enough “unique” specimens for our project. I still don’t know what that means. Trix took me home and dashed away to get ready for her date. I didn’t bother acting thrilled for her.
My little brother Miguel was lurking in my room.
“Hey Crisco, where’s your girlfriend going?”
“Hah, hah I get it, Fat-in-the-can. If I couldn’t think of a better insult then I would just keep quiet.”
“I guess it’s going to be a silent night. Why didn’t she stay?”
“She’s going to the movies with Grayson.”
Is there anything more depressing than having your little brother feel sorry for you?
Wait, yes there is. Hanging out with your little brother who feels sorry for you is infinitely more depressing.
We were lying on the floor in front of the TV eating cheese from a can when my stomach made this horrible noise.
“Should I light a match, Zach?”
I didn’t answer. I felt like everything in my middle was shifting, not in the just-ate-the school-lunch-too-fast or even in the I’m-at-the-top-of-the-Ferris-Wheel-and-no-one- knows-I’m- afraid of heights-kind of way. Shifting, like my appendix decided to join my pancreas in a rousing game of squash.
“Is the baby kicking?”
Miguel leaned forward to touch my stomach, when my shirt begin to ripple. He looked at me, then back at my writhing shirt and ran out of the room.
I was afraid to move, but I certainly didn’t want to wait for my stomach to vortex the room furnishings before I figured anything out. I stood up. Miguel was peering in the doorway.
“Dude, what’s wrong with your gut?”
“Ok, Miguel, I know I should work out more. “
“No, it looks different. “
He was right. I’ve always been a bit soft in the middle, but now I was jiggly. Really jiggly. And the jiggly was wiggling my shirt.
“Cool, Zach, how are you doing that?”
“Can I touch it?”
Miguel dashed away and came right back with a back scratcher, the kind that has little fingers on the end.
He leaned in and poked at me.
The jiggle grabbed the back scratcher out of his hand, whipped it around and bonked him back.
Now, THAT was pretty neat.
It became less neat when Miguel tested the jiggle’s defense speed by poking it with other utensils and tossing rolled up socks at it. The Jiggle had pretty good reflexes. After a while it got kind of boring, so I sat back down. Turns out the Jiggle didn’t really like that. It started to ooze around to push me back up. Miguel kept staring at me.
“Can’t you go watch TV?”
“Nothing’s as good as this.”
I stood up.
The Jiggle was pleased.
“Zach, it’s getting bigger.”
He was right. If it wasn’t bigger, it was at least taking up more space. It looked like my stomach was trying to run away by slaloming down my legs.
The Kinks bellowed out “You Really Got Me.”
Perfect. Trix was calling.
Miguel grabbed my phone and lobbed it at me, staying as far away from me as possible.
“Zach, you won’t believe this. That jerk stood me up!”
“Oh you can’t imagine what I won’t believe.”
“Don’t rub it in. Do you still want to go?”
Did I still want to go to the movie event of the year with the love of my life? Even the jiggle approved.
“Sure! I mean, I guess, if you want to. No, no I’ll meet you there. See ya.”
“Guess who’s got a date.”
“Uh, I guess you, Trix and whatever that thing is.”
Oh yeah, that.
“I can’t go out like this.”
“Well, you’re not leaving it with me.”
Miguel raced around for awhile then came back with my Mom’s girdle.
“I’m not wearing Spanx!”
“It’s a compression garment, and they make them for men too. Do you have a better idea?”
No. No, I didn’t, but Miguel didn’t have to eat popcorn while watching me hop up and down trying to compress the jiggle. I made a mental note to never again laugh at the cat as her flab glops from side to side as she chases the laser pointer.
Miguel actually applauded when I got the Jiggle subdued enough to disguise it with a baggy shirt.
“Should I wear something else?”
“There’s no time, man. Besides, you don’t want to make it mad.”
He had a point. It took me awhile to get down to the theater. Wonderful, I thought, as if my life weren’t already complicated, now I have to figure out a way to keep this disgusting goo from flooding out of my Man-Spanx. I finally got there by promising the Jiggle popcorn and movie nachos.
Trix was waiting outside with the tickets.
“Grayson showed up drunk, so I took the tickets! We have premier seating! Let’s go.”
She took my arm and I sighed happily. Life, for the moment, was good. After all, premier seating comes with popcorn and deluxe nachos!
The Classic, along with four other short stories, is available as an eBook at