I’m down to my last few days in upstate New York. As I’ve said before, there’s not much to do around here, so last night to cure our boredom my brother Robbie and I locked ourselves in his bedroom for six hours, got way too stoned and had a heart-to-heart about life, sex, who we are as people, and lots of other embarrassing shit (all equally as deep). Normally I don’t smoke weed as it makes me feel all dark and paranoid, like the whole world is caving in on me (unpleasant?). However, last night seemed like the right occasion if there ever was one, so I aptly took a few hits on my bro’s homemade gravity bong and let the drugs take hold.
Robbie is nineteen. He’s skinny with delicate shoulders and pale, slightly sickly looking skin—partially due to the fact that the only substances he intakes are weed and the occasional vegan burrito. He’s got sandy blond hair and a really deep, throaty voice which makes him sound more ninety than nineteen. His skin, lips and eyes are all the same faded color, which gives his face this washed-out, almost nonexistent feel. It’s weird, but also kind of nice.
Growing up Robbie was really awkward. He barely ever made friends, and when he did they either ate their own snot or had severe learning disabilities. As he got older Robbie became more socially graceful, but even in high school he was always that kid eating alone in the lunchroom, wearing eyeliner, jotting down artful thoughts in some gay-looking notepad. At the time I tried to explain that being a loser in school means you’ll inevitably be super cool and interesting afterward, but it’s difficult to convince a tortured teen that all his suffering is for a reason.
“Do you ever wish you could be someone else?” asked Robbie through a haze of smoke.
“Sometimes…” I said. “Sometimes I wish I were a boy. But I also love having sex with boys, which makes being a girl OK at times.”
“Yeah…” he mumbled. “Sometimes I feel so foreign in my own body. It’s weird—it’s like I’m an alien in my own skin. It makes sex so strange. Like how am I supposed to feel comfortable inside someone else when I’m not even comfortable inside myself?”
I wanted to say something nice, something reassuring, but I was too stoned and retarded to think on any coherent terms, so all I came up with was, “Who are you having sex with?”
“No one,” he frowned. “I’m not into anyone. No one likes me and I don’t like anyone.”
“That’s not true,” I said. “You have a lot of… friends.”
“Do I? I guess. I mean I have some close guy friends. I’m not really into guys, though. Like into them into them. But I find it easier to, you know, connect with boys on a personal level or whatever… if that makes sense.”
“Lately I just lie,” he continued. “I can’t help it. I lie all the time—mostly about things I don’t even care about.”
“That’s not so weird,” I said. “I think a lot of people can relate to that.”
“I kind of love it. Lying, I mean. Like if I meet someone I know I’ll never meet again, I pretend to be a different person. It’s like the only time I really feel like myself is when I’m not actually myself.”
I wanted to save him, in a really cheesy, Hollywood movie-style crescendo of wisdom, but instead I said nothing.
“Sometimes…” his bony body collapsed to the floor in an act of submission, “I want to… tear myself apart.”