Participation in the school band may occur

I unearthed this photo (more here) for When I Was A Loser, an anthology to which — are you sitting down? — I contributed an essay.

The designers didn’t end up using the evidence we contributors compiled, so I figured I might as well amuse (or horrify) you by posting mine here. Meanwhile, though, I wanted to mention a small problem with my essay. I was asked to pick a different name for one of my characters. That part was fine. One WASP name is almost always as good as another, after all. And the nice lawyer said she’d make the change, which she did. Except on the first page.

No one, including me, noticed the error until the book had gone to print. Here’s how the opening should read:

Confessions of a Cradle-Robber

The summer between eighth and ninth grade, I finally kissed a boy. Tavi Valbuena and I sat on my couch, plucking at stray strings, tracing the garish flowers and parrots and fruits that covered the cushions, and denouncing the general fucked-upness of the world. At last his lips lurched toward mine. The moment our tongues, nimble and erotic as garden slugs, entwined, my mind wandered to a far more pressing concern: how I’d explain these developments to my friend Allison Julie. She and I had passed the previous two years scheming to make out with boys, but she’d never understand about Tavi.

He was twelve, you see, and I was fourteen. Let me put that a different way: I was heading into my last year of junior high, and he’d just finished elementary school. Even worse, he looked his age. The only secondary sex characteristics Tavi possessed then were a deep, gloomy voice, enormous feet, and a tendency to clamp sofa pillows down on his lap whenever I ate an ice-cream cone in front of him. That first night we kissed, our teeth clashed. Our tongues slid around ineffectually. My glasses battered his cheeks and eyebrows. This was, I realized as the evening wore on, not even proper making out — and so was not worth mentioning to anyone, not even Allison Julie.

The circumstances leading to my and Tavi’s liaison were, naturally, complicated. You don’t just wind up a cradle-robber overnight. First a pitiful awkwardness must develop. Participation in the school band may occur. Soon a wave of hormones sweeps in. And as these peptides and steroids and various gonadal uppers churn in the bloodstream, they generate a throbbing desperation. Warning signs are various as the stars in the heavens, but here I’ll limit myself to those that paved the way for a primary school boy to become my boyfriend.



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