“Oh my God, Emily…you are such a liar!”
This was the opening sequence of a night no one in The Smith household had foreseen coming, but things have now descended to the point where her father had nearly called me up and asked if I was married yet. Precluding him from the Facebook crowd he doubtless was too pious to descend and mingle with, he would not know that yes, I am (married). He would pause before apologizing and hanging up and then turning back to the on-screen audition for the sequel to “Fury Road.” It was his dear daughter, the one called “a liar” and Emily.
Had he been a part of the Facebook crowd, he would have known of her prior corroboration with vermin of our ilk: a crowd of lovers, muggers and thieves. But they’re cool people, except for me, the accused boyfriend. I’ve never been accused of being cool in my entire life.
Contrary to the façade so poorly maintained by Miss Smith, no one believes that she is legitimately earning the income that is so bizarrely displayed for the rest of the free world on Facebook. The truth is, there are neither enough Klingon immigrants still living in New Orleans nor enough consumers willing to resemble the rejected extras from “The Road Warrior” in order to sustain the lifestyle of a yuppie with a cause like hers.
And to think, this ne’er-do-well, this miscreant mutant accused of all but witchcraft (spinster Charmed-ones would sue if she were charged with such) would actually have the temerity to deny having been even interested in dating me.
“Y’all are an item now, huh, you and DeViney?” a mutual acquaintance asked our junior year of high school.
“Um, no,” came her smug reply.
“Yeah, but, I mean y’all are practically dating, right?” asked the same acquaintance again.
“No,” replied Emily yet again. Not indicative of her character, she resembled “Alice the Goon” more and more as the exchange wore on.
“So, y’all just kinda like each other and flirt a lot, then? I mean, y’all have held hands.”
“Um…no,” said the once-and-future girlfriend of a “Thunderdome” reenactment role-player in a final fit of denial.
“Oh my God, Emily! You are such a liar!” This exclamation came from a corner of the room occupied by the pale, red-headed friend of both the acquaintance and the apparent not-girlfriend in question. This same redhead, as it were, was also one of my high school debate partners. She had half-barked this phrase of incredulity as one truly absorbed by the conduct of the person in question, absorbed in the way one can hardly turn away when noticing the pastor’s daughter on the front pew picking her sizeable nose in the midst of a sermon. It’s an unavoidable attraction comprised of all the wrong elements.
Such was the pathology of these beings that were so ardent in their faith that they raised offspring who might as well have been told they arrived via Stork Delivery. All of this, of course, was done under the pretense of shielding their virgin daughters from the horror, the ignominious swashbuckler Jonathan DeViney and his band of buccaneers. Merry men we were not, but any lengthy discourse would usually later be subjected to the scornful scrutiny of some well-suited smartasses who needed their own grating laughter.
So, I had said “shit” during one such gathering, my junior year of high school. I did not say it quietly, and I said it about what a gaggle of my lily white surroundings had agreed upon. “That’s bullshit!” came my exclamation. There was no apology to follow.
I remembered then what had started the whole thing. The entire ordeal came down to a handful of high school guys hoping not to be smothered and strangled by a moral code that had come no nearer to being from the Holy Bible than this column. My exclamations and carryings-on held their own weight, but that’s to get besides the point.
There we were, at a barn dance. No, this would not be a prelude to later, substance-addled years of haze for our deviant crew. It was a literal barn dance being inflicted upon souls who admired “The Federalist Papers,” Richard Nixon and Hunter S. Thompson.
I had just recently been verbally accosted by one of the parents of some hapless youth from the perimeter of our sphere of influence. My crime? During lunch, I was sitting in my car listening to The Bee Gees’ “Night Fever.” The parents of many of these malcontents would reconvene sometime later to review this miserably sinful act on my part.
“Well, I just think there’s a lot of…I’m sorry but I just think he’s evil.”
I’ve often wondered if the mother in question, that of my (not) girlfriend, would reconsider her assessment if she’d stuck around for the emergence of “Sympathy for the Devil” on my life’s soundtrack.
“Evil?!” one of the fathers’ present had asked. Even for this ultra-conservative crowd the charge was a bit strong.
“Now, hold on,” began the wife of the man who’d spoken up. “He’s stayed in our home on a number of occasions and I think he’s a fine young man. Nothing evil going on.”
I would run the gamut of social emotions during my emergent manhood, but was this altogether unorthodox? I had been strongly interested in socialism and statism as a 16-year-old. My father then placed “1984” in my hands until I’d finished it at the end of our six-hour road trip one spring.
“Where’s the end of the book?” I demanded.
“That is the end, son,” my father replied, eyebrows arched. The implication was clear: he knew as well as I that my entire fledgling philosophy had been assembled under the sincere framework of believing that the central government, the state, knew best. It was sincere, yes.
But it was sincerely mistaken.
The difference is I was big enough of a man, at seventeen, to admit I was wrong. The scornful elders of the Electric Chastity Circuit? Not so much.
But, hey, that’s okay: if looks could kill and gin’s swill and the past fifteen years of dynamic vitriol are any indication, I’ll be relevant forever.