I didn’t tell Mike that Alexandra friended me. I thought he might be jealous, and that’s stupid since it was just facebook. It’s not like we were real friends, much less anything else. It was kind of dumb to protect him from the fact that she friended me. It wasn’t like he had any special rights to Alex.
At lunch, Kyana made an attitude face, and said, “Oh, look, Doogie’s sitting with us!”
“What’s your problem,” I said.
“Now you got different friends; now you a big deal.”
“I’m not acting different, I just did something that impresses people. I moved from being a five point five to an eight. Hey, I’m eligible for you now. You want to be my girlfriend?”
She said, “I don’t give a shit about soccer, which is just a sport for white people anyway. You might think you’re an eight, but to me you’re still a five point five.”
I was going to explain that everybody in Africa, Asia, and South American played soccer passionately, but the way she was vigorously dissecting her sandwich, it seemed like a bad idea. I said, “Why are you so mad?”
Kyana said, “This table okay. I mean, maybe you and Mike the biggest dorks in the school, but sometimes Mike funny, and you got a lot of theories that I like listening to, cause they’re so stupid. I like that we all have Miss Farr’s class. Now you gone hang with white people and talk about mayonnaise.”
I said, “It’s not like that. I wanted to play soccer. My dad wants me on the team. I’m not going to go sit anywhere else. I hate mayonnaise.”
Maybe the conversation made me a little guilty, though I don’t know why, but I got back to thinking about how my powers could help people. That night I looked up opportunities for superheroes. Well, first I was playing Illumen’s Children, and I got to the part where the grolf destroys this army of Fels, and I was thinking how the grolf (a big hairy monster that lives on mountain tops) was a type of superhero, since he saves the kids. That made me think about whether I was supposed to be using this power for something, “With great power, comes great responsibility;” blah blah blah.
Turns out that the main people looking for superheroes are willing to pay money to meet them but they also expect sex.
“Super-girl seeks Super-man to fly her away.”
“Robin looking for Batman to hit a home run.”
I wondered how that never happened to Batman- you’d think people would be shining bat logos all over, ready in their sexiest lingerie, trying to jump his bones. Maybe I’m the only one who would try this. I wonder whether Batman prefers plaid boxers, or uniform color. He’d probably go for my Union boxers.
Sorry, tangent. So I couldn’t really go to the folks who were seeking super help. I would have to be more creative. I looked up “Philadelphia Crime Bosses”. Philadelphia used to be run by Garfo, who managed to murder thirty of his guys during his tenure as cappa don. After him came Bobo Santino, who was so much of a smart ass the FBI had to get him. Now, the family is run by Mike Licambi, who the FBI says, “Stabilized South Philadelphia and created an atmosphere of professionalism after the years of chaos and bloody division.” That’s pretty crazy right, when the FBI is endorsing a crime boss? But it proved my point. It’d be pretty dumb if I went down there, beat up Licambi, threw him off a roof, and destabilized South Philly and introduced a new era of terror and bloody civil war.
Sokay. You’re thinking, what about drug dealers? They provide bad stuff to people just so they can get paid. They seem like real bad news. Why don’t you do something about them? Go around, pull people off corners, give the here’s how, and I’ve had a enough bit.
It’s all a lot more complicated than that. I saw this article about some drug dealer getting arrested for kidnapping in Philadelphia. The guy had tied up some wanna-be robber who broke into his house. The cops caught him with the house breaker stripped, boiling a pot of water he was about to pour on the guy. Here are some of the comments.
“Anyone who says they (code pronoun for black people) ain’t the problem is retarded. Don’t teach their kids, got no job, committing crimes.”
“There is no job, no opportunity for these young people. They want to make money because that’s the way to be productive as an american. We need to provide opportunity if we wantt the drug dealer culture to die.”
“I GOT MAD BAGS SKUNK ONLY 5”
“Why he ain’t hide his stash? Then he tell the popo he just making spaghetti for his house guest. Hide u stash, dumb ass trappers.”
“NOBODY WANT SKUNK. I GOT CRACK, PONIC!!!!!!!!!!!!”
“These ignorant people (you know the code) shouldn’t be policed. They should be allowed to kill one another off. No respect for the law.”
“Without jail time, with these courts that let felons go with a slap on the wrist, it’s no wonder things like this happen.”
“On my stoop, I got five young men, dealing drugs. I ask them to stop, and they say, ‘Shut the ---- up, Grandmom.’ How can they call me Grandmom, and say that? Is that what they say to their grandmom?”
Okay, there’s a lot of ignorant people on the message boards but also, nobody knows what to do. Even the police argue with the chief about how to stop crime. As long as there is demand, there’s going to be a supply.
So being strong and fast is nice but not really useful in the crime fighting sense, but the best application is sports. So I went out to play the next day. I left my seventh period class and strolled down the South lawn across the street to the clubhouse. There was this nervous energy in there, I knew how they all felt, the game is coming, will I get time? Or if they knew they were going to get time, they worried about playing well. I felt nervous energy, but I felt good too. I was pretty sure I could turn in a nice performance. It was a home game, and any number of Central kids would be there to watch it. This was my chance to shine.
Coach talked some bullshit about playing hard and had the nerve not to start me. He still can’t admit that somehow he cut the best player. I shouldn’t be bitter that it’s taking him awhile to process an event that no scientist would believe. A ball of light turned a subpar soccer player into a superstar super hero- I should drop the hero, because as I said, heroism was too complicated. Super kid.
Well, twenty minutes into the game, I get subbed in. I guess the other coach hadn’t read the stat box on Rally because I didn’t get man marked. One of our defenders saw me lined up with their last defender, and smashed the ball downfield. I should say that I played at half speed. If I broke records for human speed out there, I might have gotten kidnapped by the CIA. I was still fast enough to dust the defense, and it was me and the goalie, who was rushing out to block the angle. I lean back, and flick the ball over his raised hands, lightly, so it comes back down, bounces, and crosses the goal line. It looked pretty, I could tell by the screams. I ran to the corner flag and did the celebration I had worked out, which was throwing an imaginary blue fireball (I don’t think anyone got it. Mike told me the only thing more boring than playing sports was watching them).
I scored another goal that game, and after that, I tried to contain myself and not score another. After showers, a group of kids surround me, Alexandra and Aiden among them. Aiden says, “Hey, we’re going to go the diner, my dad’s treat. You want to come?”
Kyana wouldn’t have approved, but it wasn’t like she was offering to hang out with me that Friday night, and all I had at home was “Alturban Adventure”, which is the most depressing level, because one of the kids betrays their tree person friend. So I said, “How am I going to get home?”
Aiden said, “Catch the twenty three.”
There were a couple of Alexandra’s friends there, Jean in a tank top that showed some nice skin, and Morgan, both eights. I said, “OK.” Okay, Miss Farr, I’ll stop referring to girls with numbers, but I bet you rate guys. “Lives at home, can’t be higher than a four.” “Rates girls with numbers, can’t be higher than a two.”
We sat in a booth at the trolley car diner over on Germantown. Jean was next to me and she wasn’t shy about schooching all the way in so her smooth leg was against my hairier, and in my opinion, despite its super kid powers, uglier one. She said I had a good game, and how did I get so good?
I told her the truth that it was more luck than work, and made a joke about how I wish I’d see the same improvement with schoolwork, which had her laughing really hard, like it was a good joke so then I thought I was the funniest guy in the world and made fun of our Indian Biology teacher’s accent, which we all know is the best possible form of humor. No, but it worked for her, so I felt great. At some point Alexandra interrupted us, “Doogie, did you go to a camp or something?”
I said, “I was always this good, but my confidence just went up.”
I walked outside at around six thirty, figuring I had to catch the buses back before the transpass wouldn’t work at seven thirty. Aiden walked me out and he said, “Hey, thanks for hanging out. You kicked butt today, man. By the way, I think Jean likes you.”
This was the sort of thing that you think I’d have figured from the physical contact she created, and how hard she laughed at my stupid jokes, but hearing it said explicitly was good. I wasn’t used to being liked. Aiden gave me Jean’s number. On the bus home I thought all about everything that had happened and the other people on the bus were looking at me like this white kid must be high the way he’s smiling.
I got home and my mom was watching fat people try and lose weight. I could tell by her expression that dad was at the bar. I went up to my room, and saw the game system there. That made me think about Mike. I could have called Mike and had him talk me through level three, but I wasn’t into it. I wanted to call Jean, and get back that feeling when she was laughing at me, her leg touching mine from thigh to ankle, but I was too nervous. What if I called, and she didn’t want to talk?
Being nervous made me think about Hamlet, and how he felt about killing Claudius. His whole thing is, “I’m not going to kill him when he’s praying,” but maybe he can’t get his head around killing somebody. Miss Farr would like that. Basically he’s working through social expectations, instead of just going for it. I think he wants to kill him then, but he’s nervous about murdering, so he over thinks. He needs to be himself and kill.
Which probably meant I should call the girl. Easy for you to say.