In junior high, I used AOL instant messaging to talk to my friends, but mostly to flirt with one boy. My AIM name was iwantafanta898. Fanta was not just the orange soda. It wasn’t the orange soda at all, actually, because I had outgrown that summer tingle drink by then. Fanta was a boy’s thigh accidentally touching mine. It was my seaweed snack at theater camp that I’d place on my tongue like a communion wafer while making eyes at that boy, and him glancing back. Like, don’t you wish you were this thin crumpled piece of green paper? Like, it might take years, but eventually you’ll touch me.
In theater camp, I remember hearing that so-and-so gave you-know-who a BJ on the catwalk. First of all, what’s a catwalk? You mean that black part above the stage, and how can I get there because I wanna see? Secondly, BJ is the name of the restaurant on the 210 on you’re way to Pasadena so I don’t know how you give someone that.
Never went to BJ’s but I did go to IHOP once. That’s where the cool theater kids went after performances for midnight breakfast. I went during breakfast time, though, with family visiting. I remember there was red syrup and balding fat women. I remember there were people at IHOP that put syrup ON THEIR SAUSAGE PATTIES. That was not right. It must be different at midnight.
While our internet dial-up sang its horrid song, I looked out the window and saw my red-headed neighbor boy walking his dog. He searched about him on the sidewalk corner to make sure there were no passersby and then stuck his finger in his dog’s anus. I’m not kidding, I saw it. But then I looked away because the dial-up song was over. AIM, at last.
Back then, there were never enough letters or punctuation marks for the frenzy I felt inside. Remember those good ole days, I thought in junior high about days even before that, when we could take a bath together and it was no big deal? And what about the OLD OLD days, when a boy would say, “Can I take you out for a milkshake?” (or an egg cream, which please, don’t tell me has egg whites in it?) and there were red and white straws and sparkling booths for our thighs to stick to?
I tried to make a root beer float with Fanta instead of root beer. I thought it would taste like an orange creamsicle, but it tasted like artificial citrus with all the effervescence gone.
I drank every last drop.