I woke up screaming in the middle of the night a few hours before we were supposed to leave for our beach house in Maine. My mom tried to force feed me a hamburger in the dream and then she turned into the Hamburgalar!
But the reality I woke up to was even worse! Mom said we were in a hurry, so she picked up DOUGHNUTS! She said she wouldn’t let me leave the house until I ate at least two. She said I was a growing boy and needed fuel.
After trying to change her mind, I scarfed down two plain ones and we hit the road…without Arthur or Liam. Liam and Patricia, his girlfriend, would meet up with us later this week. Despite the rocky morning, I couldn’t wait for this vacation. My friend Mike would get to come tomorrow and so would my friend Tory Zabka. We planned on picking her up at the airport in Maine tomorrow morning and then Mike’s dad would drop him off on the way to his cruise leaving out of Canada.
I started dreaming about Melody during the drive. I thought of her lovely pale skin and her bright brown hair. She looked like an Irish princess! This trip gave me the perfect opportunity to think about how to win her over. Maybe Tory would help me since I planned on telling her the truth, after Mike went to sleep of course.
“Are you ready for a fun week?” my mom asked.
“Yeah, I think it will be nice to introduce Tory and Mike. They’ll both get to tell me how great I am all week long!”
“That’s my boy,” she said. She put on some music and before I knew it, the coast of Maine greeted me like an old friend. We pulled up to the gray-blue beach cottage and unpacked the car. Everything was just as it was the last time we drove up here. And tonight, we had the whole place to ourselves to unwind.
I decided to start my first full day at the beach house with some triathlon training. I was going to go for a bike ride around the shore and then go for a nice swim before doing some core work and push ups. Nobody could do as many push ups as me, at least, no one I knew. After my intense training, mom left for the airport and told me to sit outside on the front porch and wait for Mike and his dad. His dad scared the crap out of me. I don’t know why, maybe because he was so tall. But I always got nervous when talking to that Giant.
When his station wagon pulled up in front of the house, I took a deep breath and welcomed Mike and the Giant to the cottage. He didn’t say much, but said to watch out that Mike didn’t wander alone at night. Then, Mike threw his stuff on the couch in the living room and said goodbye to the Giant. The Giant actually looked excited for his cruise. It must be because he had eight children at home and left the rest of them with his parents for the week. Mike had so many siblings that I never bothered to learn their names, except for Ksenia. The Giant adopted her from Russia a few years ago and she was the only blonde in the entire family.
“What do you have planned for us?” Mike asked me.
“We’re going to the world’s biggest fair!”
“We are?” Mike looked genuinely shocked.
“Yeah, my family goes every year together.”
“Cool, I’m in,” Mike said.
“So tell me more about this Tory again. You said she’s exactly like you?”
“Yep, imagine me as a girl.”
“I do that all the time,” he deadpanned.
“Shut up.” Mike knew how to piss me off. He constantly made puns and turned everything into a joke. But at least with Tory here, I’d be the center of attention. The two would have no choice but to fawn over me for an entire week.
It took a while for mom to get back to the house with Tory. By then, Mike and I had already put on swimsuits and lounged on the shore. I read Ulysses…for beginners, but what’s the difference? Mike grabbed a travel magazine from the coffee table and got lost staring at pictures of Paris.
“Johan, Mike, Tory is here,” my mom interrupted.
I turned around and saw my friend who lived outside of Philadelphia. I was super excited to tell her all about my amazing Prom experience and how lucky I got with Melody. At least she would be my one supportive friend. Our parents were friends before we were born, but then her family moved to Pennsylvania when we were toddlers. It sucked because we didn’t visit each other often, leaving me stuck with Mike and Mohammed.
“Hey Johan,” she said. She already had on her bikini and her blonde hair was pulled into a tight ponytail. She walked down toward us and took the beach chair next to Mike. I told her she wouldn’t need that bikini tonight when we went swimming. My mom scolded me and told me to stop. See, we had a family tradition of skinny dipping every year, but mom said it was inappropriate to ask Mike and Tory to participate. The two just stared blankly at me, like my suggestion was crazy. Growing up, I assumed everyone did that. Which is why nobody in town invites me to their pool parties anymore.
It was Teddy’s, one of the neighborhood kids, 7th birthday party. It wasn’t just my first pool party…it was my first party with GIRLS. I guess I should have gotten the hint when I first walked into his house. He asked if I wanted to use his bathroom to change into my swimsuit and I just laughed, thinking he was kidding.
The house was empty when I got out, so I went into the backyard and made my big debut. All the kids were in the pool and I wanted to show them my cannonball skills. I had a floaty on when I jumped, which immediately came off upon landing in the pool. When I came up, everyone saw that I didn’t have a bathing suit on.
A little girl named Sora saw first. She pointed at my uncorrupted body and started crying. “Mommy, that boy has a peepee,” she yelled in between sobs.
Teddy’s mom dragged me out of the pool and made me put on a swimsuit two sizes too small. It didn’t matter though. Nobody from that group spoke to me again. I became the beach pariah.
“Hello, Johan,” Tory said, causing me to get out of my internal flashback.
“I said, aren’t you going to introduce me?”
“Oh, yeah. This is Mike, I guess.”
“Hi Tory, you’re from Philadelphia, are you a bartender from philly whose only dream is to play football?”
“Actually, I’m a boxer.”
That’s when I punched her in the arm, imitating a boxer. When everyone scolded me, I said she was being overdramatic and that it probably didn’t hurt her that much. But Mike explained they were joking about movies from Philly…Tory didn’t actually box. It annoyed me that after only a few minutes, they had some inside jokes. To keep up, I racked my brain about movies or TV shows set in that city.
“Hey Tory, I see dead people.”
“Well that’s strange, Johan.”
“Yeah, you might want to see someone about that,” Mike said. In a matter of seconds, I’d gone from pleasant to FURIOUS. It’s like they planned to gang up on me.
“But it’s my sixth sense, Tory. Don’t you get it.”
“Well I know it’s not a sense of humor,” quipped Mike, which pissed me off.
My jaw dropped and I couldn’t believe my so-called “friend” would insult me like that in front of Tory. I mean, he was so bad with women that he made me look like a total moron. Before I could get him back, my mom came outside and said she would be grilling burgers. Beef for the three of them and vegan green “meat” for me.
The thought of one of my special patties relaxed me. I even let Mike and Tory splash in the waves, while I got back to my impressive reading material. I didn’t stop until my mom set the table and placed all of the food out. Tory and Mike’s food smelled delicious, but mine smelled healthy. I made sure to comment on how unhealthy their food was any chance I got. But then they’d make some joke to each other as if they’d spent years coming up with material.
Every joke they made, I sunk further down in my chair. This was going to be a long week.