A Punk's Tale - WingZ

A Punk’s Tale

By: WingZ

NOTE: For the record, I am not a punk, nor do I claim to be one. If any genuine punks are reading this, I hope I did not offend them with any inaccuracies contained herein. Thanks and enjoy.


Punks never get any respect. We’re known more for what we aren’t than for what we are. People think punk and they think pink Mohawks and safety pins, but do they think about the music? No (or, when they do, it is in terms of the lamest, most poseur bands imaginable that could even remotely be classified as punk…thank you Good Charlotte). U2, Sugar Ray and No Doubt all started off punk, but to the millions of drooling idiots who buy up their albums and go to their concerts nowadays, do you think that makes an ounce of difference? Nope. Punks have never been and never will be accepted, but that’s OK. That’s what punk is all about.

I went punk almost 4 years ago, around the time high school started. Everyone started changing around then. I think people took one look at what they were up against (high school, that is) and figured, “well shit….there’s no way I can handle this alone.” Cliques were formed. Some kids went gangsta, some kids went Goth. Me and my friend Robbo (neé Rob) went punk. We dyed our hair and started listening to a lot of underground bands. We began to alienate our family and friends (most of whom accepted us regardless….a great big ‘fuck you’ to those who didn’t). We had, in short, adopted a mission. Punk became our life, man.

About the same time Robbo and I made this great discovery, Cori discovered us. Going back to junior high, Corrine Henderson was anyone’s last choice to go punk. Shit, she seemed to have everything going for her. She was popular, she did well in school, her family had money. She was even cute in an innocuous sort of way (blonde, petite, small voice, etc.). In other words, she didn’t seem likely punk material.

Robbo and I, on the other hand, seemed to fit the mold much better. From junior high going way back to elementary school when we first met, we were always on the fringe (not going to use the term ‘outcast’ because that’s how everyone likes to think of themselves these days). Robbo was, and still is, overweight and wears thick glasses. He’s also clumsy and a bit on the slow side sometimes. Like I’ll tell a joke and he’ll give me this blank look and then start laughing a minute later.

As for myself, I’m the odd man out with everyone. I’m a Jew surrounded by Catholics and Presbyterians, but I’m not Jewish enough for the other Jewish kids. I’ve always done all right for myself gradewise, which automatically made me too much of a dork to hang out with the really popular kids. And I’m not enough of a square to hang out with the nerds. Ergo, punk seemed like the only option.

So there you have it: the three of us with our backs against the wall and only each other to hang onto. Woah….that’s deep. Maybe too deep. But yeah, we’ve been through a lot and we’re tight and it looks like we are going to stay that way. God I hope so…


Let’s do a little time warp here. Its November, senior year. The weather was getting nasty, my parents were on my case and I was scrambling like mad just to pull through this final year of oppression. I was feeling like a sprinter who was running out of steam in the end, but goddamn if I don’t cross that finish line.

Let me set the scene for you. Close your eyes and imagine a nice little single-family home in suburbia. There are two cars in the driveway, a small flower garden in front and a flag displayed proudly on the porch. The inhabitants of this all too familiar dwelling are a Mother, a Father and me, their slightly errant Son. I have a sister, Judy, but she was away at college and is thus not part of this scene.

Dad is 41 but looks younger. His high temples make him look like he’s balding, but he has the same amount of hair he did five years ago. It hasn’t gone gray yet, either and is still a healthy (albeit boring) brown. Dad is a lawyer, and, even worse, a corporate lawyer at that. He’s commandeered the guest bedroom in our home and converted it into an office/study. I can venture in there at any given time and see him pouring over a stack of legal documents, at least six inches thick, with his silver-rimmed reading glasses perched awkwardly on his face looking as serious as a heart attack. Of course, when he isn’t working, he’s a pleasant enough guy. He likes to take it easy. A real chill guy is my father.

Mom, on the other hand, is 39 and is just starting to look her age. It’s weird: all throughout her thirties, she looked just fine. Friends used to joke about her being my sister, which wasn’t funny but was at least endearing. She has wavy blonde hair and green eyes. Recently, however, that hair has begun to show a few strands of gray and wrinkles have begun to appear around those eyes. No matter though: my mom isn’t about to enter any beauty pageants. She works in real estate and holds a grudge against Annette Benning for giving her profession (and, more specifically, real-estate dealing housewives) a bad name. Mom, too, is nice enough most of the time, but I try to stay off her bad side.

That brings us to me. I’m about 5’10" and physically unremarkable. Sure, I lift a few weights, but its mainly because I can’t stomach (no pun intended) turning into Robbo. Mr. Universe I am not. My hair, naturally light brown, is combed forward and streaked with blonde. Sometimes, when I’m feeling inventive, I’ll spike it up and freeze it with a liquid ton of spray gel. November, however, was not one of those times. I like to accessorize, too. I wear a metallic beaded necklace, spiked armbands and occasionally a studded belt. I also have a long chain that connects my wallet to a loop on my pants. All of my friends have one too. We’re a regular posse.

So you look at my parents with their straight laced jobs and you look at me letting it all hang out and maybe the conflict becomes apparent. Or…maybe not. I don’t hate my parents like Cori hates hers or fear them like Robbo fears his. I just don’t get them. You see, they used to be kinda like me. I’ve seen pictures, honest to God pictures, of them shortly before Judy was born. Dad had long hair and a leather jacket; Mom looked like she was president of the Cyndi Lauper fan club. Both of them used to be heavy into the Ramones, the New York Dolls, the Stooges…and even the Dead Kennedys. It must have pissed my grandparents off to no end. Every time I see those pictures though, the same question comes to mind: what the @$#%&* happened?!

Here’s where the real conflict comes into play and it often seems like nothing more than a matter of semantics. Dad calls it growing up, I call it selling out. Dad calls it looking at the world with his eyes open, I call it being blinded by materialism. Mom says it goes with being a parents, I….don’t really have a defense for that one, but it pisses me off anyway. It pisses me off, I think, because I’m scared I’m going to turn out like that. And, while a part of me screams, “dude, no way!” another part sees it coming already. But I’m not going to give up yet. I’m stubborn.

Anyway, on this brisk November day, all three of us were getting ready to leave the house at once. Mom and Dad had their suits on and briefcases gathered; I had a Bad Religion shirt and a battered backpack strewn across one shoulder.

“Don’t forget to make an appointment with Mr. Wilson,” Mom reminded me.

“I won’t,” I said, rolling my eyes.

Dad must have picked up on that, for the next thing I know he’s giving me the look.

“I won’t,” I reiterated. “Really.”

“Seth,” Dad said. “This is important.”

Arg….I felt another lecture coming on. Fortunately, as we all had to get going, there simply wasn’t time. I blew past my parents and walked to the corner, where Robbo’s car was already waiting. I hopped in and we geared ourselves up for another day of oppression. Needless to say I did not go to see Mr. Wilson.

Mr. Wilson, in case you are wondering, is my guidance counselor. My parents wanted me to see him to talk about college. I’d been blowing it off for quite awhile and they were starting to get worried. Time, they said, was running out.

I wasn’t too sure about college. There was a big schism over it in the punk community. Some of the guys were like, “college is just more oppression, man, only this time you’re paying for it.” And others were like, “no way. College is freedom from oppression. Get educated and you can fight the system and make a difference.” While I tended to agree with the latter, I still had my doubts. For instance, what kind of school would I be able to get into? Despite slacking off for the better part of the past 3 ½ years, I still had a 3.5 GPA and high test scores. That put me in line for a good school, which meant I’d actually have to work when I got there. Shit…I didn’t want to do that. On the other hand, if I slummed it at a lesser institution (like say community college with Robbo), I’d pass through without learning a thing and it’d feel like a waste of my damn time. I was really in a bind. In some ways, I envied Cori. Her parents were sending her to their alma matter (despite her attempts to get out of it via intentionally failing a few tests) no questions asked.

College had me all shook up and it was a pesky proposition too. Like I’d try to give it the old, “yeah…who gives a shit…whatever…” and it’d just keep creeping up on me (or my parents would continually remind me). It had me bummed out alright, but thankfully there were other things in life to raise my spirits. Such as a concert.


We were all pissed off. Cori was pissed, Robbo was pissed and I was pissed. Of course, we were all pissed off about different things and, true to form, we were all trying to vent to each other at the exact same time. It made for some pretty interesting incomprehensible conversation.

“…can’t believe she said that to me….”

“….am sick and tired….”

“Totally ripped….”

……and so on.

Time for another pop-visual. Picture the interior of a suburban high school. It is named after a president and its many corridors are long and foreboding. The day has just ended and students are milling around the hallways, their lockers, the stairwells….pretty much anywhere they will fit. Teachers stand in their doorways and peer stealthily into the masses, hoping to find that one kid who owes them a detention. In the middle of this mess walk the three of us: Robbo on the left, Cori in the middle and me on the end closest to the anonymous wall of lockers.

Let’s do Robbo first. Robert Narone Jr. is hella-big: over six feet with weight in the mid-200s. Sadly to say, not very much of that weight is muscle either. He wears thick glasses, often with a piece of decorative tape above the bridge of his nose, and jeans that look large enough to house a family of five. His dark hair is in a pseudo-Mohawk: he cut the sides short and left the center long. And, while it looks kind of gay, I give him credit for trying.

Next, we move onto Cori. She’s all of maybe 5 feet, toothpick thin and somewhat flat across the chest. Her hair, already naturally blonde, is amplified by at least two shades and cropped short. She has pink press-on nails and sneakers that have seen better days. She chews gum more often then not and likes to stick it in weird places (behind peoples’ ears, over pricetags in stores, etc.). I once asked Cori why on earth she decided to become punk. Her reply: “because I’m tired of life being so pathetically easy.”

It’s interesting to note that while none of us smoke or use drugs, we aren’t what you’d consider “straight edge” (“Eco-punks” as Robbo calls them). Instead, we occupy a gray area filled with minor contradictions and a proliferation of common sense. For instance, none of us are big fans of animal products. But, by the same token, we all realize that we aren’t contributing to the amount of entropy in the world by grabbing a burger at Mickey D’s every once in awhile. We’ve also been known to have the occasional drink (hey…who doesn’t), but we don’t take it to Sid Vicious-like extremes. The one thing we don’t have is tattoos, as our parents would all kill us if they found out we got them. Our current modes of self-expression already push the boundaries of what is permissible and we’ve reached a healthy impasse with the forces of conformity…for now.

So, on that day, after school had ended, we left the building walking and ranting, ranting and walking, completely oblivious to everyone and everything around us. We left the building and headed towards the parking lot, where Robbo’s car awaited. Robbo drove an '89 Ford Probe. While it was easy to knock, it might as well have been a Mustang in my eyes. I couldn’t wait to get my own wheels. Cori’s folks offered to buy her a car, and, naturally she turned them down. “It was lame anyway,” she explained. “I’d rather get my own.” Amen to that.

We were about two feet from said Probe when we were greeted with the ominous visage of someone sitting on the hood. Robbo looked like he was going to shit for about two seconds before relaxing into a warm smile. It was only Hardcore Dan.

“Get off my wheels, maggot,” Robbo jokingly shouted.

“You’re lucky I don’t key this piece of shit, Tubbs,” Dan retorted. “Cori….Seth….how’s it hanging?”

“Good, man, good,” I replied, lying through my teeth because I was anxious to hear what Dan had to say. “Whatcha got for us?”

“What makes you think I got anything?” he asked with a cocksure grin.

“Quit fucking around,” Cori snapped.

“OK, dudes,” Dan relented. “Here it is……”

He proceeded to rattle off the list of names that would be appearing at a concert next week, capping it off with the revelation that he could score us some deeply discounted tickets. Holy shit, I was about to have a heart attack!

“There’s only one catch,” he told us. “One of the bands is making a video at the concert, so they don’t want anyone else bootlegging it. Which sucks, I know, but they’ve gotta eat somehow. So anyway, what I need from you dudes is to show up early and scour the parking lot. If you see anyone, and I mean anyone with a video camera, kick them the fuck out. I don’t care if it’s an 8-year-old with a Handi-Cam. They gotta go. If there’s trouble, look for me. I’m helping out with security and set-up and shit like that. So are you in?”

We all replied that we were and exalted Dan with the highest praises our vocabularies afforded us. Only after he’d split did we begin to search our minds to see if we’d actually be able to make it to this show.

“I might have to work,” Robbo said grimly. Robbo worked (and I use that term loosely) at a supermarket…alongside his mother. She was in charge of produce; he swept up and occasionally ran a register. While they rarely ever saw one another at work, it nonetheless was cause enough to spawn a whole slew of “haha…. you work with your mom” jokes.

“So?” Cori replied. “Get someone to cover for you.”


“Howabout Finch?” I suggested.

“He won’t want to do it,” Robbo said blankly.

We just stared at him, waiting for him to get the idea. It was a classic Robbo moment.

“He owes you money,” Cori finally pointed out. “He HAS to do it, unless he wants you to rat him out to Kyle for what he did last Friday.”


“Meanwhile, I probably can’t go myself,” Cori continued. “Its so stupid, too. My parents are going to give me shit about going to this concert, but if Caroline wants to go see Justin Timberlake or Britney Spears then its hey…no problem. First of all, all those Britney fans dress like sluts and I KNOW my sister is going to get hit upon by some skuzzy guy. Second, I’m 3 ½ fucking years older and should be allowed to do whatever the fuck I want. Ah….screw it. I’m going.”

“Howabout you, Seth?” Robbo asked. “You in.”

I took a moment to deliberate. My parents probably wouldn’t be wild about me going to this concert either, but I had a trump card I could play against them, a trump card that began with a capital C.

“Yeah,” I said. “I’m in.”

So it was determined: I’d be paying Mr. Wilson a visit after all. Had to get moving on those applications…


Concerts never fail to be interesting. Even bad concerts aren’t without their entertainment value, be it in the form of a crowd on the brink of riot or a band so far gone that collapsing on stage in a pile of vomit seems only moments away. I’ll never understand those people who claim to like music but don’t go to any concerts. Never.

I started going to concerts around the same time I turned punk. Hardcore Dan turned me on to the whole thing. I knew him as just plain old Dan from around the neighborhood. He’s two years older than me: Judy’s age, but not one of her friends. Even when I was little, I thought Dan was the coolest, most brilliant guy ever. You could ask him anything and he’d have an answer for you. How far is it to Mars? Why do volcanoes erupt? What’s the meaning of why? It’s amazing the shit he knew.

Not long before I reached high school, Dan changed. He used to have this semi-ominous long, dark hair, but he shaved it all off and got an eyebrow ring. He started hanging around with weird new people and listened to music from bands I’d never heard of before. He even changed the way he talked, interjecting the words ‘society’ and ‘revolution’ into almost every other sentence. Dan, the smartest guy I know, wound up repeating the 11th grade because he wouldn’t apologize to a teacher for a remark he made and she failed him. Now that’s hardcore.

My parents and I had reached an agreement: if I had at least three applications in the mail by the time of the concert, I’d be able to go. Three applications in a little more than a week seemed rough, but I knew I’d get it done. All of the sudden, I was scurrying like mad to get it all together. I bugged Mr. Wilson for copies of my transcript, filled out paperwork til I got a nasty cramp in my wrist and got cracking on admissions essays. Truth be told, I didn’t know where I wanted to go or what I wanted to do. I just picked whatever looked most acceptable to my parents (they’d be paying for it after all) in hopes of being able to back out of it later. The essays were all bullshit too. I gave them what I thought they wanted to hear. Sure, I probably could have done a very interesting self-encapsulation, but that would have freaked them out big time. I just hoped my friends were making out better than I was.

As it turned out, I had nothing to worry about. Come concert night, Robbo’s Probe pulled up right on schedule. He had NoFX in the CD player and was nodding his head along to Fat Mike’s garbled wail. I couldn’t help but crack up laughing.

“What?” he asked, becoming suddenly defensive.

“Between you and the CD and the car….its all too much. You’re killing me, man.”

“Ya know…” he began.

“Take it easy,” I urged. “I can’t help it.”

And on that note, we went to pick up Cori. She was pissed, as usual, and fresh from an argument with her parents. Right away, I noticed something unusual about her attire. Cori was usually a flared jeans and t-shirt kinda gal, but on concert nights, she tended to break out a skirt and fishnets. That night, she had on neither, opting instead to go with a pair of carpenter jeans that looked like they had been buried in the bottom of her closet and a decidedly uncool pullover. At least she still had a studded belt to give her some style.

“Shut up,” she started in. “Just don’t say anything.”

“What?” Robbo and I replied in unison.

“I know you were about to comment on what I’m wearing and I don’t want to hear it.”

“Okay,” I said, figuring it was a bad topic.

Much to my surprise, she tendered an explanation less than a moment later.

“So I’m all ready to go,” she began. “And my mom, fucking bitch that she is, flips out on me. I was doing, ya know, the skirt-and-fishnets thing, and she goes, “Corrine! Do you have any idea how cold it is out there?” And I’m like, “chill, Mom, I’ll take a jacket.” No good. We get into a big thing and she makes me change. And you know what the worst part of it is? Fucking Caroline can go out with her friends looking like Lolita and Mom won’t say shit. She thinks its all innocent fun. But, because I’m older and I’m going out with guys, I have to show some modesty. Urgh, do you believe that?”

Neither of us said a word.

“Why did you pick that to wear?” Robbo asked a moment later.

“Spite,” Cori replied. “And besides, at least I won’t be cold.”

We got there early but the parking lot was already starting to fill up. I wasn’t surprised: some of the more hardcore fans will show up to a concert a few hours in advance and linger a few hours afterwards to party. They make it an all-day thing.

Dan was talking with some roadies and techs. He saw us and called us over, giving us a quick introduction to the crew.

“Hey dudes, glad you can make it,” he said hurriedly. “You know the drill, right?”

Robbo nodded. He’d donned a cap that said SECURITY on it and glanced authoritatively at the gathering swarm of vehicles.

“Take that shit off,” Dan chided.

“Why?” Robbo asked.

“Because you look stupid,” Cori told him.

“Like you should talk.”

“Hey guys,” I said. I’d spied a familiar car pulling up and directed my friends’ attention towards it. “Isn’t that R.C.?”

“Yeah,” Robbo sighed.

“If anyone is going to bootleg this concert, its him. Let’s go.”

Randy “R.C.” Cappolo is one of the biggest poseurs I’ve ever met. He’s ten times worse than Trev Finch, who hangs around us like a leech hoping we’ll let him in(we never do). R.C. thinks he’s already in. Like Cori, he comes from a family with a little bit of dough. However, whereas Cori has real issues with her familial units and had made punk her raison d’être, R.C. has never been more than an actor (and a bad one at that). He plays this bad boy shit to the hilt, drinking and acting horny every chance he got, all the while lacking the balls to do anything truly reckless and daring (ala Hardcore Dan) or particularly original for that matter. He was no punk, but his presence at this concert didn’t surprise me. He was probably just here to piss of J.T. I’m not going to get into that now. My brain hurts just thinking about them.

“Seeeeeeth!” R.C. bellowed, greeting me as if we were old friends (which we were……back in kindergarten!) As if his presence wasn’t bad enough, he’d brought a posse with him. There were a couple of WASPY girls trying to punk it up by wearing Taking Back Sunday t-shirts and a few future frat boys, one of whom, surely enough, was holding a video camera.

“Hey Randy,” I said, cutting right through the bullshit. “Lose the camera.”

The big shiteating grin evaporated from his face and an indignant scowl appeared in its place. “What the fuck, dude?” he asked. “Are you telling me I can’t make a little video?”

“Yeah,” I said. “That’s what I’m telling you. One of the band’s is gonna be shooting footage for a DVD, so nobody can film anything. Technically, I’m supposed to throw you out right now, but….”

“You’re such a sellout,” he said.

I stared at him, burning with hate for a good minute. Sellout? HE is calling ME a sellout?! I thought Robbo would have to hold me back to keep from lunging at his throat. Fortunately, he got the message and nudged his friend with the camera. It was promptly placed in a leather bag and deposited in the trunk of his car (an Infiniti I might add). Just when I thought that would be the end of our troubles, however, he decided to further irritate us by hitting on Cori.

“Corrine Henderson,” he said, knowing full well she hated her full name. “It’s been awhile….”

Great. He was going to reminisce now. Before Cori could tell him to go fuck himself, however, Robbo’s big-brother instincts kicked in and he stepped in front of her.

“Back off, man,” he said.

“I’m just saying hi,” R.C. sneered. “What’s it to you, lard-boy?”

While he pretended to be my friend and could fake affection with Cori, R.C. didn’t like Robbo one bit and allowed his contempt to show.

“Just back off,” Robbo reiterated.

“Hey Rob,” he said. “Maybe I’ll stop by the market someday and your mom will let me feel her cantaloupes. She still works produce, right?”

This sent his friends into stitches of unctuous laughter. I watched Robbo’s face grow red and it soon became obvious that I was going to have to hold HIM back.

“Come on,”" I said, joining forces with Cori in tugging him away. “Let’s go.”

Man, what a concert! Granted the first two bands up there were pretty sucky, but what followed was well worth the wait. I hadn’t seen such an inspired display of punkitude since my first Warped Tour (its gone downhill since). It was flat-out balls, energy and music with nary an ounce of bullshit crowd-pleasing or faux-celebrity posturing to be found.

Sometimes, I wish I was older. The 70’s might have seen its birth, but the 80’s was a great decade for punk. Dead Kennedys, Bad Religion, the Misfits, Suicidal Tendencies, Sick of It All….forgetaboutit. Instead, I got into the scene too late. Most of the punk bands nowadays are either going pop and selling out completely (the GreenDay Syndrome) or are refusing to give a shit about their music because they think punk is about their ‘message’ (the Anti-Flag Syndrome). The old-timers (and by that I mean 40+ year olds) that sometimes show up at these concerts have it even worse, as they’ve had to suffer through this great decline as well, in addition to the various obstacles that preceded it. When I hear horror stories about GG Allin, the Mentors and Wendy O. Williams, I can’t help but question my own sanity.

The concert might have been great, but that isn’t to say that the night went out without a hitch. In the parking lot after the show, we ran into R.C. again. He was still sore about the video camera thing and was looking to cause trouble. None of us wanted to deal with him, but nor were we about to turn and flee. We were accustomed to eating shit from people like him in school. This, however, was OUR turf and we were prepared to defend it.

“Hey guys,” R.C. said. He had a beer in one hand and was already half on his way to being loaded. “Kickass show, right?”

“Right,” I replied, hoping to appease him.

“Fuck yeah it was,” he shouted, tilting his head up towards the moon. “Fuuuuck yeah!”

“Not like a bunch of poseurs like you would know,” one of his friends muttered. It was one of the girls. She looked absolutely synthetic in her store-bought pre-ripped jeans and equally mass-produced belt with an embarrassingly oversized buckle (featured a cartoonish skull). She was a plastic punkette if I ever saw one.

“Heh….good one,” Robbo retorted. They were drunk and we were perfectly content to let it go. Cori, however, had other ideas.

“Excuse me?” she asked, her eyes flickering with anger.

“Yeah…look at you,” the other girl taunted. “With your pullover and your tacky dye job. Yeah….you’re punk all right.”

Robbo and I exchanged panicked glances. This was about to get ugly and there would be little we could do to stop it. Enraged, Cori flung off her pullover, revealing the tanktop she had on underneath.

“All right, bitch,” she snarled, putting up her fists. “Let’s go.”

All this in 40 degree weather, mind you.

“Ladies, ladies,” R.C. interrupted, his speech already beginning to slur. “No need to fight. Why fight when you can fucking DRINK?”

It was a bad idea. I knew it was a bad idea, Robbo knew it was a bad idea and probably a part of Cori (the part that wasn’t livid with murderous rage) knew it was a bad idea as well. Nonetheless, we went ahead with it. Why? Because for all of its babble about nonconformity and individualism, punks have a group reputation to protect. We’re supposed to be the most hardcore. Granted, sometimes we’ll get into a (both literal and metaphorical) pissing contest with metalheads and concede a loss every now and then, but R.C. was no metalhead. There was no way we could lay down.

As much as I hate the prick, R.C. did come prepared. He had a cooler in the trunk and plenty of booze to go around. Like a pack of wild animals, we began to chug away. Gradually, a circle formed around us to watch the action. We were given cheers and jeers, words of encouragement and dismissal. A drinking contest is always fun to watch……just as long as you aren’t involved.

Robbo was sitting this one out, as he had to be sober enough to drive us home. It was Cori and I against two of R.C.'s cohorts and we were matching each other shot for shot. I could feel my head starting to buzz and my stomach catching fire, but Cori seemed to be doing just fine. She might be pint-sized, but damn could that girl drink. As I looked into the eyes of the guy I was up against, I could tell he was feeling similarly exhausted.

“Dude,” he finally said. “Let’s let the chicks finish this one out.”

I looked at Cori and she shot me back a thumb’s up.

“Fucking fine by me,” I answered, retreating to prop myself up on the hood of Robbo’s Probe.

The rest of the contest was no contest at all. About five minutes after I threw in the towel, the other girl puked and had to pull out.

“Whose the poseur now?” Cori taunted, grinning in glassy-eyed victory.

Apparently, this struck a nerve with the poseur girl. Maybe there was some real punk in her after all. Without an ounce of warning, she dove to the pavement and lapped up a dollop of her own vomit.

“Beat that,” she gloated, trying to sound prideful whilst puke ran down her chin and onlookers turned away in disgust.

Cori, of course, refused to be topped. In my horrified/amused stupor, I watched as a wicked smile befell her face. What was she about to do next? Lap up the rest of that girl’s vomit? I cringed at the possibility, but, half-curious as to what the stunt was myself, did nothing to interfere. While Cori did spare me that rather repugnant scene for all ages, she did do something that was fairly nasty in her own right. She stood very still….and began to wet her pants. I watched as a big wet spot, illuminated by the Probe’s headlights, began to spread across the crotch of those hideously fugly jeans (perhaps she was doing them a favor) and a smile appeared on Cori’s face.

“I just pissed myself,” she declared triumphantly.

The other girl had since recovered from her moment of stupidity/insanity and now eyed Cori with disgust (ironic given her activities of just a moment before), as did R.C., the rest of his posse and a good number of the people surrounding us too.

“Seth,” Robbo whispered.

I nodded. Even in my state of inebriation, I couldn’t help but think this was fucked up and could only get worse.

“Let’s go,” I said, grabbing Cori by the arm and pulling her away.

“I won,” she squealed. “IwonIwonIwon! Byeee Randyyyy!”

The night’s chaos (and the pending hangover) was almost all worth it for the moment when R.C., embarrassed beyond belief, turned away and pretended not to know us. He had shown his true colors at last.


By the time I was able to haul my ass out of bed the next morning, it was a quarter to one. I was groggy and it felt like something died in my throat, but I was otherwise OK. I found my parents doing a crossword puzzle of all things (even their free time was lame).

“'Morning,” Dad greeted.

“Have fun last night?” Mom asked.

I nodded. I could tell from the way they were looking at me that they had a fair idea of what I had been up to. After all, as they were fond of pointing out every chance they got, they were young once too.

I took a long, scalding hot shower fried up some eggs and decided to give Robbo a call. It was three rings before he answered and the voice on the other end of the line sounded dead.

“Hey Seth.”

He sounded down.

“What’s the matter, man?” I asked.

“I have to go to work in a few minutes,” he grumbled.

I couldn’t believe it. On a day like this after a night like that, he was actually going to work.

“That bites.”

“Tell me about it. You hear from Cori?”


“Oh. Cya Monday I guess.”

“Party on, dude.”

I hadn’t heard from Cori nor did I expect to right away. Knowing her, she was either a.) still asleep or b.) engaged in another domestic squabble. I was fairly confident she’d give me a call later and fill me in on the latest bout of parental fascism she was forced to endure.

With half the day gone and having nothing better to do, I figured it couldn’t hurt to actually do some homework for once. A psych paper needed my attention, as it was due before Thanksgiving and I hadn’t even begun to gather sources. I was doing it on responses to authority (what else). Fortunately, the library had plenty in the way of source material. Unfortunately, most of it was drier than burnt toast.

Saturday passed into Sunday. I forced myself to read, I lifted a little and I organized my ever-expanding mp3 collection. Cori still hadn’t called to bitch about her folks, but I wasn’t worried. Speaking of folks, mine took me out for dinner. It was nice. Awkward, but nice.

“You know, Seth,” Dad said in between bites of steak. “I hear (insert college name here) has a pretty good political science program).”

“Oh,” I replied with ennui. “Cool.”

Political science? What made them think I had any interest in that? Sure, I’d plucked a few leaves from Dan’s tree of knowledge and spouted some jargon every now and then, but it was largely shallow observations (‘the government is evil’ and such) and rhetorical bullshit.

“Well?” Mom asked.

“Well what?”

“What DO you want to do?”

Oh crap….here we go again. I rolled my eyes.

“Let me tell you something, Seth,” Dad began. “College is not merely a luxury. It’s an opportunity to better yourself. Your mother had to drop out after two years to raise Judy. She’ll tell you what she went through when all of her friends moved on to bigger and better jobs.”

“He’s right,” Mom echoed. “I wish you would take this seriously and…”

“I don’t know, OK?” I snapped. “I just don’t know.”

No one said a word for the rest of the meal.


School on Monday was more grueling than it should have been. I was actually starting to freak about this college shit. It wasn’t easy, but my parents had managed to break through my solidly built wall of apathy with Howitzer shell-sized dollops of nagging and concern and now I couldn’t stop thinking about it. Fuck.

Robbo looked dead tired when he came to pick me up.

“What happened to you?” I asked.

“Work,” he said. One word seemed to sum it all up. The dark circles under his eyes and the red creases on his palms told of a weekend of steadfast laboring at the ol’ supermarket. Sometimes, I felt like I could almost pity Robbo. His parents were long divorced, his family had no money and his mom and whatever boyfriend du jure she was with were often not the nicest of people. Add to that his weight problem and other foibles and it made me feel like a major asswipe for complaining about whatever was wrong with my life. Still, he bore it all down pretty well. Besides, he’d have tried to strangle me if I attempted to lay some pity on him.

Neither us had seen or heard from Cori, nor did we expect to until lunch. Her mom dropped her off in the mornings and we didn’t have any classes together until 6th period.

“You think she’s sick?” Robbo asked me as he pulled into his parking space.

“I dunno,” I replied. “She was pretty fucked up Friday night.”

“Yeah, but she’s had time to recover. Right?”

“Yeah, but….”


“I dunno.”

I endured another pointless round of (mis)education, daydreaming and scribbling down various thoughts in a spiral-bound notebook all the while. I’d learned long ago it didn’t matter what you actually did in class. In order to get a good grade, all you needed to do was ace the tests (piece of cake if you’re willing to read a little) and hope you had a teacher who wasn’t an asshole. Fortunately, not many of my teachers were. Unfortunately, many of my peers more than made up for it.

J.T. Neumarr is a prime example. Yet another child of yuppie love (damn 80’s), J.T.'s parents were part of the same set as the Cappolos and the Hendersons. In fact, back in junior high (and possibly before then), Cori, R.C. and J.T. used to be really close friends. Cori even confessed (with an air of disgust) to having dated each of them at various times. However, shortly before high school started, Cori broke off from their group and the two of them had a major falling out. No one knows what happened exactly (nor do we really give a shit), but they have been at each other’s throats ever since. Its constant oneupsmanship: J.T got a new car so R.C. had to get a newer one. J.T. tried to pass himself off as a homeboy (laughable if you think about it), so R.C. pretended to be punk. It seemed like it would never end.

I bring up J.T. because he had been bugging me that day for information on what went down at the concert. He wanted dirt on R.C. and he wanted it bad.

“Come on, Seth,” he pleaded. “My parents said he really made an ass of himself. You were there. What happened?”

I merely smiled and shook my head. I didn’t give a damn about R.C., but I wasn’t going to give J.T. any satisfaction either.

“Pfft,” he said, waving his hand dismissively. “Forget you, yo.”

The ‘yo’ was purely cursory, as if to remind me that the white, blonde, bespeckled, khaki-wearing creature before me had some kind of street credibility. Right….

Lunch came and passed and still no Cori.

“Maybe she IS sick,” Robbo reiterated.

“Nah,” said Finch. “I saw her earlier. She didn’t say anything to me though.”

Robbo had already begun to laugh. “Dude,” I said. “She never does.”

It was no secret that Finch, a skinny, ratfaced nebbish with a Kurt Cobain haircut, had a throbbing crush on Cori that he tried to pass off as “she just seems like a cool chick to be friends with.” It was one of the many things that made him often unbearable to be around. The others were his tendency to pick at his teeth with his fingernails and constantly interrupt people. Still, we tolerated him more than we did people like R.C. and J.T. because his heart was in the right place and he at least had a little fucking humility.

“So what happened at that concert?” he asked.

Robbo and I fed him a whopper, embellishing as we went along. We watched his eyes practically bulge out of his skull and had ourselves a private laugh later about it. Poor Finch. Sometimes, I just wish he would get a fucking clue.

The final bell came and rang and Robbo and I were practically flying out the door. Mondays are the worst, man. We walked to the Probe (sans Cori), put on some Black Flag and motored on out.

Traffic was bad, so Robbo ended up taking a whole bunch of side streets. He (I swear to God) almost ended up getting us lost in our own hometown.

“I told you not to make that left,” I chided.

“One more word and you’re walking, pal.”

What could have been an amusingly diverting argument was cut short as we passed by a park.

“Hey,” I said. “Pull over.”

“I know where I’m going this time, Seth.”

“No. It’s Cori.”

He pulled over and we got out. Surely enough, there was Cori sitting on a bench staring down at her feet and looking quite miserable.

“Forget about us?” I asked as we approached.

“Hey,” she said wearily. She sounded more tired than Robbo looked. We stared at her a moment waiting for an explanation, but none came. “Sorry guy. I’m out of it. Just not in the mood.”

“I know what might cheer you up,” Robbo said, grinning deviously.

“Don’t you dare,” Cori sternly rebuked.

For all of her tough-girl posturing, Cori has two very marked deficiencies. She is extremely ticklish and she had a morbid fear of heights. We knew this, of course, and used it to our advantage from time to time. One of Robbo’s favorite things to do to piss Cori off was to simply pick her up and sit her on his shoulders. She’d then scream frantically for him to put her down, complaining that she was going to fall and crack her skull and calling him every nasty name she could think of. Of course, she joined us in laughing about it afterwards. There was no harm intended.

I could tell from Cori’s tone of voice that she truly wasn’t in the mood, but that didn’t register with Robbo.

“Don’t,” I whispered, but he didn’t seem to hear me. He effortlessly scooped her up and began to lift her onto his shoulders. Instead of letting out her customary whoop of anxiety, Cori began to kick and twist in an effort to get away. Robbo finally got the message and began to set her back down, but not before she came free of his grip and tumbled to the ground. She landed face down and lay there for a good 30 seconds without moving.

“Holy shit!” Robbo exclaimed, his eyes wide with concern. “I didn’t mean to drop her.”

I nodded, but something else had caught my attention. Due to her thin build, Cori’s butt had always been somewhat on the flat side. Looking at it now, however, it seemed somewhat round and puffy. There was also a thin band of white sticking out over the top of her pants. If I didn’t know any better, I would have guessed she was wearing a diaper.

“What the…” Robbo began, making the same observation I did.

A moment later, Cori was on her feet flailing at him angrily. There were tears in her eyes and her face was deeply reddened as she swung and clawed. Robbo tried his best to sidestep her blows. She might have been short, but she was also vicious.

“You fucking fuck couldn’t leave me alone!” she yelled.

“Jeez, take it easy,” a distressed Robbo snapped back.

“Cori, come on,” I said. “He didn’t mean it.”

This didn’t seem to slow her down any and I realized I would have to step in. Sighing, I walked behind Cori and seized her wrists. She struggled, and for a moment I thought she was attempt to claw MY eyes out. Instead, she let loose a final groan of defeat, turned and buried her head on my chest while continuing to weep away.

Robbo and I were stunned. We had never seen Cori like this (well…not since she turned punk anyway). The Cori we knew never cried and never backed down. Now, she was doing both.

I didn’t really know what to do, so I allowed her to continue to use my shirt as a pillow/Kleenex. When she didn’t show any signs of letting up, I placed a cursory arm around her and patted her on the shoulder. A minute later, she finally quieted and took a step back.

“God,” she said, still sniffling. “I really fucked up.”

“Look, I am really, really sorry…” Robbo began.

“Forget it,” she told him. “It’s my fault. You were just trying to help.”

“Are you sure you didn’t hit your head?” I asked. Cori wasn’t known for being apologetic.

She patted herself on the head, examined her arms and smiled. “Nope. Not a scratch on me.”

Robbo and I remained silent. After what had just happened, neither of us had a fucking clue what to say next. Fortunately, it seemed as if Cori was finally ready to talk.

“Guess I owe you guys an explanation,” she said. “About me being in diapers and stuff.”

Diapers? Did she just say diapers? The shock of the word bounced off the inner walls of my brain as Cori began her long and tragic narrative.


Cori was pretty fucked up when we dropped her off Friday night. Come to think of it, we all were. Even Robbo had a glazed-over look about him and he’d stayed sober. Because of that stupid drinking contest, however, Cori had it ten times worse than the rest of us. She bid us goodnight, staggered inside and collapsed facedown on her bed, where she remained passed out til morning.

“You’re lucky you didn’t choke on your own vomit,” I interrupted.

“That almost would have been better,” she replied.

At 10 AM, Cori found herself being none-too-gently shaken awake by her sister. Caroline suggests what Cori might have looked like if she grew her hair out, injected herself with estrogen and never went punk. Though no giant herself (she is all of 5’2"), she’s often been mistaken for Cori’s OLDER sister. It pisses Cori off to no end.

“Whaaat,” she moaned. Too groggy to be angry, she pinched her eyes shut as a (ultimately futile) defense against the morning light.

“You are so busted,” Caroline gleefully informed her. The dislike Cori had for her was easily reciprocated. Come to think of it, I don’t know a single member of her family that Cori actually gets along with.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Cori muttered, rolling over and forcing herself out of bed.

Caroline’s nose crinkled in disgust. “Eww….what’s that smell?” Cori hadn’t bothered to change her pants from the night before and reaked of booze and stale urine.

Ignoring her, Cori went about procuring some coffee. No sooner had she set foot in the kitchen, however, than did her parents ambush her. Like CIA spooks, they were laying in wait to fire the opening volley. And, unfortunately for Cori, they scored a direct hit.

“How COULD you?” her mother started in. Mrs. Henderson is a bottle blonde who relies on an abundance of cosmetics and a personal trainer named Sergio to help escape her ‘bored housewife’ designation. She has the spoiled-brat leer of an ex-prom queen and, beneath her polite smiles and delicately honed manners, is really quite nasty. I’ll never forget the time when I was at Cori’s and overheard her refer to me in a phone conversation as “that unscrupulous Jewboy.”

“Huh? Wha?” a confused Cori replied.

“I had to hear it from Jim Cappolo down at the bank,” her father said sternly. “You really embarrassed yourself in front of his son’s friends.”

Like my father, Cori’s dad is a serious man. Unlike him, however, Mr. Henderson was always that way. The dude looks like he was born at age 50. No matter how nice I am when I’m over there, all I get from him are scowls. He’s even given me the ‘stay away from my daughter’ look when all Cori and I have EVER been are friends. What a total fuckwad!

“I embarrassed myself?!” Cori shot back. “Randy was the one who brought the beer and started acting like an asshole. He…”

“Enough!” Mrs. Henderson interjected. She and her husband were doing a good job of working the one-two punch. They would have made great trainers for a boxing match. You hear that, Stallone? “I don’t care who started what. The fact of the matter is your behavior was atrocious. I will not have you dragging our family’s name through the mud, Corrine!”


“Your mother is righ,” Mr. Henderson continued. “Now I think we all know this ‘punk’ nonsense has gone on long enough….”

Cori’s mouth dropped open. Her parents might have thought of her involvement in the punk scene as a “disgusting fad”, but to her it was religion. She could not see herself living without it any more than she could a liver or a brain.

“You guys suck!” she shouted, fleeing the kitchen and retreating to her room. Flopping back down on the bed, she put on a Sick of it All CD and stewed in the juices of her own bitter resentment.

It wasn’t much longer before her parents came a’knocking.

“Corine!” her mother hollered. “Turn that down. Tell her to turn that down.”

“Turn that down,” her father bellowed.

Spiteful thing that she was, Cori turned the volume up.

“Stop it!” Caroline squealed in the background. “It’s hurting my ears.”

This caused her father to finally lose his cool.


A moment later, the music was off and Cori was standing before her parents with a sweet smile on her face. She was still angry on the

Re: A Punk’s Tale - WingZ

Cori was pretty fucked up when we dropped her off Friday night. Come to think of it, we all were. Even Robbo had a glazed-over look about him and he’d stayed sober. Because of that stupid drinking contest, however, Cori had it ten times worse than the rest of us. She bid us goodnight, staggered inside and collapsed facedown on her bed, where she remained passed out til morning.
“You’re lucky you didn’t choke on your own vomit,” I interrupted.
“That almost would have been better,” she replied.
At 10 AM, Cori found herself being none-too-gently shaken awake by her sister. Caroline suggests what Cori might have looked like if she grew her hair out, injected herself with estrogen and never went punk. Though no giant herself (she is all of 5’2"), she’s often been mistaken for Cori’s OLDER sister. It pisses Cori off to no end.
“Whaaat,” she moaned. Too groggy to be angry, she pinched her eyes shut as a (ultimately futile) defense against the morning light.
“You are so busted,” Caroline gleefully informed her. The dislike Cori had for her was easily reciprocated. Come to think of it, I don’t know a single member of her family that Cori actually gets along with.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” Cori muttered, rolling over and forcing herself out of bed.
Caroline’s nose crinkled in disgust. “Eww….what’s that smell?” Cori hadn’t bothered to change her pants from the night before and reaked of booze and stale urine.
Ignoring her, Cori went about procuring some coffee. No sooner had she set foot in the kitchen, however, than did her parents ambush her. Like CIA spooks, they were laying in wait to fire the opening volley. And, unfortunately for Cori, they scored a direct hit.
“How COULD you?” her mother started in. Mrs. Henderson is a bottle blonde who relies on an abundance of cosmetics and a personal trainer named Sergio to help escape her ‘bored housewife’ designation. She has the spoiled-brat leer of an ex-prom queen and, beneath her polite smiles and delicately honed manners, is really quite nasty. I’ll never forget the time when I was at Cori’s and overheard her refer to me in a phone conversation as “that unscrupulous Jewboy.”
“Huh? Wha?” a confused Cori replied.
“I had to hear it from Jim Cappolo down at the bank,” her father said sternly. “You really embarrassed yourself in front of his son’s friends.”
Like my father, Cori’s dad is a serious man. Unlike him, however, Mr. Henderson was always that way. The dude looks like he was born at age 50. No matter how nice I am when I’m over there, all I get from him are scowls. He’s even given me the ‘stay away from my daughter’ look when all Cori and I have EVER been are friends. What a total fuckwad!
“I embarrassed myself?!” Cori shot back. “Randy was the one who brought the beer and started acting like an asshole. He…”
“Enough!” Mrs. Henderson interjected. She and her husband were doing a good job of working the one-two punch. They would have made great trainers for a boxing match. You hear that, Stallone? “I don’t care who started what. The fact of the matter is your behavior was atrocious. I will not have you dragging our family’s name through the mud, Corrine!”
“Your mother is righ,” Mr. Henderson continued. “Now I think we all know this ‘punk’ nonsense has gone on long enough….”
Cori’s mouth dropped open. Her parents might have thought of her involvement in the punk scene as a “disgusting fad”, but to her it was religion. She could not see herself living without it any more than she could a liver or a brain.
“You guys suck!” she shouted, fleeing the kitchen and retreating to her room. Flopping back down on the bed, she put on a Sick of it All CD and stewed in the juices of her own bitter resentment.

It wasn’t much longer before her parents came a’knocking.
“Corine!” her mother hollered. “Turn that down. Tell her to turn that down.”
“Turn that down,” her father bellowed.
Spiteful thing that she was, Cori turned the volume up.
“Stop it!” Caroline squealed in the background. “It’s hurting my ears.”
This caused her father to finally lose his cool.
A moment later, the music was off and Cori was standing before her parents with a sweet smile on her face. She was still angry on the inside, but it gave her a small measure of satisfaction to make her parents as pissed off as she was.
After staring at her for an awkward length of time, they finally composed themselves and entered. Cori’s room was willfully disorganized. She’d make a mess of it and her mother would have the housekeeper clean it back up. It got to be like a children’s game.
“I’ll have to tell Mathilda to do a better job in here,” Mrs. Henderson said, clucking in disapproval.
Cori went back to ignoring her parents and pored over a volume of obscure poetry.
“We’d just like to talk for a moment,” her father said, sounding very calm and collected. Frustratedly, Cori set aside the book and looked up. She knew they wouldn’t leave until she did.
“What?” she asked. Her mother shot her a menacing stare.
“What,” she echoed.
Mr. Henderson cleared his throat. “Perhaps we were a little hasty earlier,” he said. “We do understand that this is the …er…. lifestyle you’ve chosen for yourself and that you’ve become quite attached to it. However, we can’t have you constantly going through these reckless shenanigans. You understand that, don’t you?”
“I guess,” Cori replied. She was giving them as little ground as possible.
“You guess,” her mother parroted.
“You’re almost an adult, Corrine,” her father pointed out. “This kind of behavior is entirely unacceptable.”
Cori sighed. As much as she hated apologizing, she figured it was the only way to get rid of them.
“OK,” she admitted. “I fucked up. I know I fucked up. What I did was stupid and careless and I won’t do it again.”
“That’s not good enough,” Mrs. Henderson asserted.
“We know you are at least capable of acting responsible,” Mr. Henderson pointed out. “But you seem to forget yourself when in the company of friends.”
“No way,” Cori said, her eyes widening. “You can’t make me stop seeing Seth and Robbo. You can’t!”
“We wouldn’t dream of it,” Mr. Henderson retorted, pretending to be appalled.
“Friends are important,” Mrs. Henderson mused. “Even friends like THOSE.”
“However, the fact of the matter is that you can’t seem to control yourself around them. This isn’t just one isolated incident either. There has been a whole history of drinking and debauchery and lewd behavior and it simply cannot go on any longer.”
“So what do you want me to DO about it?” Cori asked. “I already said it won’t happen again, but you don’t seem to believe me.”
“You don’t have to do anything,” her mother explained. “We’re doing it for you.”
“Well, that’s not entirely true,” Mr. Henderson corrected. “Since you are almost an adult, we’ve decided to give you SOME say in the matter. You have a choice, Corrine. You can either cooperate with us on this issue or you can kiss your whole God-forsaken image goodbye.”
“OK,” Cori said, biting her lip in frustration. “I’ll do it. Whatever it is, I’ll do it.”
“Good,” her mother told her. “See, I told you she wouldn’t have a problem with wearing diapers.”
“We got the idea when we heard about how you had soiled yourself,” Mr. Henderson explained. “And then Caroline informed us that you hadn’t even bothered to shower afterwards. You obviously don’t seem to have a problem with lying in your own urine and you’ve been throwing all these childish tantrums. Diapers really did seem like the best thing for you.”
“Two weeks,” her mother added. “That’s how long you are going to wear them. Let it be a reminder to you not to do anything foolish.”
And with that parting shot, they left her. Bewildered and confused, Cori sat in silence for a good ten minutes.
“I totally vegged out,” she explained. “My brain was in la-la land, and I’m not talking California.”
Finally, she scraped herself up off her bed and marched into the shower. Reemerging wrapped in a towel, she ran across her sister, who greeted her with a knowing smile.
“You little bitch,” she growled.
“Don’t blame me,” Caroline replied innocently. “I’m not the one who got in trouble.”
“Corrine!” her mother hollered.
Cori was surprised to find her parents back in her room. Usually, its clutter acted as an effective deterrent.
Mr. Henderson held up an adult sized disposable undergarment and presented it to Cori. “Are we going to have a problem with this?” he asked.
Cori looked at the diaper, looked at her parents, saw that they were serious and looked at the diaper once more. It was sleek and white. Cori extended a cautious finger forward and felt the outer shell. The smooth plastic sent a brief tingle up her spine. It finally set in what her parents were doing to her. They were putting her back in diapers, as if she was an errant toddler. As if she was nothing.
“Basically, I through a fit,” Cori said in her own words.
She picked up a nearby pillow and pounded her fist into it time and time again, grunting and cursing and shouting “No!” over and over. Her parents watched the spectacle with cool detachment, and, when all was said and done, she allowed them to diaper her.
“I couldn’t very well hit THEM,” Cori told us. “Shit, if they cut me off I’m totally screwed.”
She spent the rest of the day trying to get used to her new undergarment. Even without Caroline’s teasing and her parents’ condescending remarks, she would have felt miserable. The diaper was thick and bulky, forcing her legs apart. It also made her feel vulnerable and self-conscious, not to mention the least bit paranoid. Her parents were right: there was no way she would feel inclined towards causing trouble with that thing on.
“And the worst part is, I can’t take it off 'cept when I’m in the bathroom,” Cori concluded. “Like one of them will randomly come by to check if I have it on. Ugh, this sucks! I don’t know how I’m going to survive the next two weeks.”
“Why did you do it?” Robbo asked.
“What was I supposed to do?” she replied. “Stop being punk?!”
Neither Robbo or I replied, but our answer was obvious. If either of us were in her situation, we would have given it serious consideration. Not Cori though. She never wanted anything easy.

More craziness: Mr. Wilson told me I might be eligible for a scholarship of some sort. Was I interested? I told him I’d think about it. Free money or no, I wasn’t too enthused. I’d probably have to write another bullshit essay and further commit myself to the college cause. Plus, if my parents got wind of it they’d want me to do it and wouldn’t take no for an answer. Arrrgggg…….I didn’t need that.
“I’d take it,” Robbo told me when I brought it up at lunch. I figured he’d say as much. Money was his primary headache; I had a ton of other fish to fry.
“I dunno,” I said, trying to downplay it. “It’s not a done deal. I’d just be applying for it and that’s a real pain in the ass.”
“You should do it, Seth-man,” Finch encouraged. I shot him an angry glare. Finch had been getting on my nerves more than usual lately. He started hanging around all these whiny emo kids, the kind who feel compelled to pick up an acoustic guitar every time they trip over their own untied shoelaces. Finch said he did it to make fun of them, but we all had our suspicions that he was an emo brat at heart. “What do you think, Cori?” he promptly delegated.
“Do what you want,” a downcast Cori replied. She didn’t give a shit and I could hardly blame her. She had plenty else to worry about.
As she would tell us later (she didn’t want Finch to hear about it), Cori’s adjustment to diapers was not going well.
“My mom checks to see if I have it on before I leave for school and right when I come home,” she explained. “So I figure I can sneak out to the bathroom early, take it off, go to the bathroom later and put it on right before leaving. At least that way I’m not stuck wearing it ALL the time.”
Robbo nodded. It sounded like a good plan to him.
“Well, guess what,” she continued. “You know Mrs. Kefauver?”
“I think so. Doesn’t her husband teach English?”
“Yup. That’s the one. Anyway, I have her class right before gym. I figured I could go to the bathroom and change during her class, but the stupid bitch wouldn’t let me go. She thinks I’m a pothead and I’m gonna go to the bathroom to blaze up. Pfft……yeah.”
“Wait a sec,” I asked, bewildered. “Does that mean you kept it on during gym?”
Cori shrugged. “Kinda sorta….”
Walking to gym class with the thick diaper still between her legs, Cori knew her options were few. The gym teachers already had it in for her due to her apathetic attitude and antisocial disposition towards team sports. She’d refused to change into gym clothes and taken an unprepared on more than one occasion, usually citing the reason as “a denunciation of this racist, sexist, facist institution” or, at other times, “I don’t wanna.” If she took another unprepared, she would most likely fail and even someone as thickheaded as Cori wasn’t about to delay graduation on account of gym class. Likewise, if she tried to sneak out to the bathroom before class began, she would most likely arrive late and would find herself in trouble there. Thus, her only real option (and the one she ultimately chose) was to walk into the locker room and change without anyone noticing. It was ballsy as hell, but, alas, also quite dumb.
Cori headed into the locker room and scurried past row after row of loudly gossiping girls until she arrived at an isolated corner at the end. She quickly laid out her gym clothes (sweat pants and an old top) and prepared herself for the world’s quickest change. Taking a cursory glance around to make sure no one was looking her way, she dropped her jeans, stepped out of them and promptly froze. Standing about three feet away from her was none other than Karen Larson, the girl she had bested in the drinking contest.
“Ouch,” Robbo and I said simultaneously.
“It gets worse,” Cori grumbled.
Karen had undergone a thorough transformation since concert night. Free from her faux-punk trappings, she reverted to being a bland preppy harlot, clad in white shorts and a lowcut top. There didn’t seem to be an ounce of drunken rebellion in her; only cosmetic-induced gloss and brand-name conformity. Cori, for her part, looked transformed too. She had on a Misfits shirt, blue panties (stretched nearly to the point of breaking and worn only, as Cori put it, “to feel more normal”) and a big white diaper.
“Oh my God!” Karen exclaimed. “You’re wearing a DIAPER!”
Cori blushed, certain that at least half of the girls in the locker room had heard her. Nonetheless, she tried to stand her ground.
“Don’t you have some vomit to lick?” she retorted.
Ignoring her, Karen took a few steps forward. “What’s the matter, Corrine? Can’t control your pee?”
“We’ll settle this later,” Cori threatened and went to resume changing. Before she could make any progress, however, Karen snatched her pants as well as the jeans she had been wearing.
“You’re not old enough for big-girl pants yet,” Karen informed her, holding them over her head like a great hunting trophy.
The sensible thing for Cori to have done was to have swallowed a little pride, asked nicely for her pants back and squared it later.
“Since when the fuck have I ever been sensible?” Cori asked us. Robbo and I merely shrugged and she continued her story.
“I’m going to do something I should have done Friday night,” Cori said, lunging at Karen. The bulky diaper through off her balance and she fell to the floor. Giggling, Karen took a moment to make light of her plight before running the length of the locker room with Cori’s pants in tow. Angry and embarrassed, Cori picked herself up off the ground and gave chase. Heads turned and everyone got a nice look at her diapered behind.
She finally caught up to Karen at the entrance to the locker room, where a group of boys had heard the commotion and gathered to watch. Chief among the observers was J.T., who instantly began to crack up at the sight of his former friend in such an unlikely predicament.
“Oh man,” he said to his lackeys, as if Cori wasn’t even there. “I can’t believe I ever went out with her!”
True to form, Cori refused to accept defeat. She promptly grabbed the still-giggling Karen by the hair and slammed her head against the wall. Apparently, this was enough to end laughter and induce tears. The girl began to bawl and cry for help. A couple of J.T.'s guys seized Cori and held her while a gym teacher arrived to investigate. As soon as Coach Ford showed up (“whas goin on ova heer?!”), Karen launched into her whole “she hit me” routine and J.T. corroborated. Cori was dispatched to the office without getting a chance to explain herself, the only upside being she was finally given an opportunity to put her pants back on.
“Man that sucks,” Robbo affirmed.
“You don’t know the half of it,” Cori told him. “Fucking (principal) Sheldon yelled at me, he called my mom and now I’m in even more trouble when I get home. Urrg….I can’t take this.”
“Just hang in there,” I encouraged.
As if things weren’t off-kilter enough, R.C. approached us in the parking lot not long after Cori finished her narrative. He had gone back to pretending to be our friend and was all smiles.
“Hey,” he said to Cori. “I heard what that fucker J.T. did to you and I just wanted to say I have your back. Us punks got to stick together, right?”
Got her back? It’s his fault she was in this mess to begin with! Us punks? Who the hell was he kidding? As offended as I was by his remarks, Robbo seemed even angrier. I saw his fists clench tight and his knuckles whiten. An ugly grimace was plastered across his acne-ridden face. Though I shared a good deal of his sentiment, I promptly shook my head. The last thing we needed was more trouble from the R.C.-J.T. crowd, and, more importantly, more trouble for Cori.
“Yeah, Randy,” I said. “Thanks.”
“It’s R.C.,” he corrected.
He finally got the hint and took off, leaving us to mend our broken lives.

If punk is about having fun, then why are punks so pissed off?
I remember asking Hardcore Dan that question a few years ago shortly before my own conversion to the scene. Back then, I was intrigued but not yet hooked. I knew there was more to punk than the haircuts and the safety pins and the music, but I still had my doubts. I’ll never forget what Dan told me. He threw an arm around me and grinned, as if my pointless question had amounted to the meaning of life.
“It’s not just about having fun, dude,” he told. “It’s about WANTING to have fun. It’s about wanting to live in a world where you CAN have fun. Some of us get pissed off because we take a look at this shitty world and we realize that this ain’t it. It’s up to us to make it better and sometimes that gets frustrating.”
“What if you just don’t care?”
“Trust me,” he said. “You will.”
Goddamnit, he was right. Years later, he was right. I must have cared about something, because I was very pissed off. Maybe my concerns aren’t as monumental as Dan’s (I can’t work myself into a fury because of starvation in China or because some principal found a kid’s t-shirt offensive in Kalamazoo), but something was biting into me hard. I cared about my friends. I cared about what might happen to me the next day. I couldn’t just say “fuck it” and jump into the fray headfirst. I was either too smart or too much of a pussy to do that and it made me feel sick. It made me feel no better than the poseurs and the whiny fakers that had earned my enmity over the years.
I had started that week ankle-deep in shit. By Wednesday, it was waist-high. For starters, my parents found out about the scholarship. I don’t know whether Wilson leaked it to them or they got something in the mail or it simply picked it up on their uber-sophisticated parental radar, but somehow they found out. Naturally, they got on my case about it.
“What do you mean you don’t know?” Mom asked me.
“I have to right an essay, right?” I asked. “Well, I have no clue what to write it on. None!”
“You’re a smart boy. I’m sure you’ll think of something.”
“Plus, I have that psych paper to get to…”
“I thought you finished that,” Dad interrupted.
“Not yet.”
“Well get cracking.”
I groaned. “Whatever.”
“No, Seth, this is serious.”
“This is a great opportunity for you,” Mom reminded me. “Maybe if I had a scholarship….”
“I’ll think about it,” I mumbled, hoping that it would appease them.
“Now Seth,” Dad pressed. “I know you have a lot on your plate, but I don’t want you to blow this off.”
“I said I’d think about it,” I snapped. “Can’t you leave me alone for two seconds? God!”
That was it. End conversation, insert block of ice between me and my folks. Great. Just what I needed too.

Around the same time I was having it out with my parents, Robbo managed to twist his ankle…. by falling off a car (told you I was clumsy, didn’t I?). He’d just gotten off his shift at the supermarket and was looking to unwind. I was too swamped with work to hang out and Cori was in effect grounded, so he tracked down Dan and his group of radicals and decided to ingratiate himself to them. While they were glad to have him, he’d have been better off just staying home. Dan and his crew had gone car-hopping.
“Why’d you do it?” I asked him early Thursday morning when I saw the bandage around his ankle.
Robbo shrugged. “Impress the ladies.”
I shook my head and sighed. It was a well-known fact that punk chicks (the real ones, at any rate) were not turned on by cheesy displays of male attention seeking. In fact, the kinds of girls Dan sometimes included in his crew were more liable to get their thrills beating you up then watching you beat someone else (which was one of the many reasons I tended to stay away).
Besides, Robbo sucks at car-hopping. I’m no ace myself, but I can at least put up a respectable performance.
Ah…car hopping. It really brought out the lighter side of guys like Dan and reminded me that, despite all the serious talk, they liked to have fun just like the rest of us (well…maybe not like the rest of us). He and his friends would venture out late at night and find a street with a densely parked row of cars. They would then start at the end and jump from hood to roof to trunk to hood of the next car. The goal was to keep going until feet hit the ground…or until enough alarms went off and the cops were alerted. It was risky, but good for a quick thrill.
“Well?” I asked Robbo. “How many did you do?”
“Half,” he said bashfully.
Picture, if you will, Robbo (big, fat, clumsy ole Robbo) cruising around under the cover of night with these maniacs. Picture them pulling down a Mercedes-lined side street and stopping at the end. Whilst the neighborhood’s denizens slept or watched their flat-paneled televisions, these kids were about to give their vehicles a sound trampling.
“Dan was up first,” Robbo explained. “He did about six. Then came Alan. I think he did three. Then Selby, then me. They didn’t think I could do it. They weren’t mean about it, but you know.”
I nodded. I knew.
“So I took a few steps back, took a deep breath and ran at the first car. I think it might have been a Beamer. Anyway, I didn’t think I’d be able to make it either, but a minute later, I’m up on the hood. And everyone is watching and Selby’s giving me a little “yeah, Robbo, yeah” and I turned around to smile at her and that’s when I fell. So Like I said: half.”
Half indeed.

Of course, neither my scholarship angst nor Robbo’s chronic clumsiness had anything on what Cori was going through. Her parents found out about the melee with Karen and, while her administrative sanction was rather light (only a detention), she might as well have been found guilty of murder for the fuss they were putting up.
“Striking another student!” Mr. Henderson thundered. “How could you? HOW could you?”
“She had it coming,” Cori retorted. “She stole my pants!”
“Did it ever occur to you, Corrine,” her mother said snidely. “That you could have simply asked for them back? Oh, no, but that would have been too simple. Instead, you had to go prancing around in your diapers in front of everyone, causing a scene and bringing even more embarrassment to this family. Are you happy, Corrine? Are you happy now?”
“We’ll see if we can’t change that.”
“We’ve decided to make some additions to your punishment,” her father explained.
The familiar anger surged through Cori’s veins, its venom dripping slowly into every word she spoke. “It was your stupid punishment that got me in this mess to begin with.”
Ignoring her, Mrs. Henderson continued to outline the horrific details. “First and foremost, you are to write a letter of apology to that girl you struck. You are to explain why you are in diapers and ask for her understanding and forgiveness.”
“What?! Apologize to that bitch? It’s totally her fault….”
“No more interruptions!” Mr. Henderson interrupted. “Please continue, dear.”
“Secondly, since you don’t seem at all embarrassed about parading yourself in front of a group of your peers, we see no reason why you should have such modesty around us. Starting right now, you will not cover up your diapers when you are at home. Perhaps you will begin to feel some of the embarrassment you’ve brought upon the rest of us and maybe, if you are fortunate, begin to grow up.”
Cori stared at them blankly. She heard the words, but her mind did not compute them.
“Well?” her mother asked. “What are you waiting for? Take those pants off, young lady!”
“Forget it,” Cori snapped.
“You will do this,” her father reminded her. “Or you will have a very lonely graduation indeed.”
In the flash of her mind, Cori pictured herself without any money, without a car, without anything she could rightfully call hers and hers alone. Though spiteful, she was not stupid. She bit the hand that fed her, but was always sure to spit the fingers back out when she was done.
Disgusted and annoyed, Cori stripped off her pants and flung them at her mother. She then did an about-face and marched herself angrily to her room, leaving her parents to gape at her diapered behind. Under their asinine plan, it would become a familiar sight to them in no time.
“Aww…so cute,” Caroline teased as Cori passed her along the way.
“Don’t fucking start with me,” Cori grumbled and slammed the door behind her.
Even her room failed to be the fortress of solitude that Cori desperately sought. Her mother had had it cleaned while she was at school, and, had actually taken one of Cori’s posters down (the nerve!). Worse still, her parents were concerned that she was having too good a time up there. After all, she could still listen to music (telling her to stop was a futile pursuit….she had about half a dozen Walkmen stowed away), write hateful poetry and complain about them on the phone to me (which was exactly how I found all this out, by the way). To remedy this, one of them would periodically go up and check on her.
“I don’t get it,” Cori said. “What the fuck did they think I was going to do? Climb out a window? Put on some pants? Cut my wrists? Pfft. I wish. I wish they were that fucking worried. But don’t worry. I think I know how to get them back. I think I have it all worked out.”
I hoped so for her sake.

Against my better judgment, I decided to tell my parents about what had been going on with Cori. The truth was I was worried about her and I felt powerless to do a damn thing about it. Dad was a lawyer. Plus, neither he nor Mom had any liking for the Hendersons. When Mrs. Henderson found out Mom was in real estate, she said something like, “Oh….do you collect properties too?” Mom’s witty reply, “Sure. I have my eye on a smashing penthouse on Park Place. I just need to pass go first and stop off at the community chest.” Assholes. I’m glad my folks don’t kowtow to them like the rest of that country-club set.
My parents were shocked by the news, but the shock failed to mobilize them.
“That’s horrible!” Mom remarked. “I swear that woman is a menace. And the husband….he’s no better.”
“Yeah, but can you do something about it?” I pleaded.
“Like what?” Dad asked.
“I dunno….isn’t it abuse.”
He sighed. “I’m afraid not. They haven’t been physically abusive towards her and….”
“What about psychologically?” I asked excitedly. “this is fucking her up, I know it.”
“I’m afraid nothing can be done, really,” Dad continued. “Putting myself in the shoes of whatever high-priced attorney the Hendersons would hire, I’d be able to portray Cori as being reckless, wild, out of control. I’d have a list of her exploits a foot long and would gather plenty of witnesses. You, Seth, for one.”
“No way,” I said. “I wouldn’t testify.”
“They could subpoena you, son,” Dad pressed. “Basically, Cori would come out of it looking like The Daughter From Hell and the Hendersons would be the Concerned Parents. Their methods would be seen as unorthodox, yes, but also justified.”
“But….that isn’t fair!” I protested.
“Much of life isn’t,” Mom said.
“Look, Seth,” Dad told me. “I know we have our differences, but I hope we will always be able to talk them out.”
“Yes,” said Mom. “We’re family. We shouldn’t feel like a burden to you nor you to us.”
Choking back my outrage, I nodded in agreement. Thank God for small favors.

I should have known it was going to be a bad weekend the minute Finch opened his stupid mouth. Cori, Robbo and I were on our way to the parking lot after school on Friday when he joined up with us just before the main entrance. He’d heard about the concert last week, and, jealous that he wasn’t there, kept pestering us to include him.
“Hey guys,” he said. “'Sup?”
“Hey Finch,” I replied.
“Finch,” Robbo said.
Cori ignored him as usual.
“There any concerts tonight?”
Robbo shrugged. “Dunno.”
“Oh. Well what are you guys doing?”
“Homework,” I answered. “And lots of it.”
“I think I’m gonna watch all the Rocky movies back to back,” Robbo said.
“Not again,” I mumbled.
“Howabout you, Cori?” he persisted. “Have anything planned?”
Lucky for him, Cori was in a better mood than she had been all week. Whereas she might have usually told him that it was none of his business (or worse, to go fuck himself), she answered with, “I think I’m just gonna chill.”
“Oh. Chilling. I dig that.”
Chilling….I dig that? I had to squeeze my hand to keep from laughing. I thought about getting Finch a tape recorder just so he could hear himself. It never ceased to amaze.

Back at home, things were starting to settle down. Dad had put the finishing touches on a brief and Mom had closed a big deal. Both were feeling too proud of themselves to give me a hard time, so I got a temporary reprieve from “did you do the essay, Seth?” I had to admit I was proud of them.
Mom cooked her special chicken for dinner. I promptly ate too much of it and got sick. Six thirty five found me in the bathroom leaned over a toilet, retching and trying to keep from puking my guts out. I hated vomiting. It was one of the few things that kept me from drinking more than I did. I heard the doorbell ring in the distance, but I was too busy fighting my intestines to care. After a couple of dry heaves, I splashed some cold water on my face, took a deep breath and pronounced myself cured. Some doctor I was: I anticipated making a couple of return trips to the bathroom before the night was out.
I was feeling so out of it that at first I didn’t even notice Cori talking with my parents by the front door. I took one look at her and knew something was wrong. My first guess was that she had finally snapped and killed my family and was turning to Dad for legal advice. Coming to my senses, I then realized it was probably nothing quite so extreme. Nonetheless, it couldn’t have been good. She was carrying a duffel bag and had this look on her face like someone shoved a flaming stick up her ass. She wasn’t crying and she wasn’t cursing, but she looked capable of doing either any second now.
“Come on in,” I invited. She stepped into our den and took a seat on a couch. I wanted to talk to her in private, but my parents still lingered, fraught with concern.
“What brings you by?” Mom asked.
“Nuttin much, Mrs. Kifka,” she replied. “Just thought I’d see how you folks are doing.”
None of us were buying it.
“Tell us what happened,” Dad pressed.
Cori looked around the room uneasily before her gaze finally settled on me.
“I already told them about it,” I explained. For a minute, I thought she’d give me the “I’m going to kill you” eyes, but instead she merely shrugged and dove into her narrative.

Cori’s plan for getting her parents back wasn’t overly ingenious or craft nor was it especially malignant or disruptive. It was, however, fairly disgusting. And, given how much the Hendersons value cleanliness and properness, it was set to drive them right up the wall.
“I was going to leave a wet diaper in their bed,” she said. “That’s really freak them out.”
Both my parents crinkled their noses distastefully, but kept their comments to themselves.
Unfortunately for Cori, her plan never got off the ground. She was in the process of wetting her diaper when her sister caught her.
“Stupid no pants rule!” Cori snapped. “That’s what did it.”
Excluding the concert night debacle, Cori hadn’t wet herself since kindergarten. She quickly found that it was very difficult to do intentionally (while sober, at least). After drinking two bottles of water and pacing around her room incessantly, the urge was finally strong enough for her to squat down and let the floodgates open. Unbeknownst to her, however, Caroline was observing her from the doorway.
“What are you doing?” the younger Henderson asked.
“Mind your own damn business!” Cori snapped.
“Don’t talk to me like that,” Caroline shot back. “It’s not my fault you got yourself put back in diapers!”
“Well…what do you want?”
“Mom said I should check your diaper,” Caroline announced proudly.
“You see me wearing it, don’t you?”
“Yup. It’s kinda hard to miss.”
“OK then. Bye now!”
“Wait a sec. What’s the rush? Are you hiding something?”
“Yeah. There’s plutonium under my bed. Get lost.”
Rather than leave, Caroline took a few steps into her sister’s room to discover the source of the intrigue.
“Is it pot?” she asked. “Do you have a stash?”
“Well I know you aren’t hiding a boy. No one would want to date you anyway.”
“Get out!” Cori said, with increasing intensity.
Pausing, Caroline sniffed the air. “What’s that smell?” she asked.
“It’s your hair,” Cori retorted. “Crawling with maggots.”
“Ew….no. It smells like pee. Ohmygod, did you wet yourself?”
“You did!” Caroline exclaimed, noting the way Cori’s diaper had begun to sag slightly. “You did. I can’t believe it. My older sister is a pisspants….”
“I’m warning you, sis,” Cori said. “Cut it the fuck out.”
“What a freak,” Caroline continued to babble. “Wait until Mom and Dad hear about this. Wait….”
That was as far as she got before Cori slapped her. It was a hard blow across the face, albeit by no means the worst Cori was capable of doling out. Nonetheless, Caroline’s eyes began to water.
“You…you crazy bitch,” she said as tears streamed down her face. “I’m telling! I’m telling. Mom……”
Even more enraged, Cori shoved her to the ground.
“Get out, damnit!” she screamed. “Get OUT!”
Caroline refused to budge. Instead, she remained weeping stubbornly in the doorway and crying, “I hate you” time and time again. Cori delivered a swift kick to her butt and finally knelt down to shove her the rest of the way out of the door. Satisfied, she looked up to see the shocked and horrified faces of her parents.
“It got really bad after that,” Cori told us. “Lotsa shouting. We all said nasty things. I think I might have thrown some stuff….”
I winced as Cori rehashed the feud for us. All the years of tension seemed to come to a head and explode at once, culminating with the moment when Mrs. Henderson called Cori’s birth “a horrible mistake” and Cori threatened to stab them in their sleep. As outrageous as it was, it had nothing on what happened next.
“I was upset,” she said. “And I knew I crossed the line. If they had just given me a little time, things might have been OK. But instead they came back five minutes later. They had Mathilda with them and they…oh Jesus….they made her spank me!”
Mathilda Reyes is the Hendersons’ housekeeper. Half German and half Peruvian, she’s a real knockout. She’s also probably the only sane person in the entire house. I’d only met her a few times (Cori’s parents weren’t big fans of me coming over) and each time I saw her, I’d feel bad for her. A single mother at twenty-six, she was stuck cleaning up the messes of a bunch of snobs who treated her like she just walked off the boat.
At first, Mathilda wanted no part of it. She got along with Cori better than she did with the rest of them and it was easy to find the entire proposition quite sick.
“I’d really rather not get involved,” she said timidly.
“Do it,” Mr. Henderson seethed. “A bonus awaits you.”
Of course, what he really meant to say was, “do it or you’re fired.” Mathilda knew it too and she knew she really didn’t have much of a choice.
“I’m sorry,” she said approaching Cori. “But I have my daughter to think about. It’ll all be over soon, mmkay?”
Wide eyed and dripping primal sweat, Cori looked like a caged animal. It was the ultimate demonstration of her parents’ cruelty: an attempt to turn her against her only potential ally. Perhaps to spite them or perhaps because she simply had no more fight in her, she acceded and allowed Mathilda to spank her. A towel was draped over the young woman’s lap and Cori climbed obediently over her knee.
“This is long overdo,” Mrs. Henderson said. “Since violence is the only language you seem to understand, Corrine, perhaps we will finally get through to you.”
Hands shaking, Mathilda pulled down Cori’s diaper.
“Be thorough now,” Mr. Henderson instructed.
“And clean her up when you are finished,” Mrs. Henderson added. “I want her in a double-diaper this time.”
“Yes Mrs. Henderson,” Mathilda blankly replied, sounding as if she had just been told to water a plant. Cori sighed and focused her attention on the colorful array of band posters that adorned her walls. She hoped to lose herself in them, to take a mental vacation whilst her body soaked up humiliation and pain. She was vaguely aware that her parents were savoring this moment and that her sister had put off her bawling long enough to see her get punished. She tried to tell herself these things were inconsequential, that they were happening in another place and time and to another person. However, when the first blow hit she felt the pain and had nothing but reality to contend with.
“It was sick,” Cori continued. “And the worst part is, my parents were coaching Mathilda through the whole thing. Every once in awhile, they’d pop in with “faster, dear” or “harder.” Forget that ‘for your own good’ crap, I KNOW they were enjoying it. And they didn’t even have the balls to do it themselves, the bastards.”
By the time it was over, Mathilda was exhausted. Cori lay limply over her lap, her bottom red and her expression suggesting a chemically induced daze.
“Thank you, Mathilda,” Mrs. Henderson said curtly. “That will do.”
After they left, Cori began to gather a bit of her strength back. She let out a guttural shriek and pounded her fists into the bed.
“Why?” she yelled as tears began to flow. “Why? WHY?!”
“Shhh,” Mathilda said softly. “It hurts, I know. And I’m very sorry that….”
“It’s not your fault. It’s them. It’s all them!”
“Aye de mi…. who knew the rich could be so fucked up, eh?”
Still sniffling, Cori somehow found room to smile. “I hope you win the lottery, Mat. I hope you win and never have to come back here.”
“Yeah. Me too. But in the meantime…”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah…. do what you have to do.”
Cori rolled onto her back and allowed Mathilda to diaper her. Two diapers were applied, as per her mother’s instructions, making the bulk between her legs even more awkward and thick.
“You know what?” Cori said after she was all diapered up. “Fuck them. I’m out of here!”
“Do what you have to do,” Mathilda echoed. “Just be careful.”
“Pfft…what could happen to me that hasn’t happened already?”

“I packed real quick, ran out the door and now here I am,” Cori concluded. “I didn’t look back to see if they noticed and I don’t care. I’m not looking for pity or help or anything, just a place to spend the night if it isn’t too much trouble.”
“Could you excuse us for one moment,” Mom said, motioning to Dad. They stepped out of the room and a moment later, I stepped out as well. Cori’s story had pushed me over the edge and the vomit I had been working so hard to suppress finally came up. Goddamn Hendersons.

By the time I emerged from the bathroom, the verdict was in.
“Of course you can stay here,” Mom said. “You can sleep in Judy’s room.”
“Thanks, Mrs. Kifka.”
“No problem. Have you eaten?”
Cori shook her head and Mom went to fix her a plate of chicken. In the meantime, Dad departed to his study to “make a few calls,” leaving me alone, sick to my stomach and very, very confused. I wished Robbo could have been there to help me sort out what had just happened, but it’d take nothing less than a world war to rouse him from his Rocky marathon.
After Cori had eaten, I led her to my sister’s room. Judy hadn’t been home in awhile, but my parents were optimistic about her randomly dropping in and always kept the bed made.
“How’s Judy doing?” Cori asked.
“Good, the last I heard.”
“You’re lucky you have a sister you can get along with.”
I tried to rebut Cori’s observation by conjuring the memory of some long-forgotten rivalry, but all that came to mind was a few petty squabbles. My sister and I weren’t best friends, but there was no real animosity. She had her life and I had mine and we made our peace between us.
“Yeah,” I said at last. “I guess you’re right.”
Up until then (largely due to suppressing the nausea and attempting to imagine everything that was going on in the Henderson home as Cori explained it), I’d failed to notice that Cori hadn’t bothered to change out of her diapers before coming over here. The bulge under her sweatpants was huge. It was as if she had a porn star’s erection and an inflatable ass. I couldn’t imagine spending a minute looking like that, let alone an hour.
“What?” she asked when she noticed me staring. “Oh…. that. Yeah, I was so mad I didn’t even bother to change. I…hold on.”
Before I could ask what the problem was, she was vigorously searching her duffel bag. “Shit” she grumbled. “I’m an idiot.”
“What now?” I asked.
“I got so used to wearing these stupid things lately that I packed diapers instead of panties.”
I started to chuckle. I knew it was a dumb thing to laugh at, but I couldn’t help it.
“It’s not funny,” she asserted.
My laughter only grew louder.
“Yeah, OK, maybe it is,” she said, joining in. That was the great thing about Cori: even when she was pissed off, she still had a sense of humor.

We ended up crashing in front of the TV and watching Night of the Living Dead. Dad came to join us about midway through, looking as if he had been sucking on a lemon for about half an hour.
“Those people are impossible,” he said. “I’ll have to try again tomorrow.”
I could only assume he was speaking about Cori’s parents.
By the time the movie ended, Cori was already half asleep and I was pretty tired myself.
“Cori,” I said, gently poking her.
“Lemmalone,” she muttered, turning on her side.
“Sleeping on that couch is a good way to hurt your back,” Dad told her. “Believe me, I know.”
I held out my hand and she used it to pull herself to her feet. She thanked my father again (my mother had already gone to sleep), wished him goodnight and retired to my sister’s room.
“Poor kid,” Dad said to me. “I hope she gets over it.”
I nodded. I wanted to hope so too, but I didn’t even have a clue what ‘it’ was.

I’d been sleeping for maybe fifteen minutes when I felt a hand touch my arm, startling me right out of my skin. I violently kicked the covers off and banged my elbow against the wall behind me.
“Holyfuckcrap!” I exclaimed.
“Sorry,” Cori said, allowing a giggle to escape her. “I couldn’t sleep.”
“You were out like a light a little while ago.”
“Yeah, but I’m awake now.”
I sighed. “OK then. If you can’t sleep, let’s talk.”
“I’ve done enough talking,” she insisted. “It’s just…well…. dude, is there something wrong with me?”
“No,” I replied sarcastically. “Whatever do you mean?”
“I’m serious, Seth,” she said. “At first, I thought it was just my family making me crazy, but now I’m worried that I’m crazy on my own.”
As bad as I felt for her, I was starting to get annoyed. There I was, tired as hell, sitting in just my underwear, still a little on the sick side and listening to her trying to solicit unqualified psychiatric advice.
“Crazy, not crazy, its all good,” I told her.
“Look,” I said, yawning. “We’ll talk more tomorrow. You had a bad day. I had a bad day. Sleep is your friend.”
She got the message and walked away. I had just begun to doze when she returned. Rather than react with surprise, I greeted her with a groan.
“I’m sorry,” she said, sounding embarrassed. “But I just can’t fucking sleep in there.”
“What (yawn) do you want me to do about it?”
“Spoon with me.”
“Why not?”
I knew why, but I didn’t tell her. Cori was my friend and while she was definitely one of the guys, there was no getting around the fact that she was a girl. The last time a girl shared my bed was at the end of a long relationship and I didn’t want that to happen again (at least not with someone who was nearly blood). Call it paranoid, but I call it prophetic. I foresaw a brief, passionate fling turned to heartfelt confession turned to confusion and bitterness. I foresaw a friendship going down the drain while resentment and hurt festered like mold on bathroom tile. I foresaw the end of the world in something as simple as a kiss and it scared the hell out of me. Then I realized that I probably shouldn’t worry, that this was Cori and that neither of us would ever let anything get that far.
“OK,” I relented. “Fine. Slide right in.”
“Thanks,” she said, climbing into bed next to me. “I really am tired, you know. Tired of fucking fighting all the time.”
A moment later, she was out but I was still awake. I lay on my side facing her back. My crotch was about an inch away from her puffy, diapered butt and one of my arms was cast protectively over her while she used my hand as a pillow. Sleeping with her wasn’t even the weird part. There had been times when me and Cori and Robbo would pass out in front of a TV and wake up entangled with one another. No, the weird part was knowing that I had been chosen somehow. Cori had her credit card with her when she left. She could have checked herself into a motel; she could have taken a cab out of town. She could have gone to Robbo or Dan. Even Mathilda would have probably taken her in. Instead, she came to me. I felt as if I’d been charged with the responsibility of protecting her from whatever forces swayed her to anguish, hurt and madness, and damnit, I wasn’t about to let her down.

“Godamnit! Sonofafuckinbitch……”
I awoke to these and many of the other colorful phrases that emanated from Cori’s mouth. Her effortless gutterspeak, normally endearing on account of her small voice, grated on my tired ears. For all the shit she had been through, she was up before me and I was the one feeling drained. At first, I kept my eyes pinched shut and tried to push her profanity to the back of my mind. When it finally dawned at me that sleep wasn’t going to come, I groaned and lifted my head up to see what all the fuss was about. My eyes opened just in time to see Cori naked and my voice soon joined her in screaming a duet of bloody terror.
The inner pervert in me says you’ll fail to see what the big deal is. I saw a chick naked. So what? More power to me, right? The thing to keep in mind, however, is that Cori has never really been just a chick, not to me anyway. Watching her with her diaper down around her ankles frantically trying to cover herself up had all the revolting awkwardness of seeing a family member expose herself coupled with the shame of catching the reflection of your own limp dick in the mirror, not to mention the ugly embarrassment that usually only comes when you realize you’re looking at the wrong kind of porno. The weight of having violated the so-called friendship taboo came tumbling down like a piano dropping on an old lady from a third story window. Plus, she looked so damn vulnerable and contradictory (cute, but not sexy, girl but not woman) like that it was almost enough to make me change the way I thought of her. It was like gazing at rusted metal. Its no wonder we both didn’t scream louder.
Once my paralysis broke, I turned away and threw a pillow over my head. I found comfort staring at nothing.
“Seth,” Cori said a moment later.
“Is it safe to look?” I asked, still ensconced in darkness.
I pushed the pillow away and saw that Cori had covered herself back up with her diaper.
“What the hell?!” I snapped, still riled.
“I…I can explain,” she said. “See, I woke up and the diaper was wet and I wanted to change…”
“Use a fucking bathroom for that.”
“…and I thought you were still asleep,” she concluded, breaking down in tears at the end of the sentence.
She was crying again and I hated it. Watching her cry was almost as bad as seeing her naked. I wanted to grab her and shake her. “You’re tough,” I wanted to shout at her. “You’re tougher than I am and you’re not supposed to cry. Stop crying, it’s scaring the shit out of me. Stop fucking crying!”
“Jesus, what’s wrong with me?” she asked, sobbing while snot streamed down her nostrils.
“It’s…” I began, but quickly trailed off. I couldn’t think of what to say, so I walked up to her and threw an arm around her. She promptly took hold of my arm and began to use it first as a pillow and then as a tissue.
“I’m sorry,” she said. For someone who professed to have nothing to apologize for, she was saying sorry a lot lately and that bothered me too. “I’m so sorry.”
“It’s OK,” I said, patting her tentatively on the back. “Take it easy though.” I was pretty shitty at being affectionate.
“I was having this dream,” she explained. “It was wicked-cool. I was a mermaid and you were a shark and Robbo was a walrus. And we were all in the water just hanging out and….yeah, my parents were in the dream too.”
“What were they?” I asked.
“Assholes,” she said. “Themselves.”
“All the people we didn’t like were there, actually. J.T., Randy, everyone. They were all there as humans standing on a beach. And they were just standing there looking at us. Once in awhile, one of them would try to get out to where we were, only as soon as they set foot in the water, they’d drown. It’s…I dunno. It sounds fucked up, but it was wonderful.”
“I’ll agree with half of that,” I told her.
“Anyway, I think that’s how I wet myself. Cuz of the water in the dream.”
“I guess it was a good thing you’re wearing a diaper then.”
“Yeah,” she said, sounding tired and humbled. “This past week…ugh, I just wanna go back and erase all of it.”
“I hear that.”
“I guess I’d better change,” she told me. “But first…”
Trouble was coming, I knew that. I still wasn’t expecting her to pull my underpants down. She did just that though, and I felt myself turn a million shades of red. I wasn’t quite angry and I wasn’t quite horny. I was in that zone of disbelief, much like I was when I witnessed a David Copperfield illusion in my youth.
“Now we’re even,” she said on her way out, leaving me to wonder exactly what the fuck was going on.

Whilst Cori was making use of the bathroom Judy and I once were awkwardly forced to share, I descended the stairs (after covering myself up, of course) and walked to the other bathroom to splash some water on my face. All kidding aside, it dawned on me that Cori was seriously going crazy. It wasn’t cool-crazy like Dan or crazy like you see in the movies. It was ugly-crazy, real crazy and I wanted no part of it.
Questions quickly emerged. Was she always like this? I’d seen her do nutso stuff, yeah, but the context was way different. While drunk on a Friday night, I was a bit crazy myself, but by Saturday morning I was back to ever-so cleverly resembling a sane person. Cori’s manic behavior seemed to know no distinction. And, because I didn’t really get a firsthand glimpse at her homelife, it was pretty damn conceivable that I’d never notice if she was like this 24/7.
Then again, I reasoned, it could have just as easily been a temporary thing brought on by her family and those assholes at school. Everyone has their breaking point. I don’t care if you’re John Q Sane. Push the right buttons and you’ll crack. Hell, for awhile it seemed like all that college shit would push ME right off the deep end too.
“Problems?” Dad asked after I emerged from the bathroom. “I heard some yelling up there.”
“Seth,” he said sternly.
“It’s not what you think,” I said. “It’ll be OK.”
“I hope you’d tell me if it wasn’t.”
“I will, Dad,” I promised.

Walking back upstairs drew me into a game of Risk against myself. I didn’t know what kind of stunt Cori would pull next and I didn’t really want to find out either. At that point, I was ready to just tell her to go home. Of course, that would have made me a liar, a coward, and, worst of all, a bad friend. Still…
She was fully clothed and playing with my free weights when I entered my room.
“Hey, I didn’t know you lifted,” she said.
“Well, I do.”
“Better watch out, Arnie,” she joked. “Seth’s gunning for you.”
Looking at her, it also occurred to me that among the list of random, crazy things Cori could do was to wet her pants again. Be it intentional or not, I didn’t fancy trying to get piss out of carpeting.
“Hey, uh, are you wearing a diaper?” I asked.
“Nope,” she replied. “I decided to go commando.”
She lifted up her shirt to show that she was joking. The white of the diaper stuck out above her waistline, plain as day. I should have known not to take her seriously, but the mere fact that she didn’t seem to be taking ANYTHING seriously pissed me off to no end. My mind seemed made up. She was going to have to go.
Just before I could tell her as much, however, she gave me a kiss. It was a bland, inoffensive peck on the cheek, utterly meaningless to be sure, but important just the same. Her usual method of displaying affection was to punch and kick and curse at us (not meaning any of it, of course, though it could be quite convincing at times). Suddenly, it all made sense. My entire friendship with her had been at arm’s length and now I was being ushered into a more intimate inner circle.
“You’re a lifesaver, dude,” she said. “Seriously.”
“Really? All this time I thought I was a Certs.”
She giggled. Once I heard that squeaky laugh of hers, I knew she wasn’t going anywhere.

Five minutes later, it was resolved that we should give Robbo a call and fill him in on what had happened. Cori was reluctant at first.
“Shit, I don’t wanna have to do this again,” she whined. “It was hard enough to explain to you the first time.”
“Then I’ll explain it,” I said.
“Cool. It’ll give me some time to raid your CDs.”
And, with Cori’s chorus of “got it, want it, don’t want it, hate it….” as dialing music, I hit Robbo with what was sure to be a bombshell.
He took it relatively well, and by that, I mean he was more upset about me not telling him than about all that had happened to Cori.
“This is huge!” he exclaimed. “Why the fuck didn’t you call me?”
“I didn’t want to interrupt your marathon. How’d that go, by the way?”
“Fell asleep in the middle of Rocky 5.”
“Aww, dude….”
“Seth, put her on.”
I turned back to Cori, who was sprawled out on my bed with half my CDs out in front of her.
“Robbo wants to talk to you.”
She shrugged. “What did you tell him?”
“I told him what happened.”
“All of it?”
“Well I dunno what to say.”
“She doesn’t know what to say,” I told Robbo.
“Then you tell me, huh?” he asked. “Is she fucked up? Suicidal? Should I be rushing over there as we speak?”
“No, no, nothing that bad,” I said, dropping my voice to a whisper. “It’s weird, actually. I think she’s reaching out.”
Robbo chuckled. “Reaching out?”
“Yeah, if you believe that. But look, man, I could use your help over here. And bring some milk”
“Yeah. Milk. Bye.”
“Well?” Cori asked me.
“He’s coming over.”
“Cool. I’ll go put your CDs back.”
“I’ll make pancakes.”

Re: A Punk’s Tale - WingZ

I’m almost ashamed to admit it, but I make really good pancakes. I’ve been making them since I was 12. I was sick and home from school one day and started going through Mom’s collection of recipes out of boredom. For some reason or another, I thought pancakes seemed doable. Starting from scratch (prepackaged mix is for poseurs), I began to furiously whip together ingredients until I had something resembling batter. The end result was messy, but surprisingly good. And you know what? I had fun doing it.
I was on a pancake binge til I was about thirteen. Every Sunday morning or so, I’d try a new set of toppings and ingredients. I kept tinkering with the batter until I had it down perfect. They were good, I tell ya! I made them for my parents, for relatives, for friends, for whoever stopped by. I didn’t really feel weird about it either. Why should I? It was my thing and I shined.
Punk didn’t exactly kill off pancakes, but it did reduce the frequency and the enthusiasm. Prior to that morning, I hadn’t made them in a couple of months and never for Cori. I wasn’t even sure she knew about my pancake prowess (it wasn’t something I bragged about….at 12 it was cool, at 17 it was embarrassing). She was in for one hell of a shock.
“What are you doing?” she asked, watching me race around my kitchen like a madman trying to gather the requisite ingredients. We were low on milk, but I figured I’d have enough to hold me til Robbo came over.
“Making pancakes,” I explained.
“What? Umm….OK. What are you really doing?”
“I just told you.”
“Because. That’s why.”
She merely shrugged and watched me work. I hit that batter like Johnny Thunders hits (well…hit. The dude died) chords. Cori laughed at first, then questioned my sanity and finally acquiesced to help. We were both deeply immersed in the process when Robbo finally showed up with the milk. He had been privy to one of my pancaking feats a few years back and his eyes lit up when he saw me work.
“Aw, sweet!” he exclaimed. “I should have known.”
Much work, sweat, mixing, pouring and turning later, we were finally set to eat. Dad even joined us, poking his head out of the study. He took one look around the havoc-ridden kitchen and knew what had been going on.
“Pancakes, eh? Just make sure you get this place cleaned up before your mother gets home. And save some for me.”
I was midway through my third forkful when Cori smacked me on the arm.
“What was that for?” I asked.
“Why didn’t you tell me you could do this?”
“You never asked.”
“Yeah…well…you’re supposed to tell me.”
“Like you tell us everything,” I muttered.
“What was that?” she asked.
“Oh crap, here we go,” Robbo said. “Open wide, Seth. Better save room for your foot.”
“No, dude, she has to hear this…”
“Hear WHAT?” Cori insisted, growing more impatient by the second.
I could feel my cheeks redden. I was flushed. It was as if a spotlight was upon me. My face burned like a waxen mask put to the candle and I knew I was bound not to make any sense. Maybe Robbo was right. Maybe I should have listened and shutup when I did. Too bad I didn’t.
“I realized something before, when we were sleeping together,” I began.
“Whoah, time out,” Robbo interjected.
“Not like THAT, dumbass!” Cori reprimanded.
“Hey, I’m trying to say something here!” I snapped, raising my voice.
“Well go on already, damnit,” Cori encouraged.
“I realized you’ve been holding out on us.”
“What?” Cori said.
“What?” Robbo echoed.
Struggling to put my angst into words, I closed my eyes and let the syllables flow. “You come to us and you bitch about your parents and you come to us to hang out and….”
“So?” Cori cut me off. “What’s wrong with all of that?”
“I don’t know whether we’re friends or paid sympathy and entertainment.”
I saw her eyes flicker with hurt and watched as she pushed away her plate in indignation. If I were anyone else, I knew that plate would have been making contact with my skull, but I didn’t care. The rivers of my mind and soul were flooding that day, and all the sandbags of tact and civility couldn’t dam them for a minute.
“Ohmygod….how can you say that?!”
Even Robbo looked aghast. “That was outta line, Seth,” he said.
“No,” I corrected. “Think about it. Think about all the shit we’ve been through over the years. Think back, man. Where the fuck was she?”
Robbo fell pale and silent with remembrance. The fact of the matter was that we had all but bled together and Cori had not. There were all those awkward years before we discovered punk (and her); years which were filled with taking crap from bullies, from teachers and just about everyone else. We rarely ever spoke of such moments, as they were privately buried between us. Of Cori’s pre-punk life, we neither asked nor were informed. A wall between past and present, between personal and public selves had been erected. It was this wall that I now sought to tear down.
“Fuck you!” she retorted. “I was…how can you blame me for that? I hated the way I was then, but I made up for it, didn’t I?”
“You can’t deny who you are, Cori.”
“No,” Robbo said. “He’s right.”
Much of what I thought I knew about Cori had been cast into doubt, but her ability to do the thing I least expected remained constant. I thought she’d fly into a rage and begin to assault me with whatever was in arm’s reach. I envisioned a violent tantrum the likes of which even the Plasmatics would not invite upon themselves. Instead, she showed me the same teary-eyed vulnerability that had disconcerted me so greatly before. And, while I felt my stomach tighten, I held my tongue.
“Fine, Seth,” she said, defeated. “If you don’t think I’m a real friend, I’ll leave and you won’t have to worry about me butting in anymore.”
Leave?! Robbo and I exchanged horrified glances and I finally witnessed the awesome stupidity of the havoc I had just wreaked.
“No!” I exclaimed, pounding my fist into the table. “No, no, no. You got it all wrong.”
“Aren’t you pissed at me?” she asked.
“We’re pissed cuz you won’t let us in, not cuz we want you out.”
“Yeah,” Robbo said, making a knocking motion against the freezer door. “Let us in.”
Cori giggled in spite of her trauma. “You guys…” she began.
I began to smile too, feeling proud that I’d just avoided the mother of all blunders. She promptly delivered an elbow to my midsection, knocking the air out of me.
“Dumbass, don’t scare me like that!” she chastised.
I nodded. I guess I’d deserved it for saying what I did the way I did.
“And you,” she said, addressing Robbo.
“Aw, come on,” he pleaded. “My ankle is already fucked up.”
“OK, you get a pass.”
So the great showdown had ended and all that remained was an air of optimism and a pile of dirty dishes, which Cori surprised us all by volunteering to do.
“It’s my house and my mess,” I said.
“So?” she retorted.
I couldn’t argue with that and stepped aside. It was just as well, because Robbo was absolutely dying to talk to me.
“What the fuck is going on?” he asked once we’d reached the privacy of my room. Sensing the worry on my face, I began to tell him some of the stuff I’d omitted from our phone conversation. I told him about sleeping with Cori and feeling simultaneously like the luckiest guy in the world because she’d chosen me to turn to and like a rat bastard because I knew there wasn’t much I could do to help. I told him about how horrible it was to watch her cry and about my lingering suspicions regarding her sanity.
“She goes from ultra-pissed to laughing just like that,” I said, snapping my fingers. “And it really freaks me out.”
“Well come on,” he reasoned. “You always knew she had a temper.”
“Yeah, but I always thought she got upset because of those douchebags at school.”
“Or her parents. Don’t forget about them.”
“Right,” I replied. “But what if she’s like this a lot and we just never noticed. Or pretended not to notice.”
“Uh…that’d be pretty bad.”
“Yeah its bad. And you know what else?”
“It hurts, man. It hurts looking at someone you thought you knew and…”
“Don’t you think you’re overdoing it?”
“Maybe. But you weren’t there last night?”
“True. Hey, do you even remember what Cori was like before she joined up with us?”
I thought back to junior high and recalled a quiet, waifish girl who wore designer jeans and was well-liked. “No,” I answered him. “Not really. But I want to find out.”

Cori was as bad as doing dishes as I was to making pancakes. She was slow, sloppy and made a mess of my sink. I attributed it to a lack of practice. Hers was a family not accustomed to cleaning up after themselves. Robbo and I finished up what she missed and wrapped up the extra pancakes for my parents to enjoy.
“Well?” Cori asked. “What now?”
“Let’s get the fuck out of here,” I proposed. And so we did.

We cruised down the streets in Robbo’s Probe, blasting some Vandals and singing along to lighten the mood. We didn’t know where we were going and we didn’t care. We were three near-adults out on our own and damnit, it felt good.
Our journey wrapped up on the less affluent section of town, not far from the supermarket where Robbo worked.
“I should probably run in and get some milk,” Robbo said.
“Don’t do it,” I countered, remembering a time in which he stopped in to pick something up and wound up working a 3 hour shift.
He shrugged and pulled into a sparsely-occupied lot. “Suit yourself.”
“Now what?” Cori asked, ever-impatient.
“Now we talk,” I said.
Cori arched an eyebrow. “Dude, what do you think we’ve been doing?”
“We chat and we commiserate,” I declared, “but we don’t talk.”
“So? Talking’s overrated.”
“This is serious,” Robbo said.
“Serious is even worse,” Cori intoned.
“We’ll walk then,” I suggested. “At least that way it won’t seem like a fucking interrogation.”
Cori seemed agreeable to this and we all stepped out of the car. It wasn’t especially cold for November, but none of us were wearing heavy coats. The cold sting of the wind was refreshing. It was a refutation of material excess, like all three of us saying in unison, “you might make $75 grand a year but you’re broke if you can’t appreciate this.”
“Soooooo……” Cori said after we’d traveled about a half a block.
I turned to Robbo, hoping he’d alleviate some of the burden of asking what had to be asked.
“You’ve been holding out of us,” Robbo alleged.
“Holding out?” Cori said.
“Yeah. Like not telling us stuff.”
“Like what?”
“Your childhood, your worst fears, your favorite bad 80’s movie,” I said. “Stuff that doesn’t matter and we don’t need to know but want to anyway. You tell us yours and we’ll tell you ours.”
“You know,” she said, exasperated. “This has been one fucked up day. First you see me naked, then you all but call me a traitor and now you wanna know about my fucking CHILDHOOD? What’s next? Wanna know when I get my period too?”
“No,” Robbo joked. “We can pretty much guess on that one.”
“Oh, fuck you,” she said, shoving him. The humorous mood broke when he tumbled to the ground and began clutching his ankle. “Shit….are you OK?”
Thankfully, it had been a ruse. He quickly pulled Cori down on top of him and began tickling her. “Yup,” he said. “Never been better.”
“Motherfucker,” she squealed between bursts of wanton laughter. “Seth….help….”
“Looks like I’d better to something,” I said, surveying the situation and shaking my head. I reached my hand out as if to pull Cori free from Robbo, only to end up grasping her flailing legs. I quickly removed her shoes and began to tickle her feet. Cori (told you she was ticklish) went about twenty shades of red and screamed her little head off with laughter, finally prompting the two of us to stop tickling her out of fear the cops would come.
“You guys suck,” Cori jokingly lambasted, smarting from the surprise ambush. “All that tickling made me piss myself.”
Robbo looked momentarily confused and I explained that Cori was diapered.
“I guess we should drive back so you can change,” Robbo suggested.
Cori shrugged. “It doesn’t bother me.”
I gave her a suspicious glance.
“Maybe my parents are right,” she said. “Maybe I don’t mind lying in my own piss. Then again, when are they right about anything?”
“Moving right along…” I said.
We asked and she answered then she asked and we answered. Years worth of unspoken conversations on topics that were, for some reason or another, deemed by one of us as being “off limits” were suddenly released and expounded upon. We learned that at one point Cori didn’t even mind being called Corrine and that she had a crush on the members of Hanson when they first came out. The more I knew about Cori, the more I came to respect and appreciate her. At times, I thought she must have been nuts to give up having everything on a silver platter just so she could have a little fun. I quickly began to see that there was far more to it than that.
We learned of Cori’s uncle, the Major: a man who believed in the benefits of corporal punishment and idolized G. Gordon Liddy. We learned of the fundraisers Cori’s parents had hosted, hoity-toity affairs in which the guests gave money to a seemingly noble cause (the arts, education for the underprivileged, etc) only to mock and condescend it at the same time. We learned that Cori’s enmity towards her sister was surprisingly a fairly recent development.
“Caroline’s always been a brat,” Cori explained. “But she could pass for cute before she started acting like she knew something.”
The Cori I now saw was nearly the nihilist I thought I had come to know. Instead, it was the very portrait of cold, calculating revenge. She had, through her upbringing, her association in certain circles (circles full of assholes like Randy and J.T.) and her parents’ tight rein, been often unhappy but bore it down with a smile. She suppressed, repressed and denied rebellion, freedom and originality for so long that it began to come out of her ears. And then, one day, she took it upon herself to say fuck you to the world, joined up with us and went punk. She didn’t quit life (as Robbo and I had sometimes suspected); she began living it. Everything she did now was in service of the destruction of her former self…or so she said.
“I swear, if I could go back in time five years and see myself, I’d kick the shit out of me,” she muttered. “I’d be like, ‘wake up you stupid bitch!’ Don’t you see where your life’s going?’”
We shared too for our part, regaling her with some of our less than fortuitous moments. I didn’t dig nostalgia one bit, but since I opened the door, I had to let it in. Thanks to Robbo, we managed to dredge up some stuff that was long (and best) forgotten). We must have done a number on her, because by the time we finished telling Cori about getting left behind on field trips and being left Valentine-less on February 14th (just to name a few), she seemed pretty shaken up.
“I don’t get it,” she said. “You guys are always so laid back. I’d be pissed if I were you. More pissed than me, even.”
“What happened, happened,” Robbo said.
“But doesn’t it bother you?”
“Yeah, but why live in the past?” I asked. “We’re not punk out of revenge; we’re punk because it fits who we are. Right?”
“Right,” Robbo echoed.
By the time we finished talking, we had walked a good three miles and were now approaching the lot in which she started. Though we had grown numb to the cold around us, we were about ready to seek shelter just the same.
“Hang on a second,” Cori said. “I gotta pee.”
Instead of looking for a bathroom (the supermarket was close enough and there were several other places open as well), she took a deep breath and stood still. A moment later, she began walking again.
“Did you just….” Robbo began, searching for the right words.
“Aww, how could you?” he replied in pseudo-disgust.
“I dunno,” she said, rather nonchalantly. “Its not so bad if you don’t think about it.”
“But won’t it…um…leak?”
“I don’t think so,” she said. “Seth, am I leaking?”
“Doesn’t look like it,” I replied.
“Lemme check just to be sure.”
She lifted up her shirt and quickly thrust a hand down her pants. “Nope,” she said. “No need to worry about your seats, Robbo.”
“Moving right along….” I said.
As we were getting in the car, I noticed a group of kids walking towards us. They looked like imitation skaters, emo kids to be sure. I thought I recognized a blonde head of hair among them.
“Was that Finch?” Robbo asked as we pulled away, thus confirming my suspicion.
“Shit, I hope not,” Cori said.

We returned to base of operations (aka my house) to chill for awhile, unsure of what to do next and not giving a damn regardless. We had just spent a good chunk of times recalling some of the most horrible, embarrassing, awkward, unpleasant moments of our young lives but were in surprisingly good moods in spite (or perhaps because) of it. Instead of being bummed out, we were cracking smiles and riding on a natural (we were outta beer anyway) high. Life’s funny like that sometimes. A fucking funny bitch.

The bad thing about having friends is that you can never get them to leave. I still had a lot to do that weekend (namely, homework and the stupid essay), but there was no way I’d be able to get it done with Cori and Robbo around. By the same token, I didn’t feel like kicking them out either. So I ended up lying in limbo, marooned in front of the TV beside my two friends while we took in an as-of-yet unidentified action movie.
“Gary Oldman’s so hot!” Cori declared. It was one of those rare remarks that reminded us that yes, she was in fact a girl.
“Isn’t he like fortysomething?” Robbo asked.
“I don’t care,” Cori replied. “He’s hot and he was a darling Sid Vicious.”
Despite its ascension to the status of ‘definitive punk movie’, I never really cared for Sid and Nancy. It was too bleak for me. I didn’t want to see myself or anyone around me turn out like the title duo: burned out, fucked up and dead. Watching it almost made me question the life I had chosen for myself. Almost.
“Do you really think that was Finch that we saw earlier?” Robbo asked.
Cori made a face.
“Alright,” I said to her. “What exactly is your problem with him? I know he’s annoying and kinda pathetic, but he doesn’t really fuck with us and you treat him like he’s some kind of parasite.”
“I don’t like him,” Cori said. “I just don’t.”
Robbo looked to her for some sort of elaboration.
“He’s…” Cori began, searching for the right words. “He doesn’t deserve to be one of us!”
I looked slightly aghast. Snobbery was frowned upon in the punk code of ethics. After all, WE were the outcasts. We weren’t supposed to emulate those we despised (ie: the in crowd).
“Well he is,” Robbo said. “Sort of.”
“But he keeps hanging around those emo kids,” Cori protested.
“I know,” I replied, frowning. “We’ve gotta do something about that.”
“Like what?” Robbo asked.
“Initiate him,” I proposed. “Give him a crash course in what its really like to be a punk. He thinks its all fun and games. Come to think of it, he’s probably gonna wanna know why we didn’t ask him to hang out with us.”
Cori continued to make faces.
“We were all pathetic once,” Robbo said. “Give the kid a break.”
“Pfft!” she replied.
“Are you worried he’ll find out about this?” I asked, pointing to her diapered butt.
“No,” she retorted. “Wanna know why? Cuz as soon as I get home, I’m getting out of these things.”
It was the first time she had mentioned returning home since she got here. I took it as a sign of encouragement. Robbo muttered something indecipherable and turned away.
“What was that?” Cori asked.
“I said maybe that’s not such a good idea.”
“What isn’t?”
“Not wearing diapers.”
I joined Cori in giving him an ‘are you fucking crazy?’ stare.
“Well…you keep having accidents,” he pointed out.
“Hold the fuck on!” she exclaimed. “The first one was an isolated incident, brought on by me having a really shitty day. The second one was because you fucking tickled me. I am NOT going incontinent…”
“He didn’t say you were,” I added, trying to referee.
“Look,” Robbo proposed. “Alls I’m saying is it might not be a bad idea….”
“It’s a horrible idea,” Cori refuted. “But just to prove a point, I’m not having any more accidents. Period. And if I do, not only will I continue to wear diapers, but I’ll let you change me. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off too the bathroom cuz I’m an adult and I have complete control of myself!”
“Wow,” Robbo said after she left. “She’s defensive.”
“You think?” I retorted. “Seriously, dude, why did you bring that up?”
He shrugged. “I was just trying to help.”
“By insulting her?”
“It worked for me,” he said quietly. “When I was 5.”
Robbo’s mother had in fact put him back in diapers for about a week when he was five years old. He had been struggling with his control at the time and it was considered a desperation move. It turned out to work quite well, as he had nary a single accident since. Robbo had mentioned it to me once at some point and it was long since forgotten. Even our series of confessionals with Cori failed to resurrect it.
“Do you think she was serious about letting us change her?” Robbo asked.
I shrugged. It was becoming impossible to tell when Cori was serious about anything.

After managing to kill most of the day, Robbo finally made his way home around 5 or so. Cori, however, remained. She didn’t ask to stay nor did I ask if she wanted to and that was fine with both of us. Eventually (and perhaps inevitably), her mind began to drift back to her family.
“I wonder if they are still mad,” she mused, nesting her head on my shoulder. “They were pissed when I left, but I was even more pissed and I’m fine now.”
Cori had in fact calmed down quite a bit. Her random outbursts seemed to have halted and I was able to stop worrying about what she’d do next.
“Seth?” she asked. “What are you thinking about?”
“Ah. Cool.”
In actuality, I was thinking about how strange these past two days had been and what would come out of it. Would Monday entail a return to business as usual? Would all this be forgotten? Possibly, but it felt like some lines had been crossed. My brain hurt from trying to process it all. Too much fucking thinking.
I was so wrapped up in thought that I didn’t even notice that Cori had begun to fall asleep. I was sitting on my bed and she was leaning halfway into me, her eyes closed, her knees drawn towards her. She looked so peaceful that I couldn’t resist the urge to disrupt it. And disrupt I did: getting up in one swift motion and snickering as she fell to the floor.
“You ass!” she fumed.
“Sorry,” I replied. “But you were asking for it.”
“I’ll show you asking for it…”
Fortunately (for me), Dad interrupted us.
“There you are,” he said. Clearing his throat, he turned to Cori and told her, in his lawyerly voice, that her parents were ready for her to come home whenever she was ready.
Cori seemed perplexed by this bit of news and hammered Dad with question after question.
“What did they say?” she asked. “How did they sound? Were they angry?”
“They admitted to me that they pushed you too far and are ready to put the whole thing behind them,” he answered her. “Of course, I reminded them that next time I would have to get the authorities involved. And Cori: take it easy on them. Adolescence is a tough time, but family is family just the same.”
“Yes, sir,” she answered humbly.
“Well,” he said with an air of benign authority. “I hope that clears that up.”
Mom came in not long after Dad to ascertain how Cori was doing. She seemed pushed to pity by what had happened and might have come across as condescending if it wasn’t so sincere. Cori’s replies included, strangely enough, sounds that resembled normal human speech. Yes, thank you, I’m fine, thank you, and so on. It was, I think, the first time I had heard her carry on a casual conversation without cursing or getting hysterical in about a month. And still, for as well as she seemed to be doing, a suspicion still lingered.
“I don’t want to go back,” she told me.
“You can stay here another day,” I offered.
“Nah,” she said. “I don’t want to be a pain in the ass and don’t you have work to do?”
“Yeah, but…” I said, searching my mind for an excuse that would not come.
“You’re too damn nice,” she suddenly admonished. “Be an asshole. Do something that will make me stop feeling guilty when I treat you bad or stop worrying if you’re OK or stop fucking CARING.”
“Nothin,” she said. “Just ranting. You’re a good guy.”
“Not that good,” I replied. I saw her diaper sticking out and yanked on it harshly, causing her to fall abruptly backwards.
“Ow!” she said, instinctively taking a swing at me. “That’s better.”
“How can you stand wearing those thing?” I asked.
“I dunno,” she answered. “They really aren’t that bad.”
She fetched a clean diaper from her bag and unfolded it to show me.
“Touch it,” she said.
“Go ahead.”
I stuck a finger inside the diaper and felt the liner. It was soft and cushiony. For a split second, I imagined it pressed up against my balls and I felt a shock of excitement surge through me. I was quick to yank my hand away.
“Anyway, Robbo owes me $10,” Cori continued. “I’m still dry.”
“He never bet you anything,” I reminded her.
“Hrrrmmm…I’ll be sure and collect anyway.”
“Yeah…. he’ll wind up with two busted ankles if he’s not careful.”
Cori chuckled then yawned. “I should probably go,” she said.
“Sure you don’t want to stay for dinner?” I asked.
“Nah. They’ll probably have a feast ready in honor of my return,” she joked.
“Thanks again for everything,” she said, ruffling my hair. “And kick ass on that essay.”
“I still don’t know what to write,” I grumbled. The last time I’d thought about it, I got a headache trying to imagine the kind of self-serving bile those scholarship-awarding cocksuckers would consider suitable for their bowdlerized philanthropy.
“Pfft….that’s easy,” she told me. “Just write about yourself.”

That night found me sleeping uneasily and already missing Cori beside movie. I told myself I wasn’t falling for her or any other such nonsense; it was just a matter of being someone who mattered (to her at least) instead of just another fucking cog, which was how the world at large perceived me. I could only hope she was making out OK, as we were incommunicado for the rest of the day while I toiled aimlessly away.
The essay inspired so much dread in me that I hammered away at all my other homework before even giving it a cursory attempt. I was pretty drained at that point and couldn’t even find the energy to get pissed off about the task that lay before me. Sure, I knew how to write bullshit essays and I knew how to rant and vent about stuff in my life, but I had no clue how to synergize the two. How the fuck was I supposed to expound upon my goals and dreams when I didn’t know who they were? What was I supposed to do: tell these people that I’m lost and expect them to give me money for it?
In the end (perhaps out of frustration), I took Cori’s advice and wrote about myself. I let it all hang out. I wrote that I was a punk and we (the punks) were tired of getting screwed over. I wrote that I was tired of feeling invisible and that I wanted to make a difference without going on some kind of bullshit crusade. I wrote that I didn’t think I was a genius or a smoothtalker or even much of anything, but I’d MAKE myself something if someone cut me a fucking break. I wrote all that and more, printed it, threw it in an envelope and sealed it up before I had time to reconsider. It was all out of my hands now. So much for my parents nagging me.

The three days leading up to Thanksgiving were excruciatingly slow. Teachers saw fit to cram in as many quizzes, tests and projects as they could before the break and we students saw fit to bitch and groan about it as much as we possibly could.
Speaking of bitching and groaning, Finch really laid into us for not acknowledging him when we saw him. It got to the point where we would either have to tell him to fuck off once and for all (a thing that none of us looked forward to doing, as it would not only cost us a good lackey and a source of amusement but was quite rude as well) or bring him into the fold. We promised we’d hang out with him over the break, but it was a promise we weren’t exactly intent on keeping.
Both Robbo’s ankle and Cori’s outlook were improving. He started to limp a little less and she started to smile a little more. When she showed up on Monday with neither a complaint about her family or a diaper on, I assumed things had finally been straightened out. I still asked her, of course, just to be on the safe side.
“How are things with the folks?”
“We’re not fighting anymore,” she answered. She didn’t elaborate on that and I didn’t press her.
With Cori back to normal (well, as normal as she could be anyway) and my college and essay apps in the mail and out of my hands, I could finally begin to relax a little. I no longer had so much shit hanging over my head and could already begin looking forward to the party Dan said he would be having in December (interestingly enough, there was no fixed date for it.
“It’ll be whatever night there isn’t a concert to go to or a Christmas tree to decorate,” he told us after school on Tuesday.
“Whatabout a menorah to light?” I asked.
“You’re on your own, dude,” he joked.
Of course, it wasn’t like I had literally nothing to worry about. A teenager with no problems is like a sober mosh pit: you don’t really LIKE some 300 pound dude blasting whiskey breath in your face while he plows into you, but you’ve come to expect it just the same. Stupid as it sounds, I was worried about Thanksgiving. Most of my family didn’t really ‘get’ me. My paternal grandparents, who had reason to be the most intolerant of the bunch, actually didn’t have much of a problem with the life I was living. Having dealt with a similar wild streak in my Dad prepared them in that regard. Similarly, my maternal grandparents were too nice to give me any hostility. It was my cousins and aunts and uncles that I worried about. Don’t get me wrong: it wasn’t like Cori’s family with all the mind games and melodrama. No, it was a lot more subtle: I was left out of conversations and asked condescending questions, on occasion, like the bad seed that I often pretended to be. Knowing in the back of my mind that I was being silently (and sometimes not so silently) judged really pissed me off.
By Wednesday, however, I was too wired to care. I, like all my other school-age brethren, couldn’t wait for the day to end and Thanksgiving break to begin. A four day weekend might not seem like a big deal, but when you are in your last year of high school and every day til graduation seems twice as long, it’s like a month in the Bahamas.
Leave it to J.T. and his stupid student council cronies to nearly ruin it for us. During the last class of the day, he came over the loudspeaker and delivered a long discourse about the meaning of charity. Some people fell for his hollow sentiment and broke into tears. Others were annoyed by the distraction and jeered for him to shutup (like he could hear them). Me? I was just annoyed by the shallowness of the whole thing. Here was someone who took everything from everyone every day of his life and he was telling us we should give more? Give me a fucking break!
Even J.T. couldn’t break my mood though and I was feeling good as I headed for my locker. Robbo, Cori and I made our way to the parking lot and started making plans for that Friday and the weekend. We agreed it might not be a bad idea to let Finch tag along for once. Eventually, our conversation switched to the topic of Thanksgiving. It wasn’t exactly Robbo’s favorite thing to talk about.
“I’m sick and fucking tired of this stupid-ass holiday,” he groaned. “I’ll be working on something at the supermarket and people will come up to me and ask me where everything is. Where’s the turkey? Where’s the gravy? Where’s my brain? And then the manager will get on my ass for not getting stuff done because I was busy helping customers!”
“Yeah, but don’t you get a free turkey?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he was forced to admit. “Free ham, too.”
“You hear that?” I asked Cori. “Work at a supermarket and you’ll gain 20 pounds in two weeks.”
I expected her to chuckle, or, at the very least, deny she needed to gain weight. Instead, she looked away and began to sniffle.
“What’s wrong?” I asked, instantly going into serious mode.
“Guys,” she said, her voice cracking. “I did a really bad thing….”
We waited until we were inside the privacy of Robbo’s car and made her tell us on the way home. By the time she finished explaining, I was fuming. I was angry at what she said and even more angry that she kept it from me.
“So what do you think I should do?” she asked.
I told her she should go fuck herself. Robbo, fearing a brawl would ensue and not wanting any part of it, pulled the car over and made us get out.
“Why are you so pissed at me?” she shouted.
“Isn’t it fucking obvious?!” I shouted back.
I expected her to continue to raise her voice and, eventually take a swing at me. Instead, she turned around and began to walk away. Robbo called for her to come back, but she would not acquiesce to his request.
“Dude, why did you have to be so harsh on her?” he asked.
“Come on,” I replied. “You heard what she said.”
He slowly nodded and I found myself getting angry at him for not being as angry as me.
“Well?” I snapped. “Doesn’t it bother you that she did that?”
“Of course it bothers me!” he answered. “But Jesus, Seth, we aren’t her parents.”
“Maybe that’s a problem,” I said.
Robbo glanced at me and I sighed. I knew I was too upset for my own good and didn’t want to start a fight with him on top of the one I just had with Cori.
“Have a good Thanksgiving,” I said when he dropped me off in front of my house.
“You too,” he replied. “Cya Friday.”
“Yeah,” I answered. “I hope.”

In retrospect, what Cori did wasn’t as bad as I initially made it out to be. All she really did was lie to her family and friends and nearly get Mathilda fired. Compared to the other crap she’s pulled, it seems minor in comparison.
When Cori came home on Sunday, her family was not glad to see her. They didn’t start hassling her, but they seemed to take little joy in her return. Their greetings were curt and abrupt, the hugs they gave quick and affectionless. Their faces seemed to be marked with a cold, foreboding sterility.
Cori was so glad to be back (and hopefully back to normal) that she thought little of it at the time. She changed out of her diaper and retired to her room. It would be another hour or two before she noticed things had gone seriously afoul.
Her first indication that something was up came when they ate dinner without her. Hunger compelled Cori to leave her sanctuary and venture into the kitchen, where she found a stack of dishes yet no family. When she confronted her other about this, she was told she could help herself to the leftovers. Dumbfounded, Cori did just that. For the rest of the night, none of them said a word to her. They didn’t tell her to turn her music down or bore her with the latest bit of gossip. They didn’t ask for her forgiveness or offer theirs. They had put everything behind them all right, and, in doing so, effectively put Cori behind them as well.
Shortly before going to sleep that night, Cori approached her sister and apologized for having assaulted her. She expected (and perhaps secretly longed for) one of Caroline’s snotty remarks, but was sorely disappointed. The girl instead gave her the widest, most fake smile she could muster and told her that all was fine between them. Cori fell asleep that night under a haze of confusion.
The next day brought no improvement. The Hendersons’ disregard for their eldest daughter became all the more apparent. Cori entered the kitchen to find them embroiled in a conversation about places they’d like to visit on their next vacation. Cori added her two cents and was promptly ignored. A moment later, Caroline repeated Cori’s suggestion and was met with an interested reply.
With grim horror, Cori realized that she’d acquired a monkey’s paw. Her wish had come true, in the most disastrous of ways. Her family was finally leaving her alone and respecting her privacy and it was killing her. She was used to being the center of attention, not being thoroughly ignored. Without being scolded, prodded or disapproved of, she felt utterly invisible. Fortunately, she had a long and tedious day at school to help her forget about her problems (or lack thereof) at home.
Unfortunately, the minute she got home she felt a malaise set in. She was able to walk right by Caroline without her taking any shots. There were no snide remarks about her clothing or her friends. Cori even tried to initiate a battle by calling her a slut in training.
“That wasn’t very nice,” Caroline meekly replied and turned away.
Annoyed, Cori once again found herself alone in her room. She felt like throwing things, but knew in the back of her mind that it would fail to get their attention. She thought briefly about leaving again, but realized that would be futile as well. She knew how stubborn her parents could (and would) be for she was stubborn herself.
Sighing, Cori decided to take a nap. Things probably wouldn’t change, but she at least stood the chance of feeling better when she woke up. She stripped off her jeans and began searching for her ultra-comfy pajama pants. While looking, she came across a large plastic garbage bag. Curious, she opened it. Inside were all the diapers her parents had gotten for her. Their botched experiment in behavior control had turned out to be a colossal waste of money.
Cori grasped one of the diapers and ran her fingers over the smooth plastic. Her brief time spent in them left her with mixed feelings. On the one hand, being made to wear them left her feeling demeaned and belittled. On the other hand, the physical sensation of wearing them proved to be surprisingly pleasing. Maybe, she reasoned, she could give them another try. As long as she didn’t do anything stupid (like wear them to school), no one would know or care.
She replaced her panties with a diaper and climbed into bed. Sleep came easily to her weary mind and body and she remained out until she was stirred from slumber by the sound of vacuuming. Mathilda was working on Caroline’s room and would be in Cori’s soon enough. Cori knew she’d better get out of bed, but was slow to react. Comfort lulled her into closing her eyes once more. This time, when she awoke Mathilda was standing over her.
“Hey Matty,” she greeted wearily.
“You OK?” the housekeeper asked.
Cori nodded between yawns. “Just tired, I guess.”
“I notice things don’t seem quite so bad around here.”
“Yeah,” Cori told her. “They’re worse.”
Cori went on to explain that she was being systematically ignored and excluded.
“It sucks and I have no one to blame but myself.”
“Aww…don’t say that. Let’s face it…you…your parents aren’t nice people when nobody’s looking. But they do pay well. So you gonna let me clean in here or what?”
Cori balked at moving. She knew as soon as she got out of bed, Mathilda would be able to tell that she had a diaper on.
“What is it?” Mathilda asked, pressing her hand against Cori’s forehead. “You don’t have a fever.”
“I told you, I’m tired,” Cori repeated.
“Well…sleeping all day is only gonna make you worse. Get up and walk around. You’ll feel better.”
Before Cori could disagree, Mathilda yanked the sheets off of her. Cori’s face instantly reddened and she looked away.
“I thought you were done with all that,” a bewildered Mathilda inquired.
“I am,” Cori said meekly. “At least I’m supposed to be. Fuck. I… this is hard.”
“You wanna wear them?”
Mathilda looked at her questioningly then shrugged. “OK,” she said. “I’m not gonna ask why. I’m sure you have a reason. Some reason. Whatever makes you happy, ya know?”
“Thanks Matty. You aren’t gonna tell anyone, right?”
“No one would believe me.”
Cori kept herself diapered for the rest of the day without being discovered. It was her own private joke on the world and it brought her some mild contentment. “See?” she thought, smiling as she waltzed past her oblivious family. “I’m pissing myself right now and you don’t even know!”
By the next day, however, she was feeling despondent all over again. She diapered herself once more and hopped back into bed. This time she could not sleep and lay with her eyes open and mind adrift. She knew this wasn’t healthy. Her normal kinetic vehemence, her desire to jump up and down and wreck things, was missing. She tried to downplay it, to think of it as no big deal and just something temporary, but began to fear for the worst.
“In bed again?” Mathilda asked her.
“What are you doing here?” Cori asked.
“Your mom asked me to help her prep some stuff for Thursday.”
“So are you….”
“Yeah,” Cori told her.
“It’s funny,” Mathilda said. “My daughter is gonna be out of diapers soon and you’re still in them.”
“Hey!” Cori asserted. “I can stop this anytime I want. I…”
“Relax, I’m kidding. Seriously, I’ve been thinking. Maybe you’re onto something.”
Cori raised an eyebrow.
“I mean, we all in such a rush to grow up,” Mathilda continued. “And for what?”
“All I know is that they make me feel better,” Cori said. “And that’s fucking fine by me.”
Mathilda chuckled. “You’re crazy.”
“Crazy like a fox!” Cori replied, abruptly throwing off her covers and grabbing a pillow. Mathilda, sensing a sparring match was of the essence, grabbed another pillow to defend herself. And that was when the Hendersons caught them.
Cori’s parents were apathetic no longer. They had gone from cool and distant to livid in a moment’s notice. What was going on, they demanded to know. Why was Cori still wearing diapers? Instead of sticking it to them as she usually did, Cori held her tongue and allowed Mathilda to take the fall. Her parents were looking for a way to heap blame upon her regardless and this only gave them the perfect excuse.
“I dunno why I let them do it,” Cori explained to us. “I thought maybe if they had what they’d want they’d be happy and then I’d be able to be happy.”
Mathilda wasn’t fired per say, but her job situation was in limbo and to be decided after Thanksgiving. There was little faith to be placed in a “we’ll see” and the guilt that Cori felt over it tremendous. It was not, however, enough to make her want to tell me or Robbo right away and not enough to make her want to confront her parents.
“You don’t understand,” Cori said. “After Matty left, they were nice to me. Actually really nice, cuz they thought I was a victim or some stupid shit like that. Do you have any idea how long its been since my parents have been nice to me?”
Maybe she had a point and maybe she didn’t. I didn’t really care as it all disgusted me just the same. A real punk (let alone a good friend and a halfway decent human being) would have never rolled over like that. Cori, who was arguably more hardcore than any of us, had finally sold out.

Punk life is full of irony. There’s a band from L.A. called The Bronx. A friend of mine was shocked to find that the touring schedule for the band Thursday was comprised entirely of Fridays. We’re always dropping jokes like that. The way I see it, everyone is basically faced with the same problems in life. How you deal with them depends on what kind of person you are. A pop person will gloss it over and pretend its OK; a metal person will exaggerate it and pretend it’s the end of the world. An emo person will whine about it to his heart’s content but (naturally) do nothing and a rapper will mix it in with all of the other problems and throw it at you as a package deal. We punks are different though. We’ll take a problem and turn it inside out, make it eat itself. We’ll dive right into a black hole and give it a case of cosmic indigestion. We’ve got nothing to lose and sometimes that seems pretty damn appealing.
I reflected on this and other uplifting bits of sentiment while trying to forget the horribleness of what Cori had told me. Judy helped somewhat in this regard. Her return home provided a nifty distraction. Every time she came home, she had about a million things to talk about. This time proved to be no exception. Her hair was different and she was on a quasi-feminist/women’s lit kick. I tried to listen out of curiosity, but I zoned out fast. My sister was getting old on me. Old and serious.
She and my parents and I were embroiled in a post-dinner discussion Wednesday night when I grew weary and excused myself. Surely enough, a good ten minutes later Judy looking for me.
“Do I really bore you that much?” she asked.
I shrugged. “You have your thing and I have mine.”
“Punk, Seth? I thought you would have grown out of that by now.”
I gave her the hardest, meanest look I could muster and she merely laughed. Maybe she wasn’t the only one getting serious around here after all.
“Were you scared senior year?” I suddenly blurted out. I had no intention of confiding in my sister, but with Cori on my shitlist and Robbo in the same boat I was, my options were nil.
“God yes,” she said.
“How’d you get through it?”
“I didn’t. I stayed worried right up until college started. I stayed worried beyond that even. Then, when I was about two weeks in, I realized that I was going to make it, that I WAS making it and I stopped worrying. Everything just kinda happened from there.”
“That’s the thing though,” I confessed. “I don’t want something to happen to me. I want to make something happen.”
“Then do it.”
I gave her another angry stare. “How the fuck am I supposed to do that?”
“That,” she told me. “Is something you are just going to have to figure out in time.”
I shook my head. Progression was madness because it never went anywhere. At least with decay you could measure how much you’ve lost. Suddenly, doing things Dan’s way (nihilism to the max) was starting to make sense.

I remained depressed all throughout Thanksgiving. Even the food couldn’t cheer me up and that was really saying something. It was my Aunt Mara’s (Mom’s sister) turn to host and she did not disappoint. The usual culprits (mashed potatoes, stuffing, etc.) made their annual appearances, as did a few new innovations. Aunt Mara did a corn casserole, sweet potato pie and a few other things I would have gladly given my left thumb for. Everything was so good that I thought I’d been given a narcotic. I remained pleasantly stuffed for hours afterwards. Even the incessant babble of my cousins couldn’t stir me to annoyance.
My cousins, of which there are too many to count, fall into three categories: intellectual snobs, cultural snobs and sacramental snobs. The intellectual snobs all went to a private school and were constantly trying to impress with their knowledge. They took to trivia games like others take to arm wrestling. While there is a foreboding arrogance to their literacy, I mostly paid them no mind. When in fact I was suckered into debate, Judy and I were able to take them to task on many issues that we, by virtue of our age (the oldest of these cousins was 15) had a greater knowledge of.
The cultural snobs attended public schools in an affluent area. They weren’t nearly as boring as my other cousins, but they could be far more obnoxious. I once made the mistake of saying I did not see (nor had any desire to see) a movie they were raving about. I was effectively shunned for the next three hours. Needless to say, these girls (three of them between the ages of 5 and 17) had no appreciation of punk. Nonetheless, we could connect on one issue: our mutual dislike of the third group of cousins.
Thanks to Barry (actually Baruch, Dad’s cousin), my second cousins received a rigorously faith-based upbringing. They never went anywhere without their heads covered and attended services every week without fail. While I found this all to be a little weird (I myself was about as Jewish as a ham and cheese bagel), I didn’t have a problem with it…until they came into my house and told me all the things I was doing wrong, what I could do to fix them, and how I would incur the wrath of the almighty if I failed to do so. Granted, they were young when this happened (only 8 and 6 at the time), but I still wanted to hurl them out the fucking window.
So there I sat in a comfy brown recliner in my aunt’s taupe-colored den while arguments ensued all around me. The vapidity of boy bands was discussed, as was the morality of reality TV and the hipless (or lack thereof) of David Copperfield. Voices rose, but no violence broke out. My family could talk down a tornado. I merely sat there keeping my eyes forward and my mouth shut. I must have looked like I was high, but I didn’t care. Good, let them think that. I was full and I was pleased.
I didn’t remain pleased for long. By the time we were back home, I was back to moping around again. My inability to do anything about my future (and my inability to simply not care) really got to me. The worst part was that I seemed doomed to go it alone. Robbo just wasn’t as smart and resourceful as I was. There was no way for me to lead him to wherever I went because he probably wouldn’t be able to keep up. And, if I stayed behind, I’d probably end up resenting him for it. Cori, who could easily do whatever she wanted but wouldn’t out of spite, finally seemed to be back on track as far as her future was concerned. The problem was that she had essentially sold her soul to get to that point and I was ready to kill her for it. So yeah…. I was alone.
Once again, Judy was quick to pick up on my melancholy.
“What’s the matter?” she asked. “Cousins got you down?”
“No. Well…yeah, but no.”
“It’snothingforgetit,” I mumbled.
“At least allow me to guess.”
“Fine,” I said with little enthusiasm. “Guess.”
“Is it…girl trouble?”
“No. Well…yeah, but no.”
“You really have to stop doing that.”
“Ok, fine,” I said. Without getting into specifics, I told her that I was mad at Cori and it wasn’t something I was likely to get over any time soon.
“And the fucked up thing about it was we were just at the point where we were close. Like she could be herself, flawed, crazy, whatever and I’d still support her for it. And then what does she do? She does something really not like her at all and doesn’t tell me about it. How the hell am I supposed to be her friend now?”
Judy pursed her lips together and whistled. “Hrm……you’ve been friends with her for quite awhile now, right?”
“Is there……nevermind, I shouldn’t say.”
“No, what?”
“Is there an element of sexual attraction there perhaps that’s causing some friction……”
“No!” I snapped. “I’m fucking sick of everyone thinking that.”
“Oh,” she said apologetically. “I wasn’t aware that people were.”
“They aren’t. But I thought about it. And it isn’t like that. Or at least I don’t want it to be. Fuck, I dunno anymore.”
“I only ask,” she said, concealing a smile. “Because it doesn’t seem like you’ve had any other girls in your life in quite some time.”
“Yeah, and I suppose the guys are all over you.”
Now it was her turn to give me the look.
“Sorry,” I said. “You’re just trying to help.”
“Would you like a suggestion?”
“Sure. Couldn’t hurt.”
“I wouldn’t tell you to forget about Cori, but for the time being, yes, forget about Cori. Go out and have some fun. When the time is right, you’ll probably make amends.”
“Hey…. you don’t need to tell me to have fun,” I said. “I invented fun. Traveled in my time machine back to Babylon and showed those dudes how to party.”
“What did I ever do to deserve such a strange brother?” Judy asked on her way out.

As usual, Judy had oversimplified and underestimated much of my plight, but she did make a few points that really stuck with me. I really did have too much invested in Cori, as both a friend, a personal hero and a template for what a punk chick should be. Forgetting about her and branching out for a little bit wouldn’t be the end of the world. And, on that note, I decided to call my ex.

The only girl I had ever seriously dated went by the name of Melody Cohn. Mel knew me and actually grew to like me during my pre-punk days. We started going out in the 8th grade and somehow managed to stay together despite the changes of the following year. I went punk and she moved away (thankfully, she didn’t move very far). Though we had been officially broken up since early sophomore year, we had briefly reconciled a few times before arguing and swearing never to talk to one another again. Our last such bout was early June and I had not spoken to her since.
I had my hesitations about calling her, but I really didn’t have anywhere else to turn. If it was a simple matter of just wanting to get laid, I’d have waited til Dan’s party. It was more than that though: I was confused and I wanted someone who knew me to help me straighten shit out. Mel was it by default.
Much to my relief, she didn’t give me that much of an attitude about calling out of the blue.
“What is it this time?”
Of course, attitude can be pretty relative….
“Nothin,” I lied. “I’m bored.”
“Yeah, well I’m busy.”
“Doing what?”
“Doing….” she paused. “OK, you got me. Doing nothing.”
“Look, if you don’t want to talk, I’m not gonna waste my fucking time.”
“I didn’t hang up yet, did I?”
“No,” I was forced to admit.
“So what is it?” she repeated. “What do you want?”
“I…. look, things are kinda fucked up right now. Can I see you?”
I expected her to say no. She was stubborn and usually took convincing. However, I just didn’t have the patience for it this time and was ready to hang up.
“Sure,” she said instead. “You can buy me lunch.”
“Cool. Thanks.”

Mel’s unexpected consent to a visit threw my plans for a loop. I called Robbo early the next day to let him know that I wouldn’t be hanging out with him.
“Finch’ll be heartbroken,” he joked.
“So what? We still have the weekend.”
“Dude, don’t remind me.”
When I told him I was going to see Mel, he gave me a healthy dose of teasing.
“Don’t you remember the last time?” he asked me. “When you came back, you were like ‘Fuck that bitch, I’m never talking to her again, she’s got no soul’ and all that.”
“Yeah, I remember.”
“And then you bet me $50 that you wouldn’t see her again.”
“Yeah, I…no, wait. No I didn’t!”
“Damn,” he muttered. “Anyway, have fun.”
“I’ll try, man.”
Neither one of us had mentioned Cori.

Mel lived right by a mall, which, unfortunately, was where our visits convened. I hated malls with a passion. They were manifestations of greed run amuck, mixed with a slapdash assortment of poseur culture and brainless idolatry. Fucking Calvin Klein can charge $80 for a $30 pair of jeans and people will brag that they paid the $80. Unbelievable. The only times I ever went to malls was when I felt like heckling people with my friends or I absolutely had to buy something or meet someone. This was a clear cut case of the latter.
I met Mel in the food court around 11:45. She hadn’t changed a bit since I saw her last. She, like Cori, was short, topping out at 5’2 ½". Her red-brown hair reminded me of cinnamon, even though the color wasn’t quite the same. She wore Lisa Loeb-style glasses, a red sweater and black jeans with zippered pockets. There was a time when I would try to visually undress her every time I laid eyes on her, but those days had passed.
“Hi Seth,” she greeted. She didn’t sound anywhere near as belligerent as she did over the phone and I took that as a good omen. We grabbed some food, sat down and managed to talk face to face like two normal adults, despite the fact that we were neither normal nor adults.
“How was Thanksgiving?” I asked.
“OK. Yours?”
“You got your college apps out yet?” she asked.
“Yeah. You?”
We continued in this vein for quite awhile, keeping things civil but banal as well. Normally, this kind of small talk drove me crazy, but I was relieved to not be talking about “issues” at that very moment. Unfortunately, Mel went and ruined it for me.
“You sounded depressed over the phone,” she pointed out.
“Depressed?” I asked and tried to laugh it off. “Nah.”
“Come on Seth. Everyone gets depressed.”
“Right. But I’m not.”
“You said you were fucked up.”
“I said things were fucked up. Things. Not me.”
“What things?”
“Stupid stuff,” I said dismissively. “All this college shit is giving me a headache.”
“Is that all?” she asked.
“What do you mean all? It’s a pretty big thing.”
She shrugged. “I dunno. It just seems like there’s more.”
“Well? Is there?”
It would be wise to mention at this time that Mel hates Cori and pretty much always has. Having known her in the old days, she regarded her as a snob. Then, following the transformation, she saw Cori as a bad influence on me (even though initially it was I who influenced her) and a distraction from our relationship. At the time, I regarded it as mere jealousy, but I now saw that it might have been spawned out of concern. It was this concern that I sought now.
“Me and Cori aren’t talking,” I told her. “She did something stupid, I might have overreacted and we’re both pissed.”
“Oh,” she said, sucking in her breath. "That’s…um…. bad

Re: A Punk’s Tale - WingZ

“I know you don’t like her, but she’s my fucking friend. Or at least she was. So cut me some fucking slack.”
“Seth,” she said, touching my arm. “I know you were friends. I just don’t know what you think I can do about it.”
“I don’t know either,” I said. “This whole thing made me realize that she means a lot to me. I mean, we haven’t spoken in only two days and I’m already sick over it. I was hoping that if I hung out with you I’d be able to forget about her. But now I’m missing her and….”
“Seth, are you crying?”
“No!” I snapped. Indeed I wasn’t, but I wasn’t too far off. The impulse control switches inside of me were going haywire. I was either on the verge of collapsing into tears or going into a profanity laden, red faced, chair-throwing frenzy of anger. Goddamn Cori. Why the fuck did she do this to me?
“Look,” she said. “You know what I think about Cori. If you two never spoke again, I’d be happy. But you wouldn’t be. She’s your friend. Whatever she did and whatever you did, she’s your friend.”
“But she lied to me,” I protested. “I…I was fucking angry and I said some stuff I don’t think I can take back.”
Mel rolled her eyes. “So what! Do you have any idea how many arguments we’ve had? And yet here we are.”
“Yeah. That’s true…. I guess.”
“Do you remember how depressed I was the first time we broke up?” she asked. “I nearly developed an eating disorder. I was sick over it. I deleted all your emails, tore up all your pictures. I never wanted to see you again because you’d hurt me. But you know what, even after I did all those things, I still hurt. And I was sick of being sick. So I took you back. And I liked being with you all over again. It wasn’t that I forgot that you’d hurt me or that I thought you’d never do it again; it was that I got over it. People aren’t perfect, Seth, and their imperfections aren’t always what you’d want or expect them to be. Deal with it.”
“You know what,” I said after a moment’s pause. “You’re right. Cori and I have been friends for nearly 4 years. Why the fuck should something like this ruin everything?”
“That’s the spirit. Now unfortunately I must go….”
“Damn,” I muttered.
“What?” she asked sardonically. “Did you think we’d go off somewhere and…”
Instead of getting angry, she merely laughed. “You need to grow up,” she told me. “Then again, maybe I do too.”
That was all the signal I needed. I pulled her into me and practically devoured her face with my lips. She felt soft and warm to the touch. As I ran my hands over the bulge of her bra straps, I already envisioned us getting back together. Robbo was right: I had absolutely no resolve when it came to Mel.
“Well…that was fun,” she said after we had locked face for a few solid minutes. “But I really do have to go. Call me.”
“I will. Thanks Mel.”
It’d be another few months before I called her again, by which point a lot had changed. She’d have a boyfriend then and was off-limits and I’d be too preoccupied to care. Cori would be back in the picture, but not in a way either of us would have been able to predict when we sat down at the food court that day.

Believe it or not, a few of my punk friends are diehard Christians. With all the drinking, fucking, chaos, anarchy and nihilism that goes on in the scene, its hard to believe that any self-respecting Christian would ally himself with punks, or that any self-respecting punk would ally himself with a diehard Christian (and, before anyone asks, don’t even mention Relient K. A word to describe their suckyness has yet to be invented). When I asked one of my friends about this seeming contradiction, I was surprised by his answer.
“It’s simple, dude,” he said. “When you think about it, all punk is is preaching. It either preaches ‘fuck society’ or ‘go get wasted.’ We just happen to preach something else.”
“You mean peace and love and all that?” I asked sardonically.
“Yeah,” he said. “And we do it just as hard and loud and fast as the rest of those guys.”
I laughed at him then, but he’d proven himself to be right after all. There really was no contradiction. And, while I wasn’t a Christian, I could understand where he was coming from. I was starting to get sick of being pissed off all the time. Being pissed off almost cost me my friendship Cori. But, at the same time, I feared that NOT being pissed off would make me less of a punk. I didn’t want to be lame. It took me awhile to realize it, but there was a middle ground. I could allow weakness and lameness and unrighteousness and all the vices of humanity in small doses and still be able to step up the volume when I needed to. And I didn’t need to feel like a hypocrite either. Punk vs. society wasn’t a battle I started nor was it one I was going to end. It was merely something I was part of, and, in being part of it, I was really no different than the assholes on the other side of the line. So fuck it…I’m doing my own thing.
This affirmation aside, I was really nervous about calling Cori. I picked up and put down the phone about half a dozen times. I mean, what if she didn’t want to talk to me? Shit, I would have gone loco. Fortunately, when I finally did call her on Saturday morning, she answered by the third ring.
“I fucked up,” I told her. “I never should have flown off the handle like that. I’ve been miserable about it and….”
“It’s OK,” she said. “Robbo told me. I was pissed for a while there, but he said that I couldn’t expect Matty to forgive me unless I forgave you. So yeah…. you are forgiven.”
“Robbo,” I echoed. Ordinarily, I would have been annoyed that he went behind my back. However, on this occasion I was quite glad that he did. “I mean…. that’s great.”
“Yeah. I don’t really want to talk about though.”
“Gotcha. So how was Thanksgiving?”
“Pfft! Don’t even get me started.”
“Come on,” I prodded. “I haven’t talked to you in a few days. I need my fix of mayhem.”
“Wellllll,” she said, pondering. “It’s a long story and I don’t feel like being on the phone all fucking day. So why don’t you and Robbo get your asses over here and I’ll tell you all about it.”
I was stunned. I didn’t know what to say. Cori and I had been friends for a long time, but my appearances at her house were rare. Her parents detested me and I had a feeling that she wasn’t comfortable about us getting a personal look at her homelife outside of the tales she fed us. Nonetheless, she’d made the offer and I wasn’t going to turn it down.
“Seth?” she asked after I’d been silent for a moment. “You there?”
“Yeah…uh…. I’ll be over soon.”
Bracing myself for what was sure to be an awkward experience, I combed my hair and put on a nice shirt. Cori’s parents would probably find a reason to hate me anyway, but I sure as shit wasn’t giving them any ammunition. I then called Robbo, who was just as shocked by the invite as I was.
“Do you think they have valet parking?” he asked. It was meant as a joke, but he made it sound as if he was dead serious.

Robbo parked his trusty old Probe behind a Mercedes and we made our way up to the door. Cori’s sister answered, looked us over briefly like a lioness expecting a fresh kill and then called her sister.
“Might as well come in,” she said. “She’s like totally oblivious up there with the music on that loud.”
Robbo and I smiled. So far, nothing had changed. We passed briefly by Cori’s parents, who were gathered around a table examining what appeared to be a wine catalogue. They both bid us hello. Mr. Henderson was curt; Mrs. Henderson gushed with (obviously fake) enthusiasm. We finally made our way up to Cori’s room sans incident. I was in awe that we had come this far.
Cori was indeed blasting some Minor Threat rather loudly and we had to pound on her door for her to shut it off. She appeared before us looking quite comfortable. In a classic moment of fashion irrelevancy, she wore sweat pants turned inside out and a white tanktop with a tiny skull imprinted between her breasts. I could tell from the bulge and the strip of white above her waistline that she was diapered as well. This initially threw me for a loop, but I was sure that she had some kind of explanation for it.
“Hey guys…. come on in,” she greeted. “I’ve been on an Ian McKaye binge lately. That was Minor Threat’s complete discography and I bought some shit by Fugazi too.”
“I never really liked that D.C. stuff,” Robbo confessed. “It’s too political.”
“Oh and like Orange County punk isn’t?” Cori retorted.
“Maybe it’s the inner Jew in me,” I said. “But I’ll take New York punk any day.”
“I guess the Brits lose out,” Robbo concluded.
“Nah,” I joked. “Finch probably likes them. Then again, he probably also thinks The Smiths are punk.”
We all got a good laugh out of that one.
“You guys want anything to drink?” Cori offered.
“Nah,” we said in tandem.
She flopped down onto her bed, brought her legs behind her head and flipped herself back into a standing position.
“I’m getting into wicked good shape,” she bragged.
“So,” Robbo said. “Thanksgiving?”
“Um…yeah. It sucked.”
“You could have told me that much over the phone,” I said.
“It was very tense,” she explained. “You probably wouldn’t understand if I tried to explain it.”
“I don’t understand tense?” I scoffed, thinking back to my own family.
“OK,” Cori said. “Here goes…”

So Cori’s well-to-do clan congregated at the Henderson home. They exchanged formalities, bragged about their achievements and sat down to enjoy an elaborate meal. Meanwhile, Mathilda was on hand to help in the kitchen against her personal wishes. She wanted nothing more to do with Cori’s screwed up family, but need of money prevailed. The family treated her coldly, but nothing approached the virtual wall of ice that seemed to come between her and Cori.
Sometime between dinner and desert, Cori regained her conscience. She dragged her mother aside and told her point-blank if Matty’s services weren’t retained and the family’s treatment of her improved, she would cause a tremendous and unforgettable scene in front of everyone. And she meant it too.
All of the optimism about finally getting along with her daughter seemed to fade from Mrs. Henderson’s face.
“You wouldn’t dare,” she hissed.
“Oh, I dare, Mom,” Cori affirmed. “And if you decide to disown me or whatever, so what. I’ll be a bum. I’d rather be a bum then turn out like you.”
“Corrine!” she gasped. The anger dropped and her eyes began to water. In all their years of not getting along, it was one of the most hateful things Cori ever said. And she seemed to mean it too.
Cori sighed. “Look, Mom, I don’t wanna fight you. I’m sick of fighting. Fucking SICK of it.”
“You…you think I’m a monster, don’t you?” her mother asked. “Don’t you! Well I have news for you, young lady. Everything I do is for your benefit. EVERYTHING. This house, your things, your upbringing….its all to make your life easier later on.”
“Well gee, Mom, if you care so much why can’t you just let me go already?”
“Because…” Mrs. Henderson began and then froze.
“You don’t think I can make it, can you?” she asked. “Jesus. You raised me your way and you don’t think I can make it.”
“I never said that,” Mrs. Henderson denied.
“But you mean it, don’t you.”
“I will not have you running your life and then turning around and blaming this family….”
“Nobody is blaming you!” Cori snapped. “If I fuck up, I fuck up on my own. And I’ll learn from it. But I can’t be expected to do that if you and Dad keep pushing me all the time.”
“But your future…”
“You think I don’t care?” Cori asked and then began to laugh. “Pfft….Mom, I only act that way because I don’t want you forcing my hand all the damn time. Believe me, if I really didn’t care, I’d have slit my wrists along time ago.”
“Stop it!” Mrs. Henderson snapped. “Just stop it right now.”
“No, Mom. You’re gonna hear this. I’m not a little kid anymore. I can make my own choices and live my own life. Don’t you get it? Matty didn’t do anything to me. I wanted it…”
And that was when Mrs. Henderson slapped her. It was a hard slap, hard enough to draw blood to Cori’s lip. Of course, she was filled with remorse a moment later. Whether this was out of concern that she’d hurt her daughter or concern that she’d be caught acting improper was anyone’s guess.
“I…I don’t know what came over me,” she explained.
“It’s OK,” Cori assured her, not sounding the least bit angry. “At least you aren’t pretending anymore.”
“You….you’re serious about this?” a badly trembling Mrs. Henderson inquired.
“Yes,” Cori said. “Look, you don’t have to worry. I’m not gonna piss my entire life away out of spite. I’ll do good, but I’ll do it MY OWN WAY.”
“You mean that?”
“Yes, Mom. And if I don’t make it, it won’t be because of you and Dad.”
“That’s….” Mrs. Henderson began, searching for the right words. “We’ll talk more later.”
“Matty stays though, right?”
She nodded. Cori sat down for a slice of pumpkin pie and kept her mouth shut. She was conciliatory to her family members, even those who criticized her punk lifestyle. When all was said and done, she knew she’d won her peace.

“And then me and Mom and Dad talked afterwards and they basically agreed to let me do my own thing without cutting me off and ignoring me completely. All I had to do was promise them I would get my grades up and not intentionally flunk out of college or join a cult or anything stupid like that.”
“That’s pretty amazing,” I said.
“Wait a sec,” Robbo interjected. “How could you say that sucked?”
“Because,” Cori said. “I still had to put up with the rest of my family and I couldn’t say anything back. The only thing that kept me from snapping was the thought that I was finally gonna be free pretty soon.”
“But you did it,” I said. “And that’s what counts.”
“Meh,” Cori said. “I guess. It still wasn’t as good as what happened yesterday.”

About the same time I was seeking counsel from Mel, Cori had gone over to Mathilda’s apartment to apologize in person. Matty’s place was modest, but not a pit. She kept it well decorated albeit in a no-frills fashion. Cori’s fears about Matty echoed mine about her. What if there was no forgiveness? Fortunately, her fears proved to be as unfounded as mine.
“I’m sorry,” Cori said. “I should have never let you take the fall like that. It was a shitty thing to do.”
Matty merely chuckled. “You just got me a raise. You’ve got nothing to apologize for. Here, come on in…”
Cori entered and was greeted by the site of Gabriela, Mathilda’s 3-year old daughter running around in a Pull-Up.
“Unlike some people, she actually wants to use the toilet,” Mathilda chided.
Cori blushed. “You must think I’m a real freak, don’t you?”
“You’re a strange one alright,” Matty confessed. “But I like you just the same.”
Cori smiled and waved to the Gabriela. The toddler, curious, waved back.
“I bring her to my sister during the days,” Matty explained. “But I think she feels lonely just the same.”
“Have you ever thought about getting married?”
Matty threw back her head and laughed. “I see the way men look at me, but as soon as they find out I have a kid, they can’t get out the door fast enough. No, I’d rather stay single than saddle Gabi with a stepfather who doesn’t love him.”
“I feel bad for you though,” Cori said. “The both of you.”
“Don’t,” Matty assured her. “We all make our own choices. And, as hard as its been, I’m glad I chose to keep Gabi.”
She ended up staying and talking quite awhile. Gabi seemed to take to Cori, despite the latter’s general contempt for kids.
“She’s cute,” Cori told Matty.
“She’s everything to me,” Matty told her in reply.
“So…um…” Cori began. “Shit, this is hard…”
“Is it about the diapers?”
“Hey, if you want to wear them, that’s no business of mine.”
“That’s just the thing though,” Cori said. “You know how I am with my mom, right?”
Mathila nodded sourly.
“Even now that we have a truce, it’s still…. well, we aren’t close. And then I saw how you are with Gabi and I kinda got jealous and I must be losing my fucking mind…”
“I think I get it,” Matty said. “You want someone to be a mommy to you.”
“Pfft…. someone,” Cori echoed. “I want you.”
Mathilda’s eyes widened. “Whoa…. timeout.”
“I know,” Cori said. “I know I have no right to be asking you this. Please don’t think I’m a total nut. But who else am I gonna ask? My friends? They wouldn’t fucking get it. Besides, I’m friends with all guys and it’d be weird. I guess I thought that you’re a mother and you’d probably understand….”
“Slow down,” Matty said. “Take it easy. Give me awhile to process all this, OK?”
“Alright,” Cori said. “It was nice seeing you.”

“You’re right,” I said after Cori had concluded her narrative. “I DON’T understand.”
“Me neither,” said Robbo.
“That’s OK,” she told us. “You don’t have to. Just know that I made up with Matty and I think things are gonna be OK.”
“It’s been a good weekend for you,” Robbo said.
“Yup,” Cori conceded. “I guess it has.”
“Wanna fuck it up?” I offered.
“Sure. What do we have to do?”
“That’s simple,” I explained. “Go see Finch.”
And so it was resolved. Finch would get his long overdo visit after all.

Trevor Finch is, was and always will be a mystery to me. Much like Robbo and myself, he was on the loser end of the spectrum before high school started. Unlike the rest of us, he managed to stay there. For a long time, I simply thought Finch was too pathetic to bite the hand that struck him. What happened that day during Thanksgiving break got me thinking otherwise.
“Why are we doing this again?” Cori asked.
“Yeah, why are we doing this?” Robbo echoed.
“Because its Thanksgiving,” I said.
“So?” said Cori.
“So?” said Robbo.
“So let’s show Finch some thanks for putting up with all the shit we put him through.”
Cori wrinkled her nose. “Meh. At least it’ll get me out of the house.”

We dropped Finch an IM and told him we’d be stopping by his house to pick him up. Things were fine on the ride over, but when we got there Cori asked to switch seats with me.
“How come?” I asked.
“Because I don’t want him sitting next to me,” she explained.
I couldn’t help but laugh. “It’s not like he’s got the plague, Cori.”
“Easy for you to say, dude,” she retorted. “You aren’t the one he wants to fuck.”
“It’s not his fault you’re oh-too-sexy,” I joked.
She promptly reached forward and smacked me. “Look,” she reiterated. “I don’t like him. Plain and simple. I’m not attracted to him AT ALL. If he didn’t have a dick, there wouldn’t be a problem. But he does and he wants to stick it in me and that IS a problem. So quit fucking around, Seth, and switch seats with me.”
“No,” I said, holding my ground. “I’m not gonna do it. The two of you are just going to have to get along.”
“Oh Christ,” Robbo muttered. “Here we go again.”
Before the situation could escalate, Finch walked up to the car and got in. Cori promptly slid down to the far end of the seat, leaving plenty of distance between them. He didn’t look quite himself that day. His skuzzy blond hair was more unkempt than usual and he appeared to be fighting a cold.
“Hey guys,” he said between sniffles. “How’s it going?”
“It’s not,” Robbo said. “We’re parked.”
Finch actually bothered to laugh at this terrible joke. The rest of us tried very hard not to laugh at him.
“So,” he asked. “Where we going? Party?”
“On a Saturday afternoon?” Cori mocked. “What do you think?!”
Finch’s confidence promptly evaporated and he began to stammer. “I…I dunno. I was just….”
“Forget it,” I said. “Let’s go see Gersh.”
“The Gershster,” Robbo said. “Haven’t been there in awhile.”
“I dunno,” Cori said. “Do you think he got fired again?”
“Probably,” I said.
“Yeah,” Finch echoed. “Probably.” After pausing a moment, he finally asked, “who’s Gersh?”
Gersh was one of Dan’s friends who worked at a party supply store. In the early goings, we thought he was the coolest guy over. He used to let us suck on the helium they used to inflate balloons and hooked us up with tons of free shit. As an employee, he was abysmal. He had been fired several times, only to get rehired for some reason or another. As time passed, we finally got to see him for the tremendous loser that he was. If anything, dropping in on him would give Finch a chance to look less pathetic by comparison.

Party Patrol was open, though it was hard to tell at first. Aside from the big push they got around Halloween and Thanksgiving, the place was perennially dead. Sure enough, Gersh was there. He stood behind the balloon counter reading a comic book. His blue smock was stained with what appeared to be cheese puff residue and his idiotic chin stud seemed practically buried by a thick growth of goatee. He looked more stoned than any of us thought possible.
“Gersh,” Robbo called and then tugged on his arm. “Gersh!”
“Huh…wha…I didn’t…. oh, hey,” he said.
“Gersh, meet Finch,” I said.
“Sup?” Gersh greeted.
“Um…hi,” Finch replied nervously.
“You guys want some helium?” he asked.
We’d all tried it before, and, while the squeaky voices were fun at first, none of us wanted to lose a ton of brain cells. Finch, on the other hand, was all for it.
“Sure,” he said.
Gersh took a quick look around before offering him the helium pump.
“Don’t let no one see you,” he cautioned. “I don’t wanna get fired.”
“Pfft!” Cori exclaimed and started laughing. Sadly, Gersh was too stoned to even get the joke.
Finch, hands shaking, grasped the helium pump, put the nozzle to his lips and inhaled deeply. A moment later, he began singing, “I’m a little teapot” at an absurdly high pitch and we all started cracking up. He then took a few balloons, fashioned himself a reasonable facsimile of a strap-on and began dancing on the countertop. We were in stitches. Who knew the kid could be that funny?
Unfortunately, our amusement had not long to last. The manager, a red-faced gray haired gentleman in a pinstripe shirt, soon stormed on over to break up the party.
“What is going on over here?” he snapped. “Gersh?”
“Ima……I dunno,” he muttered.
“Hey man,” Finch said. “We’re just having a little fun.”
“Well go have it somewhere else!” he snapped. “Look at this. Look at this!”
“So much for that,” I whispered and we prepared to make a hasty exit. Finch, however, had no such plans.
“There’s no need to be a dick about it,” he said.
“That’s it,” the manager declared. “Gersh, you’re fired. As for you, if you don’t leave this store in five minutes I am calling the police. Do you hear me? The POLICE!”
“Let’s go Finch,” Cori urged.
“Fuck you,” Finch snapped at the manager and flung a pile of fliers to the floor. “Fuck YOU!”
Robbo and I finally had to drag him out of there. When we got to the parking lot, he was laughing hysterically.
“We showed him, right?” he asked. “We fucking showed him.”
None of us were saying anything.
“What’s your problem?” Cori asked at last.
“That wasn’t cool, dude,” Robbo said. “You cost that guy his job.”
“Granted,” I interrupted. “He’ll probably get it back, but….”
“I don’t get it,” a rapidly-paling Finch replied. “I thought you guys did stuff like that all the time. You told me….”
“When we do it, it’s different,” Cori said.
“It just is!”
“You know,” he said, getting really worked up. “I’m sick of it. Fucking sick of all of it. You make fun of me cuz I hang out with kids who listen to emo and wear flannel? Well some of those kids were my friends for a long time. And I stopped hanging out with some of them to be with you guys. Well…. well…. well fuck you too!”
We were all stunned. None of us had any idea Finch cared that much. We all just thought he was pretending to make himself look cool. Needless to say I felt like the world’s biggest jackass.
Robbo was the first one to try to extend his condolences.
“If it would make you feel better,” he offered. “You can kick my ass.”
Finch looked at him as if he were higher than Gersh.
“Go ahead,” Robbo dared him. “Kick my ass.”
“Robbo….” I cautioned, foreseeing a bad end to this ploy.
“Well…” Finch said hesitantly. “OK.”
He promptly delivered a sharp kick…. right to Robbo’s previously wounded ankle.
“Son of a fucking bitch!” Robbo yelped, hopping around in agony.
Cori once again began to giggle.
“What are you laughing at?” he cried. “That shit hurt!”
I started to laugh as well and Finch soon followed. Robbo eventually put aside his own pain long enough to join in too.
“I guess I had that coming,” he confessed.

Our brief spat done with, we hopped back in the car and went cruising around for awhile. Robbo had on a mix CD and we soon found ourselves humming along to Social Distortion.
“I think I’d better stop and get gas,” Robbo said after we were about 3 songs in.
“Keep going,” I insisted. “The Citgo’s a ripoff and the Getty station isn’t all that far.”
“I dunno, dude, I’m running on fumes.”
I leaned over to get a look at the fuel gage. The needle was practically below the empty line.
“Yikes!” I exclaimed.
We pulled into the Citgo station and Robbo got out to feed his thirsty car. I then turned to face the back and catch up on whatever conversation I was missing. Cori remained on the far side of the seat, squirming uncomfortable. Finch stared at her with great bewilderment.
“What?” he asked.
Cori remained silent.
“Do I smell?”
“I said do I smell.”
“Oh. No.”
“Then why are you acting all uncomfortable around me?”
“Seth…” Cori appealed.
I bit my lip. Damnit, I didn’t want to step in the middle of this one.
“Don’t mind her, Finch,” I joked. “Cori just gets a little shy around the menfolk.”
“Oh fuck you,” she snapped.
“Seriously, what is it?” Finch persisted. “If it’s a secret, I won’t tell anyone.”
“Some fucking secret….” Cori muttered.
“Oh don’t tell me you didn’t notice.”
“Notice what?”
“You’re either really sweet or really fucking oblivious,” she said. “I’m wearing a diaper.”
Finch blinked and looked to me. Is this a joke, his eyes questioned.
“Oh,” he said awkwardly. “Um….”
Cori sighed. “Look, this is a long story and….”
Robbo returned behind the wheel just then and we were off once more.
“I’ll tell you later,” she concluded.
We spent the rest of the ride hyping up Dan’s upcoming party and all the wonders it would entail. Despite my renewed sense of self, a bitching party was a bitching party no matter how you fucking slice it. We finally dropped Finch off about a half hour later.
“What do you think?” I asked after he had gone. “Is he in?”
I really didn’t even have to ask because I already knew the answer.

No matter how many days you have off of school, it’s never enough. I’d just come off of a four-day break, but it didn’t make any difference. School sucked just the same. The bitch of it was that, unlike last week, I didn’t have a break to look forward to. The winter holidays seemed an eternity away.
Now that I’d taken some time to get my shit together, you think I’d be poised for a good week, right? Wrong. I’d been in school for all of ten minutes when some fucker bumped into me in the hallway and managed to get fudge all over my shirt. While I was busy trying to comprehend what kind of person walks around carrying brownies at 8 am, he was skipping merrily away. Asshole.
Anyway, my shirt was damn near ruined. Fortunately, I kept another one in my locker. Unfortunately, it was the wrong damn shirt. Allow me to explain: last year, I’d gotten in trouble for wearing a Misfits shirt that depicted JFK’s assassination on the front. Mr. Sweeney, the Vice Principal, told me the shirt was lewd and licentious and ordered me not to wear it to school again. I told him I wouldn’t. The next day, I showed up wearing a white shirt that I’d marked with the words ‘lewd and licentious shirt.’ Mr. Sweeney didn’t like the joke too much and told me not to wear that one again either. As fate would have it, that was the shirt that was hanging in my locker.
I know what you’re thinking. “Gee Seth…. why don’t you just wear the shirt inside out?” It would have been a pretty good solution as far as I’m concerned, but who wants to hear what I think? Certainly not the administration. They had this ridiculous rule against wearing clothing inside out (they thought it was a ‘gang’ thing) that left me with virtually no options. I could walk around with a layer of crushed brownie on the front of my shirt or I could get in trouble. I decided to get in trouble…. and do so with style.
Surely enough, I’d barely had a chance to sit down in my first period class before I was dispatched to the office. It’d had been awhile before I’d had any cause to appear before Sweeney, but I knew the drill. I sat down in an undersized (and supremely uncomfortable) chair made of hard plastic and waited. Sweeney seemed to have a lot of dissenters to deal with that day. In addition to myself, there was a Goth chick, a thugged-out black dude and a tall, athletic type. So a jock, a punk, a Goth chick and a black guy walk into the principal’s office…. It was like a retelling of a bar joke, only this one was true.
My fellow rule-breakers were smirking at me. I don’t know whether they found the shirt funny or my presence in the office funny or were just a bunch of merry chaps and dames. Shit, man, I didn’t care…. I just wanted to get this over with.
People paraded in and out of the office while I waited. It was busier than an airport lobby. One such person actually stopped to talk to me.
“Hiya Seth!” said a sweater-clad blonde. “Love the shirt.”
It took me a minute to realize I was talking to Karen Larson. She’d gone from pretending to be punk to pretending to be my friend and wanted me to believe she was authentic in both instances. Right….
“How’s Cori doing?” she asked with a hint of wicked mockery.
“Not too bad,” I joked. “Still kicking ass with the best of them.”
“She’s a nasty little…”
“Been drinking lately, Karen?”
“Excuse me?”
“I asked if you were drinking,” I reiterated. “Funny things seem to happen when you do.”
“Ew…don’t talk to me,” she opined. Turning her attention away from me, she dropped off a form and was back out the door a minute later.
“Hey,” the jock said, tapping me on the shoulder. “Didja fuck her?”
I rolled my eyes. What the hell did I do to deserve this?

“I’m a little surprised in you, Seth,” Sweeney said. The high school’s dean of discipline was a short, baby-faced, impeccably dressed man with a shock of red hair. He looked like an uncomfortable cross between a hobbit and a Fortune 500 CEO. “I thought we settled this last year.”
I could have tried to explain. I could have told him about the asshole with the brownies or pointed out the stupidity of his stupid no inside-out rule. I could have done all of that, but I didn’t. I was sick of it, man. Sick and fucking tired. So I sat back and took my lumps. Yes, Mr. Sweeney. No, Mr. Sweeney. When all was said and done, no harm came my way and I was excused. I subtly knocked a book off of his shelf on the way out. It wasn’t as gratifying as telling him to shove it, but it would have to do.

By the time lunch rolled around, I was still pissed off and feeling like shit. Robbo didn’t help matters by hording half my sandwich because he forgot to bring his. Cori and Finch seemed to be having some kind of undeclared staring contest. All the while, a few corduroy-clad emo kids from two tables over kept throwing angry glances our way.
“Friends of yours, Finch?” I asked.
“No way,” he replied. “I’m a punk now.”
Cori partially restrained a snicker.
“Why don’t you go talk to them?” Robbo suggested.
“I told ya…” Finch reiterated.
“Look, it doesn’t make any difference to us,” I said. “We don’t give a shit. You were friends with them before you were friends with us. Besides, just because emo is lame doesn’t mean we have to hate on everyone. Go pay your respects, dude.”
Finch sighed and got up. “Aright. No stealing my seat now.”
The minute he was gone, Cori put her feet up on his chair.
“Much better,” she said.
For some reason, I felt stung by own words. Those were Finch’s friends, these were mine. We were stuck with them. That was how I felt: stuck.

I drifted through the rest of my classes without incident or improvement. Nothing else happened, but I still felt bad. When that final bell rang, I quit the scene faster than Sid quit the Sex Pistols. R.C. tried to corner me and talk to me about something, but I ignored him and got the hell out of his way.
“What’s your hurry?” Cori asked me as the four (Finch was with us) of us walked to the door.
“This day, man,” I muttered. “This is like the worst.”
“Aww, it’s not that bad,” she said. “It could be worse.”
“Yeah? How?”
She grabbed a chunk of my hair and ruffled it. I shouldn’t have asked.
We bid farewell to Finch just before hitting the parking lot and made our way to Robbo’s Probe. Dan was there waiting for us. Having materialized seemingly out of nowhere, he gave us all a collective heart attack.
“Dudes!” he exclaimed. “Do I have news for you.”
“About the party?” Cori asked.
“Yeah,” he said. “The party is on. The party is fucking ON!”
Robbo sidestepped to avoid his enthusiastically flailing arms.
“Well?” I asked.
“It’s gonna be New Years, man. We’re getting together a bunch of bands to play. There’s only one slight problem.”
We stared at him, awaiting an explanation.
“We don’t know where to have it,” he confessed. “Look, man, the fact is a lot of us still live with our folks and those who don’t have really shitty apartments. We tried renting a catering hall, but they turned us down. So it’s gonna have to be at someone’s house. And it’s gonna have to be a big fucking house.”
Robbo and I turned to Cori.
“What?” she asked.
“You know…” Robbo said.
“No!” she protested. “No freakin way. Not when I just started getting along with my folks. I mean, I’m not gonna fuck that up just so we all can have fun for one night. Wait a minute….what am I saying here? That doesn’t sound like me.”
“Yeah,” Robbo echoed. “What ARE you saying?”
“Take some time and think about it,” Dan told her. “I’ll keep you all posted.”
“Later, Dan,” I said.
“Later, dudes.”

None of us wanted to put any pressure on Cori and I was still sore about the sucky day I had, so the ride home was pretty quiet. Robbo didn’t even have a CD to put on.
“I’m going to Seth’s,” Cori blurted out.
“You are?” Robbo asked.
“You are?” I echoed.
“OK,” I said. “Maybe we can do a movie night.”
Robbo sighed. “Count me out,” he said. “That supermarket owns me.”
“Maybe we’ll come by and visit,” I told him.
“And shoplift,” Cori said. “Shoplifting’s good.”
Robbo cracked a smile and shook his head. “You guys are nuts.”

So Cori followed me home and we chatted briefly with Mom, who was having a worse day than I was. A buyer for a home she’d been trying to unload for the past two months backed out and one of her competitors was moving in on her.
“At least I don’t have to put up with what your father does,” she told me. “Another frivolous liability suit. Can you believe that? It’s going to get thrown out, of course, but he still has to go through the paperwork.”
I nodded somberly. That my parents weren’t doing so well themselves didn’t make me feel much better.

“So what is it?” Cori asked after we’d retreated to my room.
“Whatcha mean?”
“You seem all bummed.”
“Nothing,” I answered. “Stupid shit.”
“Like…nothing. Look, if I didn’t tell Robbo anything, what makes you think I’ll tell you?”
She shrugged. “I dunno…some guys find it easier to talk to chicks.”
“Well I’m not one of them.”
“Is that the problem?” she asked. “A girl? Cuz I’ll kick her ass for you if it is.”
“Then what?”
“What’s going on between you and Finch?” I asked, abruptly switching the subject.
“What are you talking about?”
“I saw you looking at each other all weird at lunch. If I didn’t know any better….”
“Urg, don’t even start,” she interrupted. “That wasn’t funny the first time and it isn’t funnier now.”
“So then what is it?”
“He called me on Sunday,” she said.
“We talked.”
“Lotsa stuff. School, friends, music, my diapers. He’s a pretty good listener.”
“Oh,” I said, averting my eyes.
“Hey,” she pressed. “I thought you were OK with it.”
“I am,” I said. “It’s just that it’s weird and its not getting any less weird. You didn’t wear one to school, did you?”
“OK,” she said, throwing up her hands in defeat. “Fine. I won’t mention my diapers around you.”
I know its stupid, but I seemed to cringe every time she mentioned the word. It was like I had some kind of irrational phobia. We were talking about diapers, not spiders or heights or senators from Texas.
“Actually….” Cori said and then stopped.
“What?” I asked.
“Sometimes I think you should be wearing them,” she said. “You’re almost as fucking moody as I am and it might calm you down a bit.”
“Aw, get the fuck out of here,” I said, chucking a pillow at her.
“See?” she said, giggling. “There ya go!”
I’d dismissed her suggestion at the time, but I found myself thinking about it later. In the sea of calamity, chaos, disappointment, boredom, confusion, fear, loathing and dread that I found myself in, I was ready to grab hold of the first buoy I saw. And so what if it happened to be big and white?

Winter….sucks. It just sucks. There’s no other way to put it. Just about every punk song you hear takes place during summer or spring or fall. Who’s gonna go surfing or skating with snow on the ground? Who can think about anarchy when they are freezing their balls off?
I don’t know whether I had some kind of seasonal affective disorder or I was just under a lot of stress, but early December totally blew. The concert scene was dead: no one was playing shit till around Christmastime. Dan still didn’t have a place for his party. Robbo was stuck at work more and more and Cori seemed to get loopier with every passing day. Worst of all, teachers took it upon themselves to cram in as much material as they possible could. We were seniors, damnit. They could have cut us a fucking break! Alas, no such luck.
My parents noticed that I was starting to mope around a bit and asked me what was up.
“I dunno,” I told them. “Just…. stuff.”
“I hope if its something serious, you’ll tell us,” Dad said.
“Or even if it isn’t anything serious,” Mom added.
“Yeah. I will. Thanks.”
Of course, I wasn’t planning on telling my parents anything. It wasn’t a knock on them. They were pretty good people. I knew a lot of kids who were at war with their folks and I counted myself lucky not to be among their number. Nonetheless, the battles I fought were my own and I didn’t see fit to involve them.
The breaking point came about two weeks into December. I was hanging out by my locker when J.T. Neumarr walked by.
“Hhhey Seth,” he said, delibertaly exaggerating the guttural Hebrew ‘cha’ sound. “Hhhapy Hhhhanukahh.”
This afforded him and his little cadre a brief snicker. Normally, I would have taken the time to engage in some witty banter and make him feel like the pompous ass that he was. That day, however, found me in no such mood. I got a B- on an English paper. The teacher wrote that while I did the assignment correctly and showed good insights, the paper was structured poorly and had improper citations. Improper citations my ass! She just didn’t like that I said that Bill Shakespeare was an overrated hack.
“Fuck you,” I snarled.
“Oh, that’s original,” J.T. mocked. “You know you really do wanna fuck me? Right, you sexy bitch?”
He was baiting me, but I didn’t care. I was sick and fucking tired of being the ‘considerate’ punk: true in spirit but not in action. I wanted to feel what Cori felt when she pounced on Karen. I wanted to feel what Dan felt when he pissed his future away. I wanted the indignant glory of someone who burned with spite til the very end.
And so, throwing caution to the wind and violating my better judgment, I took a swing at him. J.T. saw it coming a mile away. He sidestepped and shoved me to the floor. When I tried to get up, a Timberland boot pressed my face to the ground.
“Get down and stay down,” he barked. “Punk faggot.”
By the time I was able to get back up, he was gone.

The incident caused a mini-civil war at lunchtime. Finch, in all his naïveté, wanted to go to war.
“That’s fucked up,” he insisted. “You can’t let him get away with that, Seth. You just can’t.”
Robbo and I both knew better.
“If we do something to J.T., him and his friends are just gonna make things worse for all the punks,” I explained.
“Yeah,” Robbo agreed. “One of those guys is bad enough. We don’t want a whole army of those fuckers up our asses.”
“But….” Finch protested, searching for the right words.
“Finchie’s right,” Cori said. “Damned if I’m gonna let that asshole do something to one of my friends. And if you boys are too chickenshit to do something about it, I’ll handle it myself. Mmmkay?”
“Remember what happened the last time you ‘did something’?” I reminded her.
She bit her lip in consternation. “Shit. Well….I’ll…we….we’ll figure something out.”
Later on, I passed by J.T. and R.C. in the hallway. After months of declaring how much they hated each other, they seemed to be right back to being friends. J.T. laughed as he passed me and R.C., who swore he had my back, laughed right along with him. The social hierarchy of high school is subject to constant shifts and disruptions, but one thing always remains the same: the punks are on the outs and the assholes dominate everything.

This cycle of bullshit continued, more or less interrupted for the next week or so. It got better some days and worse others, but nothing seemed to change. A voice in the back of my head told me that if I couldn’t handle the senior year of high school, there was no way I’d be able to handle college. I drowned that voice out with a shot of Tequila and a few Distillers songs and seemed to be at peace…for awhile.
“Dude, come to work with me,” Robbo suggested. “I’ll ring, you bag. It’ll take your mind off all this.”
“Thanks, man, but I’m trying to feel better. Not worse.”
He shrugged. “I figured it was worth a try.”
Cori’s suggestion wasn’t much better.
“Come hang out with me,” she invited.
“Look, I’m still not used to not fighting with my parents all the time. It gets weird. And lonely.”
“I still say they hate me.”
“They do not! OK, maybe they do. But they aren’t gonna say anything.”
“No Hannukah jokes?”
“No Hannukah jokes.”
And so, once again with almost superstitious reluctance, I found myself venturing to Cori’s house. Not only weren’t her parents condescending to me; they weren’t even there. Caroline and a group of giggling freshman occupied the den and ignored me entirely. I also caught a rare glimpse of Mathilda just before she left. I found myself nearly involuntarily drooling at the sight of her. I couldn’t help it. She was smoking!
“Well if it isn’t Miss ‘I Have No Friends’” she joked.
“Heh,” Cori chuckled nervously. “Yeah…. Seth doesn’t count. He’s invisible.”
“Be good.”
“Dude, could you stare any harder?” Cori asked me after I’d left.
“I can’t help that she’s hot,” I said defensively.
“Whatever. She’s too old for you and not interested.”
“Way to step on my dreams,” I said only half-seriously.
Cori began to hum the chorus from Bad Religion’s “Raise Your Voice” as she circled her room, pausing every once in awhile to poke me in the arm.
“You seem a little jumpy,” I commented.
“I am!” she exclaimed. “I usually put on a diaper and take a nap right about now, but I don’t wanna make you uncomfortable, so I’ll sing and poke you instead.”
“Hey, it’s your house,” I said.
“So it is. Are you sure you’re OK with it though?”
“Yeah,” I lied. “Whatever makes you happy.”
“Kickass! Now turn around.”
I did so, feeling somewhat unsettled by the fact that she was diapering herself behind me. A moment later, she poked me again to let me know she was done.
“I think I’ll forgo the nap,” she said.
“Yeah,” I sighed. “Sure.”
“All right,” she said. “What is it?”
I rolled my eyes. “Not this shit again.”
“You’ve been acting like a bitch for two weeks. Even I don’t PMS that bad and I’m a chick. I don’t know what you’re problem is and you won’t tell me.”
“Fuck. Can’t I just have a bad month and have that be the end of it?”
“OK. But I’m not talking about it.”
“Fine,” she said. “Wanna fight?”
Before I could answer, she planted her booted foot about two inches from my face and made the requisite kung foo noise to accompany it. I knew she was only playing around, but I was in no mood nonetheless.
“No,” I replied.
“Well,” she said, offering me an ultimatum. “You can either fight or talk. Pick one.”
“Can’t I just lay down?”
“Sure,” she said. “You can take my nap for me.”
“Very fucking funny.”
It felt strange lying in Cori’s bed and not merely because it was a girl’s bed. It felt like I was outside of myself looking in and what I saw wasn’t me but Cori from only a few weeks ago, as fucked up as she’d been. It was like a freakin see-saw, this friendship was ours. I was up and she was down, she was up and I was down…. or we both were fine and Robbo was in deep shit. As much as I’d always fancied myself an individualist, our happiness seemed to be collectively intertwined.
So I lay there and Cori sat on the foot of her bed and generally let me be. She could have just as easily cranked up some hardcore or decided to throw something at me, but the cool thing about Cori was that she didn’t have to constantly remind you of what a bad-ass bitch she could be if she was already her friend.
After lying there for awhile, Cori asked me if I wanted to wear a diaper.
“I told you I don’t go for that,” I said, annoyed.
“How do you know?” she countered. “You’ve never even tried it.”
“What the hell makes you think I want to?”
“I sure as hell didn’t think I’d want to, but now I’m hooked.”
“Yeah…well…that’s you.”
“Look, Seth,” she said. “Just let me do this for you. You don’t have to tell anyone about it and if you don’t like it, I swear I’ll never ask you again.”
I could have said no and she wouldn’t have done anything. Hell, I probably should have said no. It was crazy. Me wearing a diaper? But damnit, I was tired, I felt bad and I was fucking sick of all of it. So I said yeahwhateverwhynotgoknockyourselfout (in so many words).
Cori seemed elated. I’d assumed she’d give me a diaper to put on, but insisted in doing it herself.
“What the hell?” I asked as she reached for my pants.
“Dude, calm down. It’s not like I’m giving you a handjob. Unless….”
“….unless Matty joins in,” I joked.
“Keep dreaming,” she told me.
So, just hours from wanting to kick the living crap out of J.T., I lay still as a baby and allowed Cori to diaper me. It was a tight fit, but not really uncomfortable. It felt…. snug. And, in a way, it was a relief. The whole time, I’d regarded Cori’s odyssey towards diapers with suspicion, disgust and even a little awe. We punks are an extreme bunch, but to defy even punk norms takes just the right mixture of balls and psychosis. Now that I was wearing one, my suspicions regarding diapers evaporated. My dick didn’t fall off, I didn’t turn into a weeping mess and, most surprising of all, Cori didn’t start laughing.
“How’s that feel?” Cori asked.
She was sitting almost on top of me, messing up my hair as she often did. Her diaper brushed against the side of my arm and I stared up at the ceiling of her room and I didn’t feel angry any more.
Of course, life is like the hot girl you finally get around to making out with, only to discover that she’s really a dude. Caroline burst in just then and God only knows what she thought, because she let out a really loud surprised scream.
“Ohmygod!” she shrieked. “I’m telling Mom and Dad!”
“No you’re not!” Cori retorted and leapt off of me with surprising quickness. Caroline tried to run, but Cori pulled her away.
“Seth, help me out here,” she said, pinning her sister to the ground.
“Ew, get off me you freak!” she hissed.
“What the fuck?” I groaned. “What’d I do to deserve this?”
I pulled my pants back up over my diaper and went to help hold Caroline down. She was squirming an awful lot and I had no freakin clue what Cori was going to do and I was starting to not feel good again.
“Are you still gonna tell?” Cori asked.
“You bet your ass I will!” Caroline hissed.
“That’s what I thought you’d say.”
She relieved Caroline of her purple socks and began to tickle her feet. Caroline’s indignation turned to laughter and she squealed skittishly. For all her grown-up posturing, she was as ticklish as any kid half her age.
“Stopppp itttt!” she said between giggles. “Stopppppp!!!”
“Are you gonna tell?” Cori asked.
“Are you gonna tell?”
“Who’s the fucking boss around here?”
“Y…you are! Stop!”
“Damn straight,” Cori said and let her go.
She didn’t make a big thing out of it and as far as I know never breathed a word. Cori and I spent the rest of the time playing video games and I went home and that was the end of it. That was my first, last, and only time wearing diapers. And, while it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t something I would do again either. If Caroline hadn’t burst in, who knows? But she did and I can’t change that. Besides, I was right: diapers weren’t my thing. They were Cori’s. That’s just the way it was.

Cori helped, but she didn’t help enough. Fucking exam week came and I was back to being depressed/pissed off again. At least by that point I had the whole senior class with me. We were one horribly off key chorus of groans, mutterings, grumblings, and declarations of, “fuck this class.” I’d like to think there was a little punk in all of us.
Anyway, the thing that finally snapped my bad mood wasn’t even winter break itself, but the news that Dan had finally secured a place for the party. This guy Darren who lived about two towns over had a big place he was willing to let us use. He’d dipped his foot into the punk pool during his adolescence and his uncle was a Green Party politician. There was some talk going around that he was going to try to write this off as a “voter registration drive.”
Rumor or no, Dan was adamant that we keep things quiet.
“What do you care?” I joked. “Fuck the system, right?”
“No, dude,” he said, adopting his ‘I’mseriousdon’tfuckwithme’ face. “Mike Perkins is a good man. If some asswipe reporter finds out about this, his career is fucked.”
“Whatever you say, Dan,” I assured him.
That small misgiving aside, I was really looking forward to it. It wouldn’t just be me and my friends and Dan and his friends; it would draw in punks from all over the county. While I looked forward to listening to music and making new friends, somewhere in the back of my mind, I was thinking about getting laid. I had difficulty connecting with regular girls and the really hardcore punk chicks (i.e.: crazier than Cori with half the charm) never really did it for me. Somewhere out there, there had to be a girl who shared my sensibilities (or, at the very least, could see where I’m coming from). I was determined to find her at that party and, if all went according to plan, bang her like the crashing symbols of Chuck Biscuits’ drum kit.
The only thing that stood between me and this little slice of paradise was Finch. Dan was adamant about knowing everyone who would be attending this party and he didn’t really know Finch. And, while Finch had toughened up considerably since hanging out with us more, we still had our doubts as to whether he could handle it.
“Come on,” he insisted, sounding like a little leaguer begging the coach to put him in. “I’m ready for it.”
We decided to let Dan be the judge of that. We brought Finch out to meet him in the parking lot one day and before Finch could even get a “hello” in, Dan went nuts.
“Shutup!” he screamed. “Shut the fuck up! Who the fuck are you….”
“I’m…” Finch began.
“I don’t give a shit who you are, man! It doesn’t fucking matter. You’re fucking sum. Scum, dude, scum. Hey Seth, why did you bring this scum here? Why are you wasting my motherfucking time?”
I knew better than to answer.
“I…” Finch started up again, barely breaking above a whisper this time. His cheeks were red and he found himself staring at the floor. I didn’t think he was going to make it.
“I said SHUT the FUCK up!” Dan continued. “I swear to fucking god, I’ll knock your fucking teeth out, kid. Fucking douchebag piece of shit. You know what you are: you’re a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Fucking fascist wannabe dressed like a punk. And a half-assed punk at that. Shit, dude, you ain’t no punk. Punk my fucking ass! You think you’re a punk, motherfucker? Is that what you think?”
“Hell yes!” Finch snapped and spat at him.
Robbo and I just stared at each other. Dan had done the same thing to both of us at various points and neither of us had done anything at the time. We were both angry, but far too scared to act on that anger. Finch had surpassed out expectations once again. Even Cori was whistling his praises.
“All right, dude,” Dan said, breaking from the shtick and shaking his hand. “I’m Dan. Welcome aboard.”

For the first time ever, I think I was more excited about winter break ending than I was about it beginning. I couldn’t wait til New Years and the party. Even Hanukah seemed like tedium, and I usually dug getting gifts. I felt especially bad because I didn’t have much to spend on a gift for my parents this year. Dad ended up receiving a tie and Mom a scarf. It was lame, but they said they appreciated the gesture nonetheless. Whatever.
Having a large family helps immensely and I ended up raking in the dough. Even though I was practically an adult, some of my aunts sent me cards and checks like I was a little kid. It bothered me a bit, but I was going to be damned if I was going to complain.
At one point during the break, Dad ushered me into his study for a word. I sat in a hard wooden chair and looked at the creases in his face and felt like I was in Sweeney’s office all over again.
“Seth,” he said. “I know you only have one semester left before graduation, but it’s very important that you don’t lose your head.”
I scoffed. “Dad,” I said. “Don’t worry. I’m not going to do anything stupid.”
“I sure hope so, son,” he said. What he didn’t say (and didn’t have to) was that he didn’t want me making the same mistakes he did. And what I didn’t say (and didn’t have to) was that his concerns were bogus and unfounded.
Just a few short days later, however, I would go on to prove him right.

No one in my family had a good vibe about the party. They didn’t tell me I couldn’t go (fat chance of that happening), but they did try to discourage me. I didn’t mention anything about Darren being Mike Perkins’ nephew or what exactly my plans were for the evening. I expected to hear the usual “don’t use drugs” speech, but Mom took it one step further.
“I want you to call,” she said. “After midnight. And I want you home no later than 2.”
“Aw, come on,” I protested, affirming my near-adult credentials.
“I mean it,” she pressed.
So I relented and agreed to her terms. Half of me thought they’d both be asleep by then anyway, but I wasn’t about to press my luck.
Even Judy seemed to have a say in things. Her face scrunched up at the very mention of Dan.
“What?” I asked.
“Oooh…. nothing,” she said, tap-dancing around the issue. “I know him, that’s all.”
“I know him too,” I countered. “Besides, you haven’t talked to him in years.”
“Some things don’t changed.”
“Would you please cut the shit and tell me what you mean already?”
She chuckled. “Be careful, Seth. That’s all I’m saying.”
I heard her, only I didn’t. I figured all these warnings were just paranoia and the blathering of the uninformed. Besides, I’d survived many a calamity before and I wo

Re: A Punk’s Tale - WingZ

I heard her, only I didn’t. I figured all these warnings were just paranoia and the blathering of the uninformed. Besides, I’d survived many a calamity before and I would likely survive this one too.

So party night finally came and I was ready. J.T. and his asshole friends would be sneaking into clubs with fake IDs and trying to blend in with Eurotrash while the real hotties rejected him and lame house beats thumped in the background. Believe me, I envied him not. I would have some real fun tonight.
I was completely dressed for the occasion, too. My hair was half-spiked, half flat and totally crazy looking. I wore my wristbands, a spiked collar (it was purely for show), my banned Misfits shirt, a denim jacket with a bunch of buttons and my torn jeans with the long chain. In other words, I looked as though I could scare the living crap out of Mr. Rogers neighborhood.
Cori and Robbo were similarly attired. She had a faux fur coat over a black tanktop, a pleather skirt, fishnets and boots. Her hair was combed over one side of her face. All she was missing was a cigarette jutting out of the side of her mouth and she could have passed for a young Courtney Love.
“Aren’t you cold?” I asked as she climbed into the Probe.
“Pfft…nope,” she answered, secretly meaning ‘yes.’ “Besides, if I get cold, I’m sure I’ll have no problem warming myself up.”
Even Robbo managed to shed his klutzy demeanor and look like a London street thug circa 1978. He’d shaved the sides of his head entirely and wore a leather bomber jacket. I’d want to see some of those fuckers call him “Forrest Gump” now.
Perhaps the most miraculous transformation any of us had witnessed was that of Finch. Bear in mind that this was someone who, up until recently, wore his hair long and dressed like a low-rent preppy. Finch did a complete 180 for the occasion. He put his hair into pseudo-dreads, somehow managed to get his hands on a vintage Black Flag shirt (very cool) and saved us all some humiliation by not buying a chain that was longer than his legs. It was a most promising start.

Darren Ornacek had probably the biggest house I’d ever been in. The place was fucking huge. It made Cori’s house look like a tin shack by comparison. There were three full floors, more than half a dozen bedrooms, a big-ass pool fit for a shark and a kitchen that could probably house a family of three.
The man behind the house wasn’t quite as impressive. He was a young guy (mid twenties or so) who had ‘junior executive’ written all over him. If he had ever been a punk, them days had passed long ago. Even in jeans and an (admittedly quite amusing) Green Jelly t-shirt, he couldn’t help but look serious. Though he greeted all of us cordially, I could already tell he was having second thoughts about us being there.
“Hey Dan,” he said.
“Don’t fuck up my place, OK?”
“Relax, man. We’ll keep it under control.”
We all knew his house didn’t stand a chance.

People filed in gradually. Some brought chips, others brought booze and others still brought instruments and equipment. As people went scurrying around for cups to hold drinks and outlets to plug things into, a crowded elevator atmosphere began to take shape. I sure as shit hoped the band didn’t hit any delays. Otherwise, poor Darren was likely to have a riot on his hands.
While we were waited for Dead Dogs (that was the band’s name) to get their shit together, we took the time to get to know one another. I found out things were just as shitty at other high schools, if not in fact worse. I discovered that there were punks that were so freaked out about college they’d considered flunking all their second semester classes so colleges would have to revoke their applications. All and all, it made me feel better. At least I wasn’t alone.
After nearly being crucified before they played a single note, Dead Dogs finally got around to playing. They turned out to be not bad. I think most of us were expecting some third-rate cover band and were pleasantly surprised by both the proficiency of their covers and the quality of new material they sprinkled in as well. “Not bad” to a bunch of half drunk teens soon turned to “fucking great” and we found ourselves going crazy to a cover of an Aerosol ballad of all things!
Unfortunately, things kinda got crazy towards the end of the set. People started fighting and glass was breaking and Darren was shouting for all of us to knock it off. No one seemed to be able to control it and half of us were probably hoping the chaos would continue to culminate. The guys from Dead Dogs grew frustrated that no one was really listening to them any more and began to smash stuff and it was all on the verge of coming crashing down.
I don’t know what possessed me to do it, but I decided then would be a good time to do a little singing. I elbowed my way through the fray and approached the area where Dead Dogs were set up. Grabbing the mic, I started to belt out “I Wanna Be Sedated.” I didn’t care whether I sucked or not or how much of a jackass I was making of myself, I just did it. At some point, the band stopped fighting long enough to realize what was going on and joined me in accompaniment. And, once we started playing, everyone else stopped fighting too.
Guys who had been pounding the shit out of each other and girls who were pressing their faces into the carpet suddenly broke free of their entanglements. Darren stopped having a fucking ulcer and Dan stopped telling him to chill out and everyone just kind of enjoyed the moment. We were a bunch of ugly, drunk losers…. but that moment, man it was beautiful.
So I finished singing and ended my rendition on a massive belch. Some people were cheering, others were telling me how much I sucked. I didn’t care though. I just didn’t care. Not long after I’d finished, someone else took the “stage” to do some renditions of their own and I disappeared back into the crowd. Within half an hour, I was all but forgotten. And so it goes.

I saw her staring at me and I tried not to look like I was staring at her. She was talking to some guy wearing a Green Day shirt and it looked like they were getting along pretty well. I figured I didn’t have much of a chance, so I took a handful of pretzels and began to gnaw away.
When I looked up again, she was sitting on the arm of the couch, about an inch away. I nearly fucking choked. This girl was hot beyond hot. She had on a black skirt and a red top. The most striking thing about her was her hair though: it was bleached white. I’d seen red, blue, green, pink, purple and combinations thereof, but never white. White took balls.
“You sounded pretty good up there.” Those were her first words to me. I wanted to say something slick in reply, but I felt flushed. It was like I was a fucking rookie. Damnit, I was going to blow this…
“Thanks,” I said. And then, without warning, I told her how I felt this whole thing was at least half bullshit and wondered what I was doing there anyway.
Much to my surprise, she seemed to agree.
“I hear ya, man,” she said. “I’ve been doing this whole punk thing for four years and sometimes I just wonder what the point is.”
“So…um…what’s your name?”
“Xarnox, Goddess of Nothingness. But you can just call me Alice.”
“I’m Seth,” I said. “And you can call me Seth.”

I’m not going to lie and pretend I knew what buttons to push. We ended up talking for like an hour about all kinds of random shit. We talked over the noise and we talked while people were puking their guts out around us. It was one of those inevitably compelling conversations. And, only when we’d laid to waste all the soldiers in the army of “getting to know you” did we sojourn to someplace private.
There were people making out all around us, but I didn’t want it to be like that. Even if it was only a charade, I wanted some semblance of class. As I ascended the stairwell in hopes of landing a second-story bedroom, however, I felt a tug on my sleeve. Cori was leaning against the railing, her legs wrapped around some guy with a ponytail and looking very much enthused. I wasn’t sure whether to feel revolted or happy for her, and, in the end, the latter sensation won out.
“Go Seth,” she applauded when she saw Alice coming up behind me.
Yeah, I thought. Go me.

Nervous as I was, I made it through it OK and Alice was more than good. We lay there for awhile afterwards, just kinda enjoying the fact that we weren’t freaked out by one another. That seemed to be a rarity today. People were scared and scared to be scared. And even if we wound up scaring each other later, we still had that one night.
The next thing I knew, it was 3:37 and I realized that I’d better get the fuck out of there. I went searching for Robbo first and found him with his foot in a bucket of ice. Apparently, he’d managed to fuck up his ankle once again. He didn’t get laid either, but he did manage to snag a few numbers, so it wasn’t a total loss. We found Cori half-unconscious and half undressed and had to carry her out. Somebody had wrapped a sheet around her like a diaper. She was caked with piss and vomit and all around quite fucked up. I’d hoped she’d had a good time, because I was pretty sure she’d end up paying for it well into the future.
It wasn’t until we got to the car that we realized we forgot Finch. I’d convinced myself he’d gotten himself into some kind of inane shenanigan and was half expecting to see him surrounded by chicks. Instead, I found him standing in a corner, alone. He looked as if he’d been crying, too.
“What the fuck, man?” I asked.
“I put the towel on her,” he said. “I did. Everyone else just laughed when she wet herself.”
I was confused at first, but then I thought I understood. Cori. Fucking Cori. Not only did he have to watch her get it on with another guy, but he also looked out for her and was not likely to ever be rewarded for it. I felt pretty sick myself right about then and was ready to cast aside all the fun I’d had in order to spare Finch his agony.
“Come on,” I said, clapping him on the back. “Let’s get the fuck out of here.”
And so we left. There would be headlines in the paper the next day and trips to the hospital and plenty of people got arrested. Rumors began to fly around the punk campfire: Dan took a swing at a cop, Darren broke down in tears, the bassist for Dead Dogs actually had the corpse of a pit bull in his trunk. I would be yelled at by my folks (as would Cori and Robbo by theirs) and we would all feel like we were being scared at when we went back to school.
Was it worth it, do you ask? Yeah, it was worth it. When you’re a punk, you live for the fucking MOMENT, man, as if that moment is your last. That’s what it’s all about.

My first day of the New Year was spent lying in bed feeling sick and sorry for myself. Believe me, it wasn’t by choice. It was like I’d been some kind of cartoon character walking across the clouds and I’d finally bothered to look down. It was a long fucking fall.
I’d known things had gone too far before I even took a look at the newspaper. It wasn’t quite a premonition either. It was the piss and blood and vomit and depravity in the air. Walking out of that goliath of a house and watching Finch try to regain his dignity got to me. It just got to me. It made me want to say, “Hey! This isn’t fun no more.” Of course, I never said as much and I went home believing I’d just had one of the best times in my life.
It wasn’t until the morning after that the dogs of recollection began to bite me in the ass, and they bit hard. In addition to feeling physically ill, all kinds of guilt hit me. I felt bad for Robbo. The poor prick fucked up his ankle again and would probably be limping for the next month. I felt bad for Cori too. Even in an atmosphere where nothing shocks anyone, she’d managed to make a spectacle of herself. Needless to say, I felt worst of all for Finch. He wasn’t as jaded as the rest of us. He honestly thought punk was this glorious phenomenon and, we allowed him to experience firsthand how fucked up it could really be. After all the angst and rhetoric, we were no better than J.T. and his band of well-bred perverts and sycophants.
Then, of course, there was Alice. She’d written her number on my arm, but by morning the ink had already begun to fade. I didn’t know if I’d call her and I was pretty sure she wouldn’t call me. Call it pessimism if you want; I call it waking up. Who the fuck was I kidding? I’d been trying for so long to pass myself off as somehow being a notch above the rest by telling myself I wasn’t going to hook up with a girl unless I felt some kind of connection. But was last night really a connection? Or was it simply me being horny and confused and beyond the point of caring? Fuck it, who cares.
Fortunately, my parents were merciful in dealing with me. They must have known by looking at me that I was suffering enough.
“I told you,” Dad said. “You see now, don’t you?”
I nodded. Yeah, I could see. For once I could actually see Dad with his long hair and his leather jacket, dancing with Mom (decked out in an outrageously bright and tacky shirt) with half-drunk, Mohawk-toting hooligans surrounding them. I could finally match the faces in those pictures with the faces before me because I could understand what made them change. Maybe I was starting to panic. Maybe I thought I would be headed down that path too no matter what happened. Well damnit, I’m not licked yet!

Cori called me later on, which was a bit of a surprise. I’d have figured her parents would have relegated her to a cave or a bottomless pit or some equally heartless space. She sounded like she felt much like I did and the conversation was cryptic and clipped.
“Seth,” she said. “Don’t get mad at me, OK? But I quit.”
“What do you mean you quit?”
“I quit. At least for now. At least…. look, I’ll see you Monday.”
And that was the end of it. Strange, I thought. Strange.

I made it a priority not to end winter break on a down note. With a sizeable wad of Hanukah money burning a hole in my pocket, I called up Robbo and told him if he didn’t get his ass over here, I was stealing his car.
“Be my fucking guest, numbnuts,” he replied. “Then maybe I’ll bug you for a ride for a change.”
So Robbo came over and we ended up going to the video store. He was limping, as I’d predicted, and the video store staff gave us strange looks (which is to say stranger than the already strange looks they usually gave us…we punks are an attention-getting lot). We perused the shelves in search of something a little more refreshing than our usual fare (which was comprised namely of '80s action movies). I saw Robbo reaching for “Tango and Cash” and I put my foot down.
“Dude,” I said. “What is it with you and Stallone?”
“Aww, Seth, you know Sly’s the man!”
“Maybe, but that doesn’t mean we need to watch him fifty fucking times.”
While we were having this argument, some kid walked by and called us queers. He had red hair and couldn’t have been more than 13. We’d never seen him before in our lives. Something about the way in which he spoke (“you guys are queers”) reeked of sanctimonious authoritarianism and lit a fire under my ass. The inner Dan in me said “let’s teach this little fucker a lesson” and I could see Robbo was thinking approximately the same thing. Instead of grabbing the kid and giving him a beat down (or waiting outside and laying in ambush), we just laughed. We laughed because of how stupid it would have been to get tossed out of the video store over some kid we neither knew nor cared about. They say that thinking that far ahead is decidedly un-punk, but I’ve gotta tell you: breaking that cardinal rule felt pretty good.
In the end, we ended up renting a martial arts film, a George Carlin tape and Black Hawk Down. The total came to under $10 because of a rent two, get one free offer. The offer was only supposed to be good with coupon and we didn’t have the coupon. Robbo, however, made a rather ridiculous attempt to flirt with the cashier. Out of pity (or perhaps out of amusement) she decided to give us the discount anyway and we walked out the door laughing at our own stupidity.
“That was classic,” I lauded.
“Imagine if you’d tried it,” he said. “She’d probably charge us double.”
“Yeah,” he said, sighing.
“What?” I asked. “Your ankle?”
“Nah, man. It’s….I dunno. I’ve been thinking about joining the Army lately.”
“The Army?!” I was so surprised that I ended up inadvertently flinging the bag with our movies in it halfway across the parking lot. Even after taking a moment to retrieve them, none of the shock had worn off. “Are you fucking shitting me? That’s like the most fascist, conformist, un-punk institution there is?”
“I know,” he insisted. “But…um…. look, dude, I don’t want to work in a supermarket the rest of my fucking life.”
“There’s options out there, man.”
“For you, maybe.”
“And for you,” I insisted, though I was beginning to see his point. When you’re poor, clumsy and none too bright, the Army probably doesn’t look like a bad deal.
“I haven’t decided anything yet,” he told me. “I was just thinking it over. But promise me, Seth. Promise me you won’t let me fucking enlist when I’m drunk or depressed or any of that shit.”
“Don’t worry,” I assured him. “If you try, I’ll take a pipe to your head. And then I’ll steal your car.”

So we went back to my house and started watching movies. There was no more talk of joining the Army and I didn’t burden Robbo with the slice of hell I’d gone through yesterday. It was a lot like the old days, before all the craziness of senior year had come and infected us like a particularly nasty strand of hepatitis. In fact, all that was missing was Cori.
“I hope she’s OK,” Robbo said.
“Think I should call her?” I asked.
“Nah. I called her after you called me. She said she was tired, so…”
“Look, after what we’ve been through with her, I’m not assuming anything. She could grow horns and shoot fire out of her ass and I wouldn’t be surprised. And I’d still be her friend.”
“Me too,” he said. “I just worry. That’s all.”
“You know who else I worry about?”
“Finch? Oh. Yeah. Why Finch? I mean, the little dude’s been awesome lately…”
“He’s gonna get eaten alive,” I insisted, amazed at how grim I was sounding. “We should have never fucking let him in.”
Before Robbo could consider the possible danger we put him in, my sister took it upon herself to join us.
“Hello Robert,” she said, neglecting to employ his preferred nickname.
“Hey,” he answered.
“Shouldn’t you be back at college?” I asked.
“Not for another two weeks.”
I was expecting her to give me shit about the party and about Dan, but instead she kept her mouth shut and watched movies with us. When we’d finished our Cokes, she offered to bring us new ones. She was being very nice to us and it kinda creeped me out. I guess maybe she still remembered what her senior year felt like and wanted to abate the suffering. Either that or she flat-out had nothing better to do.
“You know what,” Judy said after the last of our movies had ended. “You guys should come visit me sometime in the spring. It couldn’t hurt for you to see what’s beyond high school.”
Even though I nodded and said we’d do it, a part of me knew she wasn’t telling the truth. It could hurt to find out what lay beyond. It could hurt very fucking much.

Sometimes, after a series of minor catastrophes, it takes a great big world-altering kick in the ass to get things going in the right direction again. I thought how I felt after the party was that kick. Man, was I wrong.
When school commenced again, Cori was gone. She wasn’t really gone gone, but she could have been for all that she had changed. First of all, she was dressed strangely…which was to say that she looked like a normal girl. She had on a denim skirt and a white shirt with pink trim. Her hair was neatly combed. She even wore makeup! It was like looking through a time warp. This was the Cori I knew before freshman year and had come to un-know since then.
The change was not only cosmetic. Her attitude was way off too. Just when I thought I’d adjusted to all of her wacky mood changes, her aggressiveness and her retreat into helplessness, she threw something else at me. This was a defensiveness about her that was not keeping with her standard “Idongiveafuck”-atude. She was assertive, but not aggressive, scared but not panicky. She was cold and hot all at once.
“Don’t say anything!” she said to Robbo and me as we stared at her with our mouths agape in the hallway that morning. “Just don’t say anything. Imn’a explain, OK?”
I was reeling, but I got the message. Robbo, as usual, wasn’t quite as quick on the uptake.
“Holy crap!” he exclaimed. “What’d they do to you?”
“I said don’t say anything!” she snapped, drawing half a dozen eyes towards us. “My parents didn’t do anything. This was me. And I’ll tell you why, but not with all these fucking people looking at me. Mind your business, you fucks!”
This only drew even more attention.
“Look,” she whispered. “Can you guys cut homeroom?”
“Fine by me,” Robbo said.
I thought about it a moment. I didn’t want to end up facing Sweeney again, but there was a good chance my absence wouldn’t even be noticed. The day after winter break was notorious for low attendance.
“OK,” I said. “Sure.”
So while my classmates went about getting their shit out of their lockers and hurried off to begin the last semester of their high school careers, Cori and Robbo and I looked for a place to talk in private. In a public high school that employs hall monitors, however, looking for privacy is like chasing a unicorn. We eventually ended up settling on a girl’s bathroom.
“I’m not going in there,” Robbo said.
“Why?” Cori asked. “Afraid you’re gonna see something you’ve never seen before?”
“Relax, I’ve got you covered,” she said. And with that, she produced a hand-scrawled ‘Out of Order’ sign and taped it to the door. Between Cori not looking like Cori and the three of us holding a kowtow in the girls’ room, we were off to a hell of a start.
“So…OK,” Cori began. “First of all, I want you to understand that I’m not doing this to spite you guys or disrespect you or piss on punk or anything. Do you understand that? Seth?”
She was staring at me like she was expecting me to hit her. Given the way I’d flipped out in the past, I couldn’t say I blamed her for thinking the worst.
“Go ahead,” I said.
“That night. That party. Shit, I don’t remember any of it.”
“Oh, we all got a little fucked up,” Robbo said, lifting his cuff to expose his swollen ankle.
“No, you don’t understand,” Cori reiterated. “I don’t remember ANY of it. I don’t remember the dude’s name, I don’t remember if he wore a condom or not, I don’t remember if anyone did anything or not after I passed out. I remember you singing, Seth, and I was laughing a lot and that was about it. And when I woke up the next morning, I was FREAKING.”
“Whoa….calm down,” I insisted.
“Don’t tell me to calm down,” she said. “Just…don’t. I mean, yeah, there’s the pill, but that doesn’t always work. And…do you guys remember Selby’s cousin?”
“No,” Robbo said.
“The tape,” I reminded him. “The girl was all fucked up and her friends shot a sex tape and everyone saw it and she ended up moving.”
“Oh yeah,” he said, biting his lip. “I forgot about that.”
“I bet she didn’t.”
“Well I don’t wanna have to wonder if some fucker’s got me on tape,” Cori declared.
“Cori, don’t,” I said. “I mean….” And then I couldn’t think of a way to reassure her. That fucking party ruined all of us.
“Oh God,” Robbo exclaimed. “You don’t think….”
“I dunno,” Cori said. “But I do know I’m not putting myself through that again.”
“What?” I asked. “Dan’s parties?”
“Dan’s parties, parties before and after concerts….in fact, any party where there’s a good chance I’ll get fucked up and embarrass myself. Or worse. I’m through with it, man. I’ve had enough.”
“Cori,” I reasoned. “Being punk’s more than just parties. And it didn’t make you get hurt.”
“Whoa, timeout! First of all, who said I’m gonna stop being punk? Did I say that? I never said that! I just said I’m just toning it down a bit.”
“Which would make you a poseur,” Robbo commented.
“Fuck you,” she continued. “Second, I realized something, guys. And that something is that I need rules if only to break them. If there are rules, I can be bad and careless and fun, but I’ll still kinda know when to stop because there’s that line and I’ll know how far away from it I’ve come. But if there’s no rules, I’m just lost out there and I get myself into a lot of trouble.”
“That makes sense,” I said. “But it doesn’t explain about the clothes.”
“Well, I’m trying something new,” she said. “Like I said, I’m cutting back. The clothes, the music, the…whatever else we do, for like a week or so. And I’ll see what happens. Who knows? I could come out of this more of a badass than ever.”
“Your purging?” Robbo asked.
“Temporarily,” she said. “Temp-o-rar-i-ly.”
“I can’t believe you’re fucking purging!”
“Again…fuck you. Are you looking for that ankle to never heal right? Cuz dude, that can definitely be arranged.”
“All right, all right,” Robbo said. “Chill. I was just testing you.”
“Test this!” she hissed, extending her foot to kick him and then retracting it at the last second. It’s weird: behind those strange clothes and beneath her off-kilter demeanor, the old, familiar Cori seemed to be more alive than ever. I mean, she was practically glowing.

Needless to say, Cori’s change of attire seemed to generate a substantial amount of buzz. She was popular enough before going punk, her family was still respected and her antics since joining up with us had often taken on a mythical quality. I guess in some half-cocked, woefully deluded way, the braindead conformist sheep of the school thought she was coming back to them.
“I hate this,” Cori griped at lunch. “Everyone’s staring at me. They are being nice to me too. It was kinda cool at first, but it’s starting to piss me off. Urg, I dunno how I’m gonna make it through a whole week of not wearing anything black and not telling people to shove it.”
“Then quit,” Robbo said. “End this little experiment.”
“That’s a great attitude for the Army, dude,” I chided. “Perfect.”
“I told ya, I’m just considering it.”
“Time out,” Cori snapped. “What’s this about the Army?”
While Robbo attempted to explain and defend himself, I looked over at Finch, who had hardly said two words. Looks like I was right to have been worried.
“Finch,” I called, snapping my fingers. “Hey, Finch!”
“Yeah,” he muttered. “What?”
“Say something, dude.”
I shrugged. “Works for me.”

As if witnessing Cori in a skirt, holding conference in a bathroom (for which I did not get in trouble, by the way), watching Finch morph from ultra-peppy to ultra-down wasn’t strange enough, things got progressively weirder as they day went on. As the d.j. said, the hits just kept on rolling.
So I’m sitting in my psych class and just kind of minding my own business when Mr. Kindhertz said he wanted to see my after class. I couldn’t think of anything I’d done and wondered if he had me confused with someone else. Nonetheless, I wasn’t sweating it. I wasn’t sweating anything anymore.
Kindhertz was one of these flaky older dudes who looks like he never left Berkeley. A tall, semi-bald man with a gracious face and a devilish goatee, he patrolled the front of the class with no discernable pattern, inadvertently whacking students unfortunate enough to sit in the front row with a pointer while trying to illustrate a point of profound importance. He seemed like someone who would be a good teacher…if physiology of the brain and anatomy of the senses wasn’t so fucking boring.
“You’re probably wondering what this is all about,” he said.
“Yeah, actually….”
“I’m recommending you for a summer internship,” he said. “If you’re interested.”
I nearly fell out of the chair. Summer internship? What the fuck? I hardly said jack shit in his class unless something was especially interesting. Sure, I’d gotten an A on my progress report, but that was only because his tests were multiple choice. I couldn’t figure it out.
“You seem surprised.”
“I am,” I told him.
“Your paper, Seth,” he said. “Your study of conformity. It was very inspiring. You show a real passion for it.”
Passion? Huh? Wha? I guess in my hurry to get the damn thing done, I must have exercised some actual thought. It was just like the scholarship all over again. Shit. Why me?
“The internship is for high school seniors in the area, one student per school,” he explained. “You’d be observing at a day care center along with college students and, of course, trained professionals. I’ll bring some literature tomorrow.”
“Um…uh….thanks, Mr. Kindhertz. Really.”
So there it was. I had college and a summer activity to worry about. The hazy future was starting to crystallize and that freaked me out even more. How the fuck am I supposed to live fast when there’s so much stuff to do?
Disoriented or not, I considered this good news and longed to share it with my friends and family. Unfortunately, I’d have to take another blow or two before that could come to fruition.

When the day finally ended, I didn’t even bother going to my locker right away. Instead, I went off in search of Robbo and Cori to break the news to them. They were probably going to want to kick my ass for having such luck and such apathy, but I couldn’t help the latter and couldn’t change the former.
I found the hallway near Cori’s locker to be littered with people. They seemed to congregate around her like a flock or a herd or some other kind of animal grouping. For a moment, I found myself getting angry. She dresses normal for one freakin day and she’s a queen? My ass! When I drew closer, however, my anger was replaced by pity. J.T. and his cadre were among those closest to her and he seemed to be flirting with the cocky assurance of a prizefighter. She was leaned against the row of lockers and he stood directly in front of her, looming arrogantly.
“So, you finally gave up on the punk thing?” he asked.
“Says who?” she retorted.
“Your dressed different. And I don’t see any of your loser friends around.”
“Don’t talk shit about my friends,” she warned.
“OK. Can I talk about you?”
“Depends on what you have to say.”
“What if I said you looked good?”
“What if I said shutup?”
“No, I mean it, Cori. You look beautiful. You always did. You’ve just been covering it up.”
“Aww,” she said, pretending to gush. “That would be so sweet…. if you weren’t so full of shit.”
J.T. grabbed the locker beside her and slammed it shut with anger.
“You ungrateful bitch,” he snapped. “You should be lucky I’m even talking to you.”
“Don’t do me any more favors, asshole,” she shot back.
“What’d you say to me….”
I sensed things were going to get really ugly and tried to push my way through the crowd. Unfortunately, my path was effectively blocked.
“Hey!” I shouted. “Let me through.”
“Hey Seth,” Karen called to me from inside the circle. Making sure I was getting a nice long look, she went about the grandiose gesture of giving me the finger and sticking it in her mouth and sucking on it. I don’t know whether she was trying to turn me on or piss me off and I didn’t care. I didn’t have time for her games.
I tried once more to shove my way through the gathering circle and was knocked on my ass for my troubles.
“Better watch it, dude,” called a voice from above me. I picked myself up from the floor to see R.C.'s grinning face.
“Tell your friend to leave my friend alone,” I said.
“What makes you think J.T.'s my friend?”
“Come on, Randy, I saw you and him talking….”
Before I could debate the finer points of their contentious relationship, the “ugly” that I was fearing came in a hurry. Cori and J.T. were screaming at each other now, opening the wounds long sealed and reliving quarrels long forgotten.
“I didn’t dump you because you went punk,” J.T. said. “I dumped you because you were a loser. Always have been and still are!”
“And you’ve got amnesia,” Cori rebutted. “You didn’t dump me. Period!”
“Get the fuck out of here. Like you were gonna break up with me?”
“Urg, you’re so fucking full of yourself.”
“You pissed it all away, Cori. You did. Not me. And for what? To hang out with Seth and Rob Narone? To drink too much and piss yourself? To fucking embarrass your family? For what? You tell me? For what?”
This was bad. This was really bad. I could see Cori’s lip curling and her fists clenching. I could see all the improvement she spoke of this morning slipping right out the window. I could see her going ballistic and tearing J.T.'s fucking heart out and going back to square one. It was chaos in the making, sheer ugly chaos. We punks might believe in chaos, but we fear it too.
“Wait up…” another voice called. While my brain processed the identity of the speaker, the crowd in front of me seemed to ripple like a pebble-struck pond. The next thing I know, Finch was diving through the crowd like a human torpedo. Cori let out a surprised shriek and stepped out of the way. J.T. had just enough time to turn his head before Finch landed on him, plowing him forcibly into the lockers.
“I fucking told him to wait up,” Robbo said. He was out of breath, presumably from rushing to the scene and trying to prevent Finch from doing what he just did.
“I’m glad he didn’t hear you,” I told him.
J.T. let out an agonized yell and gripped his shoulder in pain.
“This has gone on long enough,” a suddenly-serious R.C. informed me as he tried to muscle by.
“Better watch it, dude,” I retorted, blocking his path.
Finch pulled himself off of J.T. and looked at Cori, a cockeyed grin about his face. For once, she returned the smile.
“Are you OK?” he asked.
“Pfft…forget me? Are you?”
“Aw, it’s nothing…” Finch began.
That was as far as he got before J.T. slugged him with a lock. Finch went down hard and Cori shrieked again. This time, it was Robbo’s turn to spring into action. He plowed his way through the crowd, using his size and strength to shove aside stubborn onlookers.
“You want some too, big boy?” J.T. asked, still holding the lock.
“Ah shit!” Robbo said, suddenly wincing.
“My fucking ankle.”
J.T. looked down just long enough for Robbo to belt him one and strip the lock from his hands. By the time the two of them were going at it, countless more people had arrived. There were punks and jocks and thugs and preppies, emo kids and metalheads and burnouts and WASPs and JAPs and hommies. There were niggaz and wiggaz and freaks and potheads and skanks. There were brothers and sisters and hombres and chicas and nerds and geeks and dorks. They all came to watch the fight. And, at the far ends of this mishmash, I could barely make out the pleas of the teachers and the hall monitors for us to “stop it! Stop it this instant!”
So Robbo and J.T. were going at it and people around them were alternately goading them on and trying to pull them away. Finch was on the ground, half-awake and kinda dazed and Cori was in the middle of it. Everyone seemed to be chanting, “fight!” and drawing the circle closer to cut off any escape. It was Hobbesian humanity at its worst. And there I was, on the outside, pushing and screaming and trying to get in.
“It’s hopeless,” R.C. told me. “Just forget it. Just go.”
“You wanted this,” I said, shoving my finger into his chest. “You and J.T. and Karen and all those other assholes wanted to make fun of Cori, make fun of all of us, keep us down all the time and now it blew up in your face!”
“No way,” he said, shaking his head. “I didn’t want this. Nobody wanted this.”
For once, I actually believed him. This had gotten way out of control. My fellow punks were using it as a prelude to open revolution, picking fights with anyone and everyone. The jocks and the thugs got into it too, hurling racial insults back and forth and shoving one another between outpourings of “bitch” and “motherfucker.” All of this happened because of one little spark. All of it happened because Cori wore a denim skirt and combed her hair.
Just when I was wondering if it would ever end, a pair of hands roughly shoved me aside. Three or four hall monitors and security personnel entered the fray and broke it up as quickly as it had began. Bystanders were urged to scatter and the perpetrators were whisked away to the office. Those who had been hurt were escorted to see the nurse. Order was regained in roughly 60 seconds flat.
As I left, I happened to stumble across a group of Finch’s erstwhile friends. They seemed to be talking excitedly amongst themselves and I thought I heard Finch’s name creep up a few times.
“Hey,” I said to them. “What the hell do you guys have to be so sad about anyway?”
They didn’t answer me and instead walked hurriedly away. This – not the party, but THIS – was the real fall. In a way, it was the last hoorah for all of us.

Bloody Monday hit the high school like Watergate hit Washington. It shook things up and left most of us gasping for air. It all happened so quickly, but the aftermath seemed to linger like a mouth full of Novocain. In fact, it still lingers. I shit you not: I’m still feeling the effects of it as I write this. Things just really weren’t the same after that.
Let’s start with the immediate. Robbo and J.T. and a few of the other combatants were suspended. In Robbo’s case, this turned out to be a positive: during his time off from school, he was able to rest and his ankle finally healed. In J.T.'s case, the suspension proved to be considerably less positive. The rest of the student council moved to impeach him. Rumor has it R.C. cast the deciding vote.
Finch did not return at all. The last I saw of him, he was being helped to his feet and escorted to the nurse’s office. When he didn’t return to school the next day, I assumed that he was suspended or recovering from the beating he took or both. When he didn’t return in a week, I didn’t know what to think. Rumors started to fly. Some say he flipped out and had to be committed, others say he offed himself by triple dosing on Ex. I didn’t find out the truth until nearly a month later when one of his former friends approached me.
“Trev said for me to give you this,” the corduroy-clad cretin informed me. Though I didn’t realize it at first, this was the same kid I’d accosted after the fight broke up. He seemed to remember me though and approached me with wary disenchantment.
“Trev? Oh yeah. Finch.”
I abruptly snatched the envelope from his hand and tore it open. Inside was a postcard with two words written on it and an out-of-state postmark. “Sorry, guys,” it read. “Sorry guys” and nothing more. Just when we were all starting to like the little bastard, he up and vanished on us. Bummer, dude, bummer.
I wish I could say the repercussions ended there, but they didn’t. High school carries with it a highly ordered, highly structured system. Monday’s events introduced a healthy dose of entropy into that system. The elite removed its veneer of civility and bared its ugly teeth for all to see. The punks and the jocks and the metalheads and all the other groups, which had previously enjoyed a delicate, albeit fragile balance, threw caution to the wind and let their base antagonism fly.
So what happened, do you ask? Well, J.T. was still an asshole, but his fan club had a few less members and he walked with a little less swagger in his step. The norms stopped harassing the punks and the punks started harassing each other. Rather than playfully and purposefully annoying one another, everyone kept their distance. People began to look over each other’s shoulders more often. They now knew that war was but a spark away and took great care to prevent that spark from igniting.
Surprisingly, Cori came out of all of it OK. She was down for about a day or two and perfectly OK from there on in. In fact, she was better than OK. She was as good as she had been on any good day and that was the part I couldn’t quite figure out. A number of people blamed her for what happened. She lost a measure of popularity among us punks, and, despite making an effort to branch out a bit more, did not win herself many new admirers. I guess I should have been angry about what happened or angry that she seemed to be doing so well in spite of it, but I couldn’t bring myself to hate her. I’d made that mistake once out of ignorance and I would not do it again no matter how much I thought I knew to be true.
Oh yeah: Bloody Monday impacted me too. It made me take pause. For awhile, it made me put aside all the shit that was going on in my life and realize there were far bigger problems in the world. The acute awareness that people like Dan felt with regard to hate and prejudice and strife I now felt too. However, instead of becoming an activist, I took a different approach. The day that Kindhertz handed me the application for the summer program, I took it outside and burned it.
I burned the application knowing full well the program could be a good opportunity. I burned it without telling my folks about it. I didn’t burn it because I was afraid or reluctant to go through with it, I burned it because I didn’t deserve it. I just hadn’t given a fuck. Why should that pay me any rewards? When Kindhertz asked me about it a few days later, I told him that I would have to turn it down.
“I see,” he said, stroking his beard and trying hard not to sound disappointed. “Well, I’m sure you have your reasons, Seth.”
Indeed, I do, man. Indeed I do. And they were reasons that I didn’t think he or anyone could understand.

This wasn’t the end of me as a punk nor was it even my nadir. Instead, it was more like déjà vu. It was like I was a fucking freshman all over again and I didn’t know what to do. And this time, it looked as if I would have to go it alone.
Well…maybe not. I was kinda moping around my room on Friday, trying not to think too hard and failing miserably when I received an unexpected phone call. Actually, I shouldn’t say unexpected. I anticipated an update from Robbo on his ankle or an offer to Cori to hang out. Instead, I was asked a most unusual question?
“Pop quiz hotshot: exactly how many girls did you sleep with during the past week?”
“Huh? Er….one.”
“And do you remember her name?”
“Yep. I was thinking to myself 'is there some kind of protocol I’m not thinking about or is this guy just being a jerk?”
“You forgot, didn’t you?”
“No. Well…um….ah, shit!”
“Dude, relax,” she said, her voice sounding suddenly chipper and sweet. “I’m kidding. I know you’re probably still recovering from Monday.”
“Monday? How do you know about that?”
“News travels fast. Anyway, I heard some kid decked you with a lock!”
“That wasn’t me. That was some other kid.”
“Oh. So are you OK?”
“Sort of.”
“Hrrm…me confused now.”
“YOU’RE confused?”
“Yeah. I thought we had a good time and then I hear nothing. Dude, that hurts!”
“Well…uh….can I make it up to you?”
“I dunno, but you’re welcome to try.”
“Whatcha mean?”
“I mean I dunno what the fuck I’m doing right now,” I confessed. “Everything’s a mess.”
“I don’t know what I’m doing either. Come, Seth, let’s be lost together.”
I wasn’t exactly happy to know that she was in the same position I was, but it did grant me a small measure of solace knowing that I didn’t have some lofty expectation to live up to. I figured, what the hell: if you’re drowning and you see a raft, you take it. You don’t bother to stop and think if it’ll be able to carry you to shore.

So Alice and I went out on what I guess could be described as a date, although there was nothing vaguely romantic about it. We ate onion rings and expounded upon the stupidity of the world and gradually began to know each other once more. Typically, two people would have several such encounters to these before getting around to necking and nudity. We were working backwards, but working just the same.
“Why white?” I asked, still in awe of her hair. When I first saw it, I assumed it was something she did just for the party. It was kind of a shock to learn that’s how she kept it normally.
“Oh, no reason,” she said. “I guess because I think I’m gonna grow old with stress real soon and I might as well be ready for it when it comes.”
“You think I’m nuts, dontcha?”
“Nope,” I replied. And I wanted to follow it up with some kind of corny line like “I think you’re beautiful,” but the words didn’t come. I came close though, but I couldn’t shake the Dan-like voice inside me. “Dude, stop,” it commanded me. “What the fuck do you think you’re doing? You think you and this girl are gonna live happily ever after? No way, man. No fucking way!”
So I left it at nope and wound up staring at her and again trying not to look as if I was.
“It’s OK to think I’m nuts,” she assured me. “And it’s OK that you aren’t as nuts as me. I won’t respect ya any less because of it.”
“What makes you think I’m not nuts?” I asked.
“Well…. let’s see: you haven’t tried to roll me down a grassy hill yet. Or tied my hair in knots around my head when I fell asleep.”
“Guys actually did that to you?”
“Yep. Friends of mine, too.”
I was looking for something to combat that with but found myself drawing a blank. Shit. I’m no good at this, I thought. I’m no fucking good.
“Yeah…. well…. at least you don’t wear diapers,” I commented.
“A friend of mine,” I explained. “She wears diapers. Or at least she did.”
“Oh. That’s….”
“Actually, that makes a lot of sense?”
“Sometimes, when I’m feeling stressed, I’ll kinda curl into a ball and wish I was little. Either little or a cat.”
“So is that why your friend does it? Or did it?”
“I dunno. I never really talked to her about it.”
“Maybe you should. Sometimes, you don’t know what people want unless you ask.”
“Well, can…I…um….”
“Roll you down a grassy hill?”
“Just kidding,” I said and I kissed her and we started making out and the planets felt aligned again. We were sitting on a park bench freezing our asses off while we did it, but it didn’t seem to matter. She felt warm and safe. It dawned on me that if that was what Cori got from her diapers, then I had no business to condemn her for it.
“So?” I asked after we could go no further without violating about half a dozen public indecency laws. “Is this like a thing now?”
“Like a thing? How wonderfully articulate.”
“You know what I mean.”
“Yeah. I do. And yeah, if you want it to be.”
“Only thing is, I’m not gonna be around much this summer.”
“Yup. I gots picked for this internship thingee where I get to watch kids at a day care. Pretty cool, huh?”
“Yeah,” I said, trying to keep a straight face while having what felt like half a dozen explosions inside. “Cool.”
“So call?”
“Call,” I agreed.
As I hitched a bus home, the words to The Damned’s “New Rose” flowed in and out of my head and I developed an acute craving for a peanut butter sandwich. I also began to feel good about myself (or as good as my Inner Dan would allow) and realized I’d have a fucking hell of a lot of explaining to do to Kindhertz if I wanted to get back into that program.

….and so I found Alice and got my shit together and lived happily ever after. The end. No, not really, but for the two and a half months that followed Bloody Monday, things were more or less DFQ (that’s deadly fucking quiet). Gradually, the social order that had been so ever-briefly wrecked began to reconstruct itself. We punks relinquished our dream of classlessness and perpetual chaos and did so with surprisingly little regret. Without the enmity of the elite to spur us on, we had no one to rebel against but ourselves. Let me tell you firsthand: watching two kids with dyed hair and safety pins on their clothes yell “Fuck you, man! No…. fuck YOU,” back for five minutes and forth is a disheartening experience to say the least. When everyone else took to having fun again and excluding us from it, we felt much more at home.
Robbo and Cori and I were able to recoup our collective balls. While staying well clear of Dan’s gang of hardcore psychos, we went to a few local concerts and posted a shitload of obscene fliers in stuffy, upper-crust neighborhoods. Printed on bright orange and yellow and pink paper, the fliers were the result of our collective boredom/genius and Gersh getting a job at Kinko’s. They bore messages such as “Have you seen my pet?” (with a picture of a little girl below the text) and “Elect me sheriff and I’ll give you a personal strip search” (this one featured a toothless, wrinkled, jovial old man). The fliers were probably torn down within hours, but, given the reaction people were likely to have had, their posting was well worthwhile.
About the only other ripple in my pond during that time was college acceptance. I got in and so did Cori. After all of her protests and pledges to the contrary, Cori ended up agreeing to go to a school of her parents’ choosing.
“I can’t believe you caved,” I chided.
“Dude,” she retorted. “They’re paying for it, plus I get a car, plus I get a graduation party, plus they’re on my side and will leave me alone between now and then. Besides, once I get there…. well, let’s just say if there’s no scene on campus, I’m gonna start one.”
I had to hand it to her. For all of the vacillation and panic she’d endured, she finally seemed to have things figured out and under control. As for me, I was just as clueless as ever. I’d accepted, more or less, the fact that I was going to college, but still had no clue what I was going to do when I got there.
My parents didn’t help me one bit in this regard. The day I got my acceptance letter (which I briefly considered burning, truth be told), Mom threw her arms around me and Dad shook my hand and we went out for a steak dinner. I tried to seem excited and optimistic for their sake, but I just couldn’t fake it.
“You’ll be embarking on a very important journey in your life, Seth….” he began. I drowned him out soon after that, focusing instead on the wine my parents had permitted me to drink for the occasion. I was no connoisseur, but it tasted very old.

Jump now to mid-March. Just as I had waited out Thanksgiving not too long ago, I was burning with impatience that Spring break had not yet arrived. Some of my more fortunate classmates (cough J.T. cough) would be heading down to Florida on their parents’ dime while others would be engaging in more local – if no less worthwhile – pursuits. As for me, I was looking forward to taking it easy. I just wanted to sleep and not have to do homework and not have to cram all my socialization into the nights and weekends. I’d also hang out with my friends, of course, and do something with Alice (whom I’d come to regard, strangely enough, as the perfectly-matched latter half of some Vaudeville comedy team…. only with better boobs) as well. Thank God our breaks overlapped. It’s bad enough I don’t have a car…
Anyway, the Friday before the big break commenced, the topic du jour was Cori’s pants, of all things.
“Your walking like a mummy,” Robbo commented as we headed toward the parking lot.
Cori, stiff legged in a decidedly un-punkish pair of Mudd jeans, gave him the finger.
“Pfft……these are my sister’s. That’s the problem.”
“Then wouldn’t they be BIG on you?” Robbo asked, not getting the message. Cori punched him in the arm.
“What was that for?”
“Cuz I can’t lift my leg to kick you. And no, they aren’t big cuz Caroline wears everything skin-tight. You know, my parents are gonna totally rip into her with me gone. Almost makes me feel sorry for the little brat.”
“Almost,” I echoed as we neared the Probe.
“Dude!” called a voice.
“What the hell?!” I exclaimed, spinning around to see Dan coming toward us. Aside from the short hair, he didn’t look as if he’d changed a bit.
“I don’t believe it,” Cori whispered. “They actually let him out.”
“What do you want, Dan?” I asked.
The smile he bore refused to fade. “Come on. It’s been a long time. Give me some love.”
We all high-fived him, though I doubt any of us were very enthusiastic about it.
“So I did my two months and I’m getting things organized again. The way I see it, the scene around here is way saturated. Too many punks competing with one another and we’re probably not gonna be able to make converts out of anyone else. So I figure I’m gonna head for someplace where were we’re not real well known and rock their fucking world.”
“Yeah?” Robbo asked. “Like where?”
“I dunno,” he said. “Probably some rural burg. Maybe Alaska.”
“Alaska!” Cori exclaimed. “Pfffffft!”
“So are you guys in or what?”
“Get real,” said Cori.
For the first time since their initial encounters, he gazed upon her with coldness and hostility. Maybe it was her jeans or maybe it was his knowledge that he had (however indirectly) corrupted her, but proactive flame in his eyes seemed to extinguish when he looked in his direction.
“Um, what would you be doing exactly?” I ventured to ask.
“Not me,” he corrected. “We. Anyway, I don’t know. That’s the beauty of it. There’s no plan. We just do what we want and when we don’t want to do it anymore, we do something else. The whole country – no, fuck that – the whole WORLD is ours for the taking. So why the fuck should we let ourselves get held back by bullshit?”
“I’d love to, Dan,” I said, half-jokingly. “But I’m pretty much set with going to college now.”
I thought he’d blow his roof and start crying “sellout”, but he was surprisingly supportive in his response.
“That’s cool,” he said. “I mean, hey, any chance you can get to expand your mind you should take. Plus we need people to fight the system from the inside.”
“So how bout you, Robbo? I know you aren’t happy earning chump change at that fucking pit of a supermarket.”
“Yeah, but….”
“Don’t answer right away. Take some time to think it over. I know this is some heavy shit I’m laying on you, but I wouldn’t bring it if I weren’t serious. Peace, little dudesters.”
After he turned to leave, we all began exchanging confused looks. Dan had always been off the wall, but he was usually somebody we could relate to (or even admire). The way he talked of moving around the country as if it was no big deal made him seem as foreign to us as our own parents (if not more so).
“I almost forgot,” he said, turning abruptly around. “No matter what, you’re my kids and I love you. Not literally and not like that, but ya know what I mean. You’re the fucking future. Don’t ever forget that.”
And then, just as randomly as he had come, he was gone.
“He’s back,” I said, my head swimming with uncertainty and excitement. “He’s really back.”
“Yup,” said Robbo.
“He’s an asshole,” Cori commented and spat on the ground.

Given that we had a long break ahead of ourselves and were in no particular rush to do much of anything, we cruised around for awhile rather than going home right away. For once, I was able to preempt Robbo and get my selection into the CD player before he could put in his.
“More Misfits?” he said. “Dude…”
“I’m on a binge, aright.”
“I like it,” Cori said. “It makes me feel all Halloweeny. That reminds me: we should stop and get candy.”
En route to a place to stop and do so, we drove past Finch’s house. In the vague recesses of my mind, I envisioned a scenario where he would be outside waiting for us, just as scrawny and shabby and quixotically admirable as ever. Judging by the silence of my compatriots, I don’t think I was alone in my vision.
At long last, we stopped at the KwikMart. Before we went in, however, a memory of an entirely different kind seized me and I pulled us to a stop.
“Wait a sec,” I said. “We can’t all go in.”
“Why not?” Cori asked.
“Yeah,” said Robbo. “Why not?”
“The dude who runs this place, Jagdish or something, he doesn’t like kids. He thinks they steal from him. If the three of us come walking in together, he’s probably gonna chase us out.”
“What a fuckhead!” Cori protested.
“Yeah,” I said. “But his place, his rules. So only one of us goes.”
“Which one?”
“Not me,” Cori said. “I walk in here all peg-legged and he’s gonna think something’s up.”
“I guess I look the most average,” I volunteered.
“I’ll do it,” Robbo preempted. “I look too clumsy and pathetic to swipe something. And besides, I need to break a ten.”
We nodded in agreement and Robbo headed in to buy, in his own words, “basic necessities, a luxury item or two…. and porn if they have it.”
“Don’t forget the candy!” Cori called after him. She then proceeded to pace around uncomfortably. “Ugh, these fucking jeans. I’m about two seconds away from going around pantless. The hell with it!”
“I’ll bet you wish you had a diaper on,” I blurted out. I don’t know what prompted me to say it. I guess it was that prior curiosity that I kept ducking and dodging and avoiding like cannon fodder.
“Whoa,” Cori remarked. “Where’d that come from?”
“I dunno,” I confessed.
“I mean, I’m not angry that you brought it up. I just thought you didn’t like talking about it.”
“I don’t,” I reaffirmed. “I guess I’m still kinda….curious.”

Re: A Punk’s Tale - WingZ

“I don’t,” I reaffirmed. “I guess I’m still kinda….curious.”
“Do you even still wear them?”
“Wouldn’t you like to know?” she asked, sticking her tongue at.
“Whatever.” I shrugged. Apathy still came plenty easy.
“We’ll talk more over break,” she told me as Robbo reemerged.
“Ooh….Milky Way!” Cori exclaimed.
Robbo sighed.
“No porn?” I asked.
“No porn,” he said. "And not even a “Thank you, come again.”
I shook my head. “What’s this country coming to?”
“It’s a shame.”
“A travesty.”
“A real disgrace.”
“Shut up and eat,” Cori admonished, thrusting bits of chocolate into our palms. As I chewed it, I began to wonder if, in a few years, I’d still enjoy it the same way I did then.

SPRIIIIINNGGGG BREAAAAKKK!!! Just kidding. I wasn’t really all that psyched. I still couldn’t bring myself to celebrate. Being happy and accepting my place in life – even if it was an increasingly good place – felt like betrayal.
“That’s a pretty fucked up way of looking at things, dude,” Alice said as I’d explained as much to her over the phone.
“What? And you’re OK with the way things are?”
“I’m OK, Seth. It’s the things that aren’t, and, sometimes they are anyway.”
“Yeah, but…”
“Nothing. Cya Tuesday.”
And so I kicked back and began to wonder if I was really losing it. Maybe Dan was right and his whole escape thing was a brilliant idea. I could almost guarantee I wouldn’t have to worry about getting trapped by life if I was always one step ahead of it. I could see myself going from town to town, working here and there and just picking up and leaving when I got sick of it. Conventional wisdom said that kind of life was no good; that it was a fate reserved for bums and burnouts. But it seemed an awful lot like freedom to me. Besides, I wasn’t a loser. I knew, by that point, that I had what it took to succeed in society. Why couldn’t I succeed outside society too?
As I toyed with this idea of total abandonment, I was sure to keep it a secret. I didn’t talk about it with Alice or Robbo or Cori and especially not my parents. I knew they cared about me and I didn’t want them guilting me out of any vital decision I might have to make. After I’d made up my mind, I’d clue them in, but until then my judgment was flying solo.

“He still might be asleep,” I heard Mom say. “Seth!”
Groggy, I did a quarter-turn and glanced at the glowing red decimals of my alarm clock. It was half past eleven on a Sunday morning during Spring break. What the fuck could anyone possibly want with me?
Before long, I had my answer. Cori casually sauntered into my room without pity and glanced at me impatiently.
“Dude,” she cautioned. “If you aren’t out of bed in five seconds, I’m gonna fucking dropkick your ass.”
“Huh? What the fuck?”
“I’ve got a surprise for you,” she said, smiling radiantly. “A good one.”
“Well give me a minute,” I protested.
“Pfft…nah!” she said, yanking the covers off me.
“You’re losing it,” I said, hurriedly climbing into a pair of faded gray carpenter jeans.
“Hurry up,” she prodded, delivering a swift, albeit playful kick to my ass. I drew back my fist in mock retaliation and she eased up. Whatever the surprise was, she seemed confident that it would be worth waking me up.
Due in no small part to her recent academic performance (she’d raised her GPA for the year from a C to an A minus) and good behavior, Cori’s parents had given her temporary use of one of the family cars. She would be getting her own as a graduation present, she informed me, trying not very hard to avoid gloating.
“I’m thinking a Mercedes,” she said.
“Mercedes? That’s preppy trash.”
“You’re right, Seth. Maybe I should just get an '86 Chevy van with a whole lot of decals.”
“Now you’re talking.”
“Fuck you.”
“Where are we going anyway?”
“If I told you, it wouldn’t be a surprise.”
I nodded, yawned and lay my head across my shoulder. It was too early in the day for surprises.
Our voyage took us out of town, onto the highway (briefly, thank God…Cori’s driving skills didn’t inspire confidence), across an overpass, down a few streets and finally into an apartment complex.
“What…” I began, getting out of the car.
“Shh!” she reminded me. “It’s a surprise.”
I nodded and allowed her to lead me around by the hand. I was too out of it to give a damn.
Cori produced a small metal key and used it to get us into an apartment on the third floor. It had an austere but homey feel to it.
“Have a seat,” she said, pulling out a hard wood chair and placing it on the center of the floor. I sat and the chair seemed to creak. “Now close your eyes.”
I did so, half believing that I would fall asleep and Cori’s glorious surprise would backfire on her. Yet when she said “open,” I opened, surprising myself instead.
Cori’s ‘surprise’ turned out to be a half-assed strip tease. Her skirt and top lay in a heap on the floor and she modeled herself before me in a t-shirt and thick diapers with plastic pants.
“Well?” she asked. “Whatcha think?”
“That’s your surprise?” I replied, making no effort to hide my disappointment.
“It’s PART of it,” she corrected.
“Look, I kinda already knew you still wore them.”
“But did you know I wear them here?”
“Where’s here?”
“Matty’s place.”
That actually was a surprise and I readily admitted as much.
“She’s on vacation right now,” Cori explained. “In Peru. She lent me her extra key so I could come here.”
“That was nice of her.”
“Yeah. I’m here pretty often, actually.”
“How often?”
“Couple of times a week. When I get sick of being nice to my family and feel like I’m getting ready to fucking explode, mostly. When that happens, I come here and I chill. I help Matty take care of Gabi and she takes care of me.”
“Takes care of you how?”
“You know. Babies me, I guess. Like I wear diapers all the time here. And sometimes, I’ll be bad and make a mess and stuff and she’ll have to punish me…”
“Whoa,” I said, rubbing my eyes and disbelief. “Time out. How long has this been going on?”
“Awhile. I didn’t tell you cuz I didn’t think you’d be able to handle it.”
“Do I look like I’m handling it now?” I asked.
“Look at me, Seth.” I looked at her. She looked goofy/cute in her diapers, but she was still the same friend I had known. “I’m doing better now, right? Mood-wise I mean.”
“Yeah,” I agreed. “You have.”
“That’s probably because of this. I just needed to be able to vent a little, ya know?”
“Venting’s one thing, but…”
“But what?”
"I dunno. I don’t want to say you’re less punk or you’ve changed or something like that, but between this and the clothes you’ve been wearing lately and you getting along with your folks all of the sudden, it sure seems like it.
“Seth, Seth, Seth,” she admonished. “Don’t you remember what you told me when I first wanted to go punk?”
“Punk chicks don’t have to give good head?”
“Not that, you asswipe. I meant about punk being more than the hair or even the music. About it being something inside of you. Who you are and all that.”
“Yeah. So?”
“So…who gives a shit if I wear a skirt every once in awhile and smile around my parents? It doesn’t change who I am.”
“Look at it this way, Seth. A lot of people, a lot of people we think are norms were probably punk once, right?”
“Right,” I said, thinking of my father.
“And we think just because they work in an office or something they’ve sold out? Well I don’t. I say anyone who can put up with a 9 to 5 job and still be able to rock out afterwards is still punk. Maybe more punk even than the rest of us.”
It was like a cannon went off in my head. Suddenly, I understood. Cori had, in a matter of speaking, revealed to me her destiny. Beneath her innocuous smile and clever metaphors lay a blueprint for a life worth living.
“You sly devil you,” I said, humbled and awed.
“Yup,” she said. “So I’m gonna keep pretending and give the world what it wants. I’ll do it until I’ve gotten into a position where I don’t have to anymore. And than I’m gonna do what I want. And I’m NEVER gonna lose sight of that.”
I wanted to hug her then. I wanted to rip from her whatever inspiration had guided her and put it in me. I could see it now: Cori would work her ass off, retire at 40 and spend the rest of her days doing whatever she wanted. She would do it because she had what it took to get to that point and not surrender herself in the process.
“You can stop staring, Seth,” she said. “I’m feeling pretty good about myself too, but this could all blow up in my face for all I know.”
“That’s some surprise,” I admitted.
“Oh, it’s not over yet,” she assured me.

We spent a while playing Battleship on Mathilda’s floor. For as good as she professed to be at conning the outside world, Cori couldn’t fool me for an instant and I beat her in three straight matches. Between the second and the third, she’d wet herself.
“Aren’t you going to change?” I asked.
“Nope,” she said and went back to setting up the board.
Not long after the third match, we were interrupted by a knock on the door.
“Now what?” I asked.
“That’s the big surprise,” Cori told me, sliding her clothes back on. She opened the door and in walked Finch. He wasn’t quite a ghost, but man did he look different! He seemed to have added a little weight to his puny frame and his hair was finally cropped short.
“Heya Finchie,” Cori greeted, offering him a bland peck on the cheek.
“Hi Seth,” he said.
I think I began to choke. “What the fuck?!” I stammered.
He sat down behind me and clapped me on the back. While I soon got my breath back, I was no less stunned.
“I got sent to live with my aunt,” Finch explained. “I’m only back for a few days. I didn’t tell you guys because I didn’t want you worrying about me.”
“But you told her,” I said with a hint of bitterness.
“Don’t look at me, dude,” Cori said. “I only found out by accident. I was driving by his house the other day and there he was. Didn’t freakin recognize him at first either. I said, ‘Hey…it looks like Finch has a cute cousin.’”
True to old form, Finch began to blush. I decided to cut through the awkwardness.
“As a hetero dude with a girlfriend, I must say,” I told him. “You look good.”
“Thanks,” he said. “It’s real different over there. People are actually kinda scared of me. I’m a real rebel.”
“You were a rebel here,” I assured him. “Just nobody knew it.”
“Hey!” Cori exclaimed. “We should get Robbo over here.”
“He’s at work,” I said.
“Oh. Boo.”
“Tell him I said ‘how’s the ankle?’” Finch said.
“Will do,” I agreed.
“What to do in the meantime,” Cori mused. “Hmm…let’s see….”
“Before we do anything,” Finch said. “I think a certain little girl needs her didees changed.”
In all my years of knowing Cori, it had become abundantly clear that she didn’t take kindly to remarks about her height. Had I or Robbo or anyone else made a comment like that, we would have fully expected her to fly into a ballistic rage. Not only didn’t this happen with Finch, but Cori seemed to take it almost as if it was a compliment.
“Maybe,” she said, blushing.
“Well let’s find out,” he said, tucking an arm around her.
“I think I’ll get going,” I interrupted. “Finch, good seeing you man. Cori, thanks for dragging my ass out of bed. It was worth it.”
“No problem.”
“Why don’t you stick around?” Finch offered.
“No thanks. I’ve got stuff to do.”
What I didn’t say was that whatever seemed to be going on between them was too freakin weird for me. I’d come to accept and even understand Cori’s odd fixation with diapers, but I kept it at arms’ length just the same.

I decided to pay Robbo a visit the next day. He was crashed out on his couch watching yet ANOTHER Stallone movie.
“Dude,” I said, only half-joking. “Get help. You thought my Misfits fixation was bad? This is like a fucking fetish.”
“Whatever,” he said, belching loudly.
I apprised him of the events of the day before and he reacted much the way I did: with shock, bewilderment, confusion and awe.
“Wow,” he said, whistling. “She’s got it all figured out, huh?”
“Sounds like it.”
“I wish I did.”
“What are you talking about?”
Since he’d taken a major leap by telling me that he’d considered joining the army, I decided to repay the favor by telling him I’d been considering Dan’s offer.
“Don’t do it,” he told me.
“Why not?”
“You have a lot going for you, that’s why. And don’t say you don’t want it. Cuz you will….once you don’t have it anymore.”
I sighed. He had a point. “Would you do it?” I asked him.
“Why not? You keep saying you don’t have much going for you….”
“I know. And I don’t. But I’ll tell ya, man. I can accept that I’ll never be rich. Not unless I win the lottery or something. But it’s OK. I don’t give a shit. I don’t have to be king of the fucking world as long as I have something. If I’m out there though, living like that day-to-day, then I don’t have anything 'cept for the hope that things’ll get better. And that kind of hope’s no good, Seth. It’s dangerous. It’ll fucking kill you.”
I meditated on that for a while. Here was my big, clumsy, poor, not-too-bright friend Rob who had no estimable future and knew it, yet still saw fit to decide against Dan’s way. He spoke with wisdom and authority, as if he knew better and as if he was older than his 18 years. He, like Cori, seemed to have a pretty good handle on his future. And then it occurred to me: if my friends could do it, so could I.

“You think much about the future?” I asked Alice on our date on Tuesday.
“You mean our future? Or THE future?”
“THE future.”
“I guess. But then I get a headache and I stop.”
“Doesn’t it bother you? Not knowing.”
“A little. But whatcha gonna do?”
“Something. Anything. Run away.”
She chuckled. “You’re silly, Seth.”
“I’m serious.”
“You’re paranoid.”
“I’m serious.”
“You’re serious?”
“Nah. Serious is when you do run away and you realize what you’ve given up. Believe me, I’ve seen it happen.”
“So, what then?” I asked, throwing my hands up in disgust. “What is it? Why the fuck am I freaking out?”
“Hrrrmm…let me put my thinking cap on.” She patted herself on the head. “OK, done. Me thinks you’re just a liiiiitle bit scared of what’s to come.”
“That’s bullshit though,” I argued. “What if I think that what’s to come is mostly good?”
“High expectations then. Either that of you have a guilt complex and you think you don’t deserve it.”
“Wow,” I said. “You’re good. You’re gonna make a good psychologist.”
“I hope so,” she joked. “Plan B is professional rollerball.”
We did our thing and I began to feel better again. This time, however, I would not let that feeling slip away. The next day, when I began to have doubts and worries and concerns and felt like breaking free, I thought of Alice and her white hair and Cori and Robbo and Finch and everything that seemed to matter. And, the day after that when the doubts came again, I did the same thing. Slowly but surely, inch by inch, I began to pull myself back from the abyss until finally, one day, the doubts stopped coming entirely. Fuck it, I said. I’m through worrying. I’m gonna go to college and live a life and it’ll be a damn good one and if not, too fucking bad, at least I fucking tried. End of fucking sentence!

How did Dostoevsky spin it? I am a sick man, I am a spiteful man…. Well, I’m in pretty good shape and I’ve kicked the last of my spite, but I’m feeling like a traitor nonetheless. You hear me, I am a traitor to the cause of punk. I am a traitor because I loved and I laughed and I lived and I cared and I did so within the confines of a system (job, school, society, etc.) that I for so long knew to be a fucking prison. And the worst part of it, the blackest of my sins is that after awhile, I stopped caring.
I’m feeling better now. I signed up to be a sociology major. My parents weren’t too thrilled about the decision, but they were glad I found some footing. I don’t think I’ll stick with it though. A lot of it’s theory and I’m more interested in the real. Something tells me I’m going to end up being a lawyer like my dad. You know what? Maybe that won’t be so bad. He’s got a lot going for him. Mom, too. They both do.
It’s tough to say what kicked me from apathy to fear to action. A while ago, when I was having the last of my doubts, Alice turned me on to this online message board thing for the college punk scene. Turns out I’m Joe Q. Steady compared to some of these other sorry assholes out there. Anyway, I got around to chatting with some interesting people, including – get this – an editor for Swerve magazine.
I think she was what ultimately got me on track. I ran Dan’s suggestion by her and the email I got knocked my socks off.
“Dude, are you fucking nuts?!” she wrote. “No way. Let me tell ya, I’ve been there. I lived in a shitty apartment with my friends and we did whatever the fuck we wanted. It was fun for a while, but then by the time I wanted to get out, I couldn’t. I just kept sinking lower and we turned on each other and it got real nasty. I lucked out, of course, but I’ll tell ya something else: I feel like I’m playing catch-up. If you don’t go to college Seth, I’ll track you down and kick your ass myself.”
Like I said, that was all it took.
Of course, I still don’t know what’s going to happen to me in the long term, but I can at least guess. I guess that Cori will probably end up becoming some kind of uber-professional who ingratiates herself to corporate America five days a week and goes apeshit on weekends. And I guess Robbo will bust his ass from nine to five, but still have his Stallone films and his mix CDs for after hours. No matter what path they take (or I take, for that matter), I know they’ll still be punk. For all his misconceptions, Dan was right about one thing: you need to be a part of the system to change it. And I am that change.
Punks across the world will still get dissed well into the future and that probably isn’t gonna change, but this is one punk who’s doing OK for himself. Eat that, posuers!

Re: A Punk’s Tale - WingZ

This is one of those jems. They’re really rare and only come around every so often. Maybe you just struck something deep down inside me, because I can so easily relate to this story. I’m not into the punk scene anymore, but you managed to conjure up so many memories of the good and bad times from so long ago. Every one of your characters was ripped right out of my mind and put down on paper. You captured the scene and all the characters at the scene perfectly.

This story isn’t about the diapers; it was never about the diapers. It’s about growing up. It’s about highschool and love and friendships and teenagers. It’s a coming of age story not just for the freaks, but for all of us.

Good work, WingZ.