He has a good head on his shoulders – a cloudy, uncrisp one, but a decent one nonetheless. His conversations are like stepping into cold lakes. Sharp, he coerces you into a fight and pins you down with bitter sarcasm. When you’re walking down the stairs or reading a newspaper a witty comeback will show itself to you and it is always towards him that you want to direct it. When he and his girlfriend fight it’s always she who ends up sulking, biting her fingernails, resorting to petty insults. You tell him that it’ll get him in trouble someday, that knack, that need to hurt people so deeply. It’s her fault, anyway, he says, glancing over to the girlfriend, for letting herself be hurt.
His mother and late night romantic comedies on Channel 1 assure you that inside he’s actually got a soft, jellyfish heart. But actually, you don’t believe it, ever. You like the way he is, the way his limbs move, snapping fingers, rolling eyes. You like how he doesn’t vie for other people’s attention. He’s got few friends, but each of them is an infinitely fascinating person, people you want to keep in contact with when you grow and shed. None of them are cello players or ballerinas or even straight A students. They’re not people who are voted Prom King and Queen or Most Likely To Succeed. They’re not social rejects either, not gothemoprepnerdskaterpunk. When they talk to you, however, (Coke can in hand eyes never darting away from your face in a way that makes you feel ridiculously important) there’s a sense of glorious inspiration in the air. You look at him and think this is where I want to be.
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