His hesitation was understandable. In his own mind, there had been no event in his life thus far that would measure up to the moment he was about to endure. Endure might have been a bad word, actually. To “endure” meant, or at least implied, that it would be a negative experience, a painful struggle; he didn’t know if this would be negative or positive yet. He only knew that it was, perhaps, one of the only moments in his life where he just might, as that puppet dog said on television all the time – poop on something, himself being the most logical candidate.

Oh sure, he had rehearsed plenty. He tried to memorize what he was going to say, like when he used to try to study for science tests during freshman year in high school. His mind now drifting off topic, he thought of those high school science tests. Oh, how he hated those. There was nothing more painful than having to lay on his bed the night before with the most uninteresting science book in the whole wide world and try to memorize, section by section, over and over again, scientific equations. Or to try and remember that fissionable nucleii are so unstable that they will fall apart if struck by a neutron. Memorization was such a funny thing. He couldn’t remember any of the elements of the periodic table, but he remembered the shit about the fissionable nucleii? He laughed to himself. He thought about the one time in science class when he had faked a severe headache and was convincing enough that the sceince teacher, the miserable (and clearly gullible) Miss Veracruz, appeared so concerned that she had excused him from class to go to the nurse. That trip to the nurse would be memorable for another reason – his affliction of singing out loud and not knowing it. For on the way to the nurse’s office that day, Led Zeppelin’s “Rock & Roll” was cruising through his brain, attacking him like those lions attacked the hapless gazelles on those Animal Planet specials. He was in mid-verse, strutting down the hall, walking right by Mr. Temple’s math class, almost shouting the “lonely lonely lonely lonely time” part of the song and not realizing he was singing out loud.

The twenty or so teenage heads in Temple’s class all turned at once in near-perfect synchroncity, looked out into the hall and broke into spontanous, cackling laughter, as if someone had held up the “laugh” cue card on a TV set. He could still hear the laughter as he passed through the bright red, swinging double-doors twenty-five feet down the hall. He always wondered why they didn’t just get some new god damn doors instead of painting over them every August? He spotted a small piece of peeling paint, stopped at the doors and pulled off a soft half-inch of the red paint, revealing the slightly different colored red underneath from the previous year. Hisotry, he thought. Now that’s an amazing topic, promising himself to never, ever fake a headache in history class.

His mind snapped back to the present, remembering what he was about to do……

Song now playing: Uncle Tupelo – “Train”