Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Second Childhood: Prologue (Pages 1-5)

The Second Childhood: Prologue (Non-holographic edition)
                December 31, 2004
                Marc and his twin brother Chris were busy packing their belongings. They had gone home for Christmas, and were back in Manhattan, Kansas that following week, because other than being with family, there was nothing else to do in the small village of Chapman, so they both wanted to stay in the comfort of all the amenities Manhattan had to offer between the holidays, planning to return home again that evening. 
The trip between Chapman and Manhattan was no large feat, as it was only a 33-mile drive, so going home and back every so often was not at all a problem.
“Chris, I’ve gotta tell you something.” 
“Yeah? Shoot, Marc.”
“I’ll not be home until the early morning. I have a commitment with the fraternity I’m trying to get into. If I hope to pledge and initiate, I need to attend as many of their parties as I can. I have to get to know everyone there, chill out, and have a good time.”
“Oh, it’s that wet frat again? So, you’ll get drunk. Then how’ll you get home if you aren’t allowed to drive?”
                “Eh… let’s see… umm, oh yeah! Every wet frat has a designated driver at their parties. He’ll drive me home. But if he’s too busy or he thinks our home’s too far away, I’ll just get a taxi.”
               Chris went to the internet and looked up the fare rates for taxis from Manhattan. “Dude! Taxis around here are $2.50 to get in, and $1.50 a mile. Chapman is 33 miles from here. Then you have to tip the driver. Do the math. Do you REALLY want to pay that much?”
                “Heh, good point, Chris. Well, I’ll think of somethin’. Maybe I’ll wait ‘til I sober up by the morning and be home by noon. So what if I’m hung over? I can’t drive drunk but I’m allowed to drive headached.”
                “Yeah, okay, but I wonder if driving while hungover is still dangerous. I’ll have to ask an online messageboard about that. In the meantime, I’d advise against it, so take headache pills before you head out. Anyway, did you get leaving town cleared with Home Depot?”
                “You know they aren’t open on New Years, and I don’t report back into work until the 3rd.”
                The twins continued packing. “Now anyway, Acacia’s dry. So is Alpha Gamma Rho, and several others. Out of all of them, why did you feel the need to try out for that wet frat? Don’t you think they’ll just lead you down a wrong, more jagged path in life? Hell, they could even kill you from alcohol poisoning. What’s so good about it?”
               Marc has been a partier for much of his life, while Chris had been the bookworm and Net-surfing opposite, and, in Marc’s opinion, a social outcast, who therefore failed to get into even the dry fraternities. Marc went to K-State for the social scene, and Chris was there to study. 
Marc responded, “You don’t need to snoop into my life all the time and tell me to be more like you; we’re both adults, we can make our own decisions and go our separate ways. I can’t wait to move out of your pad and in with my frat brothers so you don’t have to scrutinize every life choice I make. Now, here’s something you WANT to hear about it: This fraternity also has mandatory study hours, answers to previous tests, and their own set of tutors.” 
More than that, the prospective fraternity Marc was trying to get into contains an Xbox, PS2, and other great stuff to occupy the members with in their downtimes, and they got lots of women at their frat-to-sorority date parties. 
“You see Chris, while I get to live it up with my brothers, you get to be all alone except for people you chat with on the INTERNET, which doesn’t count for much in my playbook. If you took after my social strengths, you’d be in the running to join one of your dry frats by now, but actually, when I think about it, you couldn’t have my personal clout no matter how hard you tried. Let me do my own thing and see how I turn out by the time we graduate.”
               “Yeah, IF you make it to graduation. The stuff you plan to do is gonna go against what God wants us to do with our lives. What would Jesus say?”
                “I don’t give a rat’s tail what Jesus says. All that matters is my believing in him. That’s all it takes to not go to Hell.”
                Chris was going to counter this argument, but realized that it wasn’t worth debating.
“Eh, ugh, just forget it. I’ll not bother trying to debate THAT.” Chris let go of his frustration to Marc. “Anyway Marc, what do you want for our birthday? Maybe I’ll get it at Junction City’s Wal-Mart on the way home, but don’t ask for too much.”
                “You won’t find it at Wal-Mart. I wish though. Nobody is able to give me this present I really want most. Can YOU guess what it is?”
                “Heh, an early graduation and a plum job? Korean Reunification? What?”
                “I want another childhood. I want to be 5 years old again, well, physically, but retain all the memories of our past nineteen years. That way, I’d thrive a lot better than I did the first time around. But back to Earth, it’s an impossible wish.”
                This is where Chris decided to pull a type of bluff on Marc, as he felt a little perplexed at Marc’s wish. “Actually, and guess what? You can pray for it. After all Marc, doesn’t the Lord work in MYSTERIOUS ways?”
                “Nah, forget it.”
                “No, really. Even if God probably won’t answer that prayer, you can sound entertaining while you pray. Think of anything you can to make this prayer sound exciting. Anything at all.”
                Marc sighed. “Okay, here goes: Dear GOD, I am fed up with this tedious hellhole that my college life is. It’s drivin’ me screwing nuts, and I don’t appreciate being about to turn twenty. It’s already more difficult than I can handle, what with the credit card debt, student loans, and all, and I know it’ll get more screwing difficult as I get older. So God, I DEMAND you to simplify my life by making me five years old tomorrow. I don’t want anything to do with this screwing complicated hellhole of a life any longer. I don’t appreciate you letting my life get more complicated when you know in your infinite SCREWING wisdom that I am not yet ready to handle the increasing complexities. Give me another childhood, a chance to set all of my earlier wrongs right, or else you are going to screwing regret it! That’s ALL I want for my birthday. I don’t need nothin’ else. OKAY? You’d better screwin’ understand my thoughts here. I won’t take any more junk. And once you grant me my birthday wish, I promise I’ll worship you more and be a better boy.  But like I said, if you don’t give me that wish, I SWEAR you’ll regret it. Comprende, pal? Good! In Jesus’ ALMIGHTY name I pray, Amen!”
                “Heh, whoa. Marc, that was the most scathing prayer I have ever heard in my life. I don’t know what God will do to you tonight, but I promise it won’t be pleasant!”
“Yeah? Well, what’s your hypothesis, Chris?” 
“He can leave you with a permanent disability. Alcohol poisoning, or anything related, could cause it. You could get brain damage so that instead, your intellectuality reverts to that of a five-year-old. You’ll lose all the friends and respect that you’ve busted your tail to build up.”
                “If our God’s a forgiving God like you say he is, he will be so easygoing that he’ll see past my harsh words and still be magnanimous to me. He’d be no better than his enemy if he retaliated.” At that point, the twins finished packing. 
                “Well Marc, I’ll be headed out now. I wish he could make me a child again too, but we’re all children of God, and will stay so for all eternity, even though physically we may look different.”
                “Chris, that is so gay. Well, see ya. I’ve got your present in my lockbox, so I’ll try to remember to bring it.”
                “Yeah, please do, Marc. In the meantime, I’ll try to get you something at Wal-Mart anyway.”
                Marc responded, “Cool, I appreciate it, but if I think it’s gay, you’d better return it.”
                “Yeah, no prob. See ya tomorrow, Marc.”
                Chris rolled his suitcase down the stairs and into his car. As he drove off, Marc muttered from the window, “Huh. What a screwball.”
Marc got into the shower and got ready for that night’s party. After shaving, putting on cologne and deodorant, and other rituals for a night on the town, he left for the frat party at 8:45. The party started at 9:00.
                At the party, Marc asked a few of the frat buddies, “Ready for a night of chugging, you guys?”
                “You betcha, but we’re having a ‘Game Hour’ in our Rec Room with the X-Boxes. The winner of tonight’s competition will have all his food and drinks paid for by the rest of us when we all go to Aggieville later. We aren’t having any drinks in the Rec Room ‘cause we hate buying new X-Boxes when some douchebag spills on one.”
                “Cool, count me in, guys!” Marc went to the room and started playing the games.
After “Game Hour” concluded, the drinking started. Marc was drinking away, enjoying New Year’s Eve night at the local fraternity. He got to make out with a fairly hot girl from an upper-class section of Overland Park, so he had high hopes of mooching off of her if their relationship got to go any further.
                At about 11:25, one of the fraternity guys made an announcement: “In five minutes, we’re all gonna walk to Aggieville to celebrate the dropping of the Apple at Varney’s, then we’re gonna go bar-hoppin’, and have fun. If anyone of you creates any grievous kind of misconduct, then you’re gonna get kicked out of our group for the night. We’re gonna meet some new women, drink the night away, and have a good time!” At that point, Marc decided to take his chances with the Overland Parker, and ask for her number.
                “Hey, Claudia, it looks like we had a helluva time makin’ out, so in case we get lost goin’ bar hoppin’, how ‘bout I get your number?”
                Claudia didn’t look too pleased, but said “Uhh…, sure! You ready to type it in on your phone?”
                “Yeah, lemme take it out. Okay, I’m ready.”
                Claudia started away. “Yep, it’s 785-” She waited for him to tap it in. “875-“ then once Marc tapped that in, she finished with the suffix. “3188.”
                “Okay, 785-875-3188. Alright. Now, I’m gonna be calling your phone so you can get my number, ‘kay?”
                Claudia got nervous. “Um, okay, well, I’ll be out on the parking lot with the rest of you all. See you there… I guess.” Claudia power-walked out the door.
                Marc tried the number. One ring, and a message came on the line: “Hello, this is not the person you were trying to call.  You’ve reached the Rejection Hotline, provided by  Unfortunately the person who gave you this number did not want you to have their real number.  We know this sucks, but don’t be too devastated.  So anyway, why were you given the rejection hotline?” Marc snapped, “Screw off!” and slammed the “End Call” button.
                Marc ran outside to find Claudia, to find her already with another guy at this point. “Claudia, what the hell is it with you giving me a rejection hotline number and going after this guy? I mean, how’s he better than me?”
                Claudia’s new partner snapped back, “Hey, you back off. She wanted me more, so she’s mine!”
                Claudia kindly told him, “Okay, hon, we’ll hope he understands this ‘cause I’ll tell him just this once, and then be done with him for the night.” Claudia turned toward Marc. “Okay Marc, you and my honey-buns here both made out with me just as well as each other, and you’re also a great guy, but, and this is nothing personal, I’d just like to be with someone who’s on a similar economic level as me. Trevor here is also from Overland Park, so we can mutually support each other just as much. For you, I had a feeling you might mooch off of me if you ever ran into hard money problems, and I’ll only let my man mooch off of me if I am just as capable of mooching off of him. Sorry, but I just need a level playing field here and you wouldn’t have been on it.”
                Marc was slowly getting furious. “Well, since you left me for this Trevor dude, you just ruined my night. I’m not bar hoppin’ with the rest of you after all.” Marc promptly turned around and started walking in a forlorn manner to his car.
Marc said to himself, “Screw that. I’m gonna see my family.” He forgot about the promise he made to Chris earlier that he was going to wait until morning to drive back. As Marc headed for his car and got his keys out, a party buddy ran ahead of him to stop him and said, “Where you drivin’ off to?”

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