[posted 03.12.2001]
by jennifer mathieu
and michael solita


CONSTRUCT A MODESTLY ELABORATE potato “cannon” out of PVC tubing and a barbeque igniter. Gather with friends late at night on frontage roads running parallel to interstate highways. Force each other to drink warm Busch Light draft beer while listening to “The Ultimate Road-Loading Mix Tape Fuck Yeah Argggh” in Chevy Nova’s tape deck. Sneak outside car every 15 minutes to urinate or fire potato cannon at passing semi-tractor trailers. Return to car. Laugh. If you see headlights behind you on the frontage road, GO GO GO! Twilight car chases on gravel roads = OK. Watching police officer confiscate your Busch Light drafts = Bad.

Read Sylvia Plath. Convince yourself that you are the next Sylvia Plath. Write embarrassing poetry you will find eight years later and laugh at.

Masturbate every night.

Find a way to purchase microbrewed beer from a restaurant you or your friends work at. Agree to meet at friend’s house at, say, 5 a.m. on a Tuesday in the middle of a Midwestern winter, planning only to watch the entirety of Goodfellas before class starts at 8:30 a.m., and vowing to take drafts of microbrewed beer each time a profanity is uttered in said Martin Scorsese film. ... Thirty minutes into the film (5:30 a.m.), acknowledge you are well on the way to becoming intoxicated. ... Sixty minutes into the film, mutually agree to stop watching Goodfellas, and to start drinking water. ... Thirty minutes after the Goodfellas videocassette has finished rewinding, begin arguing over whose idea was this anyway. ... Thirty minutes before leaving for class, give each other a good “smell-down” to ensure no scent of said microbrew is noticeable on lips or hands or jacket or pants. ... Thirty minutes after arriving at first-hour English class, realize you have finished a six-pack before most of your classmates woke up for school. ... Thirty minutes before leaving school at the end of the day, realize how much you could get done each day if you woke up at 4 a.m. each morning.

Imagine your more obnoxious, stuck-up classmates eight years from now. Envision them knocked up, stuck in lousy marriages and living in the basement of their parents’ houses … you would be surprised how much of this actually comes true.

Keep a journal in which you scribble such pithy observations as: “Oh my God, I am totally bored with everything in my life and I just totally don’t even care about anyTHING or anyBODY!” Fantasize that you die in a horrible car accident and then they find your journals and publish them and you’re like the next Anne Frank or something, except without the Nazis.

Roll your eyes. Often.

Make three-day weekend plan to test your and your friends’ survival instincts by “roughing it” in your town, vowing to “live off the land” for three days and two nights carrying nothing but “boozepacks” and a plastic tarpaulin. Explain clearly to friends that said boozepacks must contain nothing in them except alcohol and no more than one pocketknife. Ignore parents when they inquire what you’re packing in your backpack for this weekend. “Sleepover?” ... “Umm, sort of.” ... Sneak out and meet friends by railroad tracks. After walking three-fourths of a mile along tracks, leaving a trail of dented aluminum draft beer cans behind you, decide to wander at random to classmates’ parents’ homes throughout town, solely to test how long you can drink alcohol as a minor on strangers’ front porches before being noticed or asked to leave. ... Surprise yourself by learning — you know what? — you can drink alcohol as a minor on strangers’ front porches a pretty goddamned long time before anyone notices or asks you to leave. Concede that this revelation is worth not having to “rough it” the remainder of the weekend. Split up. Sneak into bed. Hide extra beer cans in sock drawer.

When you get home from school, hole yourself up in your room and listen to Creedence Clearwater Revival’s Sweet Hitch-Hiker and then when your mom calls you out for dinner, pout and roll your eyes and pick at your food and then after dinner go back to your room and stare at the ceiling and cry. This will worry your parents and guilt them into buying you better holiday presents.

Apply for job at a pizza store. Work hard and win owner’s trust. Receive store’s doorlock keys as part of “new job responsibilities.” Reluctantly accept task of opening store and working early Sunday mornings in exchange for full access to a pizza store late at night. Go to beautiful summer Saturday night party, dreading having to open pizza store in morning. Surprisingly, get drunk at beautiful summer night party, forget where car is parked, convince friend to drive you and co-worker directly to pizza store at 6 a.m., so you can “sleep it off” and “not worry about getting up for work, because you’ll already be there!” ... Sleep for four hours on cold tile floor inside pizza store, using bunched-up napkins as a pillow and throw rug as mattress. Wake up at 10 a.m., wake co-worker friend, turn on pizza ovens, grease fryers, grill, neon window lights, grease-baked ceiling fans, steam table. Commence taking food orders at 11 a.m. Start making lunch-time pizza orders between 11 a.m. and 12 p.m., interrupting the pace only to excuse yourself to the bathroom, where you vomit, repeatedly. Start accepting delivery orders, only to realize neither you nor co-worker feels alcohol is truly out of bloodstream enough to make driving pizza deliveries a worthwhile risk. ... Decide to call friend who had driven you to pizza store at 6 a.m. and persuade him to come back to pizza store to deliver your pizza orders, because “there’s a 10-spot in it for ya.” Laugh as friend actually shows up, takes pizza orders, and staggers out of store with food orders, swaying back and forth, red-eyed and pale-faced, clearly not sober. Laugh even harder when friend returns with substantial tip. “I think they felt sorry for me.” Lesson learned: Looking roughshod sometimes has its advantages.

Smoke pot — ANYWHERE YOU CAN. Baseball diamond dugouts, backseats of large cars during lunch breaks, on outdoor walks between school building and external industrial arts building, in tiny high school radio room … BE CREATIVE.

Whatever you do, don’t kill anyone! You will be arrested. And don’t kill yourself! They will only put an unflattering photograph of you in the back of the yearbook with some quote from Neil Young or Pink Floyd underneath it. Or they’ll plant some dumb tree in the front yard of the school and put some shitty little plaque with your name on it under the tree, and then five years later some kids who don’t even know you will read it and laugh at it and call it “The Suicide Tree” or something, and then where would you be? Well, you wouldn’t be anywhere. You’d just be dead.

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jennifer mathieu writes for houston’s alternative weekly, the press.

michael solita lives and works and listens to braid much too much in new york city.