Episode 33 – Home Sweet Home
We ride home in a limo and I immediately get into it with Dad about going back to Griffin. No way I want to deal with the asshole snobs again, but my parents are freaked about me not finishing my year there.
“You’ll look like a dropout…everyone’ll think you’re a troublemaker,” Dad exclaims.
“But, that’s what I am…at Griffin anyway.”
Mom looks crushed. “Hunter, don’t say that. You’re not like some of those awful boys. You’re a good student….just a nonconformist.”
“Well, it won’t make a difference in public school. They won’t care what I look like.”
Dad glares at me. “You’re not going to public school…and that’s that. God forbid!”
My parents see everything as a measure of my future social standing. If I pick my nose on the subway, they’re afraid someone important will see, and I”ll be doomed for life. To them, getting into a “good” college is like going to heaven… it leads to a world of gold, riches and country clubs! Yeah, right! They seem to forget, or ignore, the fact that, these days, graduates are starving…drowning in college loans. The way I see it, you gotta make your way as best you can…Pearl’s is probably as good, or better, than going to college, and the people are a helluva lot nicer.
“Maybe I’ll skip college,” I announce. “It’s a dead end these days.”
They have a fucking coronary. Look at each other in total frustration…probably wondering how they spawned such an evil seed. Dad turns purple…a vein on his forehead looks like it’ll blow any minute. Ava’s the only sane one. She’s happy…just glad I’m coming home safe and sound.
As we turn down our block, I can’t believe there’s still a mob there. Don’t people have lives??? When did the disappearance of a teenage kid become national news?
Immediately, my father becomes the big cheese, barking orders like the driver’s pond scum. “Don’t stop! Go past, and I’ll alert the doorman…have him let us in the service entrance. We’ll get out around the corner and blend with the crowd.”
Yeah, right! It’s all great in theory, but people are watching the limo, and the minute we get out, we’re charged by a bunch of nuts screaming questions. It’s insane, but the doorman and driver help us worm our way to the lobby. I feel seriously guilty for causing so much hassle. Maybe I’m more selfish than I thought???
“This is the price of success,” Dad says, like it’s all because he’s a big shot. Financial guys are totally delusional! They seriously believe they’re the celebs who pull the strings that make the world go round, but nobody actually gives a shit except their circle of ass kissers…and cronies at the zillion clubs they belong to.
Luncheon clubs are s-o-o-o weird. If you like sitting in a museum reading business magazines, they’re awesome…but totally frozen in time. You expect someone to burst in yelling: “There’s a renegade Brontosaurus heading this way!” And the staff is so old, they act like the fucking place is the royal court. That’s the fucked up part…members want to be treated like superior beings who’ve reached some pinnacle of society…whatever the fuck that is????
I’m relieved when we finally get in our apartment and lock out the world. What a fucking hassle! Would give anything to be back in Harlem getting it on with Grace and Jasmine. Am I a pig or what?
Immediately, want to retreat to my room, but Mom suggests we sit in the living room and take a “breather,” which means she and Dad want booze to dull their senses. She rustles up some dips and chips, and Dad appears with a tray of rubbing alcohol, ice and olives.
The phone rings.
“Just leave it!” Dad commands. “It’s probably annoying reporters.”
I grab it. “Hello?”
“Hunter?” Jewel’s voice. “You’re finally home?”
“Yup…sorry I didn’t call you. I had to get away for a while, especially after the meltdown on the bus.”
“Thank god you’re safe! I was frantic! I’ve missed you so much! Let’s go for a run?”
“What time is it?”
“That early? There’s been so much going on, it seems like night already. Let’s wait until everything calms down.”
“How about 5:00. I’ll meet you at 79th and Riverside.”
“Sure. I might be disguised. Look for an old man with a hump.”
She laughs. “I could use a nice hump.” I think, hmmm…a change of heart? Maybe all is not lost.
As I hang up, Mom acts all traumatized. “Hunter, do you realize how terrified we were? Not knowing anything! They were the worst moments of my life!!! I imagined you unconscious in an alley somewhere…or drowned…and you’re our first born, our sweet boy! I can’t imagine life without you!”
It’s all sort of confusing. I mean…I always get the feeling my parents want me to follow in their footsteps, and as long as I do, they’re oblivious. Jeez, they’re so fucking conventional…photocopies of 90% of the parents at school. At Griffin “functions,” it’s like everyone’s following the same script: “How’s work? What do you think of that man in the White House? The country’s going to the dogs. How’s your golf game? Did you see the ugly flowers they planted at the club? I’m sticking with bonds…yada, yada, yada.”
Mom’s a totally proper fashionista who lives her life by the clock. Comes home at 7:30 every night after a workout at her fancy, upscale gym. Tells Ava and me about all the “famous, fabulous, precious” people she meets all day. I mean…to Ava and me…it sounds dull as dishwater, but to Mom everyone’s larger than life, like Sal, her trainer. To hear her talk, he’s the next Brad Pitt…an actor, model, entrepreneur with a totally steroid body. His girlfriend’s Fawn, and she’s allegedly a stunt pilot at air shows. Mom talks about going to see her, but her plane’s always grounded for unspecified reasons. Ava and I think it’s total bullshit…reality has no effect on Mom. Her world revolves around adulation..pretending her friends are the world’s elite. The worst part is she actually believes we’re interested in every molecule of their existence…like their favorite cat litter, eye color, or new dental implants. Who gives a flying shit!!!
Dad, as usual, is totally tuned out…filling his expanding gut with booze….well on his way to becoming totally shitfaced, and thinking…god knows what. Probably relieved to be done with my impromptu disappearance…dying to be back in the office where he’s king shit. “Hunter, do me a favor,” he says out of nowhere, “comply with the dress code for the rest of the year. Your constant dramas are driving us crazy. Can’t you just get through this semester without being Pinky Lee every day?”
“Dad, who the fuck is Pinky Lee? I like Pee Wee Herman.”
“Hunter, buddy…watch the language. Listen, you’re a smart guy. You know what I’m getting at…flex a little, at least for our sake. This whole thing has been traumatic for Griffin, and you need to meet them half way. Don’t continue to pull the same shit day after day.”
I’m so pissed! Who’s he for? Them or me? But there’s no point wasting my breath. I stand abruptly. “I’m going for a run.” Wish I could sprint back to Harlem.
I head for my room…Ava’s right behind. “Hunter, you scared the crap out of us. Please, don’t do that again. I was s-o-o-o freaked!”
I turn and face her. “I needed a break. All the shit at school was depressing.”
“I know, but you could have called.”
I look into her teary hazel eyes and my heart goes out to her adorable blond pig tails, pixie nose, splash of freckles…could almost be me minus a dick! “Ava, I’m really sorry! You know I love you more than anything! I was afraid, if I started calling, Mom and Dad would track me down.”
We duck into my room, and I start rummaging through clothes…pull out a tank and shorts.
“Can I come with you? Please, Hunter.”
I squirm. “That’d be great, but honestly, It’s a sensitive mission.”
Ava’s eyes laser into mine. “A girl?”
“Would I like her?”
“I’m not sure I like her.”
Ava flashes a shy smile. “I have a boyfriend.”
I’m stunned, but guess I shouldn’t be surprised. Ava’s a cutie. “Who? Do I know him?”
“Jamie Cross. He’s already made the swim team.”
The image of a handsome boy-next-door flashes through my brain. “Uh…yeah. I’ve seen him. The diver, right?”
“Uh huh. He’s s-o-o-o adorable.”
“Do Mom and Dad know?”
“No way. They’re so nosy! I’d never tell them!”
“How’d it happen? He’s in your class, right?”
“I don’t know. He came up to me last week…all shy and everything…asked if he could walk me home, so now he does it every day. He’s so easy to talk to and totally sexy. All the girls are jealous. I look at him and wonder why I didn’t notice sooner.”
“Take it slow. Guys can be real assholes.”
“I’m not worried. He reminds me of you.”
“Oh, shit! You better be really careful.”
To be continued….Read next episode!