Me Being Me Is Exactly as Insane as You Being You

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For Ariel

4
Conflicting Parts of Himself Darren Jacobs Attempts to Ignore as He Tries to Ask a Particular Eleventh-Grade Girl for a Really Big Favor on Friday, April 25, at 10:38 a.m.

1.
 His reluctance to become a screwup/stoner/delinquent. Because he might be taking a step closer to turning into any or all of those things if he asks her this favor (and she agrees to do it). Or even just deals with someone like this particular girl, who (based on the cigarette and the all-black outfit and the piercings) is pretty clearly a screwup and/or stoner, but probably not an actual delinquent. At least, Darren hopes she's not, but who knows anything for sure at this point? Certainly not Darren, who keeps finding out that people aren't who he thought they were.

2.
 His curiosity to see what would happen if he did something that a screwup/stoner/delinquent would do. Just this once. Because overall he's been a pretty well-behaved kid his whole life, so then what's the big deal, seriously, with doing something maybe not so smart just this one time?

3.
 His desire to kiss her, and have her kiss him back, right here and right now. There's no way that's going to happen, even though all it would take is the two of them wanting it to. Because you see kids kissing and even totally making out at North High pretty much every day, so it's not like he's fantasizing about walking on the moon or anything here. And it's not even such a big deal that Darren has thought about kissing this particular girl once or twice, because (if he's going to be totally honest about it) he's probably thought about kissing fifty or sixty different girls at North High. Maybe even more actually. He's pretty sure he hasn't thought about kissing any guys, but he wouldn't swear on it, because these kinds of thoughts just sort of pop up whether you want them to or not.

Like you're getting a drink from the fountain outside the cafeteria, and the next thing you know, you're wondering what it would be like to make out with Christie Banks, who isn't even that cute in the first place, and not only because of that thing on her nose. She just happened to be waiting to get a drink, that's all it took. This kind of stuff happens so much that if Darren is going to be really and truly 100 percent honest about it, then he'd have to admit that once or twice (okay, about fourteen times) he's thought about kissing Ms. Gleason. Who just so happens to be his English teacher. She's maybe his youngest teacher and has perfect skin, but still, what's up with that?

4.
 His failure to convince himself that this is just about him. Because he kind of feels it in the very center of his presently quivering gut: The whole thing might also be about this particular eleventh-grade girl standing about four feet away from him and giving him a half-curious, half-annoyed look, like,
Uh, can I help you?
Or, more precisely, it might be about him
and
her most of all, as in the two of them as some kind of unit, some kind of thing. Not a couple, necessarily, but a thing of some sort. A him
and
a her. A them.

Because right now she is just this entirely separate person standing four feet away from him and waiting for him to stop standing there like a paralyzed idiot, but once he asks her this favor and she agrees to do it, then, even for just a little while, there's going to be a new “them.” And who knows, “them” might only last like a half hour, but maybe for reasons beyond his control, this “them” will take on a life of its own. And so this “them” might be good, but it might be bad. It might even be very bad. Or very, very, very good. Which somehow freaks Darren out most of all.

Because Darren's had enough lately of the grief that being in a “them” can cause you. And so, in order to cut his future losses, maybe he should not do what he's actually doing right this very instant, which might bring about the creation of another “them” that he's a part of:

“Hey,” he says. “Uh. Yeah. Look, could you maybe drive me to the El so I can get downtown to Union Station and then get on this bus to go visit my brother in Ann Arbor? Because . . .”

Oh well, too late.

1. THURSDAY, APRIL 24

6
Words His Mom Sounds Like She's Saying as Her Voice Travels through Walls and up Stairs Until It Reaches Darren, Who Wonders Why His Mother Is on the Phone at—What the?—5:24 a.m.

1.
 Malah

2.
 Snaff

3.
 Thuhn

4.
 Bechah

5.
 Inham

6.
 Geraflab

10
Sentences or Sentence Fragments Darren Has Heard Her Say through Walls and up Stairs So Many Times over the Past Two Years That He's Positive She's Saying Them Right Now, Even Though It Still Kind of Sounds Like She's Saying Stuff Like “Antfurlm” and “Waflevah”

1.
 Tell me why.

2.
 That's all I'm asking.

3.
 Ugh, you've
got
to be kidding.

4.
 Spare me.

5.
 Just this once.

6.
 Oh, give me a break.

7.
 Bull. Shit.

8.
 Whatever, Howard.

9.
 Whatever.

10.
 You're so full of shit.

3
Arguably More Accurate Ways Howard Could Be Described

1.
 Darren's father

2.
 Darren's mother's ex-husband

3.
 The person who used to live in and own this house but doesn't as of about twenty months ago. Though actually, he may still own half of the house. Darren's not totally sure what they finally settled on, because by the time they finally settled on whatever it was they settled on, he was so sick of hearing about it (sometimes through walls and up stairs, etc.) that he just tried to ignore whatever they told him they finally settled on.

4
Emotions Darren Identifies in the Sound of His Mother's Footsteps, Which Are Clearly Approaching

1.
 Anger

2.
 Contempt

3.
 Remorse

4.
 Sorrow

3
Names She Calls Him in Quick Succession as She Sits Down on the Edge of His Bed and Softly Pats His Shoulder to Wake Him, Even Though He's Pretty Much Totally Awake by Now

1.
 Honey

2.
 Sweetie

3.
 Darren

9
Names Darren Thinks Would Be Better Names for Him Than “Darren”

1.
 Gabe

2.
 Max

3.
 Sam

4.
 Noah

5.
 Adam

6.
 Jordan

7.
 Nate, if it wasn't taken

8.
 Mo, maybe

9.
 Jacob, if his last name wasn't Jacobs

6
Imminent Events, According to His Mother

1.
 Her cab's arrival, any minute now

2.
 His dad entering the house at around seven thirty

3.
 His dad making him breakfast and packing his lunch

4.
 His dad talking to Darren about something important

5.
 His dad taking him to school

6.
 Her cab's arrival, if the thing's on time for once

7
Reasons Darren Doesn't Do the Obvious Thing and Ask Her to Elaborate a Bit about Item #4 from the Previous List

1.
 He really doesn't want to know.

2.
 She might not know, which she'd be annoyed about.

3.
 She knows but has agreed not to say anything, which she's already annoyed about, so why make her get more annoyed and bitch about his dad?

4.
 He really doesn't feel like having a conversation with anyone right now.

5.
 The less he says, the faster she leaves.

6.
 Because maybe he can still fall asleep again.

7.
 And who knows, maybe this is all a dream, which it would be really good if it is; in fact, he wouldn't be that bummed if all of the past two years have been one big dream, though that seems extremely unlikely unless Darren is having an unusually long and vivid dream that isn't exactly a nightmare but does kind of suck about five times more than regular awake life should.

2
Additional and Unfortunate Facts Relevant to Understanding How Darren Got the Name “Darren”

1.
 It was some sort of compromise between his parents.

2.
 Meaning that “Darren” was nobody's first choice.

2
Objects Some Faint and Unclear Light Source Reflects Off of in the Moment Before His Mother Leaves Darren's Room

1.
 Her left boot, which is dark brown, leather, and fancy. She wears them a ton these days, especially on days she travels, and she travels a ton these days. She actually looks pretty good in them, especially when she tucks her expensive jeans into them. But more than anything, these boots remind Darren that his parents, around the time they got separated and later divorced, each just sort of quickly evolved into kind of different people, because she only wore fancy boots like three times throughout the first fourteen or so years of his life.

2.
 Her right boot.

3
Thoughts Darren Has as She Closes His Door Softly

1.
 In a couple of minutes I'll be the only one in the house.

2.
 Which still always feels weird whenever it happens.

3.
 But I guess it's just as well at this point, especially if there's no way Nate could be here right now.

7
Arguably Optional Activities Darren's Mom Spent the Most Time on during Each of the Previous Seven Years

1.
 ZUMBA

Which is some kind of extremely strange dance fitness program.

2.
 RESEARCHING GRADUATE PROGRAMS

Because she wanted to get a job but couldn't get any of the ones she wanted without going back to school.

3.
 AGONIZING OVER WHETHER OR NOT TO ATTEND GRADUATE SCHOOL

Though it was clear that if she did, it would be in computers or marketing. Or computers
and
marketing. Whatever that means.

4.
 ACCUMULATING A GIANT LIBRARY ON WEB DESIGN AND E-COMMERCE

So she decided not to go to school at all, since she somehow decided that she could get a good job without it.

5.
 LAUNCHING N.D. DESIGN

As in “Nate and Darren Design.” It was some sort of computer marketing company she ran out of the guest room.

6.
 SELLING N.D. DESIGN

Apparently, some people with a lot of money really liked her company. The whole family went to the Caribbean for ten days afterward.

7.
 PACKING AND UNPACKING BEFORE AND AFTER TRIPS TO CALIFORNIA

Such as last night. And actually, this one has been going on for two years now.

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