Well, it happened again.
It’s my first day back at the Fashion Institute of Technology after being expelled in 2009. Some garbage about “Don’t light yourself on fire.” Um hi, hello, it was art. Whatever. It doesn’t matter. Within a few hours I’ll be banned again, but right now, all I want is protein.
I already used most of my meal plan to barter for benzos, so I’m stuck with the cold buffet. Dining hall salad bars make me long for Juice-Juice, an adolescent male chimp at the San Diego zoo. No one groomed me like he could.
I grab a boiled egg and suck the shell clean off. “Eggshells are vegan,” I mutter to Tayme, the new 18-year-old I just met, crunching the shells between my teeth. Tayme uses a bit of the shell to form lines of Adderall on the cafeteria table before our first class together. We roll up our roommate agreement form for snorting and I suddenly realize I’m old enough to be his mother.
I then realize I actually am his mother. How quaint. I want to climb on top of the sneeze guard and flash my pink bits to the lunch crowd.
So I do.
No one has ever been more alive than I am at this moment, one foot in the baby greens, vulva to the wind, shouting, “Eat your vegetables, bitches!”
Strike 1: A written warning from the head of housing – “Please keep zir gentialia to zirself.”
Genderless pronouns make me crave downers, so I troll the library looking for asymmetrical haircuts from whom I can score some Tylenol PM. I zero in on a cute chick with a nose ring sketching a pair of men’s trousers. “Hey Joan Osborne,” I whisper into the back of her neck. “Got any Tye-P’s?”
She slapped me, but in a kind of loving way, then we tied each other off and each took a hit of that high-grade shit (Extra Strength).
Strike 2: A written warning from the assistant dean – “Do not abuse over-the-counter drugs.”
The word “drugs” makes me crave uppers, so I hit up the coffee bar for discarded espresso grounds. I’m elbow-deep in the compost bin, rummaging around banana peels and filters for the jackpot. Beardy barista man makes me miss Bop-Bop, a mute crab fisherman with whom I recorded an album of noise rock. “Boppy babyyyyy” I purr, as I cut line after line of warm, damp grainy-sludge. “This one’s for you.”
Suddenly I’m running. Leaping. Krumping. I krump across campus to the academic building. My heart is a wild thing and I hate it. I love hate. I heart love. Before I know it, I’m giving a lecture in fake Mandarin to a hall of Sustainable Interior Environment grad students. As the uppity TA escorts me out, I grab a hold of the overhead projector and wheel it along as I shout “Ni hao maaaaa, hippie scum!”
Strike 3: Immediate Disciplinary Hearing.
I’m so used to the feeling of my butt squished into the cardboard cushion of the chairs that sit outside dean’s offices. These chairs have been with me since childhood – an arranged marriage. They are my husband. I make a mental note to find the dean’s office chair factory, burn it to the ground, and hump the ashes.
“Miss Van Clifton?”
The dean takes off her bifocals in shock. “What?” I sploff. “You’ve never seen a chair get a lap dance?”
I call Tayme and to pick me up to go to a rooftop party in a chicken coop somewhere in Bushwick. He lets me keep our roommate agreement form. All the better to light myself on fire with at graduation.