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The Spoons of Jupiter

by Tim Miller

Table of Contents
Table of Contents
parts: 1, 2, 3, 4

part 2

I didn’t get to Trigonometry until halfway through third period. So I had missed my opportunity, because I usually saw Cindy in between second and third period in the hallway.

When I walked into Trigonometry, both Keith Heffledorm and C.B. shot me one of these ‘Did you ask her?’ looks. They wanted a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down.

C.B. is a good friend of mine. Gosh, can he be a joker. He is always trying to make people laugh, and they usually do. Like on an elevator he’ll start to whistle, “It’s A Small World.” It disarms most people, it really does. Another time, in study hall, he just started meowing. Even the teacher was cracking up. So when I say he’s funny, I mean like everyone-says-he’s-going-to-be-famous-someday funny.

About six years ago, when C.B. was eleven years old, his dad died. For a while after, C.B. didn’t tell jokes or laugh or even smile. He even told me one time that he wanted to commit suicide. It really freaked me out. I kept my eye on him. He got through it all right. His dad got pancreatic cancer and died in only a few months. Most people don’t know that about C.B., because they’re always expecting and waiting for him to make them laugh.

The reason I mention it is that the whole experience of losing his dad and getting through it has made C.B. sensitive about other people’s feelings.

Most people don’t notice, but there’s never anyone at the butt of C.B.’s jokes. His humor is never at anyone’s expense. It’s just funny. Like when he opens a door, he’ll smack the door with his hand and pretend that the door hit him in the face. He’ll go all out and really do it up, like asking if his nose is bleeding. He’ll do it out of the blue, just to tickle your funny bone. Or if it’s windy he’ll grab a street sign and hold himself up, so that he’s parallel to the ground. “A little windy here!” It’s pretty good.

Sometimes he does the door-in-the-nose joke so well — with perfect timing and a real loud SMACK — that if you didn’t know him you’d think he was really hurt. One time Sara Katz, who isn’t a brain surgeon, really thought he smashed his face. She was genuinely concerned. Sure enough, Keith Heffledorm and a few other vampires started laughing at Sara, but C.B. started using her sleeve to dab his nose so that Sara didn’t feel bad. That’s the kind of kid C.B. is.

So he’s at least a little sensitive about the whole prom thing. But he still gives me a hard time about it, too.

Then there’s Keith Heffledorm. He’s in my group of friends, yet I wouldn’t say that he and I are friends beyond the circle. He can be pretty vicious. Like if you had a paper cut, he’d be right there to squirt lemon juice on it, if it could make another person laugh.

Or one time I got a little too drunk and made out with this girl Meredith Lee, who has a fake tooth from when she knocked the real one out as a kid. She’ll always pull out her tooth and goof around, except she’s done it about three hundred times too many. So Keith will say, “Hey, how was it making out with Meredith’s tooth?” There’s always someone at the butt of his jokes.

When I walked in, I played it like I didn’t understand what they were talking about. They didn’t go for it, though. I tried to mouth that I didn’t have a chance to ask her. Hopefully they’ll never lose their hearing, because they can’t read lips to save their lives. Finally, Ms. Crawford, my Trigonometry teacher stepped in, asking us if we had something to share. Keith thought it over, lacking only a flash of fangs.

She went back into this ramble about equations. The lights were off, and the overhead projector was on. I started brooding about prom, like it’s the apex of human experience. Everyday at lunch the discussions are the same: blowjobs and tuxedos and limos and bedrooms. I try to laugh and go along with it, but inside I’m squirming.

Suddenly, Ms. Crawford called on me to answer a problem. Of course, I didn’t even know which question we were on. The silence hung up in the air for a moment.

Luckily, the bell rang, letting me off the hook.

Notecard #5

Close-up images taken by the Galileo spacecraft of portions of Europa’s surface show places where ice has broken up and moved apart, and where liquid may have come from below and frozen smoothly on the surface. The low number of craters on Europa leads scientists to believe that a subsurface ocean has been present in recent geologic history and may still exist today. The heat needed to melt the ice in a place so far from the Sun is thought to come from inside Europa, resulting primarily from the same type of tidal forces that drive Io’s volcanoes.

So better bring a microwave if you want to heat up some pizza!

C.B. and Keith worked me over a little for not asking her after first period. I assured them, I would do it. They had nothing to worry about.

“When?” C.B. wanted to know.

“After lunch.”

I headed to gym and left it at that.

In gym we were supposed to go outside for softball, but it was raining so Coach Marsh just gave out basketballs and let people shoot around. He was my freshmen basketball coach. He called me a noodle once and it has always stayed with me.

“You’re like a wet noodle, Tommy Lamb, just a floppy wet noodle,” he said with his hands on my shoulders and shaking me.

Not that anyone else even remembers. Yet I do, three years later. And I probably always will. I can still hear his chirpy voice as he grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me.

Of course he didn’t put it together that my mom was sick, and we were eating a lot of frozen dinners and things like that, but still, I’ve always resented him after that.

I was cut the next year. People are always asking me if I play basketball, because I’m so tall, and it really depresses me. It’s just one more thing orbiting my head.

I got into a three-on-three game. When Coach Marsh called, “Balls in!” the game was tied. Well, two of the guys in the game, Irakli and Leo, have the biggest rivalry in all of basketball going, save Bird and Magic.

Irakli is from a little country called Georgia, and Leo is Russian, so it gets pretty intense. We played next bucket wins, but no one could score. The game went on and on, and still no one made a point. Even Coach Marsh came over and tried to get the ball, but just then Irakli hit a jumper. Leo was furious. He thought Irakli had traveled. So he started calling Irakli, “Broccoli,” which is really a way to push his button.

We had already given back our gym lockers since it’s the end of the year. So we played in our regular clothes. I was dripping. I even had sweat stains beneath my armpits.

We were the last ones leaving the gym. Sure enough, who comes around the corner but Cindy. The only thing that surprised me is that I didn’t have a nosebleed or maybe a black eye. Leo and Irakli were still arguing at the top of their lungs. She came around the corner unexpectedly. I almost didn’t even say hello to her.

Notecard #6

Ganymede is the largest moon in the Solar System (larger than the planet Mercury), and is the only moon known to have its own internally generated magnetic field. It contains roughly 38% of the mass of Jovian moons.

Callisto’s surface is heavily cratered and ancient, a visible record of events from the early history of the Solar System. However, the very few small craters on Callisto indicate a small degree of current surface activity. (Like, possibly, Bigfoot’s vacation home.) Callisto has 27% of the mass of Jovian moons. It is a stereotypical outer Solar System satellite. So don’t feel bad if people are stereotyping you, it happens to moons, too.

Proceed to part 3...

Copyright © 2018 by Tim Miller

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