There is a young people's behavioral center down the street from my house and, truth be told, I love it.
First off, the teenage boys are extremely polite. When I walk to work in the morning there is usually a gang of them outside the door smoking cigarettes. I used to get nervous as I approached them but they always politely step aside and make an aisle for me, practically clearing the entire sidewalk so I can pass through. I attribute this to a) civil, well-heeled manners ingrained in them at an early age (not likely), b) the older, drill sergeant-type social worker who will beat their ass and lock them in solitary if they're disrespectful (probable), or c) the high dose of Lithium they take every morning with their vitamins and mood stabilizers (very likely). Regardless, they're a fine group of lads. I sometimes fight the urge to flip one of them a shilling and have him fetch me a Christmas turkey.
Even better than the teenage boys, however, are--you guessed it--the teenage girls. They are not as courteous as the boys, but that is okay. They are the only demographic of people that can take their sweet-ass time inside Dunkin Donuts, as far as I'm concerned. Some mornings I see a group of these girls walking across the street from the behavioral center to the D&Ds. They walk en masse, wearing wife beaters, Juicy Couture sweatpants and slippers, their midriffs and bosoms spilling out, tattoos on every patch of bare skin, menthol cigarettes hanging from their mouths. There is always one mild, timid girl among the clan. At any moment she will start singing "Hopelessly Devoted To you" while sipping a Coolata.
If I see them I'll slow down on my approach to Dunkins, in an effort to arrive at the door at the same time and hold it open for them. When I'm near they get real quiet, as though they can sense that, like them, I am also mentally imbalanced but yet untrustworthy because of my age and so-called "yuppie" status. Some of them look up at me and smile as I hold the door; others just flick away their Newports and blow smoke in my face and look at me like I'm crazy--not the best vibe to get from an institutionalized teenager.
As I wait behind them in line I eavesdrop on their conversations, which, incidentally, they do not temper for the public's sake. They talk about how Tommy is a fuckin losah and how some of the doctors are fuckin perverts and they swear to God that just about everything is fuckin bullshit, ya know what I mean? They talk about counselors and sobriety and sponsors and AA meetings. They never remove their aviator sunglasses. They order double dunkachinos to wash down their double dunka-klonopin. Some are plump and unkempt; others are stringy and have short, spiky platinum hair with the sides shaved, like PInk, or Brigitte Neilsen. When one of them looks my way (which is hard to discern due to the sunglasses) I smile cordially and the group gets quiet, undoubtedly wondering who the fuck I am and why I'm such a fuckin losah.
If they were older I would marry one of them. Of this I am certain. I would take her to five-star restaurants and opera houses and foreign films. We'd rent bicycles and ride them all over Nantucket. Over time she would become more refined and think things were less queer, but she would always be the same girl in the Juicy Couture sweatpants and jailhouse slippers, the girl I fell in love with at the Dunkin Donuts.
Years later she will be at my funeral, wearing a black hat and Chanel sunglasses. When mourners offer consolation she will drop her Virginia Slim 100 on the ground and, in a quiet voice, say, "Yeah whateva", and blow the smoke out of her mouth in a long, elegant stream.
Daniel Pellegrini is a recovering drug addict with an aggressive form of chronic bowel disease. That means he can't take painkillers after undergoing rectal surgery. He's here to show you just how beautiful life is.
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