There was an earthquake in Seattle today. Not a cultural earthquake, like when Nirvana and Pearl Jam hit it big, but an actual, geological, seismological earthquake. It’s official: the west coast is dropping off into the ocean. Once the tectonic plates stop shifting, Los Angeles and San Francisco will be one giant city, but Oakland, oddly, will have become part of Japan. Tectonic plates are a funny thing. I did an oral presentation on them in English class in seventh grade. (The assignment was give an oral presentation on a topic of our choosing, and I flipped through our encyclopedias until I found something interesting.) I believe I prepared a visual aid which featured little pieces of cardboard sliding around on other pieces of cardboard. It was very intricate and fascinating and proved to my classmates that I was wise beyond my years. However, my grade was marked down somewhat for peppering my speech with too many “um”s, “uh”s, “like”s, “okay”s, “y’know”s, and “well, shit”s.

Years later, that teacher was moving onto the empty lot in my neighborhood where my parents always took the dog to poop. It was my mom, I think, that had walked ol’ Homer the basset hound to the lot, and was waiting for him to squat in his comical dog fashion, when my (long-since former) teacher drove by, apparently doing some sort of “drive-by”, and warned my mom not to have our dog poop there anymore. Well, can’t say I blame her. I think that one summer, possibly right after seventh grade, I mowed this teacher’s lawn once or twice, probably with some other classmates. She was an interesting lady. She was like sixty and she regularly rode a hog. She is largely responsible for my impeccable grammar and spelling, about which I remain mildly obsessive-compulsive to this day. It was also her class in which I first discovered my incredibly short attention span and utter lack of patience. Also I discovered my classmate Pam, who had big boobs. Couldn’t find any pair bigger in Honors classes, no ma’am. Kickstarted me into puberty, she did.

Ah, but that year it was Erin with whom I shared my first kiss. She was not yet womanly in body, but she was womanly in spirit. Well, not really. But we did share one very romantic day at King’s Island (back before it was rechristened “Paramount’s King’s Island” or so I recall), and on the ride home we held hands and she rested her head on my shoulder, and that entire trip was the longest sustained case of butterflies I had ever had, only interrupted every few miles or so by the driver, who was the mother of one of our friends who was also in the car, who would yell “Hand check!” and make everyone hold their hands up. This was probably more of a protection for her own daughter, who had a boy there herself, but we all played along. Another time I went along with her to a youth group meeting at her church, where we watched some movie about the Rapture (possibly called “The Rapture”), which featured the song “I Wish We’d All Been Ready”, notable because I heard it covered several years later by some purported “Christian pop music” act. I can say that that is the only date I’ve ever been on which resulted in the fear of God. (As opposed to the fear of the girl’s parents… that came much, much later.) Ah, Erin… she moved away at the end of that year. I have no idea now where she is or who she has become, or if she ever got the braces off, or if she’s realized she looked much cuter with her glasses on than with her contacts in. Perhaps she is married now, as all of my past girlfriends, with one notable exception, have tied the knot with some guy or another, and why should she be different?

I think Pam is married now also. Last time I saw her, her boobs were still fairly large, but as I had grown a foot taller and dozens of pounds heavier, and had a modicum of “experience”, they no longer seemed all that impressive. Truly, there is no going back.

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