On The Boys, The Men, and Those Not Quite Either
Ali Barthwell, Age 17, River Forest, Illinois
I. The Smart One
1. His arms are made of ginger ale:
Mama’s failsafe cure for a stomachache
I’ve been aching for someone like him.
He’s what they should put in college
Viewbooks, but pictures can’t capture how
his lips smell of bone: something older
and stronger than me. His mouth feels like
Nail polish: thick, smooth.
We’ve been waiting for someone like us.
A girl in glasses ardently seeking
boy made of the stuff schools like this are
built on to sit under unused lights in a room
Where a life like the one we need can bloom.
When I was in the first grade I was a bit overweight, chubby you might say, which I would then ask you why you’re making fun of a six-year-old with body issues. The thing is, I remember feeling overweight, which I think says a lot about me and how self-conscious or vain I might be depending on how you view body image concerns. I also was dying to be liked, and I don’t think that makes me different or anything. I think most of us have that inherent need to be beloved by our peers. I think that’s why I wrote this; to make you love me, and maybe tell your friends, who will then tell two friends… who will then tell two friends, and one day the whole wide world will love me.
So portly and desperate at a young age, I had to quickly figure out how I would make my mark before I was reduced to 1st grade loserdom. I took to telling jokes, but at the time I was shy and I didn’t have the courage to bomb, the only thing I feared more than being chubby was being the unfunny chubby kid. Continue reading