Of all the fun things to do with an empty soda container…

Spending all of this time reminiscing with Pittsburgh, it’s inevitable that I would eventually hit on things like this:

Blame soda for our sins

I remember

when everyone used to go down
to the basement
some Saturdays
and we would all sit on the
rough and stained carpet floor hopefully,
praying that my cooler brother
would smuggle down a bottle from upstairs
and we could play that daring,
almost adult game of
Spin the bottle.

When he would inevitably draw the
Coca Cola out of his pocket,
it was as if a potion vial were pulled from
his sleeves; the room would take on this
eerie, magical feeling,
like weaving a love spell into the walls and
you could hear our excitement in the silence.
As for me, the younger son,
who thought his brother was god (obviously)
for letting him in on this little secret with
all of the older, wiser, and let’s be honest,
hotter middle schoolers, this was
tasting the forbidden fruit.
All I could hear was my
heartbeat drumming loudly in my ears.

We would hush while each
took turns with the glass matchmaker.
It started off innocently, as you’ll recall,
with the most adorable pecks of the cheek.
Hardly intimidating.

But slowly, the game picked up speed
like a carousel with a bored teen operator
and we were chucked headlong into
unexplored territory.
Cheeks became lips
which became mouths
which became tongues
that wrestled and twisted,
which was all too much for me;
like a game of truth or dare where
you only have the courage to
ask what superhero she would be,
because you don’t have the audacity to
try “will you kiss me?”

I wished I were invisible.
But inevitably the bottle finally
pointed my way, and I felt myself looking
across the room at a certain emerald-eyed beauty,
whose name I can still recall, but will keep private.
After all, she deserves anonymity after
popping my mouth cherry,
Though I suppose I ruined the ending.

Let’s rewind: she was looking at me with
a stare that would peel a banana,
and the rest of the room melted away,
as it does one’s first time
and i was left with these algae
pond eyes looking into mine.
As she leaned into me slowly,
I could feel her breath above my lips
and all I could think was “prey.”

I was going to die,
slowly and in front of all my brother’s buddies.
I wanted to run away,
Crawl into a little hole and hide until
winter passed seven or eight times.
I wanted to wrench my body away to Neverland
and stay a child forever, because growing up
felt like being hunted.

But i couldn’t escape. As hard as i fought,
as much as i pleaded,
her man-eater mouth devoured me.
I was sucked up and
thrown about and
swallowed and
spit out whole,
like the newborn of an especially
long labor. Or the permanent-press
option on a tumble dryer:
If I were laundry, my tag would have warned
“wash on delicate.”
My celibate mouth was stained red
and black and blue I thought from
the chewing of monster-zombie-cootie teeth
so the only logical thing to do
was to risk life and limb again in round 2.

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