“I stepped back and considered myself in the mirror.
No strapping high school freshman here. I was pale and
pudgy, and I had tortured my mess of wavy strawberry
blond hair into a perfect inch-high pompadour, hardened
in place with thick white hair cream, like plaster of Paris.
I had meticulously doctored an inflamed whitehead under
my bottom lip with Clearasil, so I wouldn’t be embarrassed
when they found me. I was also spiffed up for the occasion,
new clothes, slacks and sweater in shades of forest green,
the big retail color of the season.
I moved closer to my reflection until my breath condensed
on the glass and I tasted it with my tongue, one
lick, two licks, cold and salty, and I concentrated deeply
into the eyes of the boy in the mirror and tried to will
another boy out of me, like the spirits that stepped out of
dead bodies in the movies, only this boy would tell me if I
could grow up . . .”