Monday, July 16, 2012

The Dude by Kelly

Today's post is by Kelly of Southern Fried Children. This, for me, is like being the washed-up garage band performing in a second-rate bar and getting to announce that the guitarist for the evening is Carlos Santana. Something like that. But it's creepy to sound like you're stalking your guest bloggers, so I'm totally not doing that. (Never mind the 500 links I've posted here to her work.) I didn't include an image because there is no image that will do this story justice and because Kelly doesn't use images on her blog. She doesn't need them. This tale paints a picture all on its own.

Bobby Ricardi was hot stuff.

For starters, he was the only boy in eighth grade who shaved every day, and he still managed to have a five o’clock shadow by lunchtime. While most of our classmates were stumbling into puberty – a pimple here, a cracking voice there, Bobby Ricardi roared through with lightning speed; leaving the last day of seventh grade a little boy, and arriving in the fall a fully formed man.

He wore skin tight Guess jeans, pegged at the bottom. The hugged his high backend, and accentuated his severely bowed legs. They brought particular attention to his crotch. “Oh my God!” my friend Becky gasped, “That is not right. That has to be a violation of dress code.”

“I don’t think the handbook says anything about visible nutsacks,” I replied.

In the locker rooms, changing for P.E., Bobby talked to a lot of backs. None of the other boys wanted to be seen in comparison, so they showered and toweled off in a hurry, finding refuge in their tighty whiteys. Bobby wasn’t fooled.

“Hey, pencil dick!” he’d yell across the locker room, snapping his towel at an unsuspecting behind. He wasn’t talking to anyone in particular, they were all Pencil Dick. They were all inferior.

Bobby wore his masculinity like a cloak – an awesome, hairy cloak. Above the skin tight jeans, he sported tank tops, the sides cut low and loose, exposing muscle and an impressive amount of armpit hair. He never missed an opportunity to raise his deeply tanned arms and give you a face full of fur.

His hair was styled in a mullet, before it was called a mullet, and back when mullets were a source of pride, and not a target of ridicule. A long rattail hung in a braid to the middle of his back, the end tied with a series of colorful beads.

“That’s Rasta, baby,” he’d say if he caught you staring. “You know what that means? It means I’m a lovah.” And then he’d lean back and put his arms behind his head, showing his pit hair and flexing his muscles and topping it all of with a wink of his spectacularly blue eyes.

Of course, I was in love with Bobby Ricardi.

The first time he kissed me, he smelled like Skoal and tasted like Big Red. My tongue found the gum, tucked in tight between lips and teeth. When I pulled away, it fell into my lap.

“Damn, that’s my last piece,” he said, and popped it back into his mouth.

Our relationship was short lived. He broke up with me the week before Christmas, mostly because he didn’t want to buy me a Christmas present. Partly because I wouldn’t put out. I was less devastated than I’d expected to be. It was almost a relief, not being responsible for the happiness of all that manliness.

Several years later, I had moved to the opposite coast and Bobby Ricardi was long forgotten. Until a phone call from an old friend, in the middle of the day. I sat on the floor of my room, filled with California sunshine, and learned that Bobby Ricardi was dead.

He had been at a party, driving home on an unfamiliar road, after an undisclosed number of beers. Maybe there had been something in the road, maybe he had fallen asleep, maybe he gauged the curve wrong and went wide. Whatever the reason, he ran his canary yellow Z-28, a graduation gift from his parents, into a tree. They said he died on impact.

I heard the snap of a towel.

He smelled like Skoal, and tasted like Big Red.  


  1. Those memories that are born during our teenage years are so strong. What a great piece of writing.

  2. Tara's so right. This doesn't need an image. I can see him - at least my version of him - very clearly. What a powerful story.

  3. I didn't expect the story to head in that direction. I was smiling so hard it hurt, and then...

    I saw him so clearly. I even wanted to date him a little.

  4. Thank you, Kelly. I want you to know that this got many more page views than it did comments and that I loved it. I never tire of telling you that I want a book of your character sketches by my bedside table in the next year or two. I don't know who I've read that does a better job.


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Faith in Ambiguity by Tara Adams is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License