Trouble

by Chris Rostenberg

When I went to Hackley Preparatory School in Tarrytown, NY, my father wanted me to stop playing Dungeons and Dragons and try out for a sport. I tried out for lacrosse, which is where they dress you up in armor, put a helmet on your head and a lacrosse stick in your gloved hands, and make you run after a ball for fun.

I quit on the first day and was walking back to the school, when I found a baby squirrel. I remembered that the kids back at school had been feeding this squirrel, and here she was. So I managed to get her in my hockey stick pocket, put her in my helmet, and then put her in my locker. I said, “Rostenberg, you’re always finding trouble.” So I named the squirrel Trouble.

I kept Trouble in my dorm room, with my roommate, Spaz. I didn’t know what to feed Trouble, so I gave her Combos, which she was scared of. Then I gave her male M&M’s, the ones with nuts. She ate the chocolate and left the nut. She used to curl up in my hands and go to sleep. What an animal.

Hackley was a good school, despite what Holden Caulfield would have you believe, with his dorm-neighbor Ackley. There was a kid who had a car who would collect money and go out and buy us a pizza. Only he cheated us and laughed, so I threw the pizza at him and hit him in the head.

There was this one kid, Bart von Prag who was from the Netherlands or some such country and he wore wooden shoes to class on his first day. He looked like a cartoon character with a big chin, big nose and small beady eyes. He had an enormous penis. I saw it in the shower and he could not have been more embarrassed. We kids put paper all over his doorway. Bart heard us, opened the door, and simply walked through the paper like he was the Hawaiian Punch guy, or later, Donald Trump. Bart goes, “Yo, Chris, man, I don’t fink that’s very funny.”

There was this other guy, Hoke Britton, who was best-looking kid in school. Hackley had a dress code and wouldn’t let you grow your hair long in back, so he cut his hair in back and grew his front hair down to his nose. He used to masturbate while wearing condoms.  He’d toss them on the ceiling to make stalactites. They’d fall on people in his room and the kids would laugh and laugh.

And there was this girl, Wendy Stewart, who later dated Hoke, and she was gorgeous and rich and wore this perfume called Paris that unleashed aromatic pheromones in mind which I still recall 35 years later. She announced in Mr. Levinger’s Social Studies class, “Like Protestantism used to be like the religion to be and it like still is.” And I was like, “Wendy, I want your body!”

This kid, Eugene Jarecki worked on the Michael Jackson albums and was always saying he’d be a famous director someday – and you know what? He was right. And there was this kid, Ari Straus, who said, “Don’t tell me you never held a tape-measure up to your dick. Don’t lie. Ever stick your finger up your ass? Tell the truth!”

There was a math class called “Truck” for kids who would someday be truck drivers and I was in this class. There was this girl in that class, Lisa Fink, who had these incredible knockers, and I didn’t put the moves on her. In my defense, I had no balls. Now, in this math class, were the Kaskel twins, who were real cute and brainless, and their father had donated a library to the school, but the library burned down. Suds Parker sat next to me and told the twins to apply to Harvard because it needed a gymnasium.

My young, handsome math teacher was Mr. Tom Anderson and he was saving up to go to medical school and Alison Kaskel asked him, “What kind of doctor are you going to be?  A gynecologist?” And Mr. Anderson said, “What is it with all these teenaged girls asking me if I’m going to be a gynecologist?” He taught us about parabolas and hyperbolas and we called my roommate a Spazbola.

There was this zitty-faced guy named Camie Khosrowshaw in the math class. He had a face like my scrotum and they air-brushed his acne out of the yearbook or it would have caused a flux in the Matrix. He and these two other guys would sit in the back of the class and make fun of me and this certain girl, and they got me really mad. I was ready to toss all of the guys down the stairs, come what may. I had warned the principle in advance. He didn’t care. (Later I was tickling this guy, Spiegleperson, and accidentally broke his glasses. I confessed and the principle wrote a letter to my dad commending me for my honesty after I had broken this kid’s glasses). 

One day, I was up in Spanish class sitting next to this hormonally-unbalanced girl, Katie Clarke with her earlobes, failing the class, drinking chocolate milk and I had that disgusting slime in my mouth and I wasn’t going to swallow it like you know Hoke Britton did, so I went over to the window. Walking below was that zitty-faced bastard, Camie Khosrowshaw, so I spat on his head.

Ken Glass wore his pants really high and had testicle cleavage. We called him “Beeker” because he looked like the character from the Muppets. Beeker knocked on my dorm room door one day and Spaz answered. “Look, Chris,” Beeker said. “I’m here with Mr. Nelson and we don’t want any trouble.” Trouble. So I hid the squirrel and Mr. Nelson came in to say I was on EBT again, which meant it was early bed time for me because my grades were so terrible and I would have to go to study hall for another  month, where I would draw my Dungeons and Dragons comic. Mr. Nelson hated me. He thought I was a ne’r do-well.

Anyway, I left Hackley voluntarily without being expelled or anything and went back to Mamaroneck High School, where I got back into the acting program. I took Trouble with me and was going to let her loose in the tree outside my mother’s apartment because it would be cool to have the squirrel recognize me sometimes and play with me. But my mother’s neighbor was a cop who liked the squirrel and he wanted to put her into a cage. So I let Trouble go back at Hackley where her spawn live on today. You can recognize Trouble’s descendants because they look like all other squirrels.

Did I make a mistake by leaving Hackley? Did I wreck my life? The psychologists disagree.

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