Lament of the
BY Brendan Flaherty
(courtesy of McSweeny's)
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As the imaginary boyfriend of an eighth grade brace-face, I have found my make-believe life to be a hell pit.
Whenever Stephanie's bored in math class or seeking refuge from the orthodontist's disappointed frown, I'm conjured and enslaved, put upon to amuse her. Not that it's that difficult. I'm an impossibly accomplished doctor, actor, hunky dreamboat billionaire, and the highlight of her week is chicken patty Tuesday. Still, everyday I want to dump Michael Jackson's entire medicine cabinet, gauze and all, down my imaginary gullet and just call it quits.
Call it quits, that is, if I had time. But I'm in the gym like eight hours a day, cardio kickboxing and pumping iron and winding down with some advanced yoga. My imagined physique (impeccable) takes hard work, and Stephanie loves envisioning me stair stepping to Sting's "Desert Rose" while she lies on the kitchen floor eating ice cream topped with Skittles and beef jerky. She has quite the appetite, and a knack for jamming her favorite things together regardless of context. Her favorite animal is a horse-dolphin. Her dream vacation is a trip to Chicago, Florida. And since she likes sexy aerobics instructors and sassy cowboys, I have to work out in bike shorts and bejeweled cowboy boots.
If she could spell better, maybe Stephanie could find true love in a chat room. Or at least attract a halfway decent predator. Whatever happens, I just need some rest.
In the gym locker room, between fitness routines, I'm busy composing love sonnets for my girlmaster on scented parchment, which I send to her bedroom by way of my kind falcon, Jonathan—named after Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Her choice.
Curled up in her stained Smurf sheets, Stephanie wants assurance I will always be there to indulge her every flight of fancy and sub-human craving. Yesterday, for example, I bought her a chocolate helicopter. She ate the whole thing after we toured craters on the moon. Little snacks like that mean I have to take a timeout from Jazzercise to buy and sell islands in the Aegean Sea. She learned there was an Aegean Sea in social studies. Lucky for me, buying and selling islands there only takes a few minutes each day.
I end my fun day at the gym with like a thousand crunches, then I pop in at my dear friend Jean-Luc's vineyard to get Stephanie a rare bottle of taffy-flavored wine from the private collection of some artist or famous cartoonist. Jean-Luc and I rib each other about our fencing rivalry and the stint we spent in the Peace Corps, selflessly building houses for whales or something. I offer to pay him half a million dollars for the wine, because I carry that much in my wallet, but he won't accept the money because he's sophisticated (all my friends are).
As the sun sets on my pretend day, I bid adieu to Jean-Luc and drive through miles of lilac fields in my Aston Martin to my mega yacht. There, Stephanie is waiting for me to cradle her huge head and watch The Notebook again. After her tears dry she'll violate me missionary style.
I want to die. I want to swan dive off the yacht and inhale as soon as I hit the water, ending the searing agony and boredom of a crackpot fantasy life inside an eighth grader's brain. But I don't have that luxury. I don't have that power. I'm just an imaginary boyfriend.
If I were a real boyfriend I wouldn't talk to vineyard owners or go to the gym. I wouldn't be governed by emotional spin cycles that have me dressing up like Stephanie's long-lost father one second, then growing a blonde ponytail and going big-wave surfing the next. I'd sit on the couch all through the weekend, watching other people do stuff on TV, like play sports and build houses. I'd imagine my own sports victories and the houses I'd build. Then, I imagine, I'd imagine steamy (perverted) adult situations with exotic women, until some unrecognizable female frump walked into the room and told me I had to fix the garbage disposal. But it wouldn't bother me, because in my mind I'd be in a tropical lagoon, drinking beer and shooting skeet from a jet ski with ten naked make-believe girlfriends. If I were real, I imagine, that would pretty much be heaven.