At the end of the last chapter, I was at Baseball and Boardwalk, and the group of terrible people I was with were about to engage in a fingering contest. Like I said, that is EXACTLY as awful as it sounds. In case you haven’t read the last chapter, I recommend you do so now, or this may be a bit out of context. Regardless, it will be a mindf*ck of a story, but you really should hear it in order. Needless to say, my torment was only going to be furthered if I was the one in the group who DIDN’T finger someone, but in the same breath, I was just an innocent kid back then, and there was NO WAY I was going to be able to (or wanted to) actually finger someone, so I was at a crux. Standing in a land that was all but foreign to me, in every way. The funny thing is, I kicked in to survival mode at that point. These assholes brought this to the surface in me. A diabolical, almost genius method of problem solving I have never experienced before. Man, fight or flight response can be pretty fucking amazing when you are forced into them. And a quick disclaimer: This does not turn into a love story that circles around fingering. This, my friends, is a cunning story of survival. And the nicest teenage girl you will ever read about in your life.

I can pretty much promise that not too many people have been in that exact scenario. Young, seventh grade, at an amusement park in Florida, and you HAVE to finger someone in the next hour, or you will be mortified and potentially beaten by a group of your peers who you are forced on a road trip with. Note I called them peers? That is because, by this point in the journey  I knew better than to call them actual friends. like I said before, there is a Father somewhere around here, but the man vanishes for long stretches of time, and I didn’t have the proper magic spell to know how to summon him in a time before cell phones. As if summoning him would have helped. He probably would have mocked my inability to find nubile girls to finger as well. Or my lack of urge to be anything like his children, or like the boorish version of the male figure pop culture had forced upon me up to that point. Sports and pussy, young man. Those should be your primary interests. I still feel bad for young boys, and the young girls who are the victims of them, because I know it is a cycle perpetuated by pop culture and mass media, and it doesn’t ever go away, it just gets worse, but I digress.

This is how I felt. Honestly, I probably looked kinda like this, too.

So everybody splits, and in my mind, I have no doubt that these asshole, dirtbag kids are going to find poor, helpless girls to finger, and the thought made me sick. It made me sick because these kids were fucking douches, and if you know anything about douches, they ALWAYS find woman to ruin. It is just how life works. I was the nice, virginal kid who DIDN’T potentially kill someone at our last stop, and they are SEVENTH GRADERS WHO DO COKE AND FINGER GIRLS AS IF IT WERE A GAME! Do you realize how in over my head I was? Refer to said picture above, if you forget.

Like I had mentioned, this was when my fight or flight kicked in. And suddenly, in one beautiful moment of sweaty panic, it hit me. I am going to go Sixteen Candles all up in this, and find a girl who is cool enough to PRETEND I fingered her. You know, like that scene where Anthony Michael Hall holds up Molly Ringwald’s panties to win over some acclaim?

People say watching movies doesn’t benefit your life. Those people are f*cking liars. In this case, it saved mine.

Now I knew, standing there for a second, gathering myself, that this would not be easy.  up to that point in my life, I had NEVER been as forthcoming with a young woman as I was about to be, and that was still really lofty to me. I mean, I didn’t want to insult some poor girl by asking, but risking some poor girl hating me or thinking me odd would something I would have to do, for the reward (my mental survival for the rest of the trip) was reliant on her, who ever she was. And let me tell you, I was in Florida. There were a lot of she’s around. I had never seen so many she’s, as a matter of fact.

Yes, it was like that, all around me, at all times. Not seen, me cowering like a small child.

The thing is, I wasn’t scanning for the prettiest girl, or the sexiest girl. I was scanning for the girl who looked like she would be cool enough to hear me out and not throw her Pepsi at me. Ofcourse, fate intervened, because even for the worst of us, not all luck was bad. In my stupor of looking around, I felt a tap on my shoulder, and turned around. There was a girl there, smiling, with auburn hair and sun-baked skin. She was stunning, and it actually screwed me up for a second, because I was SO frazzled from what I was thinking about and devising this plan, I felt like she read my mind or something, and was about to call me out. She spoke before I could react:

Dude, do you have a cigarette?

And ofcourse, being the stupid kid I was, who was damn near panicking, my reaction was completely natural.

” No, but I swear to GOD I will get you one if you let me tell my friends I fingered you!?”

I will let you reread that a few times, so you can absorb the level of mental retardation at work here. Yes, a girl asked me for a cigarette, which I did not smoke at the time, and my reaction to her question was something akin to what someone with tourettes and an erection would yell into a  megaphone.

I swear this is the exact vibe I must have been unintentionally projecting.

Thing is, like I said, fate is not always unkind.

She laughed, pretty hard, for about ten seconds (felt like three hours) but it was apparent from her question AND her reaction, she was slightly older and way cooler than me. She put her hand on my shoulder and said: Slow it down, Tonto. We should atleast do this in order. Because I was in such a frazzled mental state at the time, I immediately thought this meant she wanted to fool around with me, which sent me into a panic. Nope, she just wanted to exchange names first. Like normal people.

She saw the terror in my eyes and told me to chill out, and walk with her, so we walked off, and I told her the raw outline of my story up to that point. Her name was Jess, and I never forgot her. Not for any other reason than she really did help save me that day, and for no real reason, which floors me. She had nothing to gain from helping this little twerp out, so I have no idea why she did, but she did. In ways more profound than she would ever know.

Honestly, in hindsight, I am not even sure she was real….

It is like my mind created her to save me from this sickening crap.

Nah, I’m just f*cking with you. She was very much real. She was my Molly Ringwald. 

Just a nice, altruistic girl, who probably had a fat, retarded younger brother, and simply recognized that in me and felt bad. Still though, she laughed at the absurdity of the “fingering contest”, and asked where we all had all planned to meet up. I told her, and as the time grew closer I realized, wait, how were we supposed to turn in our proof? Like, what IS our proof. And she said something that made me puke in my mouth a little.

” They are probably going to want to smell each other’s fingers.” Wait, what? My mind couldn’t wrap around what she said to me. As she was saying it, she told me to hold on, and she ran off. I stood there, alone again, fifteen minutes away from having to meet up with these guys, I was SURE the coolest chick ever just bolted on me and wasn’t coming back. And I stood there, thinking: I don’t blame her. And I really wouldn’t have.

But she didn’t run off, she came back. She ran back into view and handed me her panties from out of her purse.  It happened so fast I reacted as if she gave me drugs and crammed them into my pockets. She asked me to show her where we were all meeting up one more time so she was sure, and she said she had one more thing in mind. She told me to go wait for them, and she would make one more appearance. Pretty sure this was the coolest girl ever, but it didn’t  hit me until years later. Anyway, I stood there, and the crew all gathered together again. As soon as I was around the guys, I felt like they were gonna see through this. Little did I know Jess had a plan that trumped all of ours.

The screaming from the coaster barely drown out my hammering heart beat as I stood there.

And sure enough, like she said, they started telling nasty stories and smelling each others fingers. I had panties in my pockets, yet fingers that smelled as innocent as me. ” So what about you, Remy. How much pussy did you NOT get?” And they all started laughing, and it hit me, like, this was just another setup to fuck with me.  It wasn’t about the girls, or these guys getting some ass. It was that they KNEW I wouldn’t do it, and they wanted to properly setup my mental abuse for the second leg of the trip. I was standing there, speechless again, completely forgetting about the panties in my pocket. That is when I heard her. I can recite ever word, perfectly, because it is moments  like this that you never forget.

” Hey asshole!” And she stormed up to me, bursting through the group. This time she had three friends with her, and her “olderness” than me became even more apparent. She had to have been sixteen or seventeen. To a thirteen year old, that is huge. Her friends were lovely, and obviously in on the ruse, because they were staring me down. ” So is that what you do? Fool around with girls at amusement parks? Get blowjobs from different girls on different rides? And then, steal our panties?!” At which point, I pulled them out of my pocket as if on cue and handed them to Jess. I was in silent shock, but must have just come across as smug and cool to the guys, who were just kind of in awe of the spectacle.

She snatched her panties out my hand, so convincingly, I nearly forgot this was all just a ruse.

If the panties aren’t about me, why are they talking to me?

I realized this was my time to act. ” Jess, wait, I’m sorry, I just wanted something to remember you by.” And she made a disgusted face and walked off, as the guys bust into laughter and started patting me on that back, and hollering. She stormed off, playing the role right up until the last second. Not even playing the role, but writing it, directing it, casting her friends, and making this little, lonesome nerd rise up to the top of the pack within one hour. I never saw her again, ever. Not another word ever spoken, but I look back on her the way some people look at guardian angels. She had no reason to help me, but she did, and so did her friends. She stepped up, and took a hit for me, making herself look like less of a woman than she was in public, just so I wouldn’t be beaten and made fun of and harassed any further than I had been up to that point. If that doesn’t define an angel, I don’t know what does.

And ofcourse, the trip would get fucked up again, because that is how life works, but for a few hours that day, I was the alpha, and was treated as such. All because one girl was genuine enough to do that for some little, scared kid in way over his head. In hindsight, I think she saw me sinking, and simply wanted to toss someone a life line, and that single act renewed all the faith I had lost in people on this trip so far. She didn’t just save me, she saved the way I look at you and the rest of the world, and that is a gift I was given forever by her. Thanks Jess, wherever you are. I didn’t forget, and it meant a lot. Wow, you get to the end of this part of the story and you almost forget it was about a fingering contest. Almost.

Speaking of things as gross as fingering contests, remember this guy?

And don’t worry if you think the best part of the story is over, I still haven’t told you about when they abandoned me at Disney World. That is when shit gets real good. Not good as in “Yay, we won the lottery!” But good as in “Holy shit, how is this dude still alive?”

Stay tuned….