I Wish I Was Shawn Kemp

I Wish I Was Shawn Kemp
by tyke johnson
Some realizations in life are worse than others. When graduating middle school I had to accept the fact that I would never have a black man’s hair and any attempts to cut my hair as if I did were fruitless and upon further and more harsh recognition, embarrassing. Looking at school portraits that proved my desire to don or, more appropriately, attempt to don, a “Shawn Kemp” as I dubbed it are still daunting. The fact that my parents allowed such an absurdity of their son’s appearance proves they had chosen to accept their fate of four boys by way of mockery. I can only imagine their pre- bedtime chats.
“Did you see what Michael did to Tyke’s hair?”
“Did I?” My father would respond spitting out Listerine uncontrollably. “I nearly pissed myself when I got home from work and saw him at the dinner table.”
“I always knew his ears were big, but my Lord, if he got knocked over by a gust of wind I wouldn’t be surprised.”
“Or just a passing car.”
“Speaking of which, we had better watch him closely near traffic or a side mirror might take his ear clean off.”
Night after night of making fun was hidden by the sound of a running faucet as I fell asleep with the lie that I was cool. It’s no wonder my dad didn’t like me fake shaving with him in their bathroom— that and the fear he’d knick a jugular if my absurd haircut and big ears were sharing a mirror . I’m sure such exchanges saved their marriage for if I think back upon it the timing of my NBA inspired haircuts were the most harmonious of my life in the household.

Along with the realization of not being able to fashionably sport my black hero’s hairstyles was also the realization that I’d never actually be black. Something I still find hard to accept whenever I travel to Atlanta. Knowing I’ll never be so innately cool keeps me up at night and I get upset with myself when I see how plain my wardrobe is. Not a bright color among it. Where’s my lime green, my creamscicle orange, my yellow and blue and red? Harmoniously matched and I’d still look like a fool. So I wear my tans and browns and light blues and think of a time in 7 th grade when I still believed it worked for me. When red jeans and a black Scottie Pippen basketball jersey was still pure.
After high school was the monumental realization that I was still a virgin. And not only that but I had yet to have a girl graciously place my extended member into her mouth for the ever maddening, blowjob. Embarrassed, I lied when I went off to college by telling people that although I was a virgin I had made up for it by receiving an unthinkable amount of “head.” It seemed to quell the uproarious laughter as if the only people I came in contact with were retired band members of the late eighties hair metal movement, yet they all shaved as much as I did— once every two weeks. And for no real reason, I just felt like it’d be mildly re-habillitating to my masculinity to finish off a single can of shaving cream per semester.
So I lied to others about how I was saving myself, therefore when opportunities arose to copulate I insisted on a blowjob instead and life went on as normal; me masturbating to Internet porn as my roommate was off at class. We both found solace in the fact that we were equally pathetic when it came to women, solidifying our friendship for years to come. We still joke at length about 2 AM showers in the dorm floor bathrooms to relieve the constant desire to have sex, only to be disgusted by myself when I returned at 2:07 AM, limp and red all over. At least my hair wasn’t the focus of my joke of a life, I rationalized as I snuck under the covers as if such a shower was nothing more than an inspiration to be clean. In fact I clearly remember whispering aloud as if my roommate were awake and listening to my every move. “Crap , I forgot to shower tonight and I gotta wake up early.” Followed by me deflating my ego onto the urine yellow tiles of the shower floor.
At times the shower would go on in the next stall over and I’d wonder what had become of the boy who sucked Karin Guariglia’s bare breasts on an 8 th grade school trip. I was so ahead of my time, I remember congratulating myself. Yet there I was with only a thin and creaky metal stall door between me and another eighteen-year- old’s hairy feet and weathered flip-flops and neither of us with soap resting in the provided porcelain dish.
But four years finally past. Four grand years of endless amusement, excitement, and bouts of depression finally past and in the end I finally got that fabled blowjob badge of honor and the laid badge soon after. My fears of becoming a priest were allayed and the whole family rejoiced in the fountain of my heterosexuality. Bets were paid out and congratulatory voicemails from brothers and aunts were deleted over the next couple weeks. A phone call from my mother the day after I lost my virginity informing me of how proud she was nearly ruined my triumphant moment in the glory of my non-virginhood, but I was steadfast and accepted the free rounds of beers from my supportive friends who knew the truth all along.
Now four years after my graduation from university I face a new and much more depressing realization. Depressing not so much because it hasn’t happened but because I know it makes me old for wishing it would. Old as in- I don’t think it’s such a bad idea anymore. Old as in- I just might nod and follow a leading hand. Four years later and I still have yet to be propositioned by a prostitute.
And I can’t help but wonder why? Am I not cool enough to hang in the right places? I read of writers’ experiences with prostitutes and I wonder what I’m doing wrong. What bars am I not frequenting? What clothes am I not wearing? Should I purchase more corduroy blazers?
The other day a friend told me that when he was twenty-five he found himself in the vagina of an eighteen-year-old Cuban prostitute. He hadn’t known it until the following morning when she was asking for bus fare and it ended up costing thirty-five American dollars. He continued on about how the people he was staying with had a daughter the same age as his prostitute and her parents, both doctors, were making less a day than the money he had just handed the woman for riding his rod for an evening. This really upset him and he wished he hadn’t done it after all. Yet I pressed on for me details.
Another friend calls sex chat numbers and sucks on stranger’s breasts on parking garage roofs at 4 AM. I hear stories and fables of writers and realtors screwing wives and women whose names they won’t remember. And here I am, inside and asleep . Having sex with a woman that wants to be my wife. Who wants me to say I’m through with the rest, I’m through with it all, through with it all but you. But am I? Am I over it all? How can say I yes when I haven’t even seen what it all is? When I haven’t even seen half.
Sitting alone, pondering fruitlessly of what my life has become, where I desire the attention, if not the company, of a working girl, I wonder if it’s time to go find a couple basketball jerseys with matching jeans. I wonder if the “Shawn Kemp” is in dire need of a comeback. That perhaps it’s time to pull out the ol’ clippers again, making sure there’s ample photographic evidence to send to my parents; they seem to fight more now than I remember when growing up.

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