Ah young self, specifically adolescent self, the self that fostered a vibrant face rash and once ate too much of the wrong sort of chicken at the Medieval Times near Mall of America. You have pimples, blue rubber-banded braces, and your hair is bad because you brush it too much during the hours you spend in front of the mirror before soccer practice, examining your body that in comparison to the twigs that are your teammates make you a mammoth, a sunburned mammoth, but a mammoth none the same. You adjust and readjust your headband, hoping to become god damn extinct already.
So here you are in the lobby of the Holiday Inn, it’s your 8th grade class trip, and having contracted food poisoning from a place where people wear crowns like business suits, youmake it known to the entire 8th grade class, that the velocity of your upheaval, is a speed and quantity that is actually capable of coming out of a human being. The vomit begins to pile up in the folds of your class trip hoodie, and you watch as the sturdy steps of Mr Riewie, your snarky U. S History teacher, the bald guy who was engaged to the art teacher with whom he has a well known love making playlist on his iPod Classic, came into view. Shortly thereafter, he begins to call you “chunks.” It is a title spat like chewing tobacco, a title that had been forever waiting in the abyss of yesterday to come to be.
From that day on it was a personal nightmare imagined every day when you walked into his History classroom and without a step would be violated by the Mongoose glare of doughy Hitler. He was awful to you, and you never knew why, and I’ll tell you now, it’s probably because you’re a little bit terrible — alone on your own little island of the armpit of the human condition that is the 8th grade, a place somewhere between Hot Topic & fantasy books. I mean really, get it together Camille, but even so, he never knew how you felt while you were standing in front of that mirror. He was unjust and a tyrant, a real mongoose, a real jerk. He never let your friend Lucian braid your poofy hair into a rat tail, and whenever you suggest the class listen to epic rap battles of history, despite their relevancy to the lesson, he looks at you as if you are an idiot.
That summer, after you thought you were done with him for good, you locked rat eyes with him, at the local eatery “Cheesy Jane’s” where you were with your grandpa and ordering chicken nuggets off the kids menu. The whole Reiwei clan was there, and he, the great impaler, the mongoose, was as grumpy and shiny headed as ever, dripping chili from out his maw and texting Kim Jong Un while biting into a whole onion, probably. You made special effort to hide behind your small ruddy faced grandfather, convincing yourself that it was a waking fever dream brought on by the reintroduction of chicken into your diet. You thought you were in the clear until he stood up, and with the cynicism and brevity of a twisted Larry David, that son of a gun walked past your table, and without even looking at you, he said, “Make good decisions, chunks.”
And you never saw him again.
So I say to you, young self, for those moments when you’re feeling particularly mammoth-like, and you are not only at odds with the world but with yourself, don’t let the mongoose get you down.