Come to Promic-Con TONIGHT! The beer, wine, and whisky will be flowing, and the cupcakes will not taste of tannis root. Details here!
For your edification, ladies and gentlemen:
By the time I reached high school, I was still afraid of women. This was because the evidence pointed with an almighty finger toward the fact that women were evil. My reasoning was twofold: (a) my father hated my mother and (b) every time a woman tickled me on purpose, she was harshly scolded.
“Give me a break, Lynn!” my father would shout whenever my mother was trying to cast a spell on him, summoning hoards of demons to feast on his innocent soul. To this day, it’s a wonder that my father has any soul left. But believe me, he’s a strong man, and he still has plenty of soul.
When I was ten, my sister told her best friend Jessie where I was most ticklish. “Under the arms and around his waist,” she said on a car ride to Cape Cod. I pretended to sleep in the front seat, but I heard every word of the conspiracy. The two girls giggled between uttering an incantation, and my mother asked them to quiet down.
On a dusty easy chair in the house we rented, I lay in my T-shirt and swimsuit with my hands up over my head, waiting for my mother to put on sunscreen so we make our first beach trip. Rosie had been chosen to apply sunscreen to my mother’s back, which would take at least five minutes. This left Jessie and me in the living room alone.
Like a black cat in the night, my sister’s best friend imperceptibly crept across the room until she was kneeling directly at my side. I had no idea what was about to happen, but with my armpits exposed I was powerless. Later on, my mother would intervene and send Jessie out to the car. She would sit me down and ask me if I knew what sexual harassment was. But I wasn’t listening. I was trying to figure out how to get this demon off of my soul.
In high school I joined the drama guild, the only place in school where expressions of repressed teenage sexuality were encouraged. It is important to note that the Puritains outlawed theater for this reason. In my time as a member of public school theater, I portrayed: a philandering fiancé, a suspected father of an illegitimate child, and a pimp. It is no mystery how my soul came to be corrupted.
But then the other reason that Puritains outlawed theater was because they thought it turned women into witches.
Case and point, when Kim asked me if I would be her date to prom that year, I thought some black magic was being enacted for sure. To begin with, she was a senior and this was HER PROM. Why would she want to go with me, a whole grade younger? And, if it was true that she really did want to take a junior to her SENIOR PROM, weren’t there several better options? Why not take Craig: he was way smarter than I was and much better at drums. Or Jesse: he worked out and had enviable arm strength. Yet Kim was dead set upon me. And the obvious reason why? I was a virgin.
Did Kim know this? I thought I kept it pretty well concealed. I had been careful to avoid getting wrapped up in teenage Satanic rites ever since my sister made me watch The Craft and tried to perform “Light as a Feather/Stiff as a Board” on me in our mother’s living room. But the trouble with witches is that you don’t always see them coming. Sometimes they’re disguised as something completely different and you don’t know it until you’ve been transmogrified into a shrew.
My usual precaution against witchcraft, perceivable to all others as crippling social anxiety, was to keep my secrets to myself and never let anybody get close to me. Especially any member of the opposite sex. Only girls could be witches.
This tactic had proven successful for sixteen long years. Against individual witches I was invincible. But, regrettably, I had never tested my powers against an entire coven of witches.
I told Kim that yes, I would go to her prom with her, although I found it suspicious. And it turned out my suspicions were justified when, later that day, Lesley, the hottest girl in the drama guild, also asked me out to prom. I was dumbfounded. Two prom invites on the same day to a prom that wasn’t even my prom?! What was happening to me? Surely these two women had spoken with one another, but the real question was were they witches? Together?!
I told Lesley I had to give it some thought. What I really meant was I needed some time alone to practice my anti-magic. What now seemed obvious to me was that these two women were in fact witches, but belonging to rival covens both competing for the heart and body of the one remaining virgin at North Andover High School.
So what was I to do? The demon had been the scent of my blood and my fate was already sealed. I was to be enslaved to a hellish eternity at the hands of some witch, but it was merely a question of WHICH witch.
So I chose the hot one. Duh.
And boy, was she HOT. I gave Kim some lame excuse about needing to figure out my life right now, and that I thought Lesley was where my future was. But at the same time I was wondering: What was I doing with Lesley as my prom date? I was such a dork! Her prom dress was this form-fitting, strapless red number with white gloves that went to her elbows. I wore a tuxedo with a vest that my grandfather made me, from a pattern I CHOSE that looked like a graphic novelist had thrown up on a piece of fabric. Mega lame.
I did have this really cool monocle, though. And I bought Lesley some candy cigarettes on the way to the Danversport Yacht Club. I thought that was pretty classy.
Lesley complained about how bad her prom had been exactly one year ago. Her date had made her drive and had ended the night trying to sprinkle holy water into her face. From hindsight I don’t know why I didn’t recognize these obvious clues.
But I must forgive myself, as I was under the spell of a very powerful minion of the devil, one who had beaten out another very powerful minion not with any sort of magic but just by being HOT. And with the other minion out of the way, she was free to practice her dark arts as she pleased. For her first spell, she made me fall madly in love with her.
There’s no way Lesley didn’t know how in love with her I had was. This was the closest I had ever danced with a girl before, and I remember becoming aware of the unexpected changes happening in my boxer shorts. But I somehow didn’t care! The room was spinning, people were laughing! I saw Lesley’s fellow minions cackling and grabbing at me to join them. I saw Kim with her new date, casting me a bitter smile. And when we were tired, the chocolate mousse was delicious but tasted strangely of tannis root.
I drove Lesley home to her house in the deep, deep woods of our Massachusetts farm town. On her front steps we hugged closely and kissed each other’s cheeks. She explained there was an after party she due at, with a man there whom she would be forced to copulate with. Satan? I was pretty sure it was Satan.
On her steps I left her to prepare herself for bearing the anti-Christ. Alone now, I drove myself home, wondering why I had at last been spared? Had my virginity been rated at too low a price? As I said, my father hated my mother, so I already knew the truth about marriage, divorce, and life after love. Maybe they wanted a stupider virgin.
Or maybe the witches were saving my virginity, to be deposited and untouched for the next four years, until such a time when it would be taken by a practicing Wiccan (true story) and kept forever in a glass jar filled with cedar branches and amphibian innards.
Who knows? I don’t claim to understand how magic works.