Tuesday, June 02, 2009

After this, I'm off...I promise.

From Junot Diaz's The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (this killed me this morning):

If you'd lived in Demarest that year, you would have known her: Jenni Munoz. She was this boricua chick from East Brick City who lived up in the Spanish section. First hardcore goth I'd ever met - in 1990 us niggers were having trouble wrapping our heads around goths, period - but a Puerto Rican goth, that was just as strange to us as a black Nazi. Jenni was her real name, but all her little goth buddies called her La Jablesse, and every standard a dude like me had, this diabla short-circuited. Girl was luminous. Beautiful jibara skin, diamond-sharp features, wore her hair in this super-black Egypto-cut, her eyes caked in eyeliner, her lips painted black, had the biggest roundest pair of tits you've ever seen. Every day Halloween for this girl, and on actual Halloween she dressed up as - you guessed it - a dominatrix, had one of the gay guys in the music section on a leash. Never seen a body like that, though. Even I was hot for Jenni firs semester, but the one time I'd tried to mack on her at the Douglass Library she laughed at me, and when I said, Don't laugh at me, she asked: Why not?

Fucking bitch.

So, anyway, guess who decided that she was the love of his life? Who fell head over heels for her because he heard her playing Joy Division up in her room and, surprise, he loved Joy Division, too? Oscar, of course. At first, dude just stared at her from afar and moaned about her "ineffable perfection." Out of your league, I snarked, but he shrugged, talked to the computer screen: Everybody's out of my league. Didn't think nothing of it until a week later when I caught him putting a move on her in Brower Commons! I was with the boys, listening to them grouse about the Knicks, watching Oscar and La Jablesse on the hot food line, waiting for the moment she told him off, figured if I'd gotten roasted she was going to vaporize his ass. Of course, he was full on, doing his usual Battle of the Planets routine, talking a mile a minute, sweat running down his face, and homegirl was holding her tray and looking at him askance - not many girls can do askance and keep their cheese fries from plunging off their trays, but this was why niggers were crazy about La Jablesse. She started walking away and Oscar yelled out superloud, We'll talk anon! And she shot back a Sure, all larded with sarcasm.

I waved him over. So how'd it go, Romeo?

He looked down at his hands. I think I may be in love.

How can you be in love? You just met the bitch.

Don't call her a bitch, he said darkly.

Yeah, Melvin imitated, don't call her a bitch.

You have to give it to Oscar. He didn't let up. He just kept hitting on her with absolutely no regard for self. In the halls, in front of the bathroom door, in the dining hall, on the buses, dude became ubiquitous. Pinned comic books to her door, for Christ's sake.

In my universe, when a dork like Oscar pushes up on a girl like Jenni, he usually gets bounced faster than your tia Daisy's rent checks, but Jenni must have had brain damage or been really into fat loser nerdboys, because by the end of February she was actually treating him all civil and shit. Before I could wrap my brain around that one I saw them hanging out together! In public! I couldn't believe my fucking eyes. And then came the day when I returned from my creative-writing class and found La Jablesse and Oscar sitting in our room. They were just talking, about Alice Walker, but still. Oscar looking like he'd just been asked to join the Jedi Order; Jenni smiling beautiful. And me? I was speechless. Jenni remembered me, all right. Looked at me with her cute smirking eyes and said, You want me to get off your bed? Her Jersey accent enough to knock the guff clean out of me.

Nah, I said. Picked up my gym bag and bolted like a bitch.

When I got back from the weight room, Oscar was at the computer - on page a billion of his new novel.

I said, So, what's up with you and Scarypants?


What the hell you two talk about?

Items of little note. Something about his tone made me realize that he knew about her scorching me. The fucker. I said, Well, good luck, Wao. I just hope she doesn't sacrifice you to Beelzebub or anything.



Blogger floreta said...

this sounds like a good read!!

12:44 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Floreta: An awesome read. There's wonderful sass and drop dead hilarity, but there is also (as I'm reading this morning) heartbreaking prose about the "Mordor" of Santo Domingo in the dark dark days of Trujillo. It's these pages that must have tipped the scales (rightfully so) for his winning the Pulitzer.

10:07 AM  
Blogger anno said...

OK, gotta head over to the library and put this one on my reserve list right now! WOW!

7:50 AM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Anno: You won't be disappointed. I was awfully late to the party, but this book has gotten completely under my skin. The piece of the puzzle I thought I had missed finally - stunningly, shatteringly - turned up. That it would be alluded to in bits and then passed by makes perfect sense narratively and psychologically. Run, don't walk, to that biblioteca.

8:11 AM  
Blogger MichaelO said...

Good God, Paschal! You and Alister keep beating me over the head with my own damn history this week! Demerest Hall? Brower Commons?! Goddam College Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ. Rutgers U. My alma mater! I'm gonna have to note this read. Cheers, mate!

9:51 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Michael: Plenty Jersey in this masterpiece, when it's not down in Santo Domingo. I wondered how much of it might be right up your alley...

Awesome book.

10:21 PM  
Blogger MichaelO said...

Yeah, I'm thinking so. I had a couple of Puerto Rican roomates at RU. One from Fajardo, and one first generation in NJ from Trenton. It was part of my total education, you know? Circa 1990? Not long after I left either.

Puerto Rican goth? That's funny! My wife is a middle school social worker. She's got a black student who is goth/hardcore metal/skateboard punk. He takes heat from the other brothers. I'm thinking, why not? About as crazy an idea as a white English blues man. I'd say Clapton's got cred.

10:45 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Michael: Gotta love the kids who cut through all the racial-ethnic behavioral imperatives to find their own way. The hero of Diaz's novel is a nerd to the nerdth power: wants to be the Dominican Tolkien.

On the at least cousins separated at birth front, seems we both have social working wives, not to mention my 20 years past life as a social working therapist.

Which brings us round to Mr. Sam Myers, who I first saw in his hometown of JacksonMiss, playing outside at the end of a Mardi Gras parade in 1984. I believe this was just before he hooked up with Anson Funderburgh.

Even smaller world than we thought. By all means, post that video if you can...

6:41 AM  
Blogger Devil Mood said...

I'm such an idiot, I didn't look at the picture with attention and I thought this was your 'thing'. Still, it's enjoyable. Miss Alister could totally pull one of these off too :)

4:15 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

DM: Hey, I'll take the compliment. This was one awesome book...

4:26 PM  
Blogger Neil R Graf said...

thanks for the tip.

12:36 PM  
Blogger murat11 said...

Neil: Settle in for the ride...

1:00 PM  

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