So, I’m a generally nervous person with a lot of feelings. I believe Kelly Clarkson wrote a song about me once in which she said for her gentleman friend to keep his hand in her hand, his heart on his sleeve. That line… that’s me. It’s always nice to be the sensitive guy because lady friends naturally gravitate toward you and think that you’re keen without being intimidating. Can I bench press you over my head? Probably not, but damn it, I’ll remember your middle name and the kind of Chinese take out you like, and I think that probably counts for something. But the issue is that it ultimately does not translate well in boy world, and that’s unfortunate. It’s hard translating all of those feelings into short, declarative sentences, and then just leaving it there–so I eat a lot of those feelings and show up at high school trust falls.
And I’m sure that this topic seems tired: we get it, Justin. You don’t jive well with your own gender. The horse is dead, put the stick down. No, no children. This is not your typical social awkwardness story. This is the story about how I used pills to make friends, in Paris nonetheless.
The whole thing started in high school when we were presented with the opportunity to go to Paris with the rich high school about an hour away. Us poor South Knoxville kids were like, Yeah, we’ve been to Paris, Tennessee. It’s not as great as it sounds, but apparently this was the real thing… like, Paris, France. So I asked my parents that if I could somehow manage to foot half of the 2,000 bill, could I go. They agreed, and naturally, as a really undisciplined fifteen year old, I think I managed to save up about 600 dollars. Because I’m adorable, we managed to come up with most of the rest, and in a last minute attempt, my dad decided to throw a charity fishing tournament to help all of us make the rest of the money. The fishing tournament only got us about seventeen dollars each, but whatevs. At the end of the day, we all managed getting our money in on time, and we were really going… to Paris.
So we were all excited until I found out the rooming situation. There were only three boys going, so we would automatically be rooming together… in a room… with two beds. Yes, the idea made me uncomfortable, but I could handle it. It wasn’t until one of the guys that I was rooming with started to talk about it that I got truly nervous. He told me that we were purposefully going to sleep in the same bed and that he was going to sleep naked and one night, he was going to tea bag me. Oh, you don’t know what that means? Go look it up on Urban Dictionary. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you might throw up a little in your mouth. I know I did. I kept all the taunts to myself, too embarrassed to bring it up in fear of what people might say. There were too many things that could result from it… too many ramifications. I couldn’t sleep for weeks; there were too many things worrying my mind:
b) my general distaste for the human form
c) the fear of suffocation
d) or any combination of the above
So I went around terrified of Andrew, trying to figure out a way to not find myself naked in bed with him… or dare I say, teabagged. My parents essentially told me that they didn’t care if I could possibly get teabagged. We already paid for the trip, so I pretty much had to go. I didn’t want to tell the teacher because that was too predicable. Everyone would expect it, and it would put an even bigger damper on the trip before it began, so I just tried to keep my composure. I practiced sleeping on my face in hopes that maybe I could avoid the teabagging and/or smother myself at my own hand. The time finally came, and I boarded the plan with nude Andrew and my only hope for salvation: my other roommate, Scott.
Before then, I had never really been away from home, and on top of the pending sexual assault I was facing, I wasn’t sure how to handle the idea of being away for an extended period of time. So as the plane was taking off, I took a couple of Dramamine to help me fall asleep. Ironically, the entire situation flipped when we got to Europe. Knowing that I was missing home, Andrew became my go to, and in the worst moments he would talk me down. After a couple of days, I began to let my guard down, and the threats of tea bagging (no, seriously, if you don’t know what it is, you need to look it up) decreased with each day.
But with one threat gone, another one arose. Because of my regular anxious nature, in addition to my homesickness, I decided to ration my Dramamine out so that I had enough for each night. After our third night in France, Scott asked Andrew and I if we would sit down with him for a talk. He seemed pretty intense about the situation, so we obliged. After stumbling around his topic of conversation, he finally said, Justin, you really need to stop taking those pills. This could get out of hand quickly. He began to tell us a story about his friend who got addicted to pain killers and eventually was hospitalized with his addiction to prescription meds. The room fell silent, and Andrew and I exchanged glances… not really knowing what to say. After a while I looked at Scott, with pills still in hand, and said, Scott, I’m so sorry. I picked up the bottle and opened it. I didn’t know, I won’t do it, and I started to slide the pills back in the bottle… and then I slammed them into my mouth and swallowed them, screaming out, I CAN’T STOP MYSELF!!
And Scott and I haven’t really talked to each other since. But the important part of this story is that I learned something that I have to remind myself of often: when in a room full of boys, it’s always best to make fun of the person with the most emotions… wait, no. That’s probably bad. In reality, I think what it boils down to is that when in Rome, sometimes you just have to do as the Romans do. Apparently it is (or was in high school) fun to threaten people of your own gender with sexual advances while they’re sleeping. I never really understood it, nor did I attempt to joke about it, but I did learn other things, I guess. Like “when in Paris, pop low doses of sleeping pills.” At least one person will laugh for an hour, and that’s what we’re going for in the end, right?