It’s been a month since Theo banished me to the closet. That may not seem like a long time to you; your limited perceptive state has probably convinced you that I’m just a talking plush doll with nothing but plastic beans where his heart and soul should be. But let me tell you, plush doll or not, it’s cruel and unusual punishment to be kept locked away in a dark compartment where the only way to pass the time is to imagine new and exciting methods of implementing CSS floats.
In case you just tuned in, here’s what’s going on: Theo’s pretending I don’t exist. He’s pretending he doesn’t need me—me, his competitive drive, his social dexterity, his eight-inch-tall sexual warrior! How ridiculous is that? He might as well cut off an arm or leg. Without me, his adolescence will be mere formality, an obligatory bridge between childhood and adulthood. Bland and boring.
Try telling him that, though.
I can hear footsteps approaching. I crouch, peering through the crack underneath the closet door. Theo walks into the bedroom, sets his backpack and gym bag on the floor, goes over to his desk and wakes his computer so that he can check his e-mail like a good little geek.
I start banging my mitts against the door. “Theo! Theo!”
He flinches, pauses for a moment, then resumes working the mouse, carefully concealing the fact that he’s become aware of me.
I bang some more. “I know you know I’m in here! I know you can hear me! This has gone on long enough! Let me out!”
A click of the mouse, the tapping of a few keys, continued ignorance.
“I’m no good to you stuck in here! Have you ever heard of ‘use it or lose it?’ If you keep this up, you’re definitely going to lose it!”
“You’re only proving my point by sitting there slumped in front of that stupid PC, just like you’ve done every day for the last month, burning time, wasting your youth, passing up a golden opportunity! I mean, you could be grounded right now. Any other parents would have gone nuclear if they found out their kid had gotten New Eyes from someone they met online. What do your parents do? They give you a New Age scolding: free reign, renewed trust, undying love. And what do you do with the privilege? You hole yourself up in this…this Zen monastery and code Web sites all afternoon. You do homework, you read manga, you listen to Asia—oh, wait, that’s right, you get out. Yeah, you go to that gym everyday after school with your mom, sweat yourself silly on some smelly, sticky weight machine or treadmill, or whatever it is you do to get those fabulous guns you insist on hiding under all those oversized shirts.”
Theo sighs, leaves his desk, goes over to his dresser for a change of clothes.
“Keep it up,” I say, exchanging reverse psychology for sarcasm. “Keep ignoring me like you ignore Ernie, Eva, and Jan. We’re only holding you back!”
Theo leaves the room without saying anything.
What a dick.
I straighten, sitting with my back against the door, clenching and unclenching my tiny fists (no easy task, mind you, considering that I don’t have proper joints). I’m tense, my mind feels clogged—and it’s only going to get worse if Theo keeps this self-deprivation stuff up. He’s weaned himself off his friends, he’s replaced playtime with work; he won’t even jack off because some pompous, misguided yogi somewhere along the line mentioned that too much masturbation drains Chi. That’s too much, not too little. Too little and…well, you have to clear the dust out of your vacuum bag every so often, right? Otherwise it’s just going to burst at the seams, spewing foul-smelling particulates all over the place. And I swear to God Theo is about to burst.
We’ll talk more about his ball sack later. Right now we need to focus on the overall. We need to stop being so passive and start being more assertive. I’ve heard that boy on his cell phone with the dickhead who “manages” Asia Afrodesia: “Change this on her Web site. Add that. No, put that back the way it was. Now do this—wait, no, do that. Yes, I’ll send your check out at the end of the month. Along with last month’s check, yes, yes.” You get the point. Theo needs to tell this manager fellow to STFU, to remind him, “I’m the webmaster. Let me handle the Web design duties while you handle Asia’s various drug deals and court settlements.” He needs to step up (just not to me).
After a few minutes, he comes back into the room, fully dressed, his hair still wet from the shower. He closes the door quickly, but not before I get an earful of the voices wafting up from the dining room.
“Who’s over?” I ask, crouching beside the closet crack once again. “Is it Mr. Nakayoshi?” Even upstairs, down the hall, and through two closed doors, I can hear his loud, obnoxious laughter bouncing off the walls. “It’s Mr. Nakayoshi, isn’t it?”
Theo stands in front of the dresser, applies deodorant, checks his reflection in the mirror (needlessly) for facial blemishes, runs a brush through his hair. “Yeah,” he says, unenthusiastically.
“Dude, you don’t have to go through this alone. Let me out and we can tag team him together. I’m here for you.”
Theo snorts. “The last time you were ‘here for me’ I lost my eyesight. And before that I made Eva cry by intentionally giving Jan bad advice.”
“Come on. She would’ve cried anyway once she realized Jan really, really doesn’t like her in a kissy-feely way. But that’s a matter for another discussion. Right now we’re talking about you.”
“What about me?”
“Remember that episode of Star Trek where a transporter accident split Captain Kirk’s psyche into two physical bodies?”
“You’re lame Kirk. I’m party Kirk.”
“Party Kirk,” Theo points out, “almost raped Yeoman Rand. And he wore women’s makeup.”
“Only because Yeoman Rand fucked up his face.”
“The point is, party Kirk was dangerous. He wasn’t meant to exist—”
“On his own he wasn’t—”
“Just like you’re not meant to exist.”
“Of course I’m meant to exist! Why else would your pubertal brain have spawned me—”
“I don’t like the things I do when you’re around. I don’t like the, ah…urges I get. I don’t like losing my temper. I don’t like betraying my friends. And I hate not being able to concentrate on my schoolwork because I’m too busy thinking about—”
Theo swallows hard. I can’t quite see his face from this angle, but I’m sure it’s bright red.
“No,” he says.
“What’s so funny?”
“You’re such a lousy liar.”
“I’m not lying—”
“Just now, at the mere mention of boobs, your wang reared its head and went, ‘Huh?’”
I start to point out that the hint of an erection is the first sign of life he’s shown all month, but at that moment Beta appears in the room, totally spoiling the mood even though he’s dressed like Slash, and is holding a guitar.
“What’s this I hear about boobs?” he asks.
Theo sighs. “Not now, Beta.”
“Maybe we can reach a compromise,” I say, silently cursing Beta for his timing. “We’ll start tonight, after dinner. A photo of Eva, some hand lotion—”
“For crying out loud!” Theo swears under his breath, and starts out of the room.
“Hey, where are you going, little dude?” Beta asks.
“What do you care?”
“I care!” I yell. “I care, Theo!”
The bedroom door opens, then slams shut.
I hammer my fists against the closet door some more (as if it’ll do any good at this point). “That’s right! Don’t mind us stuffed dolls and disembodied SuperMegaNet users! You just get on downstairs and stuff your face before the rice noodles get cold! I’m sure you’ll have a blast watching Nakayoshi hit on your mom while your dad kisses his ass!”
Out in the hall, I can hear Theo descending the staircase.
Beta walks over to the closet and opens the door. He looks down at me with an expression that’s only half dumbfounded as I jump to my feet and dart out into the bedroom shouting, “Free at last! Free at last!”
“Um, not to pry or anything,” Beta asks after I’ve finished doing an impromptu victory dance, “but what exactly is going on here?”
“It’s our first pon farr,” I reply, “and geek boy’s being a total dick about it.” I toddle over to Beta and hug one of his ankles. “But thanks to your daring rescue, that’s all about to change!”