Below you will find the results of my having challenged myself for a number of days to write a short story with a beginning and middle and an end inside of 30 minutes. Here is what I came up with. I hope you like it.
My family moved to Rhode Island the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. I had to spend senior year with a bunch of strangers, which blew.
The Burnside High School graduating class of 1987 consisted of 196 students. 66 of those students – slightly over one-third – were boys named Ian.
Based on observation, the following things were true:
All the Ians had skateboards and Sony Walkmen.
All the Ians liked R.E.M., The Smiths, The Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen and Violent Femmes.
All the Ians tended to brood and pout.
All the girls really liked all the Ians.
There were certain subspecies within The Ians. Some of them had floppy, skater haircuts. Some of them had short hair. Some of them wore Bones Brigade shirts and hi-top sneakers. Some of them dressed in black. Some liked Naked Raygun and The Volcano Suns, in addition to the aforementioned bands. Some dug Cat Stevens, Jim Croce and The Grateful Dead, in addition to the aforementioned bands. There were painter Ians, illustrator Ians, musician Ians and writer Ians.
My name is Gordo (short for Gordon) Van Buren. When senior year rolled around, I was 6’2” and weighed 215 lbs. I wore a size 13 shoe and played the trombone. My favorite band of all time remains Yes. I may as well as have been born solely to redirect people’s attention to the Ians.
I made exactly two friends during my year at Burnside: Innocent LaPierre, a funny Haitian kid whose mother taught French; and Cheryl, an angry young woman who wore Ann Taylor business suits to school and carried a clipboard.
Our interaction outside of school amounted to watching reruns with Cheryl’s born-again parents and playing RISK. After graduation, I moved back to Chicago to go to college, and I never heard from either one, again.
Sometimes, various Ians would set up their guitars and basses and drum sets in the auditorium and perform Replacements songs. There were plenty of Ian bands: The Face Clocks, Paperback Books, The Penalty, Kafka’s Dream, Extended Outlook, Picture Frame. Hell, you couldn’t miss an Ian band if you tried.
Platoons of beautiful, kohl-eyed teenaged girls stared at the Ians with great intensity. Most of them wore black tights, Doc Marten boots, black skirts and voluminous sweaters. They carried Army surplus rucksacks with ♀ symbols written on them in El Marko.
One time, an Ian who wore round frameless John Lennon specks told me to bring my trombone to their jam session, after class. They were attempting a Specials cover. He and I had met in homeroom. He had a voice like air escaping from an inflatable raft.
Word got around quickly that I would be interacting with various Ians, so I was assigned the unofficial role of repository for mixtapes. Ians communicated primarily through mixtapes, which they would surreptitiously slip to girls before disappearing into a cloud of soft college radio static.
Many girls, so wooed, would create their own mixtapes, decorated with collages of pictures taken from Betty Blue or Breathless. They were far too coy to deliver the tapes, themselves.
As the day was winding down, a striking young woman approached me. Her hair, dyed black, had been modified into an angular bob. She sported a leather jacket barnacled with Ramones pins. Her dad was the CFO of Hasbro. She handed me a tape with a meticulous illustration of Alex from A Clockwork Orange drawn on the outside.
“Magilla Gorilla, will you give this to Ian?”
…and that’s how I found out I had a nickname.