Thanks for the Trouble - Tommy Wallach





THE BOY SAT ON A bench in the lobby of the Palace Hotel. It was about eight thirty in the morning, and he was supposed to be at school. But the boy had always thought it was a load of BS that you were expected to go to school on Halloween, so he’d decided not to. Maybe he’d go later. Maybe not. At this stage, it didn’t really make much of a difference either way.

The boy noticed he was drawing more attention than he usually did. He’d been to the Palace plenty of times before, but this was the first time he’d shown up on a weekday, and the place wasn’t busy enough for someone like him to go unremarked. He was dressed in dirty jeans and an old black T-shirt, and his hair was long and probably a mess (full disclosure: he hadn’t looked in the mirror before leaving the house that morning). Also, he was Latino, which made him one of the very few Latino people in the building who wasn’t there to bring room service to or clean up the dishes of or mop up the floors for old, rich, white people. To put it bluntly, he looked like he’d come there with some sort of criminal intention, which was racist and judgmental and totally non-PC.

It was also true.

That’s not to say that the boy looked like a thug. He was just your average teenager. Or a little above average, actually. Like, you’d probably think he was cute, if you had to weigh in one way or the other. Or not cute, maybe, but not not cute either. Just, like, your normal level of cuteness. A solid seven out of ten. Maybe a B/B+ on a good day, in the right light, taking the most forgiving possible position on his too-thick eyebrows and his weirdly prominent dimples when he smiled and his slight butt chin . . .

Fuck me. This is turning into a disaster, isn’t it?

I thought it would be better to write this in the third person, to give myself a little critical perspective. But it feels pretty messed up to write about whether I’m cute while pretending I’m not the one writing about whether I’m cute. It would be like writing your own recommendation letter or something.

Shit. I just noticed I used the F word up there. Oh, and now I’ve written “shit.” I guess I could go back and delete them, but I’d rather not. I mean, do we really have to play this game, where because I’m who I am and you’re who you are, we pretend that the word “fuck” doesn’t exist, and while we’re at it, that the action that underlies the word doesn’t exist, and I just puke up a bunch of junk about how some teacher changed my life by teaching me how Shakespeare was actually the world’s first rapper, or about the time I was doing community service with a bunch of homeless teenagers dying of cancer or something and felt the deep call of selfless action, or else I pull out all the stops and give you the play-by-play sob story of what happened to my dad, or some other terrible heartbreak of a thing that makes you feel so bummed out you figure, what the hell, we’ve got quotas after all, and this kid’s gotten screwed over enough, so you give me the big old stamp of approval and a fat envelope in the mail come April?

I say no. I say let’s not play games. You asked me a question—What was the single most important experience of your life?—and I’m going to answer it, even though my answer might be a little longer than five hundred words and might have the F word in it, and even the F action in it, and a whole lot of other stuff I’d have to be crazy to put down on paper and send to you. And then you’ll read my answer, and you’ll make your decision.

Let’s start over.

Nice to meet you. I’m Parker Santé. I am medium cute, and bad at writing in the third person. Here is how the most important experience of my life began.


THERE IS SUCH A THING as perfect sadness. I know, because I’ve seen it.

People usually use that word—“perfect”—to talk about good things: a perfect score on a test, or a perfect attendance record, or landing a perfect 1080. But I think it’s a way better word when it’s used to