Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Paper Towns - Hour Five

Okay, maybe we are not that well provisioned after all. In the rush of the moment, it turns out that Ben
and I made some moderate (although not fatal) mistakes. With Radar alone up front, Ben and I sit in
the first bench, unpacking each bag and handing the items to Lacey in the wayback. Lacey, in turn, is
sorting items into piles based on an organizational schema only she understands.
“Why is the NyQuil not in the same pile as the NoDoz?” I ask. “Shouldn’t all the medicines be together?”
“Q. Sweetie. You’re a boy. You don’t know how to do these things. The NoDoz is with the chocolate
and the Mountain Dew, because those things all contain caffeine and help you stay up. The NyQuil is
with the beef jerky because eating meat makes you feel tired.”
“Fascinating,” I say. After I’ve handed Lacey the last of the food from my bags, Lacey asks, “Q,
where is the food that is— you know—good?”
Lacey produces a copy of the grocery list she wrote for me and reads from it. “Bananas. Apples.
Dried cranberries. Raisins.”
“Oh.” I say. “Oh, right. The fourth food group wasn’t crackers.”
“Q!” she says, furious. “I can’t eat any of this!”
Ben puts a hand on her elbow. “Well, but you can eat Grandma’s cookies. They’re not bad for you.
They were made by Grandma. Grandma wouldn’t hurt you.”
Lacey blows a strand of hair out of her face. She seems genuinely annoyed. “Plus,” I tell her, “there
are GoFast bars. They’re fortified with vitamins!”
“Yeah, vitamins and like thirty grams of fat,” she says.
From the front Radar announces, “Don’t you go talking bad about GoFast bars. Do you want me to
stop this car?”
“Whenever I eat a GoFast bar,” Ben says, “I’m always like, ‘So this is what blood tastes like to mosquitoes.’”
I half unwrap a fudge brownie GoFast bar and hold it in front of Lacey’s mouth. “Just smell it,” I
say. “Smell the vitaminy deliciousness.”
“You’re going to make me fat.”
“Also zitty,” Ben said. “Don’t forget zitty.”
Lacey takes the bar from me and reluctantly bites into it. She has to close her eyes to hide the orgasmic
pleasure inherent in GoFast-tasting. “Oh. My. God. That tastes like hope feels.”
Finally, we unpack the last bag. It contains two large T-shirts, which Radar and Ben are very excited
about, because it means they can be guys-wearing-gigantic-shirts-over-silly-robes instead of just guyswearing-
But when Ben unfurls the T-shirts, there are two small problems. First, it turns out that a large T-shirt
in a Georgia gas station is not the same size as a large T-shirt at, say, Old Navy. The gas station shirt is
gigantic—more garbage bag than shirt. It is smaller than the graduation robes, but not by much. But this
problem rather pales in comparison to the other problem, which is that both T-shirts are embossed with
huge Confederate flags. Printed over the flag are the words HERITAGE NOT HATE.
“Oh no you didn’t,” Radar says when I show him why we’re laughing. “Ben Starling, you better not
have bought your token black friend a racist shirt.”
“I just grabbed the first shirts I saw, bro.”
“Don’t bro me right now,” Radar says, but he’s shaking his head and laughing. I hand him his shirt
and he wiggles into it while driving with his knees. “I hope I get pulled over,” he says. “I’d like to see
how the cop responds to a black man wearing a Confederate T-shirt over a black dress.”


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