Going Nowhere Slow

In fourth grade, Mr. Haley stumped our class with a riddle.

"A man had twenty sick sheep. One died. How many were left?"

Easily falling for the phonetic trick, everybody answered "25." That is, everybody except me. I answered correctly with "19."

Okay, I lied. I said "25" too. Wouldn't it be cool though if I had answered correctly?

19. Whoo! 19 years old. Born in 1982. Currently attending a school founded in 1919.

It's been a year now since I turned 18 and I have yet to frequent a nudie bar. I say "nudie bar" because 18-year-olds stand a better chance of accessing a nudie bar than a topless one, the reason being that most nudie bars don't serve alcohol. Potential sexual harassment charges thus pose the age old question: vaginas in focus or blurry tits?

For my 13th birthday, my cousin made me watch an NC-17 movie. My family completely forgot about my 16th birthday. On my 18th birthday, a coupla friends took me out to dinner, but I had to pay. Good times. In honor of my 19th existential anniversary, I'm gonna see Icelandic orchestral rock band Sigur Rós…alone. I hate how people play it safe when it comes to concerts. "Sigur Rós? Who's that? I like U2." [sigh] I've decided to take my 20th birthday into my hands. For once in my life, I want to have a fun birthday. I want a party, a party in the Midwest. That's right. I'm gonna rent out one of the terminals of Chicago's O'Hare Airport and hold an invitation-only all-day concert with four stages. I call it the "Jon-O-Thon." Friends, free booze, and moving walkways. Happy fuckin' birthday! I mean, think about it. Air travel is not exactly in demand these days. By letting me rent out a whole terminal, one of America's largest airports can make some easy money and receive free press exposure at the same time. I even have the performers and set times lined up already:

12:00-1:00 Jimmy Eat World
1:10-2:10 Travis
2:20-3:20 Our Lady Peace
3:30-4:30 Soul Coughing (reunited!)
4:40-5:40 System of a Down
5:50-6:50 Depeche Mode
7:00-8:30 Bob Dylan
8:40-10:10 Nine Inch Nails
10:20-12:20 Radiohead
11:30-12:30 Serial Joe
12:40-1:40 Something Corporate
1:50-2:50 Zebrahead
3:00-4:00 Bloodhound Gang
4:10-5:10 The Ataris
5:20-6:20 Tenacious D
6:30-8:00 Foo Fighters
8:10-9:40 The Offspring
9:50-11:50 Weezer
12:30-1:30 MC Paul Barman
1:40-2:40 Biz Markie
2:50-3:50 Mos Def
4:00-5:00 Dub Pistols
5:10-6:10 Del Tha Funkee Homosapien
6:20-7:20 Nelly
7:30-9:00 OutKast
9:10-10:40 Wu-Tang Clan
10:50-12:50 Beastie Boys
1:40-3:40 Kid Koala
3:50-5:50 Money Mark
6:00-8:00 Mix Master Mike
8:10-10:10 DJ Clue
10:20-12:20 DJ QBert
12:30-2:30 Fatboy Slim

All this, plus surprise guests and Britney Spears singing "Happy Birthday" to me. My 20th birthday, ladies and gentlemen.

I was at Hank's place the other day and he was telling me about various traumatic experiences in his life. He actually has a list of them. "Age 6: I fall down the stadium steps at a hockey game in Rochester, New York and face plant, with the whole thing shown and replayed on the Jumbo-tron." Wow. That's definitely traumatic, but the ego in me says that I can trump Hank in the misery department. Two years ago, I wrote a three-part generic autobiography for my column in the school paper. Today, I exhume the juiciest parts of that autobiography (uncensored and with revisions), add never-before-seen material, and show you just how deep the rabbit-hole goes. Pardon the awkward tense changes, this is my life…abridged.

Birth: the closest I'll come to a cervix in 19 years. You know, it's actually kind of nice to get away from that blasted ovarian Bastille. Life is good.

Baby's first accident. Of all the stupid things I could do to hurt myself, I stab my neck with a letter opener. 12 stitches follow.

It's my first day at Oak Elementary School, and the teacher Mrs. Johnson decides to demote me to the pre-kindergarten class. Apparently, I'm too stupid for normal kindergarten. I can't tell the red crayon from the blue crayon. I'm not coordinated enough to handle paste. I pee in the sandbox, completely oblivious to the fact that it's a sandbox and not a toilet.

My father wanted to have chicken noodle soup for lunch, so he and I go to some restaurant to get it take-out, and for no particular reason, he brings along a metal bucket to hold the soup in separately. We buy the chicken noodle soup and return to the car, wherein my father tells me to hold the bucket carefully. Being the schmuck that I am, I put the bucket between my legs, securing it tightly in the crotch area. Little did I know that metal transmits heat quite rapidly. We're driving home, and I really begin to feel that burning sensation. As the car nears our driveway, it hits a bump and (bam!) chicken soup spouts like Tommy Lee and conveniently lands on my chunky monkey. I literally fly out of the car as its moving and collapse from the pain. There I am ñ reeling in agony and screeching obscenities in the middle of our driveway with a big wet spot on my pants.

Second-degree burn.

I spend the rest of the afternoon sitting in a tubful of ice water, bitching about having to wear cortisone-laden diapers for the next week-and-a-half.

It's time for the annual fifth grade overnight field trip. There's no better way to experience an explorer's life than to spend two days and one night on a piece of ship with a fluorescent green Ghirardelli sign blinding your face as you try to throw up into the San Francisco Bay. We each have a special job to do. Jack gets to cook. Jill gets to be lookout. I get to row a little fishing boat around like I'm fuckin' Pocahontas. Row, row, row your boat, shoot me in the head. The "captain" of the ship hears me complaining and says, "Just row the boat, jackhole!" The only thing worse than being yelled at by the captain of a ship is being yelled at by a guy pretending to be the captain of a ship.

While bowling one day, I go to grab my ball prematurely and get my arm caught in the bowling ball retriever. It's stuck, and the manager of the bowl-o-rama doesn't know what to do, so he calls the fire department. I sit there with my arm in the bowling ball retriever waiting nearly four hours for those overpaid government employees to get their asses over to the bowl-o-rama and bust open the goddamn machine. Luckily, my hand escapes unharmed. Oh no, I just disrespected firemen. I'm shaking.

My parents take me to a museum exhibit in San Francisco. To show that you've paid admission, you're supposed to clip this bottlecap thingy to your shirt collar. Unfortunately, my bottlecap thingy slowly becomes bothersome to me, so I take it off and put it in my pocket. I then go about my merry way and soon blindly leave the exhibit to pay a visit to the restroom. As I stand at the urinal, I look over at the adjacent urinal and see a bottlecap thingy lying at the bottom of a bright yellow pool, and I panic. Do I have my bottlecap thingy? I need a bottlecap thingy to re-enter the exhibit and rejoin my parents. I haphazardly search my pockets and can't find mine. [pause] Yes, I resort to sticking my hand in someone else's piss for a bottlecap thingy to wear. I must have washed my hands at least a thousand times that day. Later on, I discover my bottlecap thingy lodged deep inside my pocket.

The things you do on the eighth grade school trip to Washington DC. To illustrate: our tour bus pulls up to a McDonald's for lunch and a lady from the restaurant tells us that we can order anything we want and the student travel company will pay for it. Okay… Paige Nelson dares me to order two sets of 20-piece Chicken McNuggets. I figure, why not? It's free! So I order two sets of 20-piece Chicken McNuggets and a McChicken sandwich value meal on the side. For the record, I did not eat 40 Chicken McNuggets that day (I ate 33), but Mrs. Honigman, the teacher-in-charge, was beyond infuriated at my lack of respect for deep-fried breaded poultry. It seems that my eating habits gave Blach Intermediate School a bad name. That night, she comes up to me at dinner and scolds me for eating too fast. Eating too fast? She then places a tiny square piece of cake in front of me and forces me to eat it in no quicker than ten minutes. The horror.

Speaking of McDonald's and junior high school, on the last day of eighth-grade English class, we have a no-talent talent show, where every student is required to do a stupid human trick. I somehow convince myself that I'm gonna stuff an entire cheeseburger in my mouth without seeing if I can do it beforehand. On the day of the show, my father brings me some McDonald's cheeseburgers at lunch time and I decide to test out my "talent" right then, right there. What happens next is that I choke on the cheeseburger. It's an 85% pure choke, but I'm still choking. I attempt to call out to the other people in the room and fail, leaving me no other option but to flail and pray that the drinking fountain can help a brother out. Eventually, I manage to cough up the cheeseburger, and it flies out of my mouth in a parabolic curve and hits the floor with a non-kosher thump. I settle on singing "Colors of the Wind" from Pocahontas for the show.

It's not even two months into freshman year of high school and already I get accused of cheating on a Chemistry Honors quiz. Well, you know what? Fuck Boyle's Law and fuck his flasks too. I was only looking out the window, dammit, but that's plenty in Dr. Thornburg's world to get you sent to (vice principal of discipline) Riddell.

During PE, Jeremy Walker almost drowns me in the pool. As a joke, I splash him in the face, and as a joke, he pushes me underwater and SITS ON MY HEAD. If he hadn't relented at the moment he did, I'd probably be dead right now or filthy rich from suing his ass.

I'm in charge of sending out summons slips for the yearbook senior award photograph shoot, and I impulsively include superfluous messages (to Señora Kilmer: shall we shag now or shag later?) on the slips that get me sent to Riddell…again.

While permit driving with my mother, I make a U-turn in the middle of a road and end up driving up a curb and into a tree at 65 miles per hour. If you're like me, you confuse the brake with the gas pedal. The worst part (on top of being scolded by the fire department as they were cleaning up the antifreeze leak) is that I have to pay the city of Milpitas for damaging their tree. Damn, another fireman crack. I'm so naughty.

After sophomore year, a maelstrom of adrenaline and recalcitrant cockiness builds and ultimately comes back to bite me in the ass. I call several teachers old and imply that they should die. I upset my Biology AP teacher by eating fake poo, drinking fake pee, and discussing recovered rectal foreign bodies in class. I star as a mentally retarded Southerner in a one-act play, my interpretation of the role a bit excessive for some. I go to school in blackface and an all orange get-up. Most importantly though, I sign on to write for the school newspaper. It is there that I pen a controversial book review of The Bible and libelous remarks about female genitalia and my yearbook teacher.

Five days before graduation…boom. June 5, 2000 was my September 11. Absurd, yet undeniable. Just.

"…we are disgusted by yet another of Jon Yu's offensive columns. This particular article comments, 'I have giant throbbing erections when I see Ms. Tavenner' which is completely obscene and inappropriate for a high school newspaper. Unfortunately, this is not the first time that Diane Tavenner has been harassed by Jon. Throughout the course of the year, Jon repeatedly and willfully ignored the emotional and legal implications of his irresponsible diatribes. A school newspaper is not a proper venue to launch personal attacks against students or staff.

In addition and far more disturbing, Jon writes, 'on graduation day a teacher is executed by a firing squad. Moral: don't (f***) with me.' which is alarming. With today's unfortunate trend of school violence, this printed threat cannot be ignored. Furthermore, MVHS has a very clear 'zero tolerance' policy which needs to be enforced. Although we are expected to attend graduation, we and other teachers feel unsafe and unwilling to attend a school function at which violence has been threatened."

The latter excerpt of a letter addressed to the school administration pretty much says it all. I refer you to the June 5, 2001 post in the archive for more information on "the incident."

Exhibit A:
"For a persuasive essay assignment in AP Comp, I write a piece on why the school should fire a particular teacher. Mrs. Dewar gets really pissed and makes me rewrite the essay with a positive spin (i.e. what we should look for in a teacher). With the modified essay, Mrs. Dewar is still really pissed – I believe her exact words were, 'blech' – but eventually, I get my way, for the teacher-in-question is executed by a firing squad on graduation day. Moral: don't fuck with me."

Context, people, context. I can only add that I never heard the terms "sexual harassment" and "terrorism" used so much in my life. Good ol' Riddell. "IF we let you walk at graduation, you'll need to show up an hour early so the police can body search you." Well, fuck that.

You do it to yourself…

I went to watch High Fidelity on graduation day instead.

Like David Letterman, I gradually lost faith in puerility and settled down for the most part. I still have my cap and gown in its packaging untouched. I thought about selling it on eBay. Thing is, I'm not ready to grow up yet. If there's anything to be gleaned from the mess that was the first 19 years of my life, it's that I'm talented at hurting people's feelings. God gave me the gift to offend and I say, "Fuck you, God! Suck my cock while I finger your ass!" Every time I look at that cap and gown, it makes me wanna continue the crusade against normality, toying with the pretenses of authority and respectability. Not having a car is a problem, but you gotta be creative in college. Last May, for example, my RA went berserk when she found out about my impromptu corn dog and butterscotch party (don't ask) in the study lounge, and my year-old novelty jar of spit sits in my closet fermenting as I write. Who knows what I'll do this year? I have ideas. Naked paintballing, anyone? But that's a totally different post. Let me enjoy my birthday while it lasts. Then, we'll talk utter irresponsibility. Amen.

and that's what really hurts…

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