Just the other day I heard that James Taylor song, “Handy Man,” on the radio

For reasons I’ll eventually explain

That sappy song has left an indelible mark on my memory

It all started with virginity, a true love of music

And, of course, Mike

Back in high school Mike and I were best friends
One way we expressed our friendship was through listening to: Pink Floyd, Neil Young, and Van Halen

Still another way we expressed our friendship was through partying


We’d spend hours and hours drinking and smoking while listening to: Pink Floyd, Neil Young, and Van Halen

Yet another way we expressed our camaraderie

Was through constantly trying to one-up each other in the prank department

Here’s what I mean

Let’s say we were pounding beers one night
Mike might spit in my bottle when I wasn’t looking
And would only reveal his trick after I’d polished off my brew

Then to retaliate
The next time we were drinking
Maybe I’d sneak one of my grandmother’s estrogen pills into his Miller
While he was obliviously rocking out to the stereo

Maybe I’d confess to what I’d done after the fact
Or maybe I’d just sit there and watch

Wondering whether he’d sprout tits before the night was over


Oh we thought we were funny all right
Mike and I thought we were one great big fucken laugh factory


But then came a time in twelfth grade
When we needed to get serious about life

“Can you help me?” Mike said one night
While the two of us were driving around in his primer-blue Nova
Listening to Pink Floyd’s, Animals

“Help you what?” I said

“I, um. I mean…can you…um…can you help me…um…you know…um…”

Before I continue let me tell you something about Mike

He was a beautiful soul, would give you his drugs
Or the shirt off his back

But straight up
He was a complete social retard
He was the sad, rainbow-headed child lost in society’s huge sea


Now back to our conversation

After I’d machete-cut my way through the jungle
Of Mike’s “ums” and “you knows” and dense dead air
I realized what my sad, rainbow-headed friend was trying to say

He needed my assistance in getting laid

“I think I can help,” I said

Mike’s face grew brighter than his Nova high beams. “You serious?”

“Yeah,” I said. “Her name’s Kathi.”

“Who’s that?” said Mike

Of course he’d say something like that
Bless his soul; he was a complete social retard

But I knew Kathi
A lot of guys knew Kathi


She was a natural blonde
She was stacked

She was a twenty-eight-year-old white-trash vixen
Shoehorned into a baby fat-bearing high school girl’s body

What I knew then, and what Mike would soon come to realize
Was that Kathi would be the perfect sex cherry to top off his virgin sundae

Something else about Kathi

Throughout high school the two of us were friends—good friends

But we never made it

That’s because Kathi and I knew better than to fuck around
Otherwise things might get too deep between us

And the way we figured
It would only be a matter of time before we’d disappoint each other
And that would ultimately lead to a great big crash-and-burn


Kathi and me

We appreciated our friendship much too much than to trash it like that

That’s why we just stayed friends
Good friends

And good friends know things about each other

Like with Kathi, I knew she loved sex

And my other good friend, Mike: he needed sex

Another thing I knew about Kathi: she loved to party

Ditto with Mike

Put all those things together, I thought
And maybe I could bring some joy into the lives of two dear friends

While also starting a brand-new chapter in Mike’s ex-virgin life

But that would take a little work on my part

And a little scheming

And maybe even a little pranking…

Coming Soon…Part II…The Hook-Up

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RICH FERGUSON has performed nationally, and has shared the stage with Patti Smith, Wanda Coleman, Exene Cervenka, T.C. Boyle, Jerry Stahl, Bob Holman, Loudon Wainwright, Ozomatli, and many other esteemed poets and musicians. He has performed on The Tonight Show, at the Redcat Theater in Disney Hall, the New York City International Fringe Festival, the Bowery Poetry Club, South by Southwest, the Santa Cruz Poetry Festival, Stephen Elliott’s Rumpus, and with UK-based poetry collective One Taste. He is also a featured performer in the film, What About Me? (the sequel to the double Grammy-nominated film 1 Giant Leap), featuring Michael Stipe, Michael Franti, k.d. lang, Krishna Das, and others. He has been published in the LA TIMES, Opium Magazine, has been widely anthologized, spotlighted on PBS (Egg: The Art Show), and was a winner in Opium Magazine’s Literary Death Match, LA. His spoken word/music videos have been featured at poetry film festivals throughout the world. Ferguson is a Pushcart-nominated poet, and a poetry editor at The Nervous Breakdown. His poetry collection 8th & Agony has been published by L.A.’s Punk Hostage Press.

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