He read Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman novels (his favorite character was, of course, Raistlin) and became an early devotee of the End of the World. In September, he headed to Rutgers, and quickly buried himself in what amounted to the college version of what he’d majored in throughout high school: getting no ass. SENTIMENTAL EDUCATIONThe first time I met Oscar was at Rutgers.
He devoured every book he could find that dealt with the End Times, from John Christopher’s “Empty World” to Hal Lindsey’s “The Late Great Planet Earth.” He didn’t date no one. Inside, he was a passionate person who fell in love easily and deeply. Despite swearing to be different, he went back to his nerdy ways, eating, not exercising, using flash words, and after a couple consecutive Fridays alone he joined the university’s resident geek organization, R. We were roommates our sophomore year, cramped up in Demarest, the university’s official homo dorm, because Oscar wanted to be a writer and because I’d pulled the last number in the housing lottery. He was a dork, totally into Dungeons & Dragons and comic books; he had like a billion science-fiction paperbacks, all in his closet; and me, I was into girls, weight lifting, and Danocrine. Not even Fanon can explain it to me.) I had this beautiful Irish-Puerto Rican girlfriend, a Plainfield girl I couldn’t get enough of, a firefighter’s daughter who didn’t speak a word of Spanish, and I was into clubs like a motherfucker—Illusions, Foxes, Mercedes and Mink (on Springfield Ave.
Nothing special, skanks really, but girls nonetheless. Al’s getting a girl Oscar could comprehend; Al looked completely normal, and he had a nice gold necklace he wore everywhere. What little faith Oscar had in the world took an SS-N-17 Snipe to the head. So he sat back and watched the Hess Building and the rest of Woodbridge slide past through a snarl of overpasses. Ana seemed unaccountably sad and she chewed her bottom lip, a real bembe, until most of her lipstick was on her teeth and he was going to make a comment about it, but he decided not to. Every Dominican family has stories about niggers who take love too far, and Oscar was beginning to suspect that they’d be telling one of these stories about him real soon. Once, he blacked out while crossing an intersection. Girls, though, were point zero; they were the world to Oscar.The only things that changed in those years were the models of the cars, the size of Maritza’s ass, and the music volting out of the car’s speakers.First freestyle, then Special Ed-era hip-hop, and right at the very end, for just a little while, Hector Lavoe and the boys.She’d say anything to anybody and she cut her hair short (anathema to late-eighties Jersey Dominicans) partially, I think, because when she’d been little her family had let it grow down past her ass—a source of pride, something I’m sure her rapist noticed and admired. They’re disgusting, they bother Mami, and they’ll never get you a date. He was one of those niggers who didn’t have any kind of hope. Her girls were the sort of hot-as-balls Latinas who dated only weight-lifting morenos or Latino cats with guns in their cribs. and could out-salsa even the Goya dancers; Leticia, just off the boat, half Haitian, half Dominican, that special blend the Dominican government swears no existe_,_ who spoke with the deepest accent, a girl so good she refused to sleep with three consecutive boyfriends! Ana nodded; she smelled of a perfume, and when she pressed close the heat of her body was . When he returned to the house, his sister said, Well? On one of these little trips, she let slip, God, I’d forgotten how big Manny’s cock is. So you’re Ana’s little friend, Manny said derisively. Manny smacked her, Manny kicked her, Manny called her a fat twat, Manny cheated on her, she was sure, with this Cuban chickie from the middle school. Her face was so swollen from recent crying it looked like she was on cortisone. Wasn’t it Turgenev who said, Whom you laugh at you forgive and come near to loving?Oscar, Lola warned repeatedly, you’re going to die a virgin. Another five years of this and I’ll bet you somebody tries to name a church after me. It wouldn’t have been half bad if Paterson and its surrounding precincts had been, like Don Bosco, all male. (His sister was the anomaly—she dated the same dude all four years of high school, a failed Golden Gloves welterweight who was excruciatingly courteous and fucked her like he was playing connect the dots, a pretty boy she’d eventually dump after he dirty-dicked her with some Pompton Lakes Irish bitch.) His sister’s friends were the Bergen County All-Stars, New Jersey’s very own Ciguapas: primera was Gladys, who complained constantly about her chest being too big; Marisol, who’d end up in M. It wouldn’t have been so bad if these girls hadn’t treated Oscar like some deaf-mute harem guard; they blithely went on about the particulars of their sex lives while he sat in the kitchen clutching the latest issue of Senior year found him bloated, dyspeptic, and, most cruelly, alone in his lack of a girlfriend. On the ride home, Ana complained about having a headache and they didn’t speak for a long time. They reached the Elizabeth exit, which is what New Jersey is really known for, industrial wastes on both sides of the turnpike, when Ana let loose a scream that threw him against the door. That’s me, Oscar said in a voice so full of cheerful innocuousness that he could have shot himself for it. They couldn’t talk ten minutes without Manny beeping her and her having to call him back and assure him she wasn’t with anybody else. she asked over and over, and Oscar always found himself holding her awkwardly and telling her, Well, I think if he’s this bad you should break up with him, but she shook her head and said, I know I should, but I can’t. Oscar liked to kid himself that it was only cold, anthropological interest that kept him around to see how it would all end, but the truth was he couldn’t extricate himself. What he used to feel for those girls he’d never really known was nothing compared with the amor he was carrying in his heart for Ana. I didn’t invite him out to no clubs, but we did start going to Brower Commons to eat, even checked out an occasional movie.
As though everything he had in the girl department had burned up that one fucking week. She got huge and scary—a troll gene in her somewhere—and started drinking 151 straight out of the bottle and was taken out of school because she had a habit of screaming have it, Maritza blew up into the flyest girl in Paterson, New Jersey, one of the queens of New Peru, and, since she and Oscar were neighbors, he saw her plenty, hair as black and lush as a thunderhead, probably the only Peruvian girl on the planet with curly hair (he hadn’t heard of Afro Peruvians yet or of a town called Chincha), body fine enough to make old men forget their infirmities, and from age thirteen steady getting in or out of some roughneck’s ride.