"What's the world for you if you can't make it up the way you want."

-Jazz, Toni Morrison

Extinction Level Event

Extinction Level Event

It was sixth grade, I was string cheese. I was a pasty paper skin baggie filled with brittle sticks and stones. They called me a lot of things, mostly Sebastian the Crab. I was less of a loser and more of an outsider, but I didn’t care about all that, no one could breach my crust, not with a million of their superficial digs. The pressure built and the liquid nickel of my core raged because I couldn’t get the girl—I know, it’s cliché, but she was THE girl, the cherry brown girl sitting across the classroom, across the universe. She was an impossibility. Emily. The kind of impossibility that needs infinite time and space to work itself out. I don’t have time for infinity, I’d think, so I’d stand up determined to ask her out. What about your anterior rotated pelvis, I’d think, so I’d sit down. This was the routine, day after day, month after month, up down, up down, it was the demented dance of an insecure madman. I was frustrated and helpless, smothered under the lead blanket of my own self-doubt.

Spring. Friday night. The YMCA.

My only escape from the insanity. I walked through those doors every weekend like it was a Young Men’s Christian Narnia. A place void of anxiety, a place where I could freely wear my brothers Shawn Kemp’s even though they fit me like tissue boxes. A place where I could be proud of my oversized t-shirt, with pink helvetica letters that read ‘Party Animal.’ A place where I could just be myself. As I entered the secluded upstairs gym, my favorite spot to shoot alone because it was always empty, I heard laughter, something was afoot. A small group of kids sat in a circle just below the foul line. Wait... why are people... No... Emily!? Get out! But I couldn’t, it was too late, there were already six smiling faces fixated on me, it was an avalanche of peer pressure, I had to sit.

I smelled like I had just played two hours of basketball, because, well, I had just played two hours of basketball. What are you doing! Go home and watch X-Files with mom. You have an anterior rotate pelvis remember!? Also your clothes don’t fit, you and—Emily. She smiled. EMILY! Her San Andreas lips parted and opened the previously undiscovered fault line of her face, she was an earthquake of twitching noses, tilting heads and narrowing eyes, and I was left, in little itty bitty meaningless people pieces scattered across the court like rubble. Emily. The girl with big brown eyes, bowling alley thighs, and a slow twin brother from Wood St. Emily. She had the kind of intensity that holds objects in orbit, and fuck me, I was stuck in orbit! I was the pale faced, moon faced, nameless boy, stuck circling her planet. Of course, the thing about orbiting is you never actually get to touch the other object, I mean, not without the help of some cataclysmic event and those—wait...why are we sitting in a circle? BEHOLD! A spinning plastic Sprite bottle. The gods favor you today Sebastian!

So the bottle spun.

My heart spewed magma through my arteries, my skin tingling with bursting capillaries. So the bottle spun. Please let me crash my moon face into her planet. Let me flatten her with an extinction level kiss and pucker that violent smile into submission. So the bottle spun. You’re gross—You have an anterior rotated pelvis remember! So the bottle spun. Goddamn these gym floors are slick! So the bottle—

Thank you Sprite for your streamlined bottle design!

Thank you YMCA for your perfectly lacquered floors!

Thank you friction! Thank you gravity! Thank you Mom, I don’t know why, but thank you mom!

5 feet away. I slid across the floor on my raw knees. 4 feet away. This is was her chance to laugh it off as a joke, why isn’t she laughing!? 3 feet away. My cheeks flushed like rose clogged toilets, flush—I mean drain— damnit—drain! Everyone’s gonna know you’re embarrassed, why am I embarrassed? I DON’T KNOW!! 2 feet away. The smell of talcum powder radiated from her armpits. 1 foot away. She exhaled, a gust of stale Dr. Pepper breath on my upper lip. 6 inches away. She’s got a boogie. Don’t ruin this! Ok, Ok .... Wait, can she smell me? Do I have boogie’s? I need a mirror and 5 minutes... 0 inches away —

Moon landing.

I pressed my cracked dry lips so tightly against her, the Jaws of Life couldn’t tear me away, let them come fucking try! I AM AFOOT! Years of anticipation swelled inside me, a tsunami of blood gathered in my genitals, it washed over my heart, shot up my neck, gained adrenaline and testosterone as it flooded my brain and crashed against my skull like a sex inflicted shotgun blast. I see you ego, I accept you death.

Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

In infinite time and space, impossibility becomes probability, and once in a while, if your lucky, you can be at the intersection to witness the two collide. But I don’t think it was luck, things don’t really happen by chance, blind perseverance is rarely misguided in hindsight. Maybe I wasted a lot of time. I mean it was months, shit — years, stuck every day, up down up down, doing my dance, doing the sad waltz of a bonafide putz. Or maybe it happened exactly how it was supposed to happen, I was just doing the only thing I knew how to do, just being me, an outsider, maybe a loser, definitely an insecure, pale faced, moon boy, capable of changing the orbits of the planets by just being himself, I was enough, anterior rotated pelvis and all.

Sebastian Karantonis writes for the same reasons he paints, to bring the world closer, to link himself to mankind. He has stories inside of him, stories about his past in Ohio, about gender and identity about how his experiences have changed his view of the world, but he is unable to articulate any of them, other than to write.

Cover photo by Neven Krcmarek on Unsplash



The Game Is On

The Game Is On