It is quite evident that I haven't been keeping up with my own life. There are too many things and not enough time to explain everything that's happened this semester. When I return, I insist that you ask me in person what I did so I can vomit words all over you.
With that being said, I noticed that I saved a draft of my account of my brother's quazi-trial (yes, the belt buckle incident). I fixed it up a bit even though it's still unfinished, and don't quite know how to end it, because all of the tension fizzled after it was through.
Side note: For the record, since I wrote this draft, I've liked Scott a lot more. It's amazing what the Atlantic Ocean can do for your familial relationships.
Aw, here it goes... _________________________________________________________
For Whom the Belt Tolls (December 30, 2007)
My brother, Scott, has always been a "bad seed," so to speak. Plucked directly from our faulty family tree and sowed in a broken home, he's long been bombarded with the go-ahead to not give a flying fuck about what higher-ups demand of him. Naturally, as a "bad kid," he does "bad things." For all of the "fuck"s, lugies, and punches he's doled out, it's no wonder that he and the school don't exactly see eye-to-eye concerning rules and regulations.
One day, Scott sported a new fasion accessory at school. Ordered directly from a skater website, "The Punisher" was an impressive buckle by most teenage standards. I bet its metallic ridges implicitly signaled "badass" as he slinked down the clique-littered hallways of Lenape Middle School. During the lunch period, Scott passed the buckle to an inquisitive (and later, sincerely apologetic) friend. A math teacher inquired as to whose the buckle was, fingers were pointed, and the damage was done. Ms. So-and-so called the self-righteous Vice Principle, who then contacted the local police. Both the Vice Principle and local authorities deemed the doning of "The Punisher" as something deserving of punishment. Since Scott possessed a "deadly weapon" on school grounds, he would need to go to court. While 9th-grader Jacquie learned about the effects of vertical stratification indirectly and comfortably from her accelerated social studies class, 9th-grader Scott directly learned this lesson during a fateful lunch hour.
She was a complete mute that morning. As I looked at my mother, then at the blank television screen, and back at my mother, I realized that today was going to be a continuation of Christmas Eve: briming with passive aggressiveness and non-verbal screaming. I consciously decided to avoid my mother at all costs, and keep eye contact to a minimum.
At 1:10, everyone on the support team was ready, and we left 50 minutes early. When Scott, still adorned with oversized sweatshirt and backwards skater hat, lunged out the door, I purposely knocked off his hat with my hand and smirked. That little fucker had been the root of numerous problems as of late, and I, unlike everyone else, wanted to acknowledge it. I realized that two could play at this game and doing it was cathartic, if anything. I love the kid, but at the same time, he loves ruining everything I enjoy. If that wouldn't get to you, then you're a saint.
The Doylestown Courthouse. Not only was this supposed place of justice shaped like a toilet, it was veritible shithole inside. The employees were as beige as the floor tiles, and the bland 1970's architecture only reinforced the displeasure of the day. As she briskly marched to the elevator, I noticed that my mother reeked of her good perfume and her fierce makeup job only served to accentuate her anger.
Sixth floor: juvenile court. I sat in my chair and attempted to channel my limited knowledge of Dante's Inferno. Sixth circle of hell...reserved for heretics. I suppose in a way, my brother had always been somewhat of a heretic in the school district's eyes. From kindergarden, when he fervently scribbled on the glossy classroom floor to his latest fashion faux pas, Scott never grasped the concept of subtlety. Then again, I believe that he never had any intention of doing so. I glanced at him while sitting in purgatory, secretly wishing that he would be punished for something he actually did (i.e. smoking pot on numerous occasions, getting picked up by the cops at 4 A.M.) instead of wearing a goddamn belt buckle.
Unfortunately, today was the first time I had seen Scott look really sharp. Even with black sneakers, he looked like a normal boy. Good, I thought, for once our family at least appeared to be semi-functioning. A combination of the transmission of redneck dogma (a la dad) and adolescent rebellion usually roughens his appearance, but today he looked like a churchgoer. Mission accomplished.
1:40:"Jacqueline, what time is it?" mom asked. "20 of." My mother's anxiety was nearly palpable. She glared at the elevator, doing her best to will her lawyer to come out of it. I thought her clenched jaw would do it, but it appeared that no one in this hellhole were scared by anything. Several social workers paraded back and forth like runway models for the State, and I admired and pitied them for having to deal with the irreverent punks that I had consisently avoided as a kid. Then there were the laywers. Years of bluffing from both parents had jaded Scott, and when I observed the other lawyers, I noted that they too had been jaded by the system. To my left was a remarkable specimen. I couldn't believe that this fucker had a phone in one ear and a Blue Tooth on another. I wondered if he heard static when there wasn't sound being pumped into his ears.
Much to my mother's chagrin, my father managed to materialize out of the elevator before her lawyer. I eyed him up from dirty boots to the contractor hat equipped with the trademark fishing hook. I mimicked my mother's terse expression. I should have expected this from him, the man who "doesn't give a shit about what people think," who confounds NASCAR t-shirts with tuxedo shirts, and whose sly catfish-like mustache makes him appear to be a character of rural legend. As someone who believes that people will come through in the end, I always hope that he'll surprise me. He has yet to do so.
I watched as my dad (a former juvenile delinquent) silently smiled at Scott, who appeared to be on the verge of laughter. I held this exchange in contempt. Have they no sense of decorum? Courthouse etiquette? Were they forming an escape plan? "What are you smiling about?" I barked. My dad looked at me and refused to respond and slid into his chair. Good, I mused, disorder has been restored. We all went back to staring at the beige elevator doors. Tim and my father cordially conversed about contracting and quickly stopped.
Our savior, the lawyer, finally emerged through the doors. My mother beamed to the best of her abilities, but her eyebrows remained severe. She pointed, "Mr. Pengloss, this is my boyfriend, Tim, my son Kyle, my Aunt Vivian"...And me, I thought. Oh well, she'll get me next time.
"Mr. Pengloss" turned out to be a godsend. Unlike the other lawyers, he was young, approachable, and seemed refreshingly sincere. Even his patchy mustache signaled that he didn't take himself too seriously; I assumed that on any other day, Scott would not have. Mr. Pengloss took my brother into another room and presumably fed him the correct statements. People of Scott's cohort are still vulnerable to fits of honesty, so it was good to have quality control on our side.
When the lawyer representing the almighty Central Bucks School District strode through the elevator doors, we realized that the time was now. Scott and Mr. Pengloss jumped out of their seats and followed the other, older officials into a hallway out of eyeshot. Time was a sloth as we waited. We attempted to initiate uplifting exchanges, but all were sabotaged by our own sideways glances and the pre-existing tension that the environment, the day, and the bloodline carried.
As Those in Suits emerged from the corner, everyone looked remotely satisfied. I examined Scott - no visible stigmata. According to Mr. Pengloss, Scott executed his lines with great accuracy, and ended up receiving the lowest sentence: six months of probation, a couple hundred hours of community service, and a curfew. Upon returning home, Sharp-dressed Scott morphed back into his messier, ganglier self and the normal level of dysfunction was reinstated.
My verdict: My mother and father should be thankful that someone has taken the initiative to administer discipline. They will mourn the day when they must resume fingerpointing.