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Remembering Carlos


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For those who thought I’d never submitted an Ex-imony….I did. Some time before I became a member of the Forums here in fact.


I was re-reading it the other day, and while some things have changed, such as my preference for abandoning labels entirely, much is still valid.


But that’s not why I’m writing today. Today, I remember Carlos. I talked roughly about how he died in the link.


It’s been 14 years….high time I told someone, anyone about how he lived.


We met in 7th grade. I was 2 years into public school, feeling jaded and quite roughed over from my exit from private school 2 years prior, and fully expecting more of the same.


He was just the kid sitting next to me. It was English class, the teacher asked us to write a short description of ourselves, exchange with the person beside us, and read their description out loud.


His description wasn’t remarkable in any way…except that it was printed. I hadn’t seen someone write a whole paragraph in print in I don’t know how long. Most longhand I’d seen was all in cursive.


It nagged at me. Finally, when the teacher wasn’t looking, I passed him a note asking him about it. He wrote back that it was just a preference. This somehow started a back and forth conversation that was interesting and involved…and we forgot about the teacher's location. Next thing we know, she’s standing by Carlos’s desk and says “Give it to me.” Indicating the piece of paper we’d been corresponding on.


Carlos wadded up the full sheet of letter size paper, and he ATE it. Both the teacher and I were positively stunned as we watched him chew chew chew chew chew and finally swallow.


I thought “We are so screwed.” But the teacher just looked….deflated. Confused. And she walked away from us without another word.


She let us pass notes in class. We kept up with the work just fine, and she must not have wanted Carlos swallowing too much paper and ink, considering it an unnecessary risk considering how far Carlos was willing to go to defy her authority. And as neither of us went beyond that, she was wise enough not to escalate it either as it was noted that the other students thought he was nuts and were not of a mindset to emulate him.


And so Carlos became my friend. He always had a different viewpoint for things that was always interesting to listen to. We shared books, he got me turned on to Stephen King when he loaned me “IT”, and it was a story about kids who were rather like Carlos and I. I could relate strongly at that point to The Loser’s Club described within its pages.


He helped draw me out of the highly defensive shell I’d created to become “invisible” to other kids. Now….other kids just became irrelevant.


Carlos had an awesome black t-shirt with green skeletal bone structure on it. I finally got brave enough to start wearing the dragon t-shirt I’d picked up in Hong Kong. Still being subject to the will-O-theparents, I couldn’t buy bony shirts, but I could get away with black, red, and silver.


It was 1989, and we were essentially pre-goth “Goths”. There probably were others like us in other schools, but at our Jr High…we were IT. We just didn’t fit in with any of the other groups. Skaters were a big group then, so were the Preps, and then there were the Stoners (who we alllmost dressed like, but not quite), and of course, lastly, the Nerds who would occasionally enjoy our friendship, but considered us too “Out There” even for them. We had a rep for being kind of dangerous somehow (we weren’t, we were just different), and while you might admire the Cobra at the zoo, you didn’t invite it to become a member of the Chess Club.


In other classes, Carlos would sit behind me and color the bottom three inches of my hair with markers while the teachers were talking. He’d come over to my house for dinner, and we would try to encourage it to snow by calling out to the “Snow Gods” and sacrificing a light bulb into the garbage can (broke it with a small shovel). Goofy? Sure.


But goofiness is part and parcel to the ties that bind.


In 8th Grade, Carlos invented “Muffy”. He’d found the remains of a cat, and boiled the bones several times. He’d bring Muffy to school occasionally, (no not every day) in a clear plastic thermos. He wrote Muffy on the side, and so….that was Muffy. We’d take Muffy’s bones out in Study hall, and try to figure out which body part the bones were. Some were obvious, like the skull, but the leg bones? Was that the right front forleg or the rear? To us it was an awesome puzzle. Much better than the crappy ones they had for us in Study Hall, for those of us who never needed to study.


Nowadays, teachers would likely have a shit fit if a student brought the bones of a dead cat to school. They would try to intervene in some way. But back then? I think teachers saw a certain level of peer pressure as a positive thing (remember this was WAY pre-Columbine!) and figured kids like Carlos and I would “normalize” as a result of our peer’s disapproval. Well, to our minds, we were peerless. How could those cretins who could barely spell their own names be OUR peers?


And there was disagreement regarding Muffy among the rest of the kid’s at school. Carlos wasn’t showing it to everyone. You had to ask to see Muffy, and even then, usually he’s just open the thermos to show them. It’s hard to give someone shit over something you had to ask to see in the first place.

Every year we’d do the Walk For Hope together. 21 miles. And we’d be horribly sore at the end.


We were brothers. Carlos and I. And yeah….my being a girl did make that a mess of sorts by the time we were Seniors, because that’s how I saw us. As for Carlos? Can never quite be sure. For my birthdays he would give me wonderful gifts. He never liked any of my boyfriends….but then in the note he left behind he wrote that he feared he might be gay. So it’s hard to say. Was he confused and pining wanting more from me than I was able to give? Or was he just very sweet and giving, and firmly in the closet? Can’t ever really know.


He used to do impressions. He couldn’t do voices, but his physicality was dead on enough to make you cry laughing.


He once gave me a birthday present wrapped in the Sunday comics and taped with bandaids. To this day…coolest wrapping ever.


I never made it through lunch without having my beverage come out my nose (from laughing) around Carlos. I eventually had to give up on bringing a drink to school.


Often we would hang with another friend of mine who was both excessively admired and ostracized for being chesty. We would spend time trying to toss pennies down the front of her shirt.


April Fool’s day fell on a Wednesday once after I’d invited him to youth group. After considerable discussion (aka plotting and planning), Carlos re-boiled Muffy several times and baked the bones into the most decadent chocolate cake ever. Once the other youth group members realized what the “secret ingredient” was they would not touch it, except for ONE of them who was cool enough to just suck the chocolate off the bones right along with us. Shame for the rest of them, Carlos had impressive cooking skills for a 16 year old.


One of my birthdays was celebrated by going roller skating. Carlos and I had about the same skills on roller skates with the predictable result of his sprawling in front of me, and me getting a scraped chin tangling up with him and using my face as a brake.


To this day, I cannot laugh to the point of losing my breath without thinking of Carlos, because around him, laughing my air out was a regular occurrence.



That was Carlos. I’ve tried to figure out why he ended the way he did so many times I could wear you out trying to guess. In essence, I think he just burned the candle at both ends. The life he led was loud with raw personality. I wish more could have known him, but those who did, all remember him as something special.

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Raven...that was fantastic...I wish I could have known him (though when I was young I don't think I would have appreciated the diversity you two shared). I am so sorry religion screwed him up so badly.


Thanks for sharing that...

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Ah, absent friends...

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He is remembered.

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Thank you White Raven; that was a beautiful tribute to your friend Carlos.


I found myself quite moved by the story. I also had some wonderful friends in high school, some of them I had known since kindergarten. I was also the clown of the group and kept everyone laughing. They had no idea how miserable I truly was inside. They never knew that at home in my spare time I would write out the words to the song “Suicide is Painless” over and over again. They never knew I feared hell. They never knew I was gay.



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  • 4 weeks later...

That was a wonderful read! You painted a picture in my mind and created an atmosphere that was humorous and touching. I could feel your sense of loss, but I could feel the pleasure you received from knowing Carlos. Knowing him appears to have been a deep part of you from that time. That's quite an accomplishment on his part... and he did it all by simply being himself. People like that make life so much more enjoyable.


Thanks for sharing your experience.

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For as long as these words stand to ignite the imagination, Carlos will live and breathe.

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I was moved by that story. I won't forget either....

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