There is history in this place
I kind of hated going over to A.'s house. It was dusty and rickety. One of his roommates had a drunken mishap and fell down the uneven stairs, chipping most of her front tooth. She proudly showed me the blood stain the next day, telling me in her raspy voice how funny it all was. I wasn't sure if she meant the accident or life in general. A few years later she fell out a window and died in his arms. But that's another story.
We never did much laughing, he and I. Perhaps that's a lie. Though whenever I remember both of us laughing, I feel profound confusion. Because I don't recognize those people, I don't remember having lived through that.
The pipes under the kitchen sink exploded that winter, a plumber was dispatched. His name was Scott and he was a Scot, something which, inwardly, tickled me to no end. Scott made A. instantly and profoundly nervous. He was frequently uncomfortable in the company of men who exuded confidence. Men like his father, I suppose. Scott made me nervous too, but mostly 'cause he looked straight out of some Harlequin paperback. I kept expecting him to rip off his shirt or flare his nostrils. Which naturally led to my pondering the romance novel go-to word, "Manhood." Since I read those books way before I had any idea what sex actually entailed, that word confused the bejesus out of me. I was about to voice that opinion but then I thought better of it.
A. tried to make chit chat by way of asking about Scott's tattoo which was barely visible on the webbing between his thumb and index finger. "What is that?," he asked. Scott looked up, wiped his forehead and stared back at him with flat gray eyes. "It's a sku-hull." He held up his right hand so we could see it better. After a moment of initial, silent confusion, we tried to look cool, muttering "Oh, it's great" or something equally lame. Scott went back to work. I don't think he spoke again until he left.
A few weeks later, A. and I were driving around in a car, whose car I have no idea since he didn't have one. It had a tape player, he put in a mix. Skull by Sebadoh started playing, I sang along like I always do. When the chorus hit, A. sang it with me and both of us, in a mind-melding moment, sang the final line in Scott the Scot's brogue: "Let me take your sku-hull for a ride." I still sing it that way sometimes. I wonder if he does too.
Song to seek:
Buy Bakesale by Sebadoh