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Boys Enter the House

Boys Enter the House

Boys Enter the House

An Essay by Lukas Bacho

After Rick Moody, “Boys”

Boys enter the house, boys enter the house. Boys, and with them the feelings of boys (feelings strong, beautiful, fluid), enter the house. Boys, a multitude of them, tugging at their mothers’ fingers, enter the house softly, eyes wide open yet not quite having seen the world. Boys lie on their backs in their respective cribs, heads throbbing with warmth, and stare at the vertical bars around them. Some boys enter the house sipping milk from a mother’s breast, other boys prefer a bottle, still others pucker at the taste. After taking their first wobbly steps in the shadows of their fathers, boys enter the house and scamper up the stairs. These boys enter the house after Jewish preschool and, though raised Christian, shut off all the lights and ask their mothers to light candles on Friday nights in their living rooms. Those boys play soccer because they ought to and those boys know that dad is always the coach. Boys enter the house and draw, or sing, or lie in the bath and examine their penises absentmindedly. Boys enter the house and don’t yet know that they are boys. Boys laugh and shriek and, when forced to bed, ask their parents to make noise so that they know their parents are in the house too. Boys play with their sisters more than their fathers would like to admit. Boys, knowing other boys, become curious. At their first playdate, boys enter the house and, wearing superhero costumes with foam abdominals, wrestle until sweat tickles their hairlines. Boys climb the fence with their sisters and enter the house via another fence, hoping to hold another boy’s chickens in their arms. Boys enter church, the house of God, and look up in unmasked wonder, tugged by something stronger than them. Boys, standing in the park in the crisp light of autumn, squat behind bushes, one of them convinced he would rather take a shit here than walk all the way to McDonald’s, the other boy helping by handing him Kleenex from his father’s pockets, the first boy thanking the second once they emerge onto the grass. Boys enter the house, tethered to their mothers by not exactly an umbilical cord, but not unlike one, realizing that their spines only shudder when dad is in the room. Boys enter the house, a construction which has always consisted of a father, mother, and sister (not including the other boys), and do not ask any questions. Boys enter the house and cry beside their mothers because other boys said something mean at school, and boys are grateful that the other boys can’t see them now. Boys fail to see each other at all, no matter their proximity. Boys enter the house, which is a tent for the time being, and ask to hold their fathers’ hands in the dark because they can’t sleep, their own cold palms reaching out, emerging from musty sleeping bags. Boys enter the house for a birthday party and lock themselves in a room, peeling off their shirts and seeing what it is to touch one another, pausing at every creak that could be their fathers above them or on the stairs. Boys sleep in their separate beds with throbbing penises that make it hard to fall asleep. One boy enters the house and his father blocks the door, asking him to light a match without any help. Another boy has his first kiss with a girl behind the water fountain at recess and enters the house giddy, though not enough for his parents to tell. Boys enter the house and, after sleepovers with girls and boys, and sleepovers with boys only, have sleepovers with no boys at all. Boys discover chorus and again enter the house of God, lips ajar, head cocked to one side. Boys bully other boys and chide them for masturbating. Boys go running with their fathers and enter the house breathing heavily, reeking equally of sweat. Boys enter the house and become conscious of their gait. Boys look out the car window with sad eyes and their mothers tell them to stay positive. Boys enter the house, of which they are now the man because dad is away. Boys enter the house and watch their shoulders broaden in the mirror, one noticing peach fuzz above his upper lip and on his chin. Boys enter the house via airplane to China, where they room together and one at a time press their genitals against the window of a Beijing motel because it is cold; lie awake joking hoarsely about sex; hate that they have to put on masks to go out in the morning; watch each other wash themselves behind the translucent shower curtain. Boys play on the swings although they are too old and their gangly bodies creak, slightly out of sync. Boys finally see one another. Boys brush elbows not far from a crowd of food trucks and start to realize the weight of everything they’ve been told. Boys enter the house late and each wonders what the other is thinking at this very moment. Boys enter the house and shave for the first time with their fathers behind them, making eye contact only through the mirror. Boys realize that first water fountain kiss was counterfeit, that it counted for nothing, and do not miss going running with their fathers, do not miss kicking wildly at one another on the soccer field. Boys see older boys holding hands and feel the urge to look away. The next time boys enter the house of God, they marvel at the way the sunlight caresses the hair of a boy in a pew near the front of the sanctuary. Boys enter the house and feel out of time, out of place. Boys enter the house, and this time it is not their own and they get drunk for the first time and, inebriated, whisper slurred words into each other’s ears, words that they might actually mean but wouldn’t normally have the courage to say aloud. Boys enter the house, which suddenly seems not their own either, and weep as they consider another boy’s hands, his lips as they blessed his mother’s left temple. (A temple, too, is a kind of house, though not one every boy can seem to enter.) Boys watch how proud their fathers are when they finally learn to drive, and enter the house sullen and without words and with anger at the driving instructor who kept making jokes about their make-believe girlfriends. Boys enter the house with jeans cuffed at the ankle and the names of other boys silently imprinted on their lips. Boys enter the house and their fathers, though looming in the house, have never been more distant. Boys enter the house, only this time it is not a house, and a weight lifts, not the kind that is wielded in a gym but the kind that cannot be quantified. Almost feel free. Boys see surrounding them the same trees, the same clouds, the same sky that they have always seen, and pray that the next time they enter a house, they enter together.

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This is the World We Live In

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Why I Am Angry