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Bonding with a Cushion This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   The small-town high school auditorium, a place of so manypublic affairs: high school concerts and plays, town meetings,campaign speeches and elections. It is a place ofperformances: ones you pay for, ones you don't; ones you go toout of national pride and obligation to your town; and onesyour kids drag you to. Just the word "auditorium" presumes youare going to sit and listen. Auditory: pertaining to sense ofhearing. Auditorium: a place to sit and listen. To sit andwatch. To sit and be uncomfortable.

As you walk in,half an hour early, the stench of old wet plaster immediatelyoffends your nostrils as you notice all the good seats aretaken. Didn't you come early specifically to avoid that? Youare going to get stuck in the back where you can't see athing, again, and the stage and everything on it are going tobe blurry and there is no sense in coming if you can't seeanything, now is there? You notice the light hum generated bythe audience. You're getting a headache already. You take yourcoat off in the already suffocatingly hot auditorium andslowly sink into the minuscule seat provided by the school.Why isn't the money you faithfully dole out every year to theschool system through taxes and fund raisers put to good useand applied to the acquisition of decently sized seats fornormal people, not just for the half-formed scholars whoattend this supposed academy of learning? The place is publicproperty anyway, so why don't they make it suit the public?And whoever thought of covering seats with grain bag materialanyway? It feels almost as good as your favorite woolenunderwear on a hot day, picking and poking your skin. Whatwere they thinking? Lord knows those teachers get paid enough;why don't they cut salaries and use the money to get somedecent chairs? That annoying, dull murmur of excitement andimpatience is getting louder and your headache is gainingmomentum.

As you try to desensitize yourself from theoffending chair, you notice the vacant seats rapidly fillingup, and no, no one is sitting there and you wouldn't mind ifthey sat next to you, for goodness sake. No one else is.Except you do mind, because the overpowering aroma of thisvile intruder is more loathsome than the chair or the wetplaster could ever be and that incessant drone is gettinglouder. You welcome every gust of fresh air delivered by theswish of doors opened by the latest arrival. You know you'llmiss that when the performance commences, but they're takingtheir sweet time, now aren't they?

And, oh dear, somepoor sap brought a baby. Its wails are like fingernails acrossa blackboard. The screeching makes your flesh contract intoitself, making hard little bumps like a pigskin football. Thensuddenly the scent of the people next to you is much lessoffensive, as more intruders select the seats in front of youas their docking port. The only thing worse than people whobathe in perfume are those who don't bathe at all. You beginto have supper all over again when the full force of the ranksmell is upon you, and you start to wonder about the humanrace. Are you actually afflicted with the human disease, or bysome act of our most merciful God, are you an alien whohorribly misbehaved in a previous life, was exiled to Earthand afflicted with all of these sensory organs that serve asvessels to offend and torture you as punishment? Please, letit be the alien option.

Now, the room of publicgathering and torture is almost replete with the human masses.The stink of strong body odor and strong perfume and strongwet plaster and strong strains of proliferating mildew ismingling to form a perfect stench. The disgusting taste inyour mouth is not receding and you have to mine your pocketfor the gum you bought yesterday. Your ears are ringing withthe hum that turned into a murmur that grew into a drone thatmounted into a roar without notifying you first. If you knewthat it was going to be this loud, you would have brought someaspirin or something, seeing how your head feels like it mayexplode from the noise and the smell and the heat and thebright, unnatural fluorescent lighting that sears your eyes.You know that your skin is already red and raw and it's itchyand you have to sit here how much longer? But then the roomgets dark, finally. You can't see a thing. They didn't justdim the house lights, they shut them off. A lone ray of whitelight emerges from the spotlight on the balcony and piercesthe darkness, and all discomforts are forgotten. The curtainsopen.

But darn it all, you have to pee like mad.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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