Page 36

    "A faucet dripping,"...aid. He nodded. "That's music?"

    "Obviously not to everyone," he replied, shooting m...ook...miled. "But that was kind of the point. It was, like, this whole uncharted territory...tarted writing down the stuff he was playing, and looking for it at record stores and online. It gave me something to focus on other than all the stuff going down at home. Plus, it came in handy whe...eeded to drown out the screaming downstairs."

    "Really? Screaming?"

    He shrugged. "It wasn't that bad. But there were definitely some freak-outs on both sides. Though, to be honest, the silence was worse."

    "Worse than screaming?"...aid.

    "Much," he said, nodding. "I mean, at least with an argument, you know what's happening. Or have some idea. Silence is... it could be anything. It's just-"

    "So freaking loud,"...inished for him.

    He pointed at me. "Exactly."

    So Owen hated silence. Also on his list of dislikes: peanut butter (too dry), liars (self-explanatory), and people who didn't tip (delivering pizza didn't pay that well, apparently). And those were only the about so far. Maybe it was because of his stint in Anger Management, but Owen was very open about the things that pissed him off.

    "Aren't you?" he asked one day, whe...ointed this out to him.

    "No,"...aid. "I mean...ues...m about some things."

    "What makes you mad?"

    Instinctively...ooked over at Sophie, who was on her bench, talking on her cell phone. Out lou...aid, "Techno music."

    "Ha-ha," he said. "Seriously."

    "I don't know."...icked the crust of my sandwich. "My sisters...uess. Sometimes."

    "What else?"

    "I can't think of anything,"...aid.

    "Please! You're seriously saying the only thing that bugs you is siblings an...enre of music? Come on. Are you not human?"

    "Maybe,"...aid, "I'm just not as angry as you are."

    "Nobody's as angry a...m," he replied, hardly bothered. "That'...act. But even you have to have something that really pisses you off."

    "I probably do...ust... can't think of one right this second." He rolled his eyes. "And besides, what do you mean no one's as angry as you are? What about Anger Management?"

    "What about it?"

    "Well,"...aid, "wasn't the point that you not be angry anymore?"


    "The purpose of Anger Management isn't to make you not angry."


    He shook his head. "No. Anger is inevitable. Anger Management is just what it sounds like: It's supposed to help you deal with it. Express it i...ore productive way than, say, hitting people in parking lots."

    If at first I'd doubted it...idn't now: Owen was always this honest. As...uestion, you got an answer. Fo...hile, though, I'd tested him, soliciting his opinion on various things, like my clothes ("Not your best shade," he told me abou...ew peach-colored shirt), his initial impression of me ("Too perfect and completely unapproachable"), and the state of his love life ("Nonexistent, currently").

    "Is there anything you won't tell someone?"...inally asked him one day, just after he'd told me that, while my new haircut looked fine, he preferred it longer. "Like, at all?"

    "You just asked me wha...hought," he pointed out, helping himself t...retzel from the bag between us. "Why ask me, if you don't want me to be honest?"

    "I'm not talking about my hair. I'm talking in general." He gave m...oubtful look, popping the pretzel into his mouth. "Seriously. Do you ever think to yourself, mayb...houldn't say this? Maybe it's not the right thing to do?"

    He considered this fo...econd. "No," he said finally. "I told you...on't like liars."

    "It's not lying, though. It's just not telling."

    "You're saying there'...ifference?"

    "There is,"...aid. "One is actively deceiving. The other is just not saying something out loud."

    "Yes, but," he replied, pulling out another pretzel, "you're still participating i...eception. Except it's just to yourself. Right?"

    I just looked at him, turning this thought over in my mind. "I don't know,"...aid slowly.

    "In fact," he continued, "that's worse than lying, when you really think about it...ean, at the very least you should tell yourself the truth. If you can't trust yourself, who can you trust? You know?"

    I would never have been able to tell him so, but Owen inspired me. The little white lie...old o...aily basis, the thing...ept in, each not totally honest-I was aware of every one also cognizant of how good it felt to actually be able to say wha...hought to someone. Even if it was just about music. Or not.

    One day at lunch, Owen put his backpack on the wall between us, unzipped it, and pulled ou...tack of CDs. "Here," he said, pushing them toward me. "For you."

    "Me?"...aid. "What is this?"

    "An overview," he explained. "I planned to do more, but my burner was acting up. S...ould only d...ew."

    To Owen, "a few" CDs meant ten, by my count. Looking at the top that each ha...itle- true hip hop, chants and shanties (various), tolerable jazz, actual singers actually singing -with the tracks listed beneath block print. It occurred to me that they were probably the result o...ointed discussion about stoner rock we'd had the day before, when Owen decided that maybe my knowledge of music was so "stunted and wanting" (his words) due t...ack of exposure. So here was his remedy...ersonal primer, divided into chapters.

    "If you really like any of these," he continued, " give you more. When, you know, you're ready to go in depth."...icked up the stack, flipping through the rest of the titles. There was one for country music, the British Invasion, folk songs. Whe...eached the one at the very bottom, that the cover was blank, except for two words: just listen . suspicious. "Is this techno?"...sked him.

    "I can't believe you'd just assume that," he said, offended. "God."


    "It's not techno."

    I just looked at him.

    "The point is," he said a...hook my head, "that all the others are set lists, set concepts. An education, if you will. You should listen to them first. And then, when you've done that, and you think you're ready, really ready, put that one on. It' more... out there."

Previous Index Next