(Written in April 2019)
The summer before 7th grade, a new family moved in across the street. It was a single mother and a boy named Tim, same age as myself. No, it’s not short for Timothy. His full first name is Timothan.
“My dad wanted me to have the same name as him: Jonathan”, Tim explained. “But my mom thought it was too traditional, so Timothan was the compromise.”
I first saw him pushing one of those manual mowers across his lawn one afternoon. Mind you, this was in a gated community where the lawns were kept tidy and short by landscapers.
“Hey, the grass is already cut. Why are you doing that?” I asked him.
“Because it’s fun,” he replied deadpan.
“Let me try.”
He moved aside and I pushed the mower, it’s cylinder rotating effortlessly as I continued down the trajectory Tim had set. I felt strong as I glided down the lawn, the wheels slightly indenting the grass, knowing that this would be a lot harder if the mower was actually mowing. I guess it is fun, after all.
A few days later, Tim knocked on my door and invited me to his house to play video games. After many fierce rounds of Super Smash Bros. on the Nintendo 64 in his basement, we went upstairs to get some food. He picked a baguette from the table and put it on a cutting board. He then painstakingly removed the crust—as in, the entire exterior of the baguette—and threw it in the trash. I thought it was a joke until he threw the crust in the trash and offered me half of the soft cylinder of bread innards remaining.
We hung out regularly, and his meals only got weirder and weirder. The next time, he scooped refried beans from the can and filled several ice cream cones. I managed to get one down despite the confusing cross-texture of beany mush and the crunchy cone. Another time we had “taco night”. This meant that we each ate half an apple stuffed into a flour tortilla. That one wasn’t too bad, though I gave up trying to eat the core, while Tim didn’t leave a speck uneaten. Oh, I almost forgot. Tim always had a 1 gallon jar of jumbo dill pickles open in the basement. Every so often, he’d take a pickle out and squirt a line of chocolate syrup from top to bottom before devouring it with astonishing speed. Luckily he never offered me this snack.
I drew the line a month into our friendship when Tim presented me with a smoothie in a glass consisting of string beans blent with Pepsi. He was angered by my refusal to partake and the fact that he’d now have to drink the whole thing himself.
“It’s insulting to a chef when you won’t eat his food, you know.”
“You’re not a chef,” I replied.
“Not only am I a chef,” Tim said, “but I am the BEST chef that has ever been. Those posers on the Food Network are cowards, unable to push the boundaries that I do.”
Tim’s fury mounted with these last words and he hurled the glass at the bulky CRT TV less than 10 feet away. It shattered upon striking the screen, instantly creating several concentric circles of cracks. I ran upstairs and out the door to go home, where I’m safe from psychotic food-combination connoisseurs. I never talked to him again, even avoiding him in school until my family moved a year later.
I hadn’t thought about Tim in years until today, when a detective arrived on my doorstep with many questions. Tim had been arrested for three counts of murder, and I am the only friend of his that they could track down.