The other day I went out to buy some junk and I dragged Hatch along with me. I just wanted to get some soda and some squirt-inducing candy bars, but in order to avoid traffic he and I killed time in the Brea mall. I have discovered my optimum hair color, a bright crimson with a hint of magenta in it.
Occasionally my hair gets compliments, so it was amusing at first. Somebody we passed in the mall said they liked my hair. Then somebody else complimented me. Then a group of cute black punker girls did. 'Dude,' and a thumbs-up. Hatch started to feel left out. He isn't much older than I am but he looks like he could be my dad. "Hey! What about this?" he said, taking off his ball cap and rubbing his hair where it's thinning on top. "I spent a lot of time working on this!" Six or seven people said they liked my hair. Brea must be the freak mall. It does have both a Hot Topic and a Torrid.
I'm starting to become very conscious of the differences between myself and Hatch. Hatch is just a normal guy. He and I do not look like we're together when we go out someplace. He's open-minded but isn't into what I'm into, so we can't go out shopping for girls' clothing, for instance. We can't crossdress together. We're not really into the same scene, either; if he goes to a club it's to watch a DJ spin, while I'm going in order to be seen and pointed at. There are other differences, too; in general he's invested himself in a lot of things in society which mean nothing to me now, and I don't see him ever escaping them. I am becoming the sort of person who wouldn't hang out with someone like him. This kind of thing usually happens early in high school, so I'm a little surprised that it's happening now. I feel like I'm not a good friend, regardless of how thoughtful or helpful I may be. I'm not sure I'm anyone's friend.
He asked me once why I moved away without telling anybody. I told him I wanted to spare him from what was going to happen around me. But this was only part of the truth. I meant to leave him and a lot of other people behind because I wasn't the same anymore and I didn't feel the same about them. And it's difficult for me to watch him be so completely enslaved to possessions and lies and unwritten rules, and I don't think I can free him.
I wanted to leave him with one last thing, so I confronted Hatch before I moved, and told him that he needed to figure out what it was that he wanted to do with his life and do it before it was too late. If he wanted to be a DJ, I said, he needed to get turntables and take lessons and practice and be a DJ, and not worry that he's going to suck at it. Whether he was good at it or not wasn't important; even if he sucked he'd do what he enjoyed and would be in the scene and meet other people who loved what he did, and would do something with his life other than pursuing consumer goods and empty pleasures, and might actually leave something behind when he dies other than a corpse and a pile of adult-child toys.
Hatch was frustrated more than anything... what did I want from him? He protested, saying he hadn't time nor money to devote to being a DJ, an excuse he'd used before and would again. But he came around. Later when I was visiting him, he wanted a fader but said he couldn't afford it, and I spotted him because I wanted this obstacle out of his way. But afterward he spent at least as much on other crap. He had the money; he was just afraid to try. I wouldn't grant him that excuse. As it turns out he's not bad at it.
On the way back we stopped to get candy bars. An older couple in the store complimented me and asked me how long it takes to do my hair. I told them. I was paying for my stuff when this girl who was walking by outside the building came indoors to say, "I just had to tell you that I think your hair is really cool! I just had to come in and tell you that. You're rilly cool!" I thanked her, bewildered, and paid for my candy as she ran off again.