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: It seems to me that the most appealing things in life are those which lie just beyond our reach. Whether they are there because they are appealing or appealing simply because they are there, I doubt I will ever know, but they are there and I for one feel the need to reach out for them periodically in the hopes of one day satisfying my hunger for the untouchable. Like Tantalus, standing neck high in a stream directly below a tree full of all varieties of fruit: apples, oranges, grapes, bananas, kiwis, and pineapples, watermelons, and kumquats. But every time we bend down to drink from the cool waters of the stream it lowers, and every time we reach up to pick a fruit, we fall short. But we try and try nonetheless.
I remember when I was 8, living on Cannon Air Force Base got to be a little boring. Within the safe walls of the Base housing a child?s life got to be routine, same people, same games, day after day. Finding myself bored and noncomplacent with the everyday routine, while all my friends were content to sit in the stream and never thought of jumping up for a fruit, I decided to look up into that tree. I needed something great, something magnificent, I needed to do something that would have those conformist peons groveling at my feet.
I saw the fruit I was going to pick. It appeared to me in the form of fame. I knew what I wanted, but a problem presented itself. How was I to pick this magnificent fruit? A magic trick came to mind, one I had recently seen performed by a neighbor in her front yard. She had climbed into her tree, tied a noose around her neck and jumped. After dangling from her neck for a few seconds she magically came back to life. That?s what I would do. It would be great.
I made my noose, I climbed my tree and put the noose around my neck. With a crowd gathered around in my front yard I was ready to amaze my audience with my magical abilities. I jumped for that fruit, and jumped from the tree. I heard the air whiz by and the rope crackle as it tightened around the branch I had fastened it to. Half a second later I found myself two and a half feet short of fame and the ground. Had it not been for my inability to properly tie a noose, I would have remained dangling from my neck rather that come crashing back down to the cool waters of the stream with a rope burn around my neck and no fruit in my hand.
When I had seen the trick done by my neighbor, I was so mystified by this magical feat that I didn?t bother to look at her ?magical? feet, which were tip-toeing across the ground. A stupid oversight, which almost earned me death, but what?s death to a boy? Nothing. when we are young we can do or try to do anything, and I would keep jumping for those fruits of different kinds and different shapes every time, and I would fall short again and again, and they would bring me scars and scabs and rope burns and near death, but I would not stop jumping and reaching.
The most recent attempt at one of those enticing fruits began my sophomore year. I looked up into that big tree we know as Montwood High School and saw one kumquat bigger and brighter than the rest. She was 5?5, bright eyes, blonde hair, great skin, you know, perfect. I pointed up into the branches, and looking over to my friends said ?I?m going to get her.? They laughed and disregarded the thought. As far as they were concerned it was impossible, and I was beginning to doubt the possibility myself.
One year passed and I found myself once again, in the graces of the Gifted and Talented class. I soon noticed my fears and doubts were being put to rest. When I walked passed her in the halls I could swear I saw her looking at me, I knew some of the people she knew. It was beginning to look like I might actually reach this one. My chance came when a mutual friend introduced me to my kumquat. Closer than ever, I took the chance and jumped. Things looked good for a while, in what seemed like no time we were together, doing the things that guys and kumquats do. Times were good.
Then the powers that be, whether it be God or chance and circumstance, feeling I had gotten too close to their precious fruit took the chance, while my arms were outstretched, reaching for my kumquat, to kick me swiftly and squarely in the groin. They?re funny that way. As luck would have it, she had conveniently forgotten to tell me, when we met, me that she was still very much enthralled by her ex-boyfriend and made it known to me sometime later with one of those ?You?re a really nice guy, and blah blah blah, yackidee shmackidee…..but, blah, blah blah? speeches. So I fell back to my stream, disillusioned and holding my aching groin. But I could have sworn I touched that fruit.
So, I did what could be expected and denied her complete existence. For two months I sat in my stream, trying not to look up into the tree, but my eyes always seemed to wander upward into those branches, and wander back to that same kumquat. Until one day, Easter Sunday to be exact, I reached out. Drunk, in the parking lot of a Fort Worth night club, feeling unfulfilled by life in the stream, I called her. I didn?t really decide to, it just happened. Before I could think about what I was doing and hang up, I heard a half awake voice say ?Hello?? Well, we talked about lost time and new happenings, and things seemed good again.
Then she told me about her new boyfriend and how great he is. Well, my best friend Leslie thinks he?s ugly, he?s a bit hunch backed, he has a slight speech impediment, a prominent over bite, and I think he might be mentally retarded, but hey, as long as she?s happy. Regardless of Mr. Wonderful, we started talking and spending a lot of time together again, and things seemed good.
At those times, when things are good, it seems like all I have to do is reach out with one hand, the other kept back for defense, and take my beloved kumquat. However, there often arise other times, like last night, when it seems like she is too far away to ever reach and I should just give up trying, settle for one of the apples or oranges all around which I?m certain I can attain with minimal effort and relieve myself of such stress. I feel like giving up and saying ?Fuck you. I?m tired of reaching and stretching and jumping.? but I know I can?t let myself give up, not yet anyway. so it comes out more like ?I?m sorry.? and I find myself still reaching and stretching and jumping. Maybe one day I?ll pluck that kumquat from the tree, although chances are I won?t and I?ll end up falling back to the stream, time and time again. Chances are it won?t even taste all that great if I actually I do, over ripened and bruised, but it?ll feel damned good to know I finally picked it. But until then I?ll keep on reaching and stretching and jumping.
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