Monday, April 13, 2009

Jesus Christ, Lips Shit His Pants

Lips Foal arrived in front my high school in a freshly painted orange Ford Pinto with mag wheels. There was no irony in this vehicle. It was 1980 and the Pinto was somewhat of a popular car. Lips was a friend of my sister and we played on the Varsity Tennis Team together. I got in the car and we drove to practice, a mile away in a local park.

Lips was very flamboyant and would yell “Bad Boy” and “Silly Billy,” referring to himself, when he missed a crosscourt forehand or an easy volley at net. One time when we were playing a match, he missed an easy drop shot. He looked to the sky, threw his arms in the air and yelled, “Teacher, leave us kids alone.” We were indoors, so his words resonated throughout the cavernous sports club we called Tennis Town. Players on opposing courts stopped and looked our way. I was 14, a freshman in High School and I remember thinking it was the oddest response to anger. I preferred ‘Fuck” and “Fuckin’ Shit” when I missed a shot. But Lips was different.

Lips turned and walked back to the baseline to serve. He was heavy-set, hairy and sweated a lot. I watched him as he walked: his shirt stuck to his back, forming a trail of sweat down his spine. The same sweat pattern mirrored the back of his shorts, but it was darker and appeared to get even darker as it neared his anus, forming a bull’s eye of sorts. I thought to myself, “Jesus Christ, Lips shit his pants.”

He served and we continued playing like nothing happened. As the match continued, the shit stripe became a little more pronounced and the bull’s eye darker. I came to realize that he didn’t poop his pants, but something was definitely leaking. Since he was a sweaty guy, he was probably used to this feeling.

The next day at practice, I told everybody that Lips shit his pants. I was 14 and this news was too big to keep.

Many years later, when I was cab driver, I picked up Lips and a friend on Market Street in San Francisco, going to the End-Up Club on 6th. I recognized him right away but didn’t acknowledge it. Halfway through the fare, Lips must’ve looked at my medallion displayed on the dash.

“Greg Kim? The Greg Kim from Pleasanton?

I hated picking up fares that I knew, especially ones that I hadn’t seen since high school. Driving a cab is a sure sign that you’re not doing well, at least if you’re from Pleasanton.

I responded in a monotone cabbie voice, “Lips Foal, right? How are ya?” I was a Brooklyn accent short of saying, “Fuckin’ Lips Foal. How the fuck are you?”

Lips proceeded to tell his friend about how we used to play tennis and that he was friends with my sister in high school. Lips was "queenier" now and definitely out. By the looks of him, he appeared to be successful and doing well.

He handed me $20 dollars for an $8 dollar fare and said to keep the change. It was awkward. I drove away thinking about the time he shit his pants and he was probably thinking about the time I told the whole tennis team that he shit his pants.

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