THE TIT JAR

J.L. Hudson

© 2003 Broken Wrist Project, Inc. All rights reserved.

The Tit Jar
J.L. Hudson

OKAY. THIS IS WHAT WE SAW. It was a jar. A jar filled with tits. Pictures of tits. From skin magazines. In a Miracle Whip jar buried in Miss Barnes’s vacant lot. About two feet down. I saw it myself. I saw all the tits, every one. They were very small but very beautiful. Winky Kerwin owned the jar and the tits. He got the magazines on Trash Day. A whole liquor box full. Winky is a master trash picker. Even when it’s not Trash Day he sometimes cruises people’s regular garbage. He says it’s educational. He knows what his neighbors are eating, how much they spend on their credit cards, how many times kids have to redo their book reports, and when the girls in the neighborhood have their period. Winky has a brother named Jake who’s in high school. He’s a pud. He hangs around with sixth-graders even though he’s got a driver’s license and a job at Kroger after school. He thinks he’s a hood and he dresses like one. He wears pink shirts with black cuff links and black boots with toes so pointy he can squash a bug in a sidewalk crack. He puts woman’s hair stuff in his hair and his sister puts clear nail polish on his fingers. He looks like that so you’ll call him a fruit and then he can pound you. The Kerwins are what’s known here in Grosse Pointe, Michigan as lace-curtain Irish, which doesn’t make much sense because they hardly have any curtains at all. They inherited their house from some dead relative. It’s big but it’s all falling apart. There are bricks knocked out and there’s a hole in the roof. The attic is full of raccoon crap and wasp nests. Their rugs are stained and on hot days they smell like piss. If you’re running around in the summer with your shoes off and Winky asks you to come over, you go home and put on shoes. It’s just as bad outside. There’s hardly any grass in the front yard from everybody playing home run derby and football. The backyard’s got no grass at all and most of the trees and bushes are dead from target practice and too many guys climbing them and building forts in them. Jake built a hockey rink back there with plywood boards he nabbed when the McMillians built their new garage. He made nets out of pipes and fishing nets. In the winter he runs a hose out the upstairs bathroom window and floods it. In the summer it makes a perfect bike track. There are about ten Kerwin kids. Mr. Kerwin works at night at a company that makes radiator hoses. Mrs. Kerwin is either having babies or buying groceries or being sick in her bedroom with the door locked. Most of us aren’t allowed to hang out at the Kerwins’ house,

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but it’s impossible not to because you can do stuff there that you wouldn’t even think about doing at your own house. There’s no way my parents would let me have guys over to play dodge ball in the living room or pee off the roof into a bucket or use our dining room table as a shield for dirtball wars with the Day School kids. The only time I ever saw Mr. Kerwin yell at any of his kids was when Jake put a cherry bomb in a cat’s mouth and taped it shut and lit the fuse. And that was only because it woke him up. By the way, that was the worst thing I ever saw anybody ever do. He did it in the garage and he called us in without telling us what he was going to do until it was too late. I closed my eyes so I didn’t see the actual explosion but I had a nightmare about it and I helped Winky bury the part of the cat that didn’t get blown up. I said the prayers at its funeral. You’re not supposed to be poor in Grosse Pointe. There’s plenty of room in Detroit to be poor. That’s probably really why no adults liked the Kerwins. Jake was a dangerous guy and they had a little brother who didn’t have a real name, only the nickname Jake gave him—Snovus. I think it had something to do with snot. Snovus didn’t like wearing clothes in the summer. The neighbors didn’t care for him walking around the neighborhood naked with one finger up his nose and the other in his butt. In the afternoon he liked to go to the corner of Rivard and Charlevoix and do the Twist for the cleaning ladies waiting for the bus back to Detroit. All the Kerwin kids are boys except for Colleen, who’s a girl. She wants to be Miss America when she grows up, except she has a harelip and the doctor who fixed it wasn’t exactly a pro with girls’ faces. Frankly, he did a pretty terrible job. You can see her teeth even when she isn’t smiling. I feel sorry for her. Jake calls her Rat. Once I even heard her on the telephone call herself Rat. + + +

Being poor in a place where you’re supposed to be rich hurts a lot more than you might think. You feel shitty all the time because your shoes are falling apart and you’re wearing clothes a couple other people already wore out and you can’t invite people to your yacht club or your country club or your cottage. You can’t even ask somebody over for dinner because

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your family doesn’t have a regular dinnertime. You’re always somebody’s guest. You have to say thank you all the time. You never get to say, “You’re welcome.” Jake became a hard-ass from it. Winky became a nice guy from it. Rat became a slut because of it (and her lip) and it made Snovus grow up more like a chimpanzee than a boy. My other best friend, besides Winky, was Snowman Bartholomew. Jake named him Snowman because in the summer his hair turned white from the sun. He was also called Snowy or Snowy the Pid. The Bartholomews were regular Grosse Pointers. They belonged to the Detroit Boat Club and the Grosse Pointe Country Club and the Detroit Athletic Club. They had a big, clean house with antiques and expensive old rugs and air conditioners and a freezer in the basement full of ice cream and roast beefs. They had two cars and they got a new one every year. But they weren’t snotty about it. They shared. They didn’t want Snowman hanging out at the Kerwins’, but they didn’t mind Winky hanging out at their place. They were extra nice to him. Mrs. Bartholomew even called him “darling.” She took him to their dentist once and paid for it because she saw him putting chewed-up paper in a cavity on one of his back teeth and she knew the Kerwins wouldn’t take him to the dentist until his face swelled up like a birthday balloon. + + +

Last fall we found this twenty dollar bill sticking out of the rotting elm leaves in the gutter in front of the bank. I don’t remember who saw it first, but it was probably Winky because he was always on the lookout for free stuff. It didn’t matter who found it because the rule is when you find money on the street you split it. That keeps guys from ratting on each other and fighting and wrecking friendships. We knew about a kid who found a purse with money and cigarettes and a Kotex in it. He turned it into the cops and they said if nobody picked it up, he could have it. He had a plan to clean out the purse and give it to his mom for Christmas, then sell the smokes and sneak the Kotex into his little brother’s lunch box. The cash was going to be for candy and firecrackers. But if the lady did go to the cops and get her purse back, he was going to use the reward money for candy and, if she was generous, for firecrackers. But all he got was a

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thank-you note that smelled like soap. Knowing that, we decided not to turn in the twenty bucks. We figured there were people who made their living just going around to police stations and asking if anybody had turned in any money. The thing Winky most wanted in the world was a pair of hockey skates that matched. The brother just above him, Basset, was the guy his clothes and shoes came from, but he had weird feet. One of them was huge and crooked and when he got shoes he had to get two different ones. Mrs. Kerwin took him on the bus downtown to a charity store and got him one kid shoe and one Frankenstein shoe. For skates she got him one kid hockey skate and one giant woman’s figure skate. When the skates got handed down to Winky, he painted the lady figure skate brown and painted a pretty good CCM logo on it, and he stuffed up the toes with clay from school. Even with those crappy skates, he was a really good hockey player. He already got two of his permanent teeth knocked out playing goalie. Jake nailed him in the mask with a slap shot and two of his bottom teeth came all the way out. You couldn’t tell they were gone unless he showed you or if he tried to blow a bubble or whistle. The reason the mask didn’t protect him was that it was made out of cardboard with eyeholes and a mouth hole and pieces of kitchen sponge were glued to it. It looked cool but it wasn’t strong enough to take a slap shot from a high school kid. It was my idea to use the twenty to buy Winky hockey skates. Snowman put up a beef and Winky said it was cool but not fair since we all found it. But I told Snowman that he’d be a cheap-ass if he didn’t give up a piece of the dough because his dad drove a Lincoln Continental and his family went down to Florida every Easter. That was enough for him to change his mind. Snowman thought it would be a good idea if we all tried on skates and when Winky got a pair that fit him, Snowman would ask for the same size and pay for them. It sounded stupid until he explained that everybody knew Winky was a Kerwin and if he pulled out a twenty the store guy would think he stole it. Snowman was a Bartholomew and everybody knew his family was loaded and the store guy would think he was just spending his allowance. I was glad Snowman thought that up. Sometimes I worried that he was a cake-eater in disguise. Like when we went with him to his country club and we had lunch and there weren’t prices on the menu because it was a country club, he would tell us how much the stuff we ordered cost his dad.

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Winky got a pair of skates exactly like Gordie Howe’s, only smaller. They were twenty-two dollars and Snowman paid the extra two bucks. Winky was almost crying when we left the store. Normally he didn’t like sympathy or charity or help or people feeling sorry for him. He would beat the crap out of you just for trying to help him. One time a kid offered him half his lunch because he noticed that Winky’s sandwich was made out of the end pieces of a loaf of bread. Winky hit him in the stomach so hard the guy crapped in his pants. The skates were the only new thing Winky ever got, including underwear and socks. He played a lot of pocket pool because by the time Basset was done with the underwear and turned it over to Winky, the elastic parts were all worn-out and Winky’s balls would fall out of the leg holes. Winky said how good the skates smelled because he never smelled leather that wasn’t hard and dark from toe slime and foot sweat. It was still warm out but Winky wore the skates anyway. He put on the blade guards and walked around the yard with his stick. So he wouldn’t feel like a beggar or a charity case, he said he was going to pay us back for our part of the twenty and Snowman’s two extra bucks. Otherwise, he said, someday we would get pissed at him and throw it in his face that his skates came from us because we felt sorry for him. It was too bad he had to think that way. He was our friend and it’s okay to help your friend, but it’s true, too, that we felt sorry for him and he knew it. Being so well-off made Snowman kind of a baby. He’s a nice guy and he’s big and has a bad temper and if he wants to, he could really beat your ass. But most of the time he’s scared of one thing or another. Like with the tit jar. He didn’t want to see it because it was buried in Miss Barnes’s vacant lot. There were always quite a few terrifying rumors going around about it. There’s supposed to be suffocated babies buried in there and supposedly the ghost of a French soldier who got scalped by Indians wanders around the lot looking for his hair. I heard that there’s some quicksand around and a type of bug that lays eggs in your ears. And Miss Barnes has booby traps set up in there. A couple of years ago a guy stepped on a rusty bear trap and got lockjaw from where it cut his skin. Jake told us that parents spread the rumors so kids wouldn’t go into the vacant lot because they didn’t want them in there smoking and jerking off. We knew about smoking because we all tried it but we didn’t know what jerking off was. How Jake explained it sounded so ridiculous and stupid that we figured he was lying. We weren’t about to put clothespins

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on our sacks and rub turpentine on our boners no matter how fun Jake said it was. Once in a while he could be helpful. Like when you needed to know how to kill a rat or re-fuse a firecracker. But most times when you needed help, he would be a pud. We were in sixth grade and we had a lot of questions about stuff you couldn’t ask your parents about. Naturally, Jake would be the guy you’d ask about important private stuff since he was in high school and he hung out with us. But if there was a chance you might hurt yourself or get yourself in trouble or get embarrassed, he’d tell you the wrong thing. Once he told me to ask my teacher if she was “on the rag.” He said it was a joke and she’d laugh her ass off. She was my favorite teacher and she was young and pretty and when she said the Pledge of Allegiance, she put her hand on her tit. Ever since I said to her what Jake told me to say, she hasn’t been the same to me. She’s still nice but I know she doesn’t like me anymore. Because I thought it was a joke, I said it with a smile. I didn’t know it was about her period. That was about the worst thing a guy can say to a girl and even worse to a woman. + + +

Miss Barnes is pretty much a witch. She isn’t that old and she isn’t really ugly. I know from Dave Steffens that she has a decent bod for a grown-up woman because his bedroom is in the attic and her attic window is next to his window and sometimes in the winter she goes up there naked and lays on a big brown leather table and gets a suntan off a sun lamp. Dave is in high school but he doesn’t lie. But Miss Barnes makes herself look scary with white face makeup and weird hair and grandmother clothes and shoes. I heard my parents talking with our next-door neighbors about how Miss Barnes had a dead husband and that she was only married to him for a little while. They thought he was a soldier who got blown up in Korea. The only person in the neighborhood she got along with was Mr. Moroney. He’s the night projectionist at the Fox Theatre in Detroit. He used to be a magician in vaudeville and he married a girl who danced naked at some of the theaters he did his magic in and he made her become his assistant and not dance anymore. She had really stiff, bright blonde hair and a huge butt and big pointed tits. She and Mr. Moroney had twin boys who were teenagers. She dressed them in fuzzy matching sweaters and saddle

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shoes and they played harmonicas and made puppets and clothes for dolls. Jake said they were girls with dicks. Then there was the meter reader guy who worked for the electric company who looked like a hillbilly cowboy singer. He started hanging out at the Moroneys’ house at night when Mr. Moroney was working. Pretty soon he was grilling hot dogs in the backyard for the twins and dancing in the living room with Mrs. Moroney. Then one day when I was in second grade, Mrs. Moroney took off for Alaska with this guy. The next year the twins beat the crap out of Mr. Moroney and moved to Sweden. Everybody in the neighborhood likes Mr. Moroney. He has a big garden and it is very beautiful and he gives everybody tomatoes and flowers and these hard little green plums that give everybody the trots. In the spring, old people come from all over Michigan to see his peonies. Except for one year when there weren’t any peonies because we discovered that the sticky crap on the unopened peony flowers tasted good to ants and we had a fight with them. Not only did they hurt when they hit you, but they left sticky crap and squashed ants on you. We wiped out all of Mr. Moroney’s flowers and ruined his spring. It was a pretty bad thing to do. Especially to a guy who got his wife stolen by a hillbilly and pounded by his own kids. Mr. Moroney was the only guy in the neighborhood who Miss Barnes didn’t ever call the cops on. She called the cops on my dad because our dog crapped on her lawn. She called the cops on Snovus for the same reason. She called the cops on Rat for trick-or-treating at her door and hissing at her, which was just the way Rat breathed. She called the cops on me two times. Once for whipping crabapples at a squirrel running on her power line and the other time for getting a kite stuck in her tree. Mr. Moroney drinks a lot of booze and so does Miss Barnes. Sometimes on Sundays they sit in her spooky garden and drink gins. He also buys a lot of dirty magazines, which he doesn’t want anybody to know about. He’s kind of old to have stuff like that. We knew about this because of the time he threw out a bunch of them on Trash Day, which is a day in May when the city hauls away as much crap as you want for free. It’s a time when people learn stuff about their neighbors by checking out what they throw away. You can see if somebody’s cheap by how old the television or washing machine they’re tossing away is. You can figure out people’s

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hobbies. Like if they throw away a fish tank or some ugly homemade oil paintings. When someone’s sick there are a lot of old medicine bottles. Sometimes you don’t know what the heck is going on in somebody’s house when they throw out something like a wooden leg or a dentist chair. People from Detroit and Romulus and Dearborn and Pontiac drive down the night before Trash Day and pick through the junk. There are traffic jams and people from countries you never heard of trying on old party dresses and suits and overcoats in the street. Kids carry away busted toys and games with pieces missing. They load trucks and station wagons with old TVs and radios and drapes. They go through everything. Cops hang around to make sure the crap doesn’t get spread all over the lawns and sidewalks. The people are always careful and when they leave it looks pretty much like before except the junk heaps are smaller. Mr. Moroney didn’t want to put his tit magazines out with his other stuff. Somebody might’ve opened the carton or maybe it would’ve spilled or they’d start looking at them and passing them around. So instead, when he got home from work at the Fox Theatre at five o’clock in the morning and it was still dark and everyone was sleeping, he carried his carton down the block and put it with Miss Barnes’s crap. He didn’t think anybody was watching but Winky was. Winky got up real early that morning to look for a Mother’s Day present in the junk. When he saw Mr. Moroney coming down the street, he thought he was the Mummy because the way he was carrying the heavy carton made him walk funny. Then he opened up the carton and found a treasure so great that he forgot all about Mother’s Day. From May until July, Winky kept Mr. Moroney’s gin carton hidden in his garage rafters. The Kerwins were technically Catholic and the fear of confession always gnawed away at him. Winky did a lot of bad things but he always worried about it later and he was afraid of pissing off Jesus and having to go to hell. So he never told anyone about the magazines. Not even his friends. At least once a day during school and two or three times a day in the summer, Winky went up into the garage rafters and studied the magazines. He said he couldn’t figure out why he liked them so much. For one thing, when he looked at them he got a boner, which worried him. Boners were, as far as he knew, to keep you from pissing in your bed. Why looking at pictures in a garage would give him a boner was a complete mystery. He also had a creepy feeling that there was something else that was supposed to happen when he looked

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at the pictures. He said that wanting to look at the pictures felt kind of like being hungry. Not that he wanted to eat the magazines but there was a feeling like being hungry that only made him think about the pictures. Like all you want to do when you’re hungry is eat. Or if you’re thirsty you just want to drink. But then after you drink you don’t care about water or pop or anything wet. That didn’t happen with the pictures. He’d look and look and all he’d get was a mystery boner. He didn’t get filled up. The only reason he would stop looking was when he got scared about getting caught or his butt would get sore from sitting on the rafters or he’d get tired of the boner and start worrying that if it wouldn’t go away he wouldn’t be able to play hockey or ride a bike or swim in public. A guy can only go out in the garage a couple hundred times before somebody’s going to ask him what he’s doing. It’s human nature. So when Jake finally asked him why he was going out there so much, Winky knew he was out of time. Jake was like a wolf. If you were afraid, he smelled it. Winky figured he must have reeked. What does a guy do with about thirty pounds of naked girls? Winky is dumb, but in a smart way. He realized that most of the magazine pages had nothing worthwhile on them. Boring stories about World War II and guys fighting tigers with knives and taking baths with Japanese women. There were a lot of ads for cigarettes and booze and guns and toupees. On the pages that had naked girls, most of the picture wasn’t girls. It was bathrooms and bedrooms and woods and swimming pools. The parts with just all-girl had a lot of crap that wasn’t interesting, too. Hairdos and underpants and high heels and nightgowns. A lot of the parts that were naked were things that you see every day like legs and arms and necks and faces and hands and feet. That left the parts that you’re not supposed to see—butts, tits and crotches. Winky didn’t have any interest in somebody’s butt. Most of the crotches were either covered up with a stuffed animal or a plant or the hair was painted over and it looked like a Barbie doll. All by themselves the crotches looked about the same as the toupees in the ads. That left the tits. Winky used a razor blade to carefully cut every one of them out of the magazines. Winky felt a little weird looking at the women with their tits gone. It seemed kind of unholy. He thought maybe he was in the caterpillar stage of becoming a psycho killer. He didn’t want anybody who knew him to see what he’d done. The tits were okay by themselves. They were complete tits. But the women left over were mutilated and that was wrong.

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Winky had burned enough stuff to know that magazines burn really slowly. Yeah, it’s paper, but when it’s in a magazine it hardly burns at all. Jake had an Army surplus flamethrower but wasn’t able to get any fuel for it and hadn’t found anything else that would work. Winky thought of chucking the tit-less magazines over his back fence into the Carruthers’ yard, like he did with their dog shit before bike races and hockey games. But the Carruthers knew where the foreign dog shit was coming from and they would also know where the magazines were coming from. He had no choice but to do what he did. When Mr. Moroney was at work, Winky carried the carton over to his house and put it on his back porch. He thought it would be pretty disturbing for Mr. Moroney to have his magazines returned to him with all the tits missing, but he also knew there was no way Mr. Moroney was going to investigate it. From a Bible standpoint, grandpa-aged guys are supposed to set examples for kids, not sit around drinking gin and looking at naked girls. Winky never came out and said that showing us the tit jar was in return for giving him the skate money, but we knew that’s what it was. At first, we didn’t know what he was up to. He didn’t tell us about the tit jar. He just said he had something to show us in Miss Barnes’s vacant lot. That didn’t give me and Snowman too much of a thrill because we were kind of scared of going in there. I didn’t believe any of the stuff about ghosts or quicksand or killer hobos, but I did hear about some guys who were in there once and ran into Miss Barnes. From the looks of things, they thought she was killing cats. She screamed at them and chased them out and then she called the cops. Snowman believed every story he ever heard about the vacant lot, even the really dumb stuff like the one that the Doorway to Hell was in there. To get us to do stuff we didn’t want to do, Winky started by calling us chickens, then babies, then femmes, fruits and prat boys. If that didn’t work he would say that whatever he wanted us to do or see was too adult for us. Then, finally, if nothing else worked, he threatened to tell Jake that we were afraid of whatever it was. That always worked because the most important thing Jake wanted to know about a kid was what he was afraid of. Knowing a man’s fears, he said, was essential to controlling him. Me and Snowman accepted that we were going in, but we said we were going in at night. That was okay with Winky. The other worry we had was that Winky said whatever it was he

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wanted to show us was buried. Except for pirate treasure, nothing good is buried and we didn’t think there were ever pirates in Detroit. After school we went to Snowman’s and got a little garden shovel. Winky knew we were nervous so he tried to make us feel better by telling us that what we were going to see was so cool that we would want to see it over and over. Winky’s idea of cool was a lot different than ours. He thought the underside of dead animals and birds was cool because of the maggots. He liked scabs so much that if you had one, you had to hide it from him or he’d pick it off. Most guys our age were worried about going to high school because for some insane reason the boys had to swim naked. Winky was excited to go to high school because even though he would have to show his nuts, he would also get to dissect a frog, which was a dream of his. If cutting up a frog could make a guy feel better about swimming with his wang out, then whatever he had buried in the vacant lot couldn’t possibly be cool to us. The easiest way into the lot was off the sidewalk. There was grass first, then bushes, then trees at the back. Everywhere there were pricker bushes and vines and thistles. The ground was lumpy and it was easy to trip and fall. The whole place smelled like piss. Most of it was cat piss but every now and then you’d get a whiff that didn’t smell like a cat. We hopped the fence, which was old and rusty, and you had to be careful not to cut your hands or catch your pants on it. Me and Snowman were so nervous our voices sounded like a girl’s. It was good that Snowman farted when he jumped the fence. I laughed automatically and Winky got pissed, which meant he was nervous, too. Snowman made me laugh again when he had to check his pants because he thought it might be a wet one. We only had to take a few steps in from the fence before we couldn’t see anything but a vacant lot. The neighborhood disappeared. It was like being in a jungle. Winky got down on all fours and crawled into a hole in the thorn bushes. The hole was pretty smooth like lots of other people used it. Snowman didn’t want to go last because the last guy is always the first guy to get knocked off. I didn’t mind going last because if there’s something bad in front of you, the last guy is the first guy out. The only bad part was that I had Snowman’s ass in my face. We crawled for a pretty long time. I was a little worried that the bush tunnel might be a trap that would lead us into Miss Barnes’s yard because it turned a couple of times. Fortunately I was wrong. It ended in a circle of dirt surrounded by big trees. Weirdly enough, it felt kind

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of safe. The big trees were like a roof. And there was a little bit of room to see if somebody was watching us. Whatever Winky had buried, he buried it in the right place. The spot was marked by three dried dog craps in a triangle on the dirt. Winky started out digging with the shovel but then after about a foot down, he used his hands. Before he pulled the jar out he gave us a smile and lifted up his eyebrows. He asked if we were ready for the coolest thing we would ever see. We weren’t but we said we were. He pulled the jar out of the hole. I think we hoped we’d be more excited but it just looked like a jar full of paper. He lifted his eyebrows again and took off his T-shirt. He laid it out on the ground. Then he unscrewed the jar lid and poured a bunch of little paper circles onto the shirt. It took a few seconds to realize that the little circles were human tits. Winky was right. It was the coolest thing we had ever seen. Winky was really happy. It would have been a disaster if we didn’t think much of the tits or if we throught it was unholy. Me and Snowman picked through the tits like monkeys at the Detroit Zoo looking for bugs in the dirt. For a while Winky watched us looking at the tits, but then he couldn’t help himself and he started looking at them, too. There were hundreds of them. At first they looked like the same one done with different cameras, but then after a few minutes they all looked different. As different as faces. Snowman collected a pile of his favorites and he got kind of stingy about it. That made me want to see them even more. My favorite was one from the side with a little bit of desert mountain behind it. The mountain made it seem more real. Snowman found a little bit of crotch that Winky had cut out when he was deciding what to save. He had to ask what it was. Winky said it was muff, which was a word Jake was using on Rat since she started getting her own tits. Once Snowman knew what it was he liked it and put it in his pile of favorites. After about an hour Winky asked us if we had boners. I didn’t want to say yes and neither did Snowman. I thought it was very weird that I had one and I was a little worried about it. But then I figured Winky wouldn’t be asking if he didn’t have one himself. So I said yeah. Snowman raised his hand. He had one, too. Winky said he’d had one since he started crawling through the tunnel. We decided that there was no good reason for the boners but since we all had them, it had to be normal. We tried to think of other weird medical things that didn’t make sense. All we came up with was how good gasoline smelled sometimes.

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Winky guessed that maybe the reason humans wear clothes is because of the boners, which made a lot of sense. Then he talked about being hungry and thirsty and how that was like wanting to look at the pictures. He asked us if we thought Jake was lying about putting clothespins on our bags and turpentine on our boners. I said he was lying. So did Snowman. Winky thought so, too, but he said most of Jake’s lies have some truth to them and that maybe the true part in the lie was that your balls have something to do with all this. Snowman agreed because he said he couldn’t figure out what the whole point of balls was in the first place. They got in the way. On hot days they stuck to your leg. They can’t take a punch but they’re in a place where they get hit a lot. And what was with there being two of them? Then I said that there’s two tits. One weiner. Two balls. One girl crotch. Two tits. Winky then asked how come guys have nipples. He said Snowman’s nipples look a lot like the nipples on the tit pictures. Then I accidentally said that Snowman even had little tits. He went berserk and punched me in the side of the head. Winky put him in a stranglehold and wouldn’t let him go until he promised to relax. He was almost blue before he said okay. I told him I was sorry that I said he had tits. Winky said he was sorry for what he said about his nipples but he also said it was true. Snowman said that his doctor told him and his mother that the reason his nipples were the way they are is because he’s a little too fat and that he’s going into something that Snowman couldn’t remember the word for because what the doctor said next was so horrifying. He said he was going to start getting hair. Where? Down there, he said. Holy shit. I don’t think I ever heard a more awful story than that one. First, the doctor should be executed for talking about a guy’s pud in front of his mother. And second, Snowman’s mom is my favorite mom, and if I’m normal, when Snowman gets his, it’ll probably happen to me, too, and she’ll know it and that’s not a nice thing to have her know. I really liked the tits but the conversation was making me sick. Winky knew all about pud hair because he’d gotten a naked Danish Ass Press from Jake not too long ago and said it was pretty fuzzy. Rat was pretty hairy and so was Basset. He’d seen it at home and knew it was coming for him. I didn’t have a brother and my doctor, so far, was keeping his mouth shut, so this was all news to me. My sisters were too ugly to even imagine them naked.

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The Tit Jar
J.L. Hudson

We talked about all this stuff for at least an hour and got it pretty much figured out. Balls are like tits. Prehistoric men made milk in their balls and it came out their nipples. The reason for boners when you look at tits is like boners in the morning so you don’t piss the bed—it kept the milk from going out the wang. The hair we’re going to get when we went through whatever Snowman’s doctor said he was going to go through was so that when you get to high school and have to swim naked, the hair covers your ween and your sack so nobody can see it. The reason why you look at the tits but don’t get tired of looking at them is so that when you get married you stick around with your wife and help her with the kids and fix stuff and go to work and cut the grass instead of just hanging around all the time with your friends. The reason dads are so boring most of the time is that they’re just waiting until night so they can look at their wives’ tits. We decided that looking at tit pictures wasn’t wrong, but that was only in God’s eyes. Not our parents. The reason for that was obvious. Our parents didn’t want us having wives yet because we have to go to college first. It was almost completely dark and we hardly noticed. We had a couple hundred mosquito bites between us, and my legs were asleep from kneeling for hours. The Presbyterian Church bell rang seven times. Snowman got nervous. Dinner at his house was at six. He missed it. The police could be looking for him. Our family ate later but I probably missed it, too. I was worried that my excuse for being late would sound like I was looking at tit pictures. The Kerwins never ate together, so he was safe. Snowman carefully gathered up his favorite tits and was about to put them in his pocket. Winky was shocked. He asked Snowman what he thought he was doing. Snowman said he was going to take the pictures he liked. Winky said that he wasn’t giving any away, then Snowman said he was being a pig. There were hundreds of tits. Why couldn’t he have a few? Winky didn’t have an answer. I think he was really surprised that Snowman thought he could have some. I know that it would have taken me forever to decide which ones to give up, so maybe that was it. Or maybe it was because there wasn’t anything in his whole life that anybody else in Grosse Pointe had ever wanted from him. Except maybe his new skates, but they wouldn’t fit Snowman anyway. The tit jar kind of made him richer than me and Snowman. We had money, but he had tits. And from now on tits would probably be more valuable to us.

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The Tit Jar
J.L. Hudson

It’s not very often in Grosse Pointe that a poor kid gets to be snotty about anything. He doesn’t have clubs or a nice house or money to lord over people who have less. He can’t sit in his house on Trash Day and make jokes about Polacks trying on his family’s old clothes in the street and hauling away their busted TVs. He can’t wish you and your family would move away. And he can’t do anything but turn into a hard-ass and learn to not care about stuff he wants to care about, and pretend he doesn’t get his feelings hurt, and do stuff that could screw him up or damn his soul to hell just to impress people who’ll never like him for anything more than watching him screw himself up. I know this because Snowman is still my friend and I still go to his house even though he said to Winky that he deserved some tits because without me and him, he would have had to play hockey all winter with a cripple’s skates. + + +

I don’t know whatever happened to the tit jar. I never saw it again. I don’t think Snowman ever did either. I stayed friends with Winky but it was hard because he dropped Snowman forever, and Snowman was always down on him and started rumors about him and his family. When I hung around with Winky, Snowman said it was because I was in love with Rat. One of the reasons Snowman and I never saw the tit jar again was that Snowman found a new tit source. James Bond stories were put in Playboy and that was the excuse his dad had for buying it every month and keeping it between his mattress and the bed frame. I checked my dad’s bed and found that he was doing the same thing, only he just turned the Playboys facedown and left them with the fuzz balls under the bed. Snowman’s doctor was right. Snowman got a little weird about what happened to him because it happened to him first and for a couple of months he was the only one who got hairy. When that stuff started happening to all of us, things began to change. We started hanging around girls more and talking on the telephone at night. We forgot about dirtball wars and pissing off the roof. Jake gave us a lot of crap about being with girls. I don’t know if he had something against girls or if he was lonely. For some reason he didn’t seem like the big deal he once was. Winky started taking the bus down to Detroit after school and on weekends.

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The Tit Jar
J.L. Hudson

He started wearing pink shirts and pointy boots. By spring we weren’t talking much except “hello” and “how’s it goin’?” Then Snowman went to Florida with his family for Easter, and when he came back it was like when Marco Polo went to China and brought back gunpowder. Snowman was all brown and happy and his hair was white, like in the summer. He was acting like he was too cool for everybody. He had what some people call a shit-eating grin. I asked him what the deal was. He held up his right hand. He asked me to guess what was in that hand on Sunday afternoon just before his family left their hotel to fly home. I guessed a hamburger, then a crab, and then a Portuguese man-of-war. Snowman gave me a hint. He said it was about the size of an orange and it was white and soft and hot. I guessed a dinner roll. He put his hand over my heart and squeezed. His face got real serious and I knew the answer. Nothing, he said, would ever be the same for him or me or our hands. But that’s another story.

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