Chapter 1 continued…

Previously in Cerebral Fitness:

…. The skeptic in me always wins out.

Working in a computer lab is a funny thing these days. Your normal patron is savvy and already knows the ins and outs of the computer world and for the most part just wants to be left alone so they can harvest a fake farm or watch TV shows on the internet. Basically I’m there to give them a log in password or reboot the computer or show them where the USB input is. No one really needs me. This leads to a sedentary existence which may seem great but gets old quick.

My whole life was a somewhat boring go round. Not that I didn’t have stuff going on, because I did, just nothing of interest to you. I had my own apartment, I worked two jobs, I had a pet (cat), and I enjoyed video games, drinking, and the love of a good woman. Or a woman. That last one was negotiable.

And then, just like in a movie preview, she breezed into the door, slow motion, cue Hall and Oates “You Make My Dreams Come True” (unless it’s too expensive to reference them, in which case we’ll cue “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” or something else in the public domain that I don’t have to pay for). The preview would show me toiling away at my mundane existence, the narrator’s voice would indeed let you know, “Johnny led a mundane existence, until the day she walked through the door.” Bam. That’s when the music comes in. Cue montage of us playing in the park and tickling on the sofa. This slice of life love story will warm your heart, jaded America (you too Tokyo!).

So anyway, as you may have noticed, my name is Johnny. I didn’t change my name to protect my innocence, because I’m not innocent, far from it. I had originally given myself a pseudonym but that didn’t pan out. I’ll explain later. So I decided that I gotta be me. It was at that point that I also decided that I would talk directly at you like I’m doing now. A better way to be self deprecating, performing a pre-emptive strike on any criticism you may launch my way. Hell, it worked in high school.

So she would come in from time to time at the lab, but it wasn’t like the first time. In that I mean we didn’t have these saccharine sweet back and forth’s where everything flowed freely, we would, but not yet. Right now we took a strange step backwards where we didn’t know where the other person stood, due to our skittishness over making the first move.

Also, for all I knew, she had a boyfriend. I mean, most girls do. Often times the best you can do is catch a girl on the tail end of a bad relationship and endear yourself to her until it fizzles out. I suppose talking to her would’ve helped but that didn’t happen, instead we watched each other across a crowded room (Shut up, crowded rooms exist, so keep your cliché comments in your pocket).

I woke up one morning with a calm. I don’t normally wake up calm, I am designed to be slightly on edge (and dissatisfied) at all times. Yet something told me today was going to be different. I got ready for work at a slow even pace, arrived five minutes early (a first), and settled into my chair for a half day of internet skimming. For some reason, she wasn’t on my mind when I heard her voice.

“Can I ask you something?”

I looked up and a wide grin automatically emerged, “Is it because of the pin?” I was wearing a pin that said “Ask Me!” which was the college’s way of making us helpful in any way to the student body, never mind the fact I was always asked a ridiculous financial aid question or something I would have no possible way of knowing.

“No, this is purely serendipitous.”

“Everything about you is serendipitous,” which by the way, my friends, was my first deliberate attempt at flirtation, “but go ahead.”

“Are you familiar with the folk singer Bob Dylan?”

“I’m not sure…oh! Robert Dylan! Is that who you mean?”

“Yes,” she said, pretending she was not amused by me. Faker. “I have two tickets to go see him and my boyfriend does not want to go.”

Time out. Yes, she was inviting me to see the famous folk singer, and slip in that she has a boyfriend. So basically, she raised mixed signals to an art form. I was undaunted though, I was awash with calm let me remind you. I made a split second decision. It was almost as if throwing a boyfriend wrench into the works motivated me. It was decided, I had made the choice, I was going to pursuit this girl until she was mine.

Some guy walked up to the counter doing his personal version of cool, looked at me and scoffed, amused with himself, he asked, “Hey, Ask Me!, is that your name?”

I had heard this one before, so much so that I had a canned response for it that never got a laugh. I looked at him and really oversold it, “Yes, it’s my name, it’s Asian, the exclamation point is silent.”

She laughed. He looked at her and gave her a look that said so many things. The basic “Hey, baby” yes, but also the “Can you believe this joker, why don’t you talk to a real man?” and maybe just a hint of the “I can charm any woman, and you are in my cross hairs”. She seemed to like it, or was shyly embarrassed by it. Either way, that twinge of violent jealousy, the one that would emerge time and time again, was born in that instance. That, what you just read, was it’s origin story. Not exactly the beginning of a super man (Copyright averted!) but it’ll have to do.

“I would love to go,” I said, with a calm that cloaked my rage perfectly, “I mean, you were asking me to go with you, right?”

Danny Woodruff, which was his name based on the sign in sheet, slowly drifted away. She smiled but kept wanting to look back at him. I continued to over analyze every time her eyes changed direction. I had spent my life avoiding girls that played games or played hard to get. Either you want to get gotten or you don’t.

“Yes silly, I was asking you.” And she touched my hand. First contact. I swallowed my heart down my throat and back into position, my face turned red like a cartoon character, and I said something stupid, I’m guessing. I blacked out.

By the time I got home I was in an advanced state of euphoria that even the speeding ticket I accrued did not bring me down. I went straight over to the couch and laid down with my cat so I could close my eyes and relive every moment, perhaps even tweak a few things, blow up Danny Woodruff’s head with the power of my mind, stuff like that. It wasn’t to be though, because the phone rang almost instantly. I answered.

“Hey, what are you doing?”

“Nothing,” I answered, “Can I call you back? I was sleeping.

“Sure,” she said, “Call me when you wake up.”

“OK. Bye.” As I was hanging up I heard her faint, weak goodbye. I hated my girlfriend. Did I mention I had a girlfriend? Because I totally did.

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Posted by on April 2, 2012 in Chapter 1


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Dedication, Preface, and Chapter 1 (Partially)

You asked for it, so now you’ve got it. Like a drug, I shall lure you in with a tiny taste, free, after which you’ll be hooked. You’ll need my written word skag. Some of you have asked to read these alleged “books” of mine. Well, surprise of surprises, there are actual books out there. Well, words relating to the same story over several hundred pages which someday could be a book. I’m not some English professor in a sad movie telling his infatuated student that I have a book that doesn’t exist. No no. And to prove it, I’ll let you read the beginning of one. The dedication page, the preface (where I set your standards low) and the opening chapter (partially), where I set a tone that will not be sustained over the entire book. Also, the “me” of the book, the one narrating is also a work of fiction, so don’t think I’m actually the person in the book, I’m just pretty damned close to it. So without further adieu…I give you:

Cerebral Fitness:
A Novel Based on Two Words From an 80s Song

[Dedication page]

For Me,

I Couldn’t Have Done It Without You!

And To All Those People That Shaped Who I Am,

Which Person in Here is the Thinly Veiled You?

[New page]

Preface – That Which Comes Before the Face

Books are a funny thing, and make no mistake about it; you, my friend, are reading a book. Now, I don’t know how you got here or what happened to your television but it’s good to have you on board. I think it’s best if we get a few things out of the way right off the bat:

1)      I am not a professional writer. I am not prone to lyrical whimsy that will transport you to a magical land of wordy goodness. That’s not how my keyboard rolls. This means if someone is in the outdoorsy world and there is a mountain in the background, I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether its snow capped or not.

2)      I am not a master of similes and metaphors, so if you read “There was a mountain” and you think, ‘Yes, but what is it like, John?’ go ahead and fill in the blank. Chances are it’ll be better than what I came up with. For example, at the moment the best I can come up with is a comparison to Edward James Olmos’ face. Because of craggy.

3)      I am not prone to sentimentality except when it applies to me. Self pity is vastly underrated, but fear not, I am wholly self deprecating and usually attribute the act of a woman having sex with me post coitus as part of some byzantine plot to destroy me – because who would do such a thing when free will exists?

4)      I will contradict one or all of these numbered points over the course of the book because I have to fill a lot of pages and incongruity fascinates me.

There, now that we’ve got that taken care of, we can drive into the real meat and potatoes of this endeavor – the reason I wrote this book.

It’s always been a dream of mine to grab a book off a shelf, open it up and see a picture of me on the back inside cover smoking a pipe with a half empty glass of scotch in clear view (so you know I’m a real writer) while I write (perhaps the very same book – time paradox!) with a quill pen, because I don’t smoke a pipe or drink scotch either so why the f*** not, right?

For some people it’s enough for one lifetime to just walk behind the local weatherman (twice!) during a live shot, but I’ve always had bigger plans for my fifteen minutes. Truth be told, I’ve always wanted to be a reclusive alcoholic writer who lives in a secluded cabin. Yes, I don’t drink scotch but several other spirits are mighty tasty and are found by me to be quite imbibing-worthy.

I would also like to have groupies, young girls that underline passages in my book and try to write exactly like me (which means you will be subjected to a lyrical turn of phrase from time to time which may or may not draw a parallel to the first time a young woman menstruates – because I understand).

It’s a simple dream really, and attainable. If this book never gets published, I’ll fund the process of getting it booked-up and toss it on the shelf. That way, when I entertain a lady guest I can casually take it down and read passages to her. Nothing gets a woman in the mood more than saying words that are written on paper. It gives them extra weight.

That’s it for now…

But the Preface will be back in Preface 2: The Re-Facening!

[New page, probably a blank one too for good measure]



We met adorably and I’m sorry for that, but sometimes these things happen. There was heavy eye petting and we spoke like slower talking 1940s movie characters. When every woman in the history of time hasn’t given you the time of day it seems more than highly unlikely that one you like instantly will like you back, but that’s the way the world works sometimes when it’s building you up. Banter ensued almost immediately.

“Hi,” I said, opening strong and damning those who had that pick up line trademarked.

“Hi,” she answered. Yeah, Tracy and Hepburn called, they want their shtick back, am I right? OK, it gets better. She smiled brightly, and by that I mean she had fire truck red lipstick on, and when she smiled I got a glimpse of cutely imperfect teeth with little red streaks on them. Clearly not a seasoned lipstick applier. “I was just here but you know…”she said trailing off and tossing the pen she used to sign into the lab which she had accidentally confiscated. I didn’t know she was just there but that would mark the last time I was ever oblivious to her presence.

I looked down at the sheet the second she turned and bounded to a computer off to the side, and she did bound, so I’m not just sexing up the word ‘walked’. I could read her name upside down: Alex Texeira (with the i dotted with a star, which I should’ve hated but couldn’t. I justified it as an ironic star, a comment on those that use them seriously).

“Boy, she was checkin’ you out!” my older co-worker said from her desk behind me. I didn’t give this much weight as any girl that said “Hello” coming in was apparently using short hand for a strong desire to bone jump me in her eyes.

“Mmm hmmm,” I said dismissively. Still, I couldn’t help but get that feeling you get when you’re being watched. I looked over at Alex and she was glowing, wide smile, the computer monitor glowing on her face. ‘My  God,’ I thought, the contrast and brightness needs to be turned way down. Then she looked down and to the right, not at me, but enough that it was clear peripheral vision would show her that I was now looking at her. She bounced up and came back to the desk.

“Hey, do you have a pen?” she asked, and it occurred to me that not only had she just returned a pen to me, but she clearly had a pen over by the computer.

“A pen? Nope, never use them. Pen killed my parents, I don’t really like to talk about it.”

“I had no idea,” she said going along, “What about a pencil? Or is that tangentially just as bad?”

“Sure, I got a pencil, it’s not a No. 2 pencil though. I hate anything popular and mainstream, which should retroactively excuse the bulk of my wardrobe.”

“I’m not one to talk, I get most of my stuff from vintage clothing stores.”

“Oh, so you’re unique.” I was openly mocking her “originality”, which seemed like a great idea in my head, but when it came out it just sounded condescending.

“In a cliché way I suppose I’m unique with optional air quotes,” she said, actually doing air quotes and then dropping her hands to the table in shame. “I just air quoted.”

It’s usually about this time in a conversation where I fight the urge to tell the other person my imaginary band is playing (and they should come see us) or that soul mates exist, this I know for sure, and then ask if they agree. Sometimes I do one or both while rescuing a small bird from a spider web shortly before naming it and letting it go, because that’s what you do with things you love.

“Did you get that from a vintage store?” I asked gesturing to an outfit that could have only come from such a place.

“Uh, what do you think?” she answered and let out the warmest and most inviting laugh I’d ever heard directed at me. “I go to this place on the Cape, it’s far out – not like groovy, it’s literally on the tip of the Cape – and I don’t drive so I normally have my younger sister take me, which is kinda sad – (mumbling to herself) good job…”

“I have a car,” I blurted out, and without missing a beat she smiled and seemed impressed.

“A car! Really?”

“Yeah,” I said, now fully aware of the lameness of the comment, I decided to oversell it as a joke, “I use it to travel from place to place. Fun fact, cars run on gas which you in turn have to pay for, hence my job here at the computer lab.”

“So that’s why you work here.”

“That, and I’m a firm believer that you can never check your email too often and this job allows me to do it bi-minutely. Also, I work here ironically as I’m a genius. Like, we’re talking savant. Drop a bunch of tooth picks, just watch what happens.”

“This is all so fascinating,” she said, and one could take that as her telling me my rambling was boring her, but the way she said it I knew she was commenting on our enjoyably awkward attempt to chat each other up. There was mutual flirting going on here, but I wasn’t ready to fully believe it yet. The skeptic in me always wins out.

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Posted by on April 2, 2012 in Chapter 1


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