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To the boy reading Kerouac on the train

| Tuesday, March 3, 2020

A spoof of “To All the Boys I’ve loved before”

Does your mother know your name?

We have the same socks — they have holes in the toes and their soles are run thin. I watch out the window at the concrete passing behind your ears, and think old Cannastra’s neck. In two parts — Harvard Law and buzzed penmanship. No Will left to know, so to the writer his roll of tracing paper, some scraps of poetry and his love in pink, but he traced out another’s life leaving his memory to yelps and howls.

Do you find allegories in Cassady’s driving, or clutch the door and fear for your life? Will you smile when he moves to another young rider, or think him stumbling and mumbling along until Mayer joins the Dead and he finds the train tracks?

Do you believe the things they said or are they just words on a page?

The Butcher, who used to be in a band, said he’s never seen an adult reading Kerouac before. I was reading it next to him, the one when he goes on about the bull and how the matador kills it. He cared when Hemmingway didn’t. The former Rockstar goes on to say he never saw anyone past 20 reading it. I wonder if they grew out of it, if they betrayed it or if they still think of it like an old college girlfriend — they once loved but couldn’t marry. People who are bound to repeatedly leave Joy behind claiming “unrequited love’s a bore.” Only to descend into the boredom themselves. I wonder, will you, will I? I was 20 when he said it.

Do you see old Dean Moriarty on the streets at night when the mailboxes look like the ghosts of people who gave up on happiness? Do you see him in the faces of your friends, when they talk about poetry and how the road is dead? Or in the Kool-Aid you know is laced with cough syrup but drink anyway?

Did happiness ever stand a chance? Maybe, they were meant to cough up blood on their bathroom floors — like their predecessor who choked on the Chelesa’s air only to have his name taken by the folk singer, carried in his pocket as he crashed his motorcycle at 90 miles per hour leaving a 21-year-old widow in his wake, and immortalized on a plaque to be read by a young punk poet who’s boyfriend feverishly dreamt upstairs. Alone. Maybe, they were meant to run out of white picket fences to burn as gasoline as they hit the road in search of his dreams.

The streets in D.C. smell like cheap wine.

I liked your socks.

I look at the sky.

I think of it reflected in your destined shiny black shoes. But most of all, I wonder if you liked the book?



Thank you for reading my most pretentious piece ever though “Comedy in its purest form” is a close second. Sorry, it actually ended up being nothing like “To All the Boys I Loved Before” to you. I promise my next piece will be about puppies.



The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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