Monday, May 2, 2011

'Ironman' by Lauren Garrett-Joly

This month, the Park Slope B&N group did a character/conflict workshop.

One writer created this character: 
       Male, Age: N/A, Half Robot, likes to listen to metal.

Another devised this conflict: 
       His robot-half is sophisticated, so it looks like a human, and his girlfriend, who doesn’t know his secret, forces him to come to a pool party.

And Lauren Garrett-Joly wrote the following piece: 

“432 please hurry up! We‘re going to be late!” my girlfriend of 1 month, 29 days, 18 hours, 65 minutes and approximately 8.769 seconds, whines.

My timer has been slightly incorrect these days. And it doesn’t even have the decency to display milliseconds. What have I become? Being half-man (I use the term ‘man‘ for all intensive purposes; only referring to gender, since my age is unknown), half-robot, I have always been addressed as 432.

432 is the number printed on the inner most corner of my eyeball, which I always (and slightly annoyingly) see when I use my advanced peripherals. Now the average teenager, like Marla for example, might find this name choice a peculiar one made by my “parents”, who she believes live in a cozy home in Canada and allowed me to move here to Upstate NY alone as both an experimental trip (which isn’t exactly incorrect), and a reward for good behavior. But the name 432, along with the lie about my so-called parents, has ironically instead upped my “cool status” among the human teenagers; because most of my peers apparently think my name is some new-age angst effort to be less of a conformist to modern society and its labels.

I personally see nothing wrong with names, in fact I sometimes rather long for one, but then I become confused by these human emotions and I block them out, literally.

“Marla, could you explain in detail how one could be late to his own party?”

“Ugh, don’t be sarcastic with me, okay? I’m just a little nervous. I mean this is like your coming out party!”

‘Coming out party’. This term does not compute with my system.

“Coming out from where?” I ask.

“Ha-ha. Just hurry up” And with that I hear her expensive Jimmy Choo heels click-clack-click-stomp-lift-swoosh-fly over and into sliding door pool entryway-stomp-click-clack-squish onto slightly wet patio, proceeding to a distance (presumably by the pool) where my highly-sensitive ears can no longer hear.

I take as deep a breath as possible for my body structure, because at this point I feel nervous, which is very new to me. The sensation of nervous feelings suddenly erupting in my brain and stomach (what are these called by humans? Butterflies?) most likely stems from my current predicament. I am completely unsure of how to reveal my true identity: namely my iron-metal hybrid somewhat bullet-proof torso, to all of my high school classmates.

Hmm. No matter. I realize that I will just have to somehow compute a plausible and simple solution in the; as-humans say “heat of the moment."

I put in my ipod device (one of my closest friends), pressing play on the Metal play list I’d created, which was literally recorded sounds of clanking metal and/or iron. As always, this seems to calm me down.

I enter the outside pool quadrant. A flock semi-pubescent teenagers are spread over the lofty terrace and in the pool, some of which turn to look at me. Many hold red plastic cups, most likely filled with variations of expensive vodkas mixed with sugary juice-drinks. I spot and approach Marla, who is standing near some chairs, scantily clad in a paisley string-bikini. Her pale skin glows in the now approaching moonlight. One of her obviously drunk female comrades giggles, burps, and then feels the need to inform me that her “spirit-animal is like totally like, a gay man."


I am wearing an Ed-Hardy t-shirt. Marla, ignoring her babbling friend, smiles at me and says “Hey, 432, about time! I was just about to take a dip. How about you ditch the shirt and join me?” She squeezes my left buttocks, which is much more hard and firm than the average male‘s (of course, since it is a hybrid of iron and fake flesh), a quality she seems to like.

“I can not.“ I reply in a less firm tone of voice than usual.

“Um, why?” says Marla. She too now looks nervous, as well as confused, probably fearing embarrassment.

Oh. No. This is the moment I previously mentioned.

My mouth opens but no sound travels out. Everyone awkwardly blinks at me expectantly. So I abort to Bing mode. Similar to the entertaining commercials (that I actually kind of enjoy, because I can relate to some the fictional characters. You know, the ones who begin to randomly incessantly shout facts and terms?); my brain scans references to the words ‘robot’, ‘iron’, ‘metal’, ‘half man, half-Click. I blink. ‘Ironman; popular action-adventure film starring Robert Downey Jr, based on DC comics, also song by Ozzy Osborne’ reads against my eyelids. Perfect. Once again, in a matter of seconds, my highly skilled mind has solved the problem.

I straighten up, and declare loudly; “I am Ironman."