SINGLE WICCAN FEMALE (SWF), 22, seeks fangboy, not too ripe (15-25), for nocturnal adventures, trading notes on the occult lifestyle. Other interests include indie film, hiking, making candles. Leila, #1332.This ad caught my eye cause I was in the right age range, sorta. I asked Tod, "Nocturnal means night-time, right?" He said, "Yeah, lemme see," and took the paper. "This one, nocturnal adventures? Sure that looks good. At the start of the ad she sounds like she might be too much for you, but if she's into movies and hiking and candles, she ain't much to worry bout." "So, um, should I study up on racing movies so she'll think I'm into em too?" "Racing-? No, man, that's independent movies. She likes little arthouse movies and French shit that nobody else goes to see. Naw, don't study up on that shit. If you don't know anything about it, that makes her feel like an expert in her field. Don't worry about any her interest, Dennis. The kinda people that write these ads can't get a date with anybody they work with or people they know, so they take a little time out from their desperate masturbating to write a ad. You could be a young Republican stockbroker that never watches movies, has asthma attacks on hikes and gets hives from candle smoke. She'll still snuggle her ass up to you, as long as you seem like you read vampire books." "Tod, what's a Republican again? That's like Nixon, right?" "Yeah, like Nixon. They're the bad guys. Aw shit, you don't even know who the presidents were the last twenty years. If she talks about anything like that, just say you don't follow politics. Or sports. And you don't watch much TV or movies. "I'm tryin to think of shit she might talk about that would blow your cover. Uh, Clinton, the president right now is Bill Clinton. A lot of people hate him, but he kinda admitted he smoked weed in college, so he's okay." "No shit?" "What else is big, lemme think. . .Russia fell apart. They're alright now, for the most part. Umm, wars -- you need to know about the Gulf War. Irock is this country in the Mid-East. Dude: we tore their shit up. It was like a hundred thousand of them died and only two or three hundred of us." "Wow. Hey, what happened about Nam?" "Oh, they finally just got sick of us getting stomped so they pulled our guys out and the Commies took over." "Wow. What else? I won't be able to remember all these wars! What can I do?" "No, that's about all really. Other than that, it's just invasions like Grenada and Panama, uhh, something around South America, um, the Falkland Islands, that's the one. . ." "Okay, so we had a war in Irock, we surrendered in Nam, and we invaded South America and where else?" "Forget it, forget it. You're fifteen, you don't have to know any of that. She'll think most of that happened while you were in diapers. What we gotta do that's more important is teach you to be a modern day fifteen year old kid." So Tod put the radio on this buzzing shit and he started digging through his guest bedroom closet and pulling stuff out for me. I asked if the speakers on his hi-fi were blown, but he said that's the way the music is these days. He yelled at me to pay attention to it, but the only good ones were Sheryl Crow and Blues Traveller. (Is that what they call "Blues" these days?) After I complained enough, he turned it to a "Classic Rock" station (Ha!) and said I could claim I like that stuff. "Tell her you listen to your parents' old records, Beatles and Hendrix and The Doors and whatever." "Bachman-Turner Overdrive, man!" "No, look, you don't want to sound like too much of an expert when you're only 15. Just mention a couple bands, not too many." Tod tossed a black turtleneck and black slacks on the bed, then thought better of it and put back the turtleneck. "That Goth shtick is about worn out. How's this?" He held a blue-gray shirt that would make me look from a distance like a bare-chested zombie. I put it back in the closet for him and rummaged through on my own. "I just need advice on how to pick up women, Tod, I don't need you to dress me." A lot of the crap in his closet was silly stuff I wouldn't wear: a cop's uniform, dresses, skirts, t-shirts from rock concerts by demonic sounding bands like "Tesla" and "Motorhead" and "Styx." On one side wall of the closet there was even a suit of blue and orange fur. Tod said he lost the bulldog head somewhere along the way, but it had come from a high school football mascot. She had worn leotards under the mascot suit so her movement wouldn't be restricted. The leotard he kept in a more special place. Finally I found a white dress shirt with a strange collar, just straight up like a priest's collar. Kinda like the collar on a Nehru jacket.. It was too big for me, but that just made it baggy around my chest and blousy around the arms. Tod said baggy pants were stylish these days, but he wasn't sure about shirts. "That don't matter. I like it. Now what's next. Will you call her for me?" Tod said, "Don't be fuckin stupid. You want me to kill her for ya too? Don't even gimme that look. It won't happen. Just take her ad and call the number and work off the ad. "Come on, let's get right to it," Tod said, waving me through the kitchen and into his big living room with the vaulted ceiling. He bumped me onto the end of his pillowy brown couch, right next to the phone. "Just look at the ad and tell her shit about yourself that the ad makes you think of."\ I looked over the ad again and said, "Okay, so I'll dial this number and say HI, can I speak to Leila? And-" "It's gonna be a recording. Christ, you're a walking flashback. Listen, man, it's a recording. Everything's a recording these days. You'll call this number and you'll hear a sexy, plastic, secretary voice tell you 'Hello and welcome to the Meridian Greensheet's VoiceBox Dateline.' Then it'll tell you to press a button for men seeking women or a different button for women seeking men or couples seeking swingers or weirdos seeking pets. You type in her number and it'll play you a little message of hers, prob'ly word for word what her written ad said, and then it'll beep and you'll say: . . ." Tod rolled his hands at me like beckoning more words out of me in a game of charades. "Um, okay, I say Hi Leila, um, I saw your ad here, in the Greensheet. Okay, about me, I'm uh 15 and I have curly light brown hair and green eyes-" Tod stopped pacing to say, "We're gonna change your hair, Dennis, so don't tell her that." "No, you're not! My hair is fine like this! Jenny always liked it!" "Fuck, man, Jenny was twenty years ago. You're way outta style. She's gonna be lookin for a young Tom Cruise and you're gonna show up with a lopsided afro like you're tryin to be Peter Frampton!" "Who's Tom Cruise? No, never mind. I'm keepin my hair like this and that's all there is to it." "Fine, whatever." Tod was pacing again. I stared at the ad, repeating, "Hi Leila, saw your ad in the Greensheet. My name's Dennis. I'm five foot six, CURLY LIGHT BROWN HAIR and green eyes, and what else do I say? I don't know what to tell her, Tod." "Look at the ad and talk about it. Say you like candles even when it's not a candle-light dinner, and you like going out late at night. Just follow it down the list of shit she says and think of how they might involve things you like to do. What's the first words on her ad?" "Single wiccan female. What's wiccan?" Tod turned from his east-west pacing route across the living room to drop to his knees in the pillowy brown La-Z-Boy and slam his fist on top of the chair back like a moslem angrily bowing towards Mecca, hollering, "Jesus Henry Christ on a pogo stick! You're hopeless! There's no fuckin way! How can I teach you all this shit to stay in character like a modern 15 year old when you're so fuckin flighty and useless! It's not that you're stupid, man, I know you got some brains clattering around in there. But the only fresh knowledge they seem capable of picking up is fuckin Mario Superkart and what your stinky, old, dead hippy bands created after you settled in for your God damn li'l beauty sleep!" I put my chin on my fists and pouted at that point, but couldn't stay mad when he jumped off his big chair to face me and screamed, "No more Credence! You don't play any more of my fuckin Credence albums for the rest of this year, you got it?! I ain't no Fortunate One havin to listen to you play that fuckin 'Down on the corner! Out in the street!' fuckin over and over! I don't wanna hear some funky Dixieland, pretty mama com and take me by the hand!" He was actually caught up in the song with all his raving, so I jumped up and tried to sing the low part without my voice cracking: "By the hand (hand) take me by the hand (pretty mama!) Dance with your daddy all night long!" Tod wouldn't have it. "No," he told himself, walking across the coffee table and arm chair, "it don't matter. This ain't rocket science, it's just trappin beaver. Even you can handle this. Get down off there! Like I need your damn dirty shoes up on my God damn davenport." "What's a davenport?" Tod shoved me down on the sofa again and explained, "A Wiccan is a person who practices the religion of Wicca. The religion is basically an excuse to say God is a woman. They claim that witches have worshipped nature spirits and the Great Mother Goddess for a million years, so they burn candles and incense and sing and dance and wave wands and enjoy their menses. (Don't fuckin ask me what menses is, boy, go talk to yo mama!) It also fits perfectly with feminism, by coincidence. So anyhow, the ones I've met are either way into feminist politics -- which means they're as friendly as a cold pick axe -- or they're the type that wants to dance nekkid in the woods. That's what your babe here sounds like. "You don't need to know everything about how it works, cuz she'll clue you in and probably want to convert you. Man, really, I can't be there on your date to help you out. So I'm just gonna walk out of the room, let you make the call, and you'll stand or fall on your own merit. Okay?" After five minutes I went into his bedroom to find him trying to read Rolling Stone. He said, "Well?" "Do you think I should say Hi or Hello at the start of the call? Or should I be cute and say Howdy or something?" ... ... EPILOGUE Leila peeked around the corner of her cubicle after Mr. Jeffries settled into his office for the morning. She ducked low so her topknot wouldn't be seen floating over the tops of the cubicle walls, and snuck over to Tina. She couldn't really confide in her middle-aged co-workers about her strange nightlife. But Tina was young and hip and had to take the ring out of her eyebrow before coming to work every morning. "Tina!" she whispered, leaning around the wall. "Yeah, how'd your date go with the teeny bopper?" Tina said, still staring at the document she was entering data from beside her terminal. When Leila said nothing for a moment, Tina turned to face her. Leila was pulling back her black turtleneck and showing a big bruised scab a the place where her neck met her collarbone. "He gives the most righteous hickeys!" END.