By the late 50’s SoCal was booming. At Junior High, there weren’t enough lockers for everybody, so we had to double up. My locker mate, I noticed, did not eat normal food. He had little sacks—some paper, some cloth—with nuts and raisins and such in them. One day he had three carrots and another day a couple of onions. He was the first vegetarian I ever met.
He was short, had broad cheekbones, and long hair comb straight back. The look was enough to set him apart. Most boys back then sported a skin head look maybe because their fathers, back from the war, felt that if it had been good enough for them over there, then it was good enough for their kid.
Roland was intelligent too. All ten kids, plus the parents, were intelligent. The father had been graduated from MIT at 17. He was some sort of genius; now he was an engineer working at one of the aircraft plants and an inventor.
One day we were eating lunch, me with my traditional white bread baloney plus a little bag of potato chips, him with some lettuce and what looked like bird seed, and he said, in this abrupt way he had, “Do you think jerking off makes your hair fall out.”
While I had been thinking about this very issue for some time, I had not up till that moment spoken of my concerns to another human being. I was a bit nonplused, and my hesitation must have made him think I didn’t know what he was taking about.
“You know, beating the meat, whacking off, choking the chicken.”
I said I knew what masturbation was and had research the subject in a regular dictionary, an encyclopedia and a medical dictionary and they had all said it was normal and one had even said it was natural as long as you didn’t do it excessively.
Was 5 times a day excessive, 10 times a day, what the hell did they mean by excessive? He asked. This “excessive” word had bothered me too; though I was wondering if once a day was excessive. I said I didn’t know and asked had he beaten off ten times in a day.
No, he said. But one of his older brothers had; he had beaten off six times in a day but gotten sore.
Who knows what a friend is. There are all sorts of definitions. Gide says a friend is somebody you’d be willing to do a bad job with. I heard a guy say he was going home to look at the super bowl with some friends; so they sat around watching commercials during the super bowl with friends sitting around watching the super bowl.
I think friendship is based on some form of shared pathology.