MEMOIR:

FALL 2004:

A Satisfying Newbury Lunch
When It Felt Like Home

SPRING 2003:

The Big Boys
The Fine Art of Urination and Defecation Al Fresco
The Golden City
Inside Looking Out
Roxbury
The Soup Game

FALL 2002:

All the Hearts
Footsteps

SUMMER 2002:

Being Family

SPRING 2002:

An Alternative to the Common Use of Forks
Memoir Lead
Two Weeks in New Mexico
Untitled
Zeroes

FALL 2001:

The Anti-Valentine's Girls
Play

SPRING 2001:

Amour de Soi
The Day Music Let Me Go
The Force
Lucky Me, I'm Gifted
My Green Canyon
A Painful Passion
Point of Departure
Sail the Sea
Smile and Nod

FILM REVIEWS:

FALL 2004:

Lola Takes Us For the Sprint of Our Lives

FALL 2002:

Arlington Road: A Thriller with Thought
A Big Fat Fairytale Wedding
Border Patrol: The War Against Drugs Continues
Not the Stereotypical Shoot 'em Up Gangster Flick
Punch Drunk Love

SPRING 2002:

The Complexity of Artificial Intelligence
Monster's Ball
Monster's Redemption
Royalty Runs in the Family

FALL 2001:

A Hard Day's Night: A Rock 'n' Roll Joyride That Never Runs Out of Steam
Too Many Potholes in Riding in Cars with Boys

SPRING 2001:

Requiem's Melody Lingers
New-and-Improved Horror

FEATURES & PROFILES:

FALL 2002:

In The End, Everything is Crystal Clear
A Match for Success
They Will Follow Him
A Very Bostonian Hotel
What's an A?

READINGS:

The CO201 program hosts special Coffee House Readings periodically throughout each semester. These stories have each been selected by 201 professors for reading.

SPRING 2002:

Death and Board Games
Luxembourg
Resurrection of a Ghost
The Tool Man

FALL 2001:

Bits of Daylight
Leona's House
This is Spinal Tap: No Need for Painkillers
The Toad and the Giant

SPRING 2001:

The Movies
Solving the Equation: The Trials and Triumphs of International Adoption
Yaglafant

ESSAYS:

FALL 2002:

Her Face is Red
Smoking a Cigarette
Stories and Lies
Sumit Ganguly: He, She & It

PROPOSALS:

Proposals are group projects in which 201 students propose and create an ad for a non-profit organization or cause.

SPRING 2002:

Christian Solidarity International

CONTEST WINNERS:

SPRING 2005:

Colorado Peaks and Iraqi Deserts: A Paramedic's Story
The Consequences of Drunk Driving
America, Open Your Eyes

SPRING 2004:

A Fine Balance: The Life of an Islamic Teenager
A Genetic Link to Identity: Dr. Bruce Jackson and The Roots Project
Rebel With a Cause

COFFEE HOUSE READINGS:

FALL 2004:

The Amah’s Revenge
Circle in the Sand
It’s How I Walk
School Bus

SPRING 2002:

Death and Board Games
Luxembourg
Resurrection of a Ghost
The Tool Man

FALL 2001:

Bits of Daylight
Leona's House
This is Spinal Tap: No Need for Painkillers
The Toad and the Giant

SPRING 2001:

The Movies
Solving the Equation: The Trials and Triumphs of International Adoption
Yaglafant

THE TOOLMAN

BY STEPHANIE SHEEN

I guess I should have known from the beginning that it would be disastrous. Junior high romances always are. But who could resist someone like Allen Crawford? Sure, his collection of plaid short-sleeved shirts was questionably extensive. He was in the band—probably playing an instrument that required a releasable spit valve, and when he smiled, his slightly puffy cheeks reduced his eyes to unattractive slits. However, he was one of the few individuals who didn’t have braces, overpowering body odor, and/or a preoccupation with immature sexual innuendos. This was enough for me.

I was sitting in theater class with one of my best friends at the time—Sugar Ray Powell. Now, it doesn’t get more trailer park Texas than when your father actually thinks it’s a good idea to name his baby daughter after a legendary boxer. It also sadly reduced her to being correctly referred to as “sugar,” which would be perfect if she worked in a trucker diner off the highway (“Hey sugar, can I get another cup of coffee over here?”), but seemed a little out of place in an all-white upper middle class junior high.

We were discussing the upcoming Homecoming dance. In Texas culture, where there is a widespread, unhealthy obsession with football, the Homecoming game is almost deified. This renders Homecoming the most important dance of the year. Sugar and I didn’t have dates. As we were debating what to do about our situation, Allen slid into a chair next to us in the auditorium.

“Whatta y’all doin?” he said in his squeaky Texas drawl.

“Discussing the dance,” I said. “Neither of us have dates.” Judging by the blank stare I received in response, Allen apparently didn’t recognize the gravity of the situation.

“It’s like the most important dance of the year,” I said, getting visibly annoyed. Boys just didn’t get it, and I was at a point in my life where I didn’t think they ever would.

Sugar turned to talk to another girl in the class, which left Allen and I grasping for conversation. He cleared his throat. “Well, aah don really hava date either,” he said. “If yew want somewun to go with, aah’d like to take yew.”

I didn’t really know Allen all that well—his lack of proper pronunciation made me suspect I didn’t want to, but a date was a date. I accepted.

However, over the next week I began to notice that Allen had some unusual and disturbing talents. He seemed to enjoy randomly making power tool noises. There were, of course, occasional variations. His repertoire included a range of tools—everything from a power saw to an electric drill. They acted mainly as fillers for silence when he was bored—in class, for example, or at lunch, but they crept into conversation every now and then.

“Hey Steph,” he’d say. Then, all of a sudden, “Zzzzzzz zzzzzzz.” I thought at first perhaps it was a weird way of clearing his throat, but ten minutes later, I heard him across the hall. “Vvvvrrrooooommm kakakaka.” It was almost like a disturbing form of Tourette’s. I asked Sugar about it.

“I dunno,” she said with a shrug. “He just likes doing it. Could be a lot worse.”

And it’s true. It could have been a lot worse. He could have been a mass murderer…or a Fraiser fan, but that didn’t mean I was going to thank a higher being that my date had uncontrollable sound-effect-making tendencies. Frankly, I was embarrassed by him, and at that time, image was everything. It bordered on ridiculousness. I would get up at 4:30 every morning to do my hair and makeup before 6:30 basketball practice—afterwards changing into perfectly coordinating skirts, knee-highs, and sweater sets.

I grappled with how to get out of it. I couldn’t just not go. I really, really wanted to be at the dance. I just didn’t want to be anywhere near the Tool Man when I got there. Since I had already accepted, I also felt obligated to go with Allen. To ease the expected blow to my reputation, I started quietly making fun of him around my friends. A little jab here, a derogatory comment there, and I was safe in my bubble of “coolness.”

Finally, the dance night arrived. I was dropped off by my parents and was scheduled to meet Allen at the dance. I waited in front of the school bouncing up and down to release nervous energy and keep warm in the slight chill of the night air. Allen’s parents pulled up, and he climbed out of the car. His plaid shirt was neatly pressed—his hair stiff with an excess of hair gel. I saw the cheeks rise up and eclipse his eyes as he saw me.

“Yew look niice,” he said.

“Thanks.”

“I brawt these for yew.” And with that he turned around and pulled an oversized bouquet of carnations from the vehicle as he slammed the door shut and strolled over to me. I was horrified. What did he think I was supposed to do with a bouquet at a dance? Go put them in water? I managed to weakly smile and grab the flowers.

“Let’s get inside,” I said.

The dance was sweaty. Crowded into the school gym, my classmates were struggling to keep their flailing in sync with the beats of Gangsta’s Paradise—horribly surrendering to their lack of rhythm. I turned to see Allen beginning to bob his head and let out a power tool noise of agreement.

“I’ll be back,” I said with a smile. Not waiting for a response, I hurried off to find my friends. They were with their dates in a corner of the gym.

“Here. Take these,” I said, shoving the flowers into one of my friend’s hands.

“Where did you get these?” Sugar asked.

“Where do you think?” I said. I could see Allen across the gym waiting and looking around. The beats of early-90s gangsta rap suddenly shifted to the soft piano chords of an oncoming love ballad. At that moment, Allen saw me. He waved, smiled, and began to walk over.

“I can’t do this,” I said. Abandoning my flowers, I rushed out into the hall and into the bathroom—the one boy-safe haven. I listened for the music to end and went back inside.

“Yew missed the slow dance,” he said upon my return.

“Dang,” I said, trying not to betray my relief. My plan had worked—for now. However, Allen began to get a little suspicious the third and fourth times I did this. It seemed my bowels were incompatible with love songs. Go figure.

I had managed to avoid him the whole night. There were fifteen minutes left. I let out a sigh. I was in the clear.

As I was dancing, however, I suddenly noticed Allen wasn’t around. In fact, I hadn’t heard the soft sounds of the power saw for the last five minutes or so. I left the group and walked around to the side of the gym. Bathed in strobe lights, Allen sat on the bleachers. He looked miserable. He was hunched over his knees. I could see the sadness in his slitty eyes.

“All right,” the DJ said. “Last dance of the night, y’all.” Lady in Red began to blare from the speakers. I felt awful. Sure, his affections were misguided. Sure, he was probably the epitome of un-cool. But at that moment, I knew I had been a complete jerk.

“How about a dance, Allen. What do you say?”

He slowly looked up. His eyes became a little brighter. A shy smile escaped his lips.

“That’d be great,” he said.

He had forgiven me. I hadn’t done anything to deserve it. I never even said sorry. But with that last slow dance, I forgot about all the people around me for five minutes. I looked at Allen, and I knew that it didn’t matter what everyone around me thought about me dancing with him. In fact, they probably didn’t even notice. I’d like to say that this revelation stayed with me—that I suddenly became enlightened and unconcerned with the opinions of others, but I didn’t. On Monday I was up at 4:30 again. But I had been there. For those five minutes I had seen what I was, and I knew that someday I wouldn’t be like that anymore.

Carrying my bouquet, I walked out into the parking lot with Allen to say goodnight.

“Thanks, Allen—for everything,” I said.