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Calvin Cain (ShoStoBloMo #2)

November 2, 2009

My name is Calvin Cain. It’s not an original name. If you look it up, there are, like, a million Calvin Cains. I think a full half million of them are at my school.

See, there was this guy a bunch of years ago, and I guess he was really hot or something because every girl was drop dead in love with him. He was in a band and made a bunch of movies and had his face plastered on everything from soda cans to posters on teenage girls’ walls.

How do I know this? My mom is Calvin Cain’s biggest fan. Or so she claims. I imagine a lot of the moms of kids at my school claim to be his biggest fan. He’s from our town, in case you didn’t know. And since no one but Calvin Cain ever left this town, he’s like twice the hero to the girls around here.

Anyway, since no one ever leaves this town, pretty much everyone gets married right after they graduate from high school. Can you imagine? It makes me want to stab myself. That’s what happened with my mom and dad, though. (The graduating, not the stabbing.) They graduated, they got married, then I was born. And since Calvin Cain was at the height of his fame, I got saddled as his namesake. And so did pretty much every baby boy (and even some girls) who were born for a span of like a gabillion years after that.

Just as an example, in my gym class there are three Calvins, two C.C.s, two Cals, one Calvina, and one Calla. Officially, my name is Calvin Cain Robinson, but everyone just calls me Calvin Cain as if the Robinson didn’t exist. It’s super annoying to have a double first name, in case you were wondering.

I’m not sure if all the moms in town got together and decided to name their kids after Calvin Cain, or if it just happened. I hope it just happened, because otherwise, how stupid can you get? Did they realize how annoying it was going to be to go to school and have every kid share the same name? Did they think of how irritated the teachers would be? Probably not. I guess when your new baby is born you’re not really thinking about what his ninth grade gym teacher is going to think.

Another thing that’s unclear about this situation is where all the dads were when the naming was going on. Were the dads just as in love with Calvin Cain? I’ve asked my dad about it, but he just grunts and goes back to his computer.

So. I’m Calvin Cain. I’m trying to get people to call me C-Cain, but no one will do it except for my friend Cal. Cal and I have been friends for a long time now and we both have pledged to each other that as soon as we’re 18 we’re going to go to the social security office with each other to officially change our names. Sometimes Cal will come over and we’ll hang out in the basement and talk about what names we’re going to give ourselves.

“I think Damian sounds cool,” Cal said the other day. I almost choked to death on my peanuts.

“Damian is from, like, the Children of the Corn, idiot. You can’t name yourself after a devil or a demon or a messed up kid or whatever. That would be retarded.”

He gave me a look. “Well what name are YOU thinking of, C-Cain?” He rolled his eyes when he said “C-Cain” and I was forced to throw a peanut at his forehead.

“How about Tennessee? Tennessee Robinson sounds nice, doesn’t it?” I moved my hands out in front of me like I was setting up an invisible sign in the air that spelled out my new name in shining lights.

Cal made a face. “Tennessee Robinson sounds like a failed jazz player.”

“A failed jazz player?” I threw another peanut at him. “What are you? 42?”

“Shut up. I like jazz.”

And this is how it went all afternoon. Eventually, we took a break from naming ourselves and played some foosball and then some X-Box and then my mom came down into the basement and told us our skin was going to rot off if we didn’t go outside for some vitamin D.

We were outside, standing in my driveway kind of dazed from the heat and the sunlight when C.C. wandered by. She was walking her tiny rat dog. Cal and I have known C.C. for as long as we’ve known each other. She’s just sort of always been around. Her hair bounced on her like shoulders like it was playing on some kind of hair moonwalk.

She smirked at us, but addressed the rat dog. “Don’t mind those two, Mr. T, they always stare like that.” She sashayed on her way and I realized I had been holding my breath. By the looks of Cal, he had been holding his breath, too. Why C.C. McTavish made us hold our collective breath was a mystery, but maybe it had something to do with her moonwalk hair.

I sat in the grass next to the driveway and couldn’t help but lay down. It was too hot to do anything else. Cal stood over me, blocking out the sun. “Hey! I almost forgot to tell you,” he said, fishing around in his pocket. He produced two crumpled pieces of paper. “I got us bus tickets.”

I propped myself up on my elbows. “Bus tickets? For what?”

“For the Calvin Cain show down in Houston next weekend.”

“What?” I sat up and grabbed at his hand. Sure enough, bus tickets to Houston. “Did you get tickets to the show, too?” My mind was buzzing like it was full of electricity, my racing thoughts static-clinging to each other.

“Naw, man, that show has been sold out for like a year.” He stuffed the tickets back inside his pocket. “But at least we can go down there now and check things out. Maybe we can sneak backstage or something.”

I gave him a dubious look. Surely, a Calvin Cain comeback tour was going to have tighter security than a presidential visit. “And just how are we going to do that, genius?”

Cal shrugged. “We tell the security guards he’s our dad.”

“Dude. You’re black and I’m white. How’s that going to work?”

Cal shrugged again. “Calvin Cain got around. Lots of black guys have white dads.”

“Even if we said he was our dad, that would probably make them even less likely to let us in, you know? They’re not stupid.”
Cal was looking off into the distance.

“Wait a minute.” I stood up and walked over to him. “You’re not serious are you?” He just looked at me. I laughed a short, staccato burst. “You think Calvin Cain is our dad.” I pointed to him and then back to myself. “Our. Dad.” Cal was over 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, in the ninth grade. I was lilly white, scrawny and lucky to break 5 foot 2 standing on a phone book.

“I don’t know…” he started, trailing off. “Stranger things have happened.”

“What stranger things?” I asked, laughing again. “The UFO sighting down by the Gas n’ Sip? That was a low-flying jet, remember?”

“I’m just saying it’s weird that’s all. So many kids in one town named after one guy.”

“I think by saying that you’re calling all of our moms dumb, do you realize that? If they were all going to get impregnated by the same dude, why would they give all their babies the same name? That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard.” I sat back down in the grass. The heat was too much.

“Maybe,” Cal said, but I could tell he didn’t really think maybe. I could tell he’d been thinking about this for a long time and really actually thought that Calvin Cain was the father of like ⅔ of our high school.

“So are we going to the city to confront him? Is that your plan?” I asked. Cal lifted one shoulder and then dropped it. “Cause I think that’s kind of crazy, dude. Just so you know.”

“Maybe it’s crazy. But before you try to boink C.C, don’t you want to know if she’s your sister?”

I hadn’t thought about that. Now it was my turn to raise a shoulder and drop it. “I guess I would need to have that information,” I said slowly. “I don’t want to go all Luke and Leia and then lose her to you.” I grinned.

“That’s right,” he said, pretending to be serious. “I have always been your Han.”

“When does that stupid bus leave?” I asked.

“4 o’clock Friday afternoon.” He didn’t even have to look at the tickets.

“What are we going to tell our parents?”

“Tell ‘em that we’re sleeping over at the other’s house.”

“This plan sounds sketchy.”

“Every plan is sketchy, C-Cain.”

I nodded. Excellent point. I put my hand over my eyes to shield them from the sun. When I looked through them, they were red as they filtered the light. I wondered if the real Calvin Cain ever did that. He probably never had time to lay in the sun in his yard.

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