submit or we will make eyewitnesses of your elbows, teeth, and nostril hair
The plan was this: to make a movie about our lives. Like every group of friends, we thought we were funnier than most, smarter, more talented, just better. It was sure to be a hit, and everyone would love us. We’d be the new Rat Pack, or the Beats, or… some other group of friends that all made it together. Except, wait, no, we wouldn’t even be the new anyones, we would just be us. Everyone would be too busy praising us to even draw parallels to those who had come before. And here would be the catch: we would all be involved in every facet of the movie making process, from writing and directing to camerawork and music, but we would each act in the movie as someone else. It would be a fictionalized retelling of our times hanging out together, but I would play Andy, Fuzz would play me, Squirts would play John, etc. It would be our own inside joke. A funny story to tell when the movie made it big. Did the audience really fall in love with me or John, or John playing me? They would love us all! The tricky part was deciding who would be who, and specifically, who would play Squirt Gun. We all knew, without even having to voice it, that he would be the centerpiece of the story.


Squirt Gun had his wisdom teeth removed when he was 18. On his way home from the dentist, he decided he should eat something, despite the doctors having advised him against eating for a few hours. He was stubborn, but he also knew that once those few hours had passed, he would be in too much pain to eat anything. The next few days would be nothing but shakes, pudding, and maybe Top Ramen, but he craved something of substance.  So, with complete numbness in his mouth, he pulled into the Safeway a few miles from his home, bought a couple deli chicken strips and a Coke, and took it all to the benches outside to eat under the midday sun. Fifteen minutes later, as he was finishing off his coke, he felt liquid running down the side of his face and neck. Thinking he had spilled somehow, Squirts wiped his cheek with his palm, smearing the liquid around more than cleaning it up. He looked down at his hand, thinking he would suck the Coke up out of his palm, and saw it covered with a dense mixture of cola and blood that started to drip out of his hand to the ground. He also felt it starting to ooze down off his cheek onto his neck, and down. Another fifteen minutes after that, he was at my house explaining this all to me, as I tried to patch him up with butterfly Band-Aids, cotton balls, toilet paper, tape, and whatever else I could find in my bathroom.

The first scene would feature us all sitting in a car at a stoplight. Some music on in the background. The camera would follow our eyes as a couple of us turn to the car next to us and the camera reveals a fairly attractive thirty-something, looking rather uptight. She would look like she had been a sorority girl 15 years ago, and was still holding onto that. Back to our car and the camera would zoom in on Squirt Gun taking a big swig from his water bottle, and pushing all the liquid against the inside of his right cheek. Water shoots out in a stream and sprinkles Sorority Lady in the face. Squirts would swallow the remaining water and stare straight at the bumper in front of us, playing the straight man. The camera would show us, everyone knowing it would probably be even funnier if we could all keep straight faces as well - and we would try - but it always seemed to be even funnier than we remembered, no matter how many times we did it. On the occasion we were able to remain looking innocent about it, the driver seemed to have no idea where it came from. Our laughter gave us away, but she just thinks we are a bunch of immature kids who had just squirted her with a squirt gun. Which is pretty funny in its own right, and in fact is something we used to do. Before Squirts chewed a hole through his cheek and it never fully healed. This is much funnier.

It’s decided that Nick gets to play Squirts. We spend lots of time working on the logistics of this. How to make it so he can squirt water out of a hole in his cheek that isn’t really there? This is one of the most fun aspects of the movie: the attempts at problem solving; getting to try our hand at special effects even though we have no money at all and even less knowledge about special effects. We feel like real renegade filmmakers! We finally come up with some makeshift ways of looking like he is shooting water from the distance, and Fuzz says his sister can do makeup so it will look like a hole is there at all times. Then, for close-ups, we can just use Squirt Gun himself. For close-ups of just the cheek, no one will know the difference. And with the idea of using Squirts for close-ups comes another idea, this one for the final shot.
Our first spring break, none of us could afford to go anywhere, so we all just got together and watched movies and drank. One night, after approximately too many drinks, someone voiced the idea that we should all go get tattoos together. We all instantly agreed and, after choosing the most sober of us by drawing straws, we piled into Michigan’s big SUV, and headed out to the first tattoo parlor we found. Most of the drive was spent arguing what each of us should get forever drawn on our skin. Squirt Gun obviously had to get a toy squirt gun on his arm, and he was more than excited about this idea. 

When we got there, Fuzz had decided to get some evil dragon on his shoulder blade. He picked it off the wall, and we all told him it looked kickass. Squirts was still excited about the toy gun on his forearm, and apparently concentrating on the road had sobered Michigan up enough to know better than to get his body inked, and the rest of us just got some Chinese letters that said something cheesy like “strength” or “power”. Squirt went first, and it turned out amazing. It was done in this light shade of green that made it look almost plastic, and the detailing was great. There was the little spigot you pulled out to fill it with water and everything. The tattoo artist had left the spigot pulled out, and from then on, Squirts always got a kick out of putting his arm under a running faucet like he was filling it up.

Final scene: someone pisses Squirt Gun off. Or maybe does one of us wrong. He has to stand up for us, to right what’s wronged. So, with the music signaling payback and a determined look on Squirt’s face, he would make his way to a sink, turn on the water (possibly in slow motion), pull up his sleeves, and slide his arm under the water, looking like he is loading his weapon. Pure action film. Fade to black. It sounded pretty cool to us anyway.

[Aaron Burch does this.]

[Forever after at

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