In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

  • The Year I Learned Everything
  • Roxane Gay (bio)


It is summer in a dead-end town. There's not much good to say about that. I have been spending a lot of time at the community center pool. The lifeguards at the pool are all ugly so it's kind of a waste of time. I always hope I'll see a cute boy there and I like how the hot pavement feels when I walk barefoot. One of the lifeguards, his name is Jason Miller. He's in college and still has terrible acne. I feel sorry for him. Acne is supposed to go away when you're in college. You're supposed to grow into your looks. He seems pretty lonely. Even though he wears sunglasses all the time, he stares at me. I always set my towel right next to his lifeguard stand and make sure to wear my skimpiest bikini. I feel like I'm doing a good deed. Sometimes, after he jumps in the water to help a kid who can't swim or whatever, he climbs back into his seat and water from his body drips on me. He tastes like chlorine and sunscreen. I keep waiting for him to ask me out. He knows I'm going to be a senior this year; I told him. I think he's afraid of girls. My brother says men who are afraid of girls are gay but Jason Miller isn't gay. When I roll onto my back and see him staring at me, I also see a rise in his swim trunks. Last week, I saw him at the Skate & Bowl with some of his friends. He's the best looking of the bunch so you can imagine how ugly his friends are. They were all bowling and really getting into it like total fucking losers. I mean honestly, it's bowling. My dad bowls. Bowling is the only thing that makes him happy but he's old so he has an excuse. These guys are like nineteen or twenty and bowling makes them happy. There's no hope. Anyway, Jason Miller was sitting off to the side drinking a beer. He must have a fake id. He looked lonelier than he does at the pool. I sat next to him and started drinking his beer. He didn't say anything so I stared at him and slowly drank every drop of that beer and he stared right back and when I finished, I set the glass down. He said, "You're welcome," so I said, "Thank you." Then my friends came looking for me. I squeezed his thigh, surprised by the muscle and he [End Page 23] turned bright red. I slid my hand higher to see how red he could get. I would have stayed longer. I wanted to stay longer. I would have squeezed other parts of him but I had to go. I want Jason Miller real bad.


My perfect summer of lying out at the pool was too good to be true. My dad made me get a job, said I had to earn my damn keep. I decided to get the worst job I could think of to punish him, something that would make him embarrassed when word got out. You know how it is in this town. I forgot what my mom said about my dad, how he has no shame. Now I am stuck waiting tables and washing dishes at a crappy chain restaurant. They don't even really cook the food there. It comes frozen and they reheat it like a frozen dinner. Sometimes when people try to get real fancy with their orders, I want to tell them look, you're being served micro-waved food, you should have just stayed home. I'm the only girl who works in the kitchen. The line cooks spend most of their time staring at me even though I wear a t-shirt and jeans every day. I like to be comfortable and let's face it, I run so much I look good in most anything. By the middle of my shift, I may...


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pp. 23-41
Launched on MUSE
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