Gummo ★★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

when i was 12 i moved to Catoosa, Oklahoma, a small town near Tulsa mainly known for a giant blue whale statue rotting in a lake and the Hard Rock Resort and Casino, a massive juggernaut upon which the town revolved around. i had been beaten up only once before, by a cousin at my uncle's house one Thanksgiving, but i barely remember what happened except for the forced apology the cousin was forced to give me at his mom's request. the teacher of the math class was genuinely nice, but in over her head and perpetually exhausted in the way only a public school teacher is. lydia was eating cheetos. this was not the first time she had done so in front of me. the first time i had politely asked her to put them away, and she refused. fine. she ate them again the next day, and i asked her to stop once more. she ate the entire bag without breaking eye contact with me. this became a ritual for the next month and a half. she'd communicate her disdain for me through insults, glares, and cheeto addiction.

i think we were learning fractions, which always made intuitive sense to me for whatever reason, when it happened. lydia's head was down on her desk for the first half of the class. then, guided by an invisible urge, she reached into her backpack and brought out her favorite snack. i asked, my voice low, for her to not eat them in front of me. she didn't even look at me. she didn't even open the bag, instead slowly walking out of the room, ignoring the teacher completely. at the time, i thought i'd won. i wasn't asking her to throw away the cheetos, instead simply to not eat them in front of me, not the most ridiculous request in my mind. after 5 minutes of fractions, lydia burst through the door and began hurling cheetos in my direction.

i'm not sure where my visceral disgust for the taste, smell, feel, and look of cheetos began. when i was younger, i thought my mom must have accidentally dropped me inside of a party-sized bag of them while i was still a party-sized infant, but there's a 75% chance that's false. the thin layer of powder the shade of toxic vomit orange tastes like a crude insulting parody of what someone might think cheese tastes like if they had it described to them once. the crunchy wisp the powder is coating barely qualifies as food to anyone with more than subterranean culinary standards. the stench is like an 80-year-old man's flatulence, if that man was lactose intolerant and ate nothing but rotten cheddar for the past week. the appearance of a cheeto brings to mind severed child fingers or some sea worm deep in the marianas trench not supposed to exist above 2,000 kilometers below sea level or perhaps an energy rod in the chernobyl power plant, corrupted and spreading famine to all who exist within a 10 mile radius.

that's what my main thoughts were as lydia shoved me to the ground with all of her 225 pounds and began kicking me in the head. my classmates and teacher were as shellshocked as i was, except for jeremy, always with the quick reflexes, who got almost the entire thing on an iPhone 3GS. after 4 or 5 good kicks, lydia ran back out of the math classroom, tears streaming down her face. the teacher finally spoke up and asked if i was alright. i remember i was dazed, but happy. i won, she was the one who lost control. she had even cried. when the counselors, the assistant principals, and the one security guard who usually looked at me like i was planning a Sandy Hook all came, I actually laughed a little. when my parents and the police arrived, and i was officially interviewed, i was downright chipper. dad told me we weren't going to press charges because he was told that lydia had a rough home life. i asked him for more details and he refused to give any. i never saw lydia again. i haven't eaten a cheeto in 15 years.

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