Alex ‘Braatzie’ Braatz was more often than not the victim of our passive-aggressive torture. Kyle disliked him because Braatzie had led him on and toyed with him. I disliked him for the effect he had on my friend. The entire theatre department at our school disliked him for the extreme gothic-depressive fad he’d adopted, going so far as to cut deeply into his upper arms and then wear sleeveless shirts to school to show off his ‘cool’ scars. Some of the more impressionable girls in the department fell for his whole tortured “You could be the one to fix me!” aura, but that feeling mostly went away when one day after a dress rehearsal, he removed his costume in the middle of the green room, displaying “WHY ME” carved prominently into his stomach.

Though we disliked him, that didn’t stop us from hanging around with him. He had a great house that was always stocked with food and was usually parentless, and he was good for comedy material. Over the year, we mocked his cutting, his acting, his mannerisms, his more memorable quotes (“I stand at the edge of a forest of blackness. . .”), his romantic misadventures with the whore of our school’s theatre, and on one occasion, rubbing a tangerine in his face during lunch.

Even still, we remained friends, and it was ultimately Braatzie who had given us the idea one fateful Thursday night after an emergency Improvedy practice to call the Suicide Prevention Hotline. Kyle and I were just leaving school when we met Braatzie on his way in for a rehearsal.

“Hey guys, looks at this!” he said with a dopey smirk, holding out a SPH leaflet to us. “Someone left that underneath my windshield wiper!”

Kyle and I laughed at the idea of leaving something like this on his car, and also kicked ourselves for not thinking of it first. As our laughter subsided, Braatzie uttered the fateful words, “You guys should totally prank call them.”


Matt Perry
Happy Families
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