"So. Donovan." Ruby's Toad avatar dodges a banana peel in the middle of the track. "How was your date?"

Clyde frowns, but I'm not sure if it's in reaction to her question or because Karen's Bowser just knocked his Mario into the lake. "...Fine. How was yours?"

At that, both Ruby and Clyde immediately glance in my direction. Probably to gauge my reaction to the news that my own sister is going on dates and has a "love life" or whatever they call it.

And, after they see that I have nothing to say about either matter (and ascertaining that I'm not going to turn into a fire-breathing dragon out of rage over this topic), they venture forth to discuss their own respective outings in detail. Chickenshits.

"Ours was okay, I guess." Ruby hurls a green shell in the direction of my Luigi. "We saw that new Ghibli movie."

"Oh, really?" Clyde uses the same tone he does when he tries to be sarcastic but it just makes him sound suspiciously like Nicolas Cage, which is never a good thing. "So did we!" Acting is for the stage, douchenozzle. And you're not good at it so stop being a complete five-assed imbecile.

I take my stupid friend's sarcasm failure as my cue to step in and act the part of Concerned Older Brother before I actually do transform into a more disgusting beast than what Clyde is acting like. "Hey, look, Ruby, if you're serious about dating this doucheface," I point at Clyde (I assume it's him since they're trying to take steps to prevent me from finding out who both of them are dating), "I'm gonna have to put my foot down and give you guys my... whatever it is that's the opposite of blessing. My... gnisselb."

"Or Cartman," Karen adds.

"Or Cartman," I repeat without missing a beat. "If you ever bring him home, I'm disowning you on the spot. You can go raise his Neo-Nazi spawn with his crack whore of a mother for all I care, but I will never consider him or anything related or associated with him as family."

"Well, I guess that's good, then, 'cause I wouldn't touch him or Donovan with a ten foot pole," Ruby sneers.

"Hey!" It sounds like she cut Clyde a deep one. "I'm right here!"

"Lack of blessings aside," I continue, "Just so long as whoever it is you're dating doesn't slap you around, I don't really give enough of a shit for a blessing or gnisselb or Cartman to actually matter. I'm not Father Maxi." I snort and narrow my eyes. "Or so long as he doesn't knock you up. Like we need half a dozen little Rubys running around the place," I mutter.

"Well," Clyde swerves out of the way of the NPC Peach and says in what is hands down the most condescending voice I've ever heard him use, "at least I know my brother's friends are off-limits."

Before I can remind him that technically he doesn't have a brother anymore (his sister just got divorced not too long ago), Ruby tosses her Wii Wheel a good five feet away, stands up and shouts at him, "You wanna fight or something, dickbreath?"


As the last remnants of Clyde's backbone break before our very eyes, Karen and I exchange puzzled looks. Ruby has always been the more outwardly emotional of us two, but this is, for lack of a better word, weird.

Ding dong.

Blessed be our savior from this awkward scene we've landed ourselves in.

"Hey. You." I say to Karen as I get up from the couch to answer the door. "Go get your shit, it's probably your brother."

"Aww, man," she pouts. "And I was about to win..."

"Maybe next time, champ," Ruby says, returning to her normal sardonic self as if it were nothing.

I open the door to find the absolute last person I wanted to see at ten o'clock on a Sunday night. And that's after taking into account any government organization with guns, aliens, religious officials, rednecks, teachers and Mormons:

Eric Theodore Cartman.

Consider my gnisselb granted in the most literal of ways maybe I am Father Maxi. But why can't my powers work when I actually want them to?

"Why, hello, Craig," he sweetly hisses with a slimy salesman smile. "Fancy seeing you here."

"It's my house," I say flatly.

"Uh-huh..." He claps his hands together and gets right to the real reason for his visit. "Well, um, I've come across some very interesting news, if I do say so myself."

No. I am not letting him use me this time.

"According to my information," he continues, "You've quit writing faggy avant-garde pieces of shit and decided to go the Shakespeare route."

"I don't have time for this," I mumble as I attempt to shut the door. But, of course, he gets a foot (and a word) in edgewise.

"Not so fast, Johnny Drama," says the only person I know besides myself who even knows what Entourage is. "I want in."

"What?" I wonder if those guinea pigs in Peru are still susceptible to my telepathy. By the power of Greyskull... Attack!

And... nope.

Damn it.

"I want in," Cartman repeats.


"Does it matter?"

"Um, yeah, it kind of does, considering your tendency to try and sabotage everything we've ever done—"

"Oh, I mean, come on, man, those were all just jokes!"

"You put Scott Malkinson in the hospital." And it was a wonder his parents didn't sue us for everything in our pockets.

"Goddamn it," he mutters. "Can't I just be seriously about something, for once?" He sighs and his eyes get dewy and I know he's about to start spewing out a monologue. God, first Clyde decides to spontaneously act like a tool and now Cartman is about to pull character development out of his ass. On-the-spot improvisation is the lowest form of theatre. It's hardly art and I HATE it, so why the fuck is it going on en masse in my house?

"All those times I tried to fuck up you guys' plays, I was jealous. I mean, I wanted to join, but I was too scared I was going to be labeled a gaywad for the rest of my life." His voice grows quiet and less abrasive and for a minute I swear I thought I was looking at a real person with real feelings and complexities and redeeming qualities. "So can you please just give me a chance?"

Convincing he may be, but I gotta go with my instincts on calling this bullshit. "No."

"Hey," I hear Clyde's voice from somewhere near the coat rack. "It's getting kinda late, so I think I'm gonna bounce—"

He stops yapping when he notices who I'm talking to.

Cartman breaks character. "Hello, Clyde," he smiles smugly again. "Sucking Craig's dick, I presume?"

Clyde freezes.

"Can you please get out of my yard?" I growl.

"Oh," Cartman says, stroking his chin and considering my friend behind me, "okay, so you're the girl in the relationship—"

"I-I'll see you in Trig, man," Clyde stammers as he walks past me and breaks into a run until he gets back to his house across the street.

Let's wrap this up right now before it gets any worse.

"What do you have?" I ask.


"What are you gonna blackmail me with?" I clarify. "Drugs? Money laundering? Some crack baby up in North Park that doesn't have a dad?"

"Oh, no, I'm not gonna blackmail you." Cartman rolls his eyes. "I'm just gonna show up to auditions and blow everyone away."

Too late. It just got worse.

"Oh, no, you won't." I feel the color start to rise in my face.

"Oh, yes, I will."

"I'll barricade the doors!"

"I'll tell the office you're discriminating against me!"

Panicked, I treat this like a real script and allude to the backstory. "I-I will sumo wrestle you! Right here, right now!"

Cartman hocks a loogie onto my shoes. "You'd like to "wrestle" me. You'd like that a little too much, wouldn't you? Since," the malicious light in his eyes wasn't as cardboard-cartoon gleeful as I had expected, "I'm sure Clyde isn't very hard to handle, so you want a challenge. But you can't make me swing that way in your sick, scripted fantasy. Save that prewritten shit for the stage."


He keeps steamrolling on, leaving me flat-dead clueless. "You keep playing the part of this stoic asshole with no feelings, but I know you've got some. You probably even feel bad about this trite little love-triangle you've set yourself up for. You know this little hope you have in your heart about having A Midsummer Night's Dream-esque adventure is disgusting—"

"I have no fucking idea what you are talking about, but I do know that A Midsummer Night's Dream involves four lovers, not three. Dumbass."

"Okay, you want a Tartuffe clusterfuck, fine."

"Tartuffe was written by Moliere, fatass."

"Whatever, I'm not into the homosexual side of theatre, so how should I know? Remember what I said about not wanting to be called a gaywad?"

"There is almost nothing homosexual about Tartuffe!"

"Okay, fine, you want An Inconvenient Truth-style love story. Is that it?"

"Cartman, that was Al Gore's documentary about—"

He throws his hands up into the air. "Look, I don't care about the history of the aftermath of the shooting of Harvey Milk's matador high school by the Mormons in 1826 so I didn't waste my time and watch a whole film about it, okay? Jesus, you're worse than Kenny and his obsession with chick novels like The Help and that fucking Hungry Gay shit."

I will never know how he managed to make a historically inaccurate mashup of that caliber sound serious, but the fact that he could combine Al Gore, the Columbine tragedy, the founding of Mormonism, gay rights movements, and Spanish toreadors and create dramatic tension made me seriously quake in my boots and I mean that literally If he tried out for anything, there was no way we could not cast him, even if he just — God forbid — improvised even more in the audition.

Cartman would ruin everything and find gleeful satisfaction as he tore down everything Bebe and I had worked for. He would make my life a living hell. That's what he has done for the past eighteen years of our lives.

And for the record I don't usually style my life like a script, at least, not seriously. I only rely on that ploy in extremely stressful and special situations, like dealing with Cartman. And I especially hate doing it then because only a few of the quips are prewritten and the rest of the plot is obliterated and changed by Cartman's big fat ass as he barrels through like Ricky Bobby on a racecourse. And he's almost as backwater, closed-minded, and retarded as that movie, too.

"Look, I just came by to try and tell you that I was gonna audition tomorrow because I know I've done shit in the past and you don't trust me. I was trying to appeal to your humanity because I refuse to believe that you are this fucking much of a cutout monotone asshole. But apparently not."

He's one to talk about being a two-dimensional character.

"But I'm still auditioning and I am getting a part. I've tried to be square with you but apparently that's too straight for your liking."

At that exact moment, Kenny's rickety old Pinto comes barreling down the street, music that takes me a couple of seconds to identify as dubstep blaring from the broken passenger side window.

"Ah, so it really is A Midsummer Night's Dream here, now, is it?"

"Cartman..." It's taking everything in me not to punch this fucker right in the jaw. "Just leave."

"I was about to, jeez..."

I watch him stomp over to his mom's old minivan as Kenny comes up and asks, "The fuck is that dick doing here?"

"Dude..." I throw my hands up in exasperation. "I have no fucking idea. You got the stuff?"


As he and I head inside, I try to forget that no amount of weed on this planet is going to make this underlying feeling of dread go away.