When a boy turns sixteen, he’s still a boy. He thinks this sanctified number is a passageway, that the hinges have finally swung open just enough to tease a view of adulthood. After all, he carries a wallet in his back pocket (with movie stubs, what’s left of his allowance, maybe a condom he found in his father’s night stand — flattened by the faux-leather folds, but still useful as a balloon, should water-balloon warfare kick in). He wears a shiny Timex on his wrist, and there’s a shadow on his cheeks that could maybe possibly be whiskers. He carries a boy’s certainty of his own manfulness, and he’s at the apex of his faith that mortality is for others, and he alone may be an exception to Old Daddy Death’s fiat. But he’s still a boy.
The year David turned sixteen, he held that same faith. He knew he was different from the other boys, and not just because of his skin color and Georgian accent. He was not particularly interested in the things that they pursued… sports, girly magazines, sneaking Canadian Club out of the dining room hutch. He preferred reading, writing short stories, spending time with his family. True, he had a girlfriend who he thought was eternal, and he wrote hopeless poetry about his devotion to her… not quite grasping the meaning of his own words. He thought commitment meant always being together, and that was the furthest stretch of his imagination. It was a boy’s thought. He was still a boy.