‘Amanda Bynes’ and I first meet on the Internet.
She’s 20/f/in. I’m 26/m/il.
‘Amanda Bynes’ likes a story I wrote about accidentally drinking too much cough syrup and going to the mall.
It’s 2 p.m. on a Wednesday afternoon and I’m drinking whiskey in the kitchen with my roommate and next-door neighbor when ‘Amanda Bynes’ requests to video chat.
I accept and she sends me a link to what she calls her ‘nude blog.’
I ask if it’s ok the show my friends and she gladly gives permission.
Everyone approves of the blog and we all agree that ‘Amanda Bynes’ seems pretty cool before packing up our liquor in a tote bag and heading to the park to fly kites.
It’s summertime and I just don’t give a shit.
‘Amanda Bynes’ asks me for my number and I give it to her. We text each other a lot over the following week.
I like texting ‘Amanda Bynes.’
She’s playful and I’m curious about her. She seems to think everything I say is funny. Her sense of humor is pretty vulgar but she seems like a sweet person.
She doesn’t seem dumb.
I’m drunk again, this time on the front stoop at night with friends, sending her a series of messages bragging about an ‘iced-out Livestrong bracelet’ that I don’t have.
Now she wants to drive from Indiana to see me.
I agree and three hours later ‘Amanda Bynes’ arrives in a red coupe with a trash-littered floor and a sticker that reads ‘Take Yo Panties Off’ on the windshield.
She’s all smiles and they’re all good.
They make me do the same. We bounce off each other all night.
‘Amanda Bynes’ ends up staying for three days. When it’s time for her to leave, I don’t want her to go. She says I should come back with her to Indiana where she shares an apartment with her ex-boyfriend until the lease ends in a month. It’s possible. I only work three days a week and have the next four days off.
“Is he going to be cool?” I ask.
“Yeah, of course. ‘Matt Damon’ is really chill. He’s really busy with work most of the time anyway.”
“He’s had girls spend the night before and it was fine. If I have someone over he’s not going to bother me.”
I agree. ‘Amanda Bynes’ and I listen to trap music and chain smoke in between tollbooth stops. We pass a black-and-white sign on the side of the road that reads ‘Hell Is Real.’ I take a picture and we laugh and laugh.
Then it’s silent. Neither of us speaks for a bit.
We exchange glances, seeking assurance that it’s ok to be quiet. Trap beats vibrate the speaker and rattle the trunk. We share the stillness through Indiana.
On arrival, I’m surprised ‘Amanda Bynes’ lives in an actual house rather than an apartment. She parks in the garage out back next to the shell of a hollowed out vehicle. There’s a mattress covered in mysterious stains propped against the wall but I don’t want to solve the mystery very badly.
‘Matt Damon’ works on cars for a living, ‘Amanda’ explains, gesturing at the shell. He’s 28, she tells me. I didn’t ask.
‘Amanda Bynes’ invites me inside and shows me around. All of her things are in boxes in her room. The bedroom floor is covered in magazine cutouts. There’s the disembodied head of a muscular black man along with a speech bubble that reads ‘are you ok?’ They’re for a project she’s working on, she says. It’s not finished.
‘Matt Damon’ comes home early. He is super chill, as promised. Possibly too chill. He walks right up to me and shakes my hand. Firm.
“You’re that writer from the Internet, right?” he asks.
“Yeah,” I reply.
“’Amanda’ made me read that one story, the one about you getting high on cough syrup at the mall. Funny stuff, man.”
“Did you really do that?”
“Haha. Wildness. That’s cool though. I used to robotrip in junior high when I couldn’t find weed.”
“I was just really sick and drank too much on accident.”
“Oh. Haha. How?”
“I was chasing NyQuil with it and I guess I wasn’t paying very close attention.”
“Huh. Well, I guess that’s pretty funny too. Ha. Yeah. Oh man. You must have been surprised as shit.”
“Yeah. Didn’t see that coming.”
“Oh man. I know. Totally.”
This is going better than expected. ‘Amanda Bynes’ is in the other room playing with her pet rats through the bars of their cage.
‘Matt Damon’ announces he is going to bake some chicken nuggets and offers me some. I politely decline and he smiles at me for what feels like a long time. He reaches into the freezer and produces an economy-size bag of nuggets without breaking eye contact.
I ask ‘Amanda Bynes’ if we can go hang out somewhere else for a while and she cheerfully agrees. She says goodbye to the rats in a baby voice and we pass through the kitchen on our way out.
“Hey, you guys,” ‘Matt Damon’ shouts after us.
“Have a great time tonight, alright? Be safe.”
I assure ‘Matt Damon’ that we will and he waves goodbye, whistling what I believe is the Andy Griffith Show theme song while greasing up a pan with a stick of butter.
“I’m probably going to die tonight,” I think to myself.
‘Amanda Bynes’ slams the screen door shut.
“Bye, little shit baby,” she shouts back into the house. She grins at me.
I could die tonight, yeah.
I’m thinking we’ll just see how this plays out.
Later that evening, ‘Amanda Bynes’ and I are sitting on her floor admiring her collages. There’s a cutout of a malamute and a speech bubble that reads “chillin wit dogs.” I can hear ‘Matt Damon’ moving things around in his bedroom. I ask if it’s ok if we close the door and ‘Amanda Bynes’ says sure. She shuts it and I take my pants off immediately. I ask if it’s ok if we lock it too and she says that she would but it doesn’t have a lock.
I’m considering putting my pants back on when ‘Matt Damon’ enters the room with his laptop and a big old smile. He wants to show us a Youtube video he’s got all loaded up. In it, the singer performs a song about how he can’t measure up to the ex-boyfriend of the girl he recently started seeing. It’s supposed to be funny.
‘Matt Damon’ sets the laptop on the floor on top of the magazine cutouts and presses play. ‘Amanda Bynes’ is laughing throughout and ‘Matt Damon’ keeps looking over at me and laughing in my direction even harder during the parts that seem like they’d be the funniest. Hahahaha. Haha. Yeah. I don’t think it’s funny.
‘Amanda Bynes’ thanks ‘Matt Damon’ for sharing but I’m not so grateful. Once he leaves, I ask if it’s ok if he doesn’t hang out with us anymore tonight. She says she’s sorry, he just gets excited about videos and probably won’t be back.
‘Matt Damon’ returns ten minutes later. He’s holding a pair of yellow basketball shorts.
“Heard you didn’t have any pants,” he says with a smile and tosses them at me.
I say thanks. No problem, he says. ‘Matt Damon’ asks me if I like acid. I look to ‘Amanda Bynes’ and she nods vigorously. I say yes and he goes into his room and brings back a plastic sandwich bag containing a sheet with various Peanuts characters on it. He hands me two Snoopy tabs and tells me they’re ‘on the house.’ His house. Because this is his house, he says.
‘Amanda Bynes’ laughs at that one. Not funny.
I thank ‘Matt Damon’ for letting me spend my vacation in his house. He says I’m totally welcome and asks ‘Amanda Bynes’ if he may speak with her for a minute and they step outside. I put on the shorts and think I’m probably not going to take this Snoopy acid but put it in my wallet anyway.
‘Amanda Bynes’ returns 10 minutes later and apologizes, saying everything is fine now. I ask her what is going on and she reassures me it’s fine now. We won’t be bothered again.
‘Matt Damon’ returns fifteen minutes later. He’s holding construction paper and a handful of sharpies. He says he noticed the cutouts on the floors and was wondering if we wanted to do some arts and crafts with him.
“Fuck yeah,” ‘Amanda Bynes’ shouts and grabs some paper. I reluctantly take a glue stick and a sharpie from a beaming ‘Matt Damon.’ It’s almost 3 in the morning. We get right to work.
I’m absent-mindedly gluing some of magazine cutouts onto construction paper while ‘Matt Damon’ carefully cuts little shapes in his construction paper. He’s looking over at me periodically. I don’t look back but can see in my peripheral that he isn’t smiling anymore.
‘Matt Damon’ mentions offhand that, while he did have a girl over to spend the night once, they didn’t have sex because the walls here are paper-thin and that would be really uncool. I nod and glue a cutout of a model’s head onto an SUV.
We all finish our crafts and present them to each other. ‘Matt Damon’ declares that ‘Amanda Bynes’’ is the best before announcing that he’s going to play video games. As soon as he leaves, ‘Amanda Bynes’ and I hop into bed. I really don’t want to have sex here. She gets right on top of me and starts grinding away in vain on the softest possible dick.
“I am going to die tonight,” I think to myself.
The TV ‘Matt Damon’ is playing on is adjacent to the wall next to the bed we’re lying in. He’s in there pretending to shoot aliens and the sound of gunfire and explosions is creating an effect similar to what feels like a pretty decent war zone.
‘Amanda Bynes’ says I should just relax and that ‘Matt Damon’ won’t hear us. The game is so loud, he can’t hear us. She takes off my shirt. She grinds some more and the bed squeaks like a cartoon.
The volume of the gunfire increases.
‘Amanda Bynes’ grinds.
Squeak. Squeak. Squeak. The gunfire stops. A brief ceasefire. I’m next.
We are both about halfway undressed when ‘Matt Damon’ bursts into the room pointing at me and shouting. ‘Amanda Bynes’ whirls around and positions herself in between us, naked, guarding over me like a mother lion.
‘Matt Damon’ is taken aback. Nonetheless, he presents his argument: what we’re doing isn’t cool. Therefore I must leave immediately. It’s after 3 a.m. and I’m hundreds of miles from home.
This doesn’t appear to be going as ‘Matt Damon’ planned. He is breathing heavily. His face is red, his eyes are watery. ‘Amanda Bynes’ won’t budge. Her glare is fierce and I’m her cub.
‘Matt Damon’ looks hurt. He asks ‘Amanda Bynes’ if I took that acid he gave me. Apparently he and I are no longer on speaking terms. She tells him I did, but that’s not true. She’s lying so he won’t start a fight out of respect for the assumed fact that I’m on drugs. After some debate, he convinces her to leave the room so he may speak with me alone. I sit up and he takes a seat next to me on the bed.
‘Matt Damon’ somberly presents the facts: he welcomed me into his home and I violated his trust. I’m still wearing his basketball shorts even. The nerve of me. I feel kind of guilty but not really and then I don’t feel guilty at all because fuck ‘Matt Damon.’
I prepare all of the knowledge I can remember from grade school karate lessons but what I tell him is that I was just a bit confused because he had treated me so nicely today. He smiles and shrugs.
And that was that. ‘Amanda Bynes’ and I leave without incident. She spends the next half hour apologizing. She says she’ll take me home if I want her to but I don’t want to make her travel that far this late.
We decide to take a few of her adderall and go to a park where we swing on the swings and chain smoke until sun up. She’s quiet and I don’t need to look to her for assurance to see if it’s ok. She seems like she wants to cry and I expect her to. Instead she tells me that she’s glad I came. I tell her I am too. And it’s true.
She smiles at me and it’s a good one. It makes me do the same.