BOOK EXCERPT: Slouchers: The Novelization

The following is an excerpt from Slouchers: The Novelization, a book based on the 1992 Gen-X movie by the same name.

It’s being re-published for the first time since 1992 and is available here, among other stores:



Excerpt from

Slouchers: The Novelization



“Did you guys know R2D2 and C3PO were designed by the same inventor?” announces Cody. “But that he was bi-polar? So each robot represents a different emotional side to his personality?”

“Watched Jaws again last night,” says a voice from the pitched roof, changing the subject.

It is Wes.

Willow’s camera pans upwards, past the NO LOITERING SIGN. Wes likes to sit on roofs. Also, he is gay, which can only make Willow’s documentary that much more interesting—and current. Homosexuals have been in the news recently because they are “coming out of the closet,” which means they are announcing to their families they are “homosexuals.”

This has never before happened in the history of “homosexuality,” which most likely goes back years, if not decades.

“I believe that the entire premise of Jaws was based on the Kennedy assassination,” he finishes.

When Willow first met him, a week ago, Wes had already been on the roof for a month. He’s in it for the long haul!

“Here we go,” says Cody. He rolls his eyes in mock exasperation. He doesn’t have time for any of this.

Actually, he does.

All he has, really, is time.

The video store doesn’t open for another hour. It will then close one hour beyond that.

Cody likes to earn extra dough by participating in the bootleg cassette and video black market: celebrity sex tapes, illegal rock concert movies, and hours upon hours of hilarious bloopers from the recently released Silence of the Lambs, including a long scene in which the lotion is not properly placed in the basket.

Wes—up on the roof—also has nothing but time. He’s been kicked out of his home and he intends to stay up on the slanted roof until his parents, who just don’t understand, eventually visit him and profusely apologize.

Like all parents in movies, they do not understand “homosexuals.”

But Wes is a Gen X’er.   And Gen X’ers take matters into their own hands!

The term “Gen X” was coined in 1991 by writer and “Baby Boomer” Douglas Coupland.   “Baby Boomer” is another important sociological term, this one coined years ago by a writer from the “Greatest Generation.”   Before that, no generations—at least with any marketable names—ever existed.   That’s just the way it was.

And this is the way it is now

“Okay,” says Wes, from the roof, encouraged. “So listen to this: the shark is Oswald, right? The first woman to be killed—the swimmer in the ocean— that would represent Kennedy, okay? The rest of the dead would be the soldiers in Vietnam, yeah?” Wes looks down at Willow. “Isn’t the memory card full? You’ve been shooting on your Fuji DS-100 digicam ten minutes already, right?”

“Not yet,” answers Willow. “Few more minutes! Show the entire universe what you’re made of!”

It’s interesting that the Kennedy assassination was just mentioned. One of Willow’s all-time cinematic influences—more so than even Truffaut, whom she has yet to see—is the herky-jerky camera movements from the Zapruder Film, so influential on MTV’s documentarian, vérité style: exciting, loose, impulsive.


Standing gingerly, and making sure his left foot is planted properly so as to not fall off the roof, Wes spreads his arms wide. “Welcome to our reality! We’ve just graduated from college. And we have no jobs. Or prospects! Fuck it! Down the up elevator!”

As if to prove his point, Wes opens his graduation robe wide and dips his head so that his mortar board can be seen. It’s badly stained with alcoholic drinks. Written in white electrical tape across it is “NOW! WHAT?!”

Beneath his robe, Wes wears a ripped T-shirt recently purchased from Old Navy. He would have ripped it himself, in all the right places, but he figured he’d just let the Chinese workers do it for him.

“We call it our maxi pad,” announces Topper to the world. “Our den of equality. Here, anybody is free to be a sloucher!”

“And proud of it,” Cody semi-screams.

Cody slumbers over to the pay phone. He’s holding a half-eaten slice of convenience store pizza and a stack of quarters. He places the receiver to his ear. He’s been on hold forever with KQMV, the grunge radio station. He wants them— no, needs them—to play “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

It’s been fifteen minutes.

Fuck it.   On to something new.   He hangs up. Inserts quarters. He dials 1-900-DAY-DREA.

An operator answers. “1-900-DAYDREAM. How may I assist you to daydream today?”

“I need a daydream please,” says Cody.   He’d think of one himself but he’s too lazy.

“How old are you?”



“Films. Pop culture. Sci-Fi. Um …”  He pauses. What else?  “Fantasy, I guess? Horror. That’s about it. Oh, equal rights for … everyone, I guess, too?”

The operator is silent. She’s thinking. What would a twenty-three year old with these particular interests daydream about?

“I think I have it,” she eventually says. “You’re a famous filmmaker. And you’re walking into the premiere of your new blockbuster. It’s all about monsters.”

“I daydreamed that the other day. Another operator gave it to me.”

Hmmmm. Then let’s try this one. You’re attending a party with many beautiful women—do you like women?”


“Okay. A bevvy of beautiful women are attending a party and you are invited. Maybe you had a crush on a few in high school. Typically in these sorts of social situations, you’re shy, you don’t say much. Not that you can’t. It’s just that you don’t want to. But you decide that this party will be different. You walk in confidently. All heads turn. You loudly announce that you have a few conspiracy theories about the movie The Shining. There’s a gasp. What a way to enter a party! The women are stunned! They’ve never seen or heard anything like this!”

“Oooh, that’s good,” says Cody. “Very good, yes! I like that!”

“Before long, the most beautiful women are in the bedroom, listening to all of your fascinating, original theories on The Shining.”


“You have so many Stanley Kubrick theories, like how The Overlook’s distinctive, hexagonally-patterned carpeting depicts the chemical compound for the soon-to-be invented crack cocaine. The girls are blown away. They’re in heaven. You sit back on the bed, your arms behind your head, and you’re nodding, as if to say: Yeah. No big deal. I just knew you would dig my theories. Whatever!”


“And that is your daydream for today.”

“Do I sleep with them?”

“I’m afraid you’ll have to insert another $1.25 in quarters to find out.”

Cody hangs up.

Harsh realm. 

But cool. He can handle the rest of the daydream himself. He has enough to work with—barely, but enough. He takes a bite out of his pizza, a huge one. He places the slice back down on to the dirty, metallic surface within the phone booth. It’ll be safe until he returns in ten minutes. He blades over to the curb, mouth stuffed, and sinks down with a loud sigh. His energy for the day is sapped.

But he has some daydreaming to do …

“Hey, everyone!” says Topper, skateboarding past Cody, “how much realistically to run into the Convenience Mart right now, buck naked, and then eat a roller dog and then jet right back out? How much realistically would it take for you to do that? Seriously? Realistically?”

“Twenty,” says Jack Jack.

“Fifteen,” says Wes.

“I’d do it for nothin’,” says Royce, chewing languidly on a straw. “Fuck it. I’d do anything for free. I’m crazy like that!”

Royce smokes his Camels “straight.” Kicked out of the Army after forcing the citizens of Baghdad to memorize at gunpoint the lyrics to R.E.M.’s “Everybody Hurts”, he’s back in Seattle and living it up in the parking lot. Royce is the badass of the bunch, the one with the streetwise panache. The one who wears the Army fatigues and a hospital bracelet that’s never been explained but is now fraying. The bracelet is tie-dyed.

Sipping on a 40, Royce has just returned from yet another visit to the plasma bank. His purpose this time was to pay for all the personal lubrication at the Convenience Mart that will assist him in making a deposit at the sperm bank so that he can earn enough money for all the Ring Dings and tall cans of 40 he so desperately craves at the Convenience Mart.

It’s the perfect hustle.

“Then why don’t you?”  Royce shrugs. He adjusts his camouflage Army jacket. He fiddles with his plastic hospital bracelet.

“Juss don’t feel like it, is all,” he says. “Fuck it. Fuck everything!”  “Hey, guys,” asks Topper. “Can I ask you a personal question?”

“Sure,” says Wes from the roof.

“So when you’re sitting in a pool and you feel something that ain’t cool, does it have to be diarrhea?”

Wes laughs. He’s heard this before. And yet it never grows tiresome.

Willow turns off her digital video cam by hitting the large, red STOP button.

“You guys,” announces Willow. “Incredible! Amazing! MTV will love this! You guys are the best! Just acting like yourselves, you’re stars! The world will soon know you all!”

“When’s the contest deadline?” asks Wes, sitting back down on the roof’s slope, making room for his graduation robe to bloom out like a red cloud within a heroin syringe. “When do you have to mail this in?”

Leave it to the homosexual character to be overly concerned about logistics!

“One week from today,” answers Willow. “At exactly this time. They’ll pick a winner, live on the air, for their Grunge Voice of a Generation! I’m going to be cutting it close! But I must get this right, I just have to! There are no second chances!”

“And then you’ll be MTV’s first Grunge Veejay!” says Topper, skateboarding past, sipping on a mug of locally crafted Hefferveisen brew, the latest hops “craze.”

There are so many breweries in this Northwest city that you can practically smell yeast in the air!

Willow prays it’s yeast.

“And we can all move into your mansion. And do nothing all day, every day,” exclaims Topper.

Do?” asks Jack Jack. “More like yabba-dabba-don’t!”

“I thought you wanted to be the first skateboarder to perform a 360-inward-double-heel flip in slow motion on a Doritos TV ad,” says Wes.

Topper’s face flushes. That is, indeed, his dream. But when someone else says it, it just sounds too insurmountable for anyone to actually achieve …

“Maybe,” he mumbles. “I don’t know. You know, maybe.”

“I don’t want to be MTV’s first grunge veejay,” says Willow. “I want to be a filmmaker. I want to capture my generation on expensive VHS tape.”

“But can we still move into your mansion? And do nothing all day, every day?” asks Topper. “When you get famous?”

“We do that anyway,” says Wes from above. “All day, every day. Nothing.”

“Right. But we can then do it inside,” says Topper. “And not outside. Where it rains.”

“Rain is nothing but a conceit,” announces Wes.

“Of what?”

“Of reality,” says Wes. “We’re living within a giant computer.”

“Like Tron?” asks Topper, reaching for another nacho and dipping it into a cardboard container of liquid cheese. “Greed is good. Nachos are better.”

“Can you imagine?” asks Topper. “We’re nothing more than images and pictures inside a huge Tandy TRS-80 in the sky?”

“Can’t even,” says Cody, although it’s hard to tell if he’s being sarcastic.  It’s his second language.

“Being programmed by a Radio Shack employee to do anything the guy wants,” says Topper.

“So you’re saying that if my programmer wants me to spit, then he would just have me spit?” asks Jack Jack.

He spits.


“But what if my programmer does not want me to spit and yet I want to spit?”

Jack Jack goes to spit but stops himself at the last moment.

“Then he never wanted you to spit,” says Cody. “He didn’t want you to spit from the beginning.”

Jack Jack spits.

“I guess he did want you to spit. So he just had you do it.”

Jack Jack spits. “Wanted you to spit.”

Jack Jack goes to spit, stops himself.

Didn’t want you to spit.”

“So what you’re saying,” says Jack Jack, “is that I have zero sovereignty over my own destiny?”

You vill obey the programmer’s wishes or zelse!” says Wes, from the roof, in the hilarious voice of Sergeant Schultz from Hogan’s Heroes.

“All this with an 8-bit Radio Shack computer,” says Topper. “Imagine the possibilities with a 16-bit!”

“But if we all are truly and really programmed,” says Spooner to Wes, “would this mean you were programmed to be gay?”

“Wouldn’t want it any other way,” says Wes, now in his own voice.

I’m a Pepper, he’s a Pepper, she’s a Pepper, wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper, too?” sings Spooner, mimicking the 1970s Dr. Pepper commercial he sings whenever something even halfway earnest is said in conversation.

The Greatest Generation had their earnestness.

The Gen X’ers have something far better: studied insouciance.

Something that actually matters.

“You might be a Pepper but crass materialism will get you nowhere,” declares Cody, sipping from a plastic bottle of OK Cola. He is obsessed with this drink, as are all twenty-somethings.

The Greatest Generation had their World War II.

The Gen X’ers have something far better: the Cola Wars.

“Time to hit the grindstone,” declares Willow, as she clips the digicam onto a belt-loop of her factory-aged work jeans, just next to her large pink beeper. “Can’t just chat all day!”

“You’ll know where to find us,” Wes announces from behind her, still on the roof. “Out here, in our little slice of paved heaven.”

Cody is at the curb. He’s done with his daydream.

He didn’t end up sleeping with any of the beautiful women after talking about conspiracy theories from The Shining but he did manage to receive oral pleasure.

So, really, the daydream could have been a hell of a lot worse.

“Yeah, ain’t going nowhere,” agrees Topper, still on top of the overturned trash can. “Because there ain’t nowhere to go.”

“Turtle and the hare,” says Jack Jack. “Turtle and the hare.”

“Prozac and the booze,” says Wes. “Prozac and the booze.”

“Echoing that,” says Cody, mouth full of cheap ’za, some of which falls to the concrete below. “Man, remember when twenty-two felt old?! Now it don’t feel like nothin’!”

“Rimbaud did he best work before twenty,” says Spooner. “Maybe we’re doomed.”

He lazily scratches at his club hand-stamp. It is in the shape of Bart Simpson wearing unlaced combat boots. Cody is infamous for being too cool to chew; and when he’s truly feeling the grunge spirit—too lazy to even breathe—he’ll wear a working sleep apnea mask fashioned for the daytime. The mask is flanneled.

“It’s the nineties,” Jack Jack says, as way of explanation. “It’s the motherfuckin’ nineties.”

“See ya soon, boys,” says Willow, leaving the parking lot and this amazing conversation behind.

She enters a record store …