November 20th, 1978-November 24th, 1978
It was Monday, mid afternoon and nine year old Chandler Bing sat waiting in what become his normal spot at the principal's office. He sat in the mahogany chair, feet not touching the floor staring up at an older looking man who was staring at him over the rims of his glasses. The little boy with the bright blue eyes and the bowl cut stared up at this stogy old guy who went by the name of Principal Allens, a mixture of fear and annoyance in his eyes. Chandler had gone too far this time, he knew he had. He should never have spray painted the words, "I Seymour Butts Daily" on the wall of the school. But it was funny, he thought it was funny and he was impressed with his ability to spell all words correctly. But the principal had not found it funny at all and he had been caught, red spray paint still on his hands and was immediately dragged into the office. He had been told he was suspended immediately for two whole weeks and now they were just waiting on his parents.
"They're not coming," Chandler whispered.
"They're coming. You know, if you don't start behaving, you're going to end up in jail one day."
Chandler let out a sigh. He wasn't sure he believed that but all he knew he was he had been waiting over an hour for his mother to pick him up or his father or someone. He hoped it would be his parents but he doubted it. His parents never disciplined him, never picked up when he got in trouble at school which was a lot. He wasn't a bad kid which was contrary to what some of his teachers or Principal Allens believed. He just wanted to be seen, wanted someone to know who he was although he was too young to say that.
"John," Gladys, the secretary, poked her head into the office. She was an older lady with her hair tied back in a bun and wearing a red dress with white flowers. "I can take him home."
"His parents aren't coming, John," Gladys said.
Chandler could feel his heart drop as he looked down at his hands and then back up at the principal. Suddenly, the eyes that had once been filled with anger were now filled with sympathy.
"If you want attention, ask."
"I've been asking," came Chandler's reply. "No one's listening."
It was a mature statement for a nine year old. One that made him seem much older than his years. But what Chandler had seen in nine years was stuff that no child should have been witnessing. At nine, he could say he had a piano teacher that felt him up once and had walked in on his parents having sex with the same man. He had done tequila shots with Jorge, the house boy and done many more things that one would only find in the pages of dirty novels.
"I'll take him," Gladys said, again.
Chandler jumped off the chair and grabbed his backpack from the floor. He walked towards the secretary who placed her arm around him and led him out the door. He walked in silence as Gladys opened her car door and let Chandler in the passenger side. Chandler still stared quietly out the window as Gladys drove out of the parking lot.
"Will there be people at home?" Gladys said.
"You know, you're a good kid Chandler, You do hear that, right?"
"I guess. Am I still suspended?"
"I think so. Although, between you and me, that was funny. There's a time and a place though. Unfortunately, spray painted in red across the wall of the school...not the right time or place."
Chandler sat in silence as Gladys drove the rest of the way to his house. Once there, Chandler got out and stared at the huge home that stood before him. Chandler Bing grew up in the wealthiest sections of Scarsdale, New York. He did not live in a house, he lived in a commune of sorts. His home took up several blocks and covered many, many thousand square acres of land. His home came equipped with a movie theater, bowling alley, a large pool area with a pool house, several guest houses and even a club where his parents would invite people from every walk of life. The parties would go on all night and would involve an endless supply of drugs and alcohol.
Chandler walked through the gates and reached into his pocket and pulled out a key. He unlocked the giant doors and looked up at the long, wide stair case. He had once opened the door to his house and found he father locked in a passionate embrace with one of the butlers. Chandler wasn't ready to go to his room so instead he walked to the left of the staircase and opened a two double doors and walked into the movie theater his home came equipped with. This was by far his favorite room in the house. It was his hiding spot. He walked up to the projection room and grabbed several stacks of tapes and set them up. Soon Chandler was transported to another world, a funnier world. There was Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Laurel and Hardy and Fatty Arbuckle. There was Annie Hall and Blazing Saddles. Animal House. 10 and Young Frankenstein. This was his world, a funny world. A world where laughter healed and made things better. He had seen all these movies so many times that he knew the words, mouthing them along. He loved 10, especially. Sure, one would say the sexy movie starring Bo Derrick was wildly inappropriate for a nine year old, but no one seemed to be arguing with anything Chandler did. As he watched Bo Derrick run down the beach, he wondered if he met her if he could make her laugh. He was sure he could, he seemed to be good at that.
He had discovered this when he was seven. He had tripped in front of a group of girls in second grade and they laughed. He hadn't meant to trip. His shoelace had been untied and he had actually his knee, but that sound. That glorious wonderful sound. Sure, there was blood, his knee was bleeding, but he didn't care. That sound, he wanted to bottle it up and carry it with him.
"So you got suspended," came a voice standing above Chandler. Chandler recognized the voice as his father, Charles Bing. Charles sat next to his son and drapped his arm around the back of the seat.
"How do you know?" Chandler asked.
"I called the school back."
"Don't. I wanna watch."
Charles simply nodded and turned to watch the movie with Chandler. Sometimes his father would give advice, but Chandler never wanted to hear it. Advice from his dad was ridiculous, advice from anyone was ridiculous.
"Dad," Chandler said, looking up.
"Do you love me?"
Chandler turned to continue watching as Charles lowered his arm and placed it around Chandler's shoulders. Chandler looked up at his dad. Normally, he'd shrug his father's arm off him, but instead this time, he lifted the armrest that separated father and son and moved closer. It was the one thing Chandler had that he could share with his father, a love of movies. A love of comedy and a love of trying to make people smile.
Chandler's world imploded once again during Thanksgiving. He had been sitting there, his mom and dad on either side of him and they were informing him they were divorcing. Charles was leaving Chandler's mom, Nora for the house boy Ramon. Chandler had been eating turkey, a piece was already in his mouth when the new was broken and suddenly he could not control himself. His parents had a far from perfect marriage, but he had never expected this. He got up and ran outside. He ran as far as he could until his legs gave out and he leaned against a tree. He began throwing up. The Thanksgiving dinner, in reverse. The turkey, the stuffing, the cranberry sauce, the yams...all coming back. When he was done, he sat, wrapped his arms around his knees as his body shook. He could not stop crying as he rocked back and forth, look up towards the night. He could see stars sprinkling the sky, wondering if he could transport himself, maybe transport himself into one of those comedy movies.
"Chandler," Charles said as he walked towards his son and sat next to him.
"Leave me alone," Chandler said, his throat hoarse.
"Please let me speak. You know your mother and I have not been happy for a long time. I'm gay. I tried to hide it. I tried to be something I wasn't but I couldn't do it-"
"Can't you try harder?"
"No. Look, in order for me to be a better parent, I need to be happy with me."
"What about me?" Chandler asked.
"You'll be fine."
"Are you leaving?" Chandler asked.
"Tomorrow morning. Ramon and I are taking a flight to Florida. We're going to start a burlesque."
"You will be fine and I still love you."
Chandler shrugged and got up. He walked back towards the house. As he walked back inside, the smell of Thanksgiving food still lingered and it made him sick to his stomach. It was then that he made a pact to himself, that he would never eat Thanksgiving food again for as long as he lived.
His parents had an interesting way of dealing with the divorce. After the failed Thanksgiving dinner, his parents had an "End of the Marriage" party at the club that was located in the basement of their home. Chandler sat on one of the red cushions, watching the grown ups around him gyrating to loud music that pulsated through the room. It was so loud, Chandler could feel his bones vibrating. He could see his father and Ramon off at one of the tables, kissing in between snorting lines of cocaine. Chandler rolled his eyes as his mother, Nora, wearing a tube top and a mini skirt plopped herself down next to Chandler and handed him a drink.
"Here you go, son," Nora said. "This will help you."
"What is it?"
"Jack and coke. I know you've had a rough week with being suspended and now this. So you can use a drink."
"I'm nine years old, mom."
"I know. I'll monitor your intake."
Chandler squinted at his mom in the darkness as he reached for the glass and brought it to his lips, downing the drink. The drink burned his throat, but felt surprisingly good. He kept drinking more until he was sufficiently drunk. He liked that feeling of being drunk. He could forget if he was drunk. He wasn't sure what time it was but at some point in the party, he stole a large bottle of Jack Daniels from the bar and made his way to the theater where he loaded up those old comedies again and sat while his parents celebrated the end of their marriage downstairs, Chandler drank from his bottle of Jack Daniels as if he were downing soda and soon passed out to sounds of Animal House. When he woke the next morning, he had pounding headache. He stumbled out of the room and into large empty house. He walked towards the front door and opened it. It was there he saw an image that would forever be engrained in his head. His father and Ramon getting into the car, backing out and leaving. Chandler kept wondering if his father would turn back, if his dad would say goodbye and Charles did turn back, for a brief second and locked eyes with his son. Chandler desperately wanted him to say something but Charles never did. Instead, he got in the car and drove off, leaving his son behind and leaving Chandler how to figure out his next step.