• First Person Arts
  • Email Sign up
  • Donate
  • About Us
  • Events
  • Social Impact
  • Storytelling
  • Festival
  • support_button
  • stories_button
  • Support

Out with the Bad


There are truths you learn, and there are truths you earn.

Life goes on.

High School. Freshman year. My primary interest: Girls (with girl parts).

September, my English teacher quoting Frost: “What I’ve learned from life can be summed up in three words: ‘It. Goes. On.’”

I immediately took to this quote, and did what all high school freshmen did when they heard something they liked: I posted it in an A.I.M. away message. (My screen name was “Buffman116”.)

Later that year, after flirtatiously instant messaging with a girl for a  week-and-a-half, we decided to meet at a Church Carnival in Northeast Philadelphia.

I wore a XXL Tommy Hilfiger T-shirt, a pair of baggy jean shorts, and size 13 Sean Kemp Reeboks. I looked like a scarecrow dressed by Eminem.

My pockets jingled with quarters left over from the time I had spent nervously playing carnival games while awaiting her arrival. My stomach gurgled with soda, and funnel cake, and awkwardness.

And suddenly, in the way people appeared in the days before text messaging, she was there: a girl (with girl parts).

We walked through the carnival, my gangly, sweaty hand entwined in hers, pockets jingling, stomach gurgling.

We stopped in front of an attraction called “The Zipper”, a ride that loaded customers into caged carts made for two. The cage that would contain us slammed against my too-long legs, but I was closer to my girl than I had been all night.

Stomach gurgling, pockets jingling, my brain told my neurons to reach my lanky arm around her shoulder. Instead, I smacked her in the face.

Arm eventually around her, I gazed into her eyes.

She closed her eyes (probably imagining I was Zack Morris).

Our cart swung up, and up, closer to the ride’s zenith as customers loaded into the carts below.

I wondered when the ride was going to start and, in a moment of adolescent over-thought-this-moment-for-too-long-so-I’m-not-going-to-think-I’m-just-going-to-do inspiration, I wrapped my mouth around hers.

The ride jolted into action.

At that same moment, I lost the smallest hybrid of soda, and funnel cake, and awkwardness…

Into her mouth.

Panicking and not knowing what to do, I tried desperately to suck it back in.

The ride began to fling not only us, but the quarters from my pockets, which pierced our faces, and legs, and arms.

Later that night, reflecting, I knew I had earned those three words:





Screen shot 2014-02-17 at 2.20.05 PMSteve Clark is a First Person Arts Grand Slammer winner and holds the title, “Best Storyteller in Philadelphia, 2013”. He works as a 6th grade teacher in Philly (not dissimilar from Mr. Feeney of Boy Meets World). He writes and performs both poetry and stories, has watched every episode of Franklin and Bash, enjoys singing Clay Aiken songs at karaoke, and carries his all-time favorite book, Infinite Jest, with him just about everywhere he goes. He is tall.

Upcoming Events
  • StorySlam: Windfall
  • Date: August 27, 2019
  • Time: 7:30 PM
  • Venue: CSZ Philadelphia
  • Location: 2030 Sansom Street, Philadelphia, PA 19107