“Footloose and fancy free,” that’s my motto!
My dad laughs when I tell him this. “You’ll see soon enough, Xander. When I was your age, I lived in the Amazon. I was surrounded by beautiful women! I couldn’t actually touch any of them, but that doesn’t stop a guy from dreaming! And trust me, in my dreams, I touched them all. But everything changed when I met your mother, and now I’m a one woman man! You’ll see, kiddo. One day.”
I laugh – hard – because he couldn’t be more wrong. Maybe one woman is enough for him (Mom is pretty great, after all), but the Xan-Man wasn’t made to be tied down. Then I ask him again to call me Xan-Man, and this time, he laughs at me.
Xan-Man is the nickname I made up for myself, in case you were wondering. It’s my alter ego, like Batsim or Spidersim. But my alter ego is all about the ladies. I’ll leave the superhero saving the world stuff to the pro’s, you know? Anyway, I asked everyone to start calling me by my new nickname, but so far Lola’s the only one who sees the genius that is Xan-Man. It’ll catch on, though, I’m sure. Give it time.
It wasn’t so long ago I thought juggling two girls was pretty tough. Things are a little different now.
Don’t get me wrong, Sherry was cute and all but Xan-Man needs a woman. Sherry’s a girl, with a schoolgirl crush. Not that I can blame her, amirite?
Still, Xan-Man is a sensitive type. I just couldn’t bear to break another heart, couldn’t stand to be the reason that poor, sweet Sherry cried herself to sleep at night! So I had to give the girl a little something. Let her down easy, you know?
Then of course, there was Janie. Janie’s more my style, with that pile of hair and those big blue eyes! Now that’s a woman. Plus, she always laughs at my jokes.
But Janie couldn’t handle the Xan-Man. Nice girl and all, and legs for days, like dayum! But rumor has it she had a kid with some boring old dude. Just as well, you know? Xan-Man needs more excitement than that. It’s like I say, plenty of Kissing Gourami in the sea!
Which brings us to the here and now. Xan-Man is back on the prowl! All the girls in Willow Creek already know who I am. Xander Wahine, one part Hasslich, one part Wahine: descendant of two families in which the women get to have all the fun. Well, Xan-Man thinks it’s time to change that. It’s time to broaden my horizons! Which is exactly why I packed my bags and set off for this new adventure in Windenberg. It’s just a trial run, you know. I’m not making any long term living arrangements or anything. Not until I get a feel for the female population here. A feel, get it? Get a feel for the female population? Ha! Ha! (Hey, without Janie around I’ve got to be my own best audience, okay?).
So I found somewhere to stay, stashed my stuff, and headed off to library. Which sounds counterproductive, I know – I mean, hello? What kind of girl hangs out at the library? But I wasn’t cruising for girls. I just needed to use a computer – do some research, get a feel for the town. Find out where the best dance clubs were and where the cute girls hang out. But Xan-Man is a babe magnet – they just appear wherever I go! And when I saw this gorgeous creature browsing the gardening section, I just had to get the digits.
I typed in her number and saved it under “Hot Librarian Chick,” when she told me her actual name, which I now know is Kaelani Kealoha. At this point I figured it was time to heat things up, so I told her how I’m new to town, and oh-so-lost-and-lonely! She bought the whole thing, hook line and sinker, so I asked her to take a picture with me, you know, for memory’s sake —
Memory’s sake my plum. I wanted the pic for proof — evidence of all the hotties the Xan-Man’s picking up in Windenberg. When Kaelani wasn’t looking, I sent the picture to Sebastian, Axel, and Beau with the caption “Just the beginning!” Those suckers, all stuck at home with their wives! They wish they could be the Xan-Man!
So anyway, things were going pretty well with Kaelani, and I was thinking about asking her to go dancing with me that night. But the closer we got, the more I noticed something a little funky in the air. What was that smell?!
Kaelani. That funky smell was Kaelani! Smelly chicks really aren’t the Xan-Man’s thing, and besides…any woman who hangs out in the library must be as boring as the old man Janie married.
So it was on to the next thing. My research turned up info on a party that night at some big mansion, so naturally that was my next stop. The DJ was supposed to be some dude called DJ Grubby Grove. ..
Grubby? Okay, then. If that’s grubby, then Xan-Man is all about the grubby.
A little smooth talking, and soon DJ Grubby Grove agreed to abandon her post at the DJ booth to meet me on the dance floor – but only after she changed into “something more comfortable.” I waited patiently while she freshened up. I’m used to it – the ladies always want to put their best foot forward with the Xan-Man.
And I sure appreciated the effort because, because she looked bangin‘ in that dress. DJ Grubby Grove’s real name is Sophia Grove, as it turns out. And Sophia Grove was definitely feeling the Xan-Man. And Xan-Man? Well, I was already daydreaming about Sophia and that comfortable-looking rose bush over there. But Sophia is a class act. I learned quickly that a roll in the hay with this DJ would take a little more…finesse, shall we say? Xan-Man is more than up for the challenge, but I looked at my watch. It was late, so I took Sophia’s number and decided to finesse her another day.
Of course, for the Xan-Man, another day brings another lady, and day number two in Windenberg was no exception. So when I walked outside the next morning and was greeted by yet another beautiful woman, I was far from surprised. I told you – Xan-Man is a babe magnet!
This one’s name was Sioban Fyres. She was rich and sophisticated – she smelled of money (seriously, when I asked her what perfume she was wearing she said it was called “Simoleon.”). Now, Xan-Man’s not in it for the money, but there’s something about that snooty vibe that drives the Xan-Man wild! And since no woman can resist the Xan-Man, things got off to a quick start. Before I even knew it, I was back in Willow Creek, Sioban in tow, ready to introduce her to my family.
At least that’s what I told her. In reality, I just knew no one would be home, and there’s no place better to seduce a rich girl than in a top-of-the-line hot tub.
Xan-Man’s a gentleman, so don’t expect me to kiss and tell. What I will say is that things went…well. Very well.
We scooted out of there pretty quick, and caught the next train back to Windenberg.
Sioban must be pretty impressed with my hot-tub moves, because it’s been three days and she just keeps comin’ back for more! Gotta give the ladies what they want, amirite? And Sioban wants more of the Xan-Man. Tonight there’s a party at some club and Sioban wants me to go meet her friends. The Paragons, they call themselves. I have to look up what that means. Paragon: “a person or thing regarded as a perfect example of a particular quality.” Well this group certainly has a high opinion of themselves, don’t they? But I don’t judge – Xan-Man’s no stranger to confidence, either.
When we get to the club, Sioban introduces me to the Paragons. They love the Xan-Man, because, hey, who doesn’t love the Xan-Man? But it quickly becomes obvious that they don’t like anyone else. The brunette Paragon points to a girl dancing alone in the corner. A loser, the brunette declares, and the rest of the Paragons laugh hysterically. A guy with glasses and an awkward haircut asks the blonde Paragon to dance, and she dismisses him unceremoniously. The Paragons laugh again, loud and hard, and the poor guy’s face turns red. He dashes away, and Sioban elbows me in the side. She’s laughing, too, tears streaming down her face, gasping for air.
“Did you see that?” she giggles, holding her sides. “That guy thought Sofia would dance with him! Can you imagine?!” She laughs again. This is a side of Sioban I haven’t seen before, and I realize I don’t like it.
The Xan-Man has high standards when it comes to the ladies. No boring ladies need apply, no smelly ladies need apply, and no school girls with school girl crushes need apply. Xan-Man needs a real woman. And that means no mean girls, and definitely no snobby Paragons, need apply. I told Sioban what was what, and left her crying. Xan-Man doesn’t like breaking hearts, but Sioban might not even have a heart, so I figure Xan-Man’s in the clear on this one.
I’m making my way to the door when I look up and spot a familiar face working the DJ booth.
Okay, well not exactly a familiar face, but I make an educated guess that the Xan-Man is about to get his second shot with DJ Grubby Grove. She’s cheering on the girl dancing alone in the corner, the one the Paragons called a loser.
I make my way over and strike up a conversation.
She flirts back with me, because they all do, because the ladies can’t resist the Xan-Man, amirite? But I don’t recognize her voice. I look at the sign on her booth. DJ Nobody New, it says. Weird name for a DJ, I think. When I tell her that, she leans into me hard. She’s sarcastic, funny, and I like the sound of her laugh. It’s raspy and sexy and I know I want to kiss her.
I don’t know her name. I don’t know what she looks like. But I think it doesn’t matter. DJ Nobody New is a real woman – she smells good, I notice, and she’s definitely not boring. Best of all, she’s not a Paragon.
Before I can stop myself, before I even register what I’m doing, my lips make contact with the cold, hard plastic of her helmet.
Oops. For the first time in forever, I feel embarrassed. I blanch – the Xan-Man doesn’t get embarrassed! I think I might be blushing, and I wish I had a helmet like hers to hide behind. I look around for an escape, searching for the door, but DJ Nobody New grabs my hand and in a flash she’s pulling me, fast, to where, I don’t know.
I don’t care.
“What’s your name?” she asks me, once we tumble out of the closet.
I gather my cool, and I tell her to call me Xan-Man.
“Xan-Man?” She’s laughing. “What do you think you are, a superhero?”
I’m staring at her, just trying to catch my breath.
“I’m Annie New,” she says. “And if you grow up and drop the stupid nickname, I’ll even let you call me sometime.”
I still don’t know what she looks like. I don’t know if her eyes are blue or green or brown or purple, what color hair she has, or if her teeth are crooked. But it doesn’t matter. All that matters is I get to see her again.
“My name is Xander,” I tell her. “Xander Wahine.”