It’s a really slow news day, and Leo seems to be doing all better now, after his little morning encounter with some symptoms that freaked out his mommy. And I took a little nap after the emotional exhaustion that accompanied the aforementioned symptoms, and am feeling much better, and I think it’s time to talk about this site’s name, as I mentioned it earlier and some of you asked me to elaborate.
“The Evil Beet” was my nickname in high school. Here’s the story.
As high-school students in Arizona, we’d often spend several weeks out of the summer at my girlfriend’s second home in San Diego. My girlfriends from high school, who remain some of my best friends to this day, are basically pod people. They’re tall, they’re thin, they’re beautiful, they’re smart, they’re kind, they’re talented, they’re funny, they’re athletic, they have great hair, and, of course, they tan perfectly. You know what I’m talking about. They’re the kind of girls who step out into the sun for a couple of hours and emerge that shimmering shade of bronze that indicates health and sensuality and seems to catch the attention of men from 100 yards away. I, on the other hand, am Russian. I don’t tan, I burn. Every time. But my relationship with tanning at that age was kind of like my relationship with olives: I never, ever liked olives, but I’d always try them again, convinced that this time I’d like them, because they just looked so cool.
So five or six of us are in San Diego for a couple of weeks. We’re staying at my friend’s condo, with her parents, who generally stay out of our way unless they suspect we are up to something truly devious. The girls all decide they’re going to lay out on the beach. I am determined to be bronzed and beautiful, just like them. I decide that the best way to do this is to put on absolutely no sunscreen and sit in the midday July sun for six hours. It doesn’t work. By 4 pm, I am red all over. This is not, like, your standard little sunburn, a pinkish glow. I am red. I am practically radioactive. We go to the movies that evening, and strangers in the womens restroom ask if they can touch me, or at least get a closer look. People are fascinated by the sheer extent of my sunburn. They hold their hands a few inches from my arms, then glance up at me with a curious look in their eyes. “It feels warm from here,” they murmur in awe. It’s a phenomenal sunburn. The girls start calling me “the beet,” as they strut around with their perfect tans and perfect hair and perfect everything. I am sad. :(
We’d met a group of guys a couple years older than us at the beach that day. They introduced themselves as “pre-pharm” students, and, once we’d collectively decided that meant they were going to be pharmacists and not farmers, we all agreed that they were cute and we should meet up with them later. We weren’t supposed to be out after 11, but we made plans to sneak out and party with them anyway.
We spent the first part of the evening in my friend’s bedroom, drinking vodka from a fifth we’d somehow obtained. At this point, I’m not really certain how we always had alcohol in high school, but we did. By the time we were supposed to head out to meet the guys, we were fucking trashed.
The time arrives for us to sneak out. The front door to the house is very heavy, and it closes with a bang if you don’t do it very, very gently. We all stumble through the door, drunk and giggling quietly. I’m the last one out. “Don’t let the door slam! You’ll wake up the parents!” whispers one of my girlfriends. I turn around, but it’s too late. The door slams shut with a bang. One of my girlfriends, staring at me with eyes and mouth wide, slurs out “You let the door slam! You’re evil! You’re an evil beet!” The other girls agree. “Evil beet!” they chant. The nickname stuck for, well, the rest of my life. When I decided to start this site, and was trying to think of a name, I made some phone calls, and everyone agreed that Evil Beet was definitely the way to go.
To give you guys the ending to this story, we didn’t meet up with the boys that night. We didn’t get caught by the parents, but we only got as far as the beach before we all started vomiting into the sand. We had one guy friend along with us on that trip, who had managed to stay comparatively sober throughout all this, and he just looked on in awe as five teenage girls threw up into little holes they’d dug all around him. One of my girlfriends decided she had to go to the bathroom. She later told me that she felt like she’d walked a full mile away, but she actually only went about five steps before pulling down her pants, squatting, and peeing. Our guy friend turned to me and said, “Oh my God. That is disgusting. I’ll never look at women the same again.” Six years later, at a hole-in-the-wall bar in Los Angeles after we’d shared, literally, a bucket of tequila, he told me he was gay. I’m still not convinced that the two events were unrelated.