As soon as Billy got a goldfish with its own bowl and its own algae and even its own snail, all the other boys got turtles. As soon as Billy’s mom surprised him with a turtle in a shell sleek and spotted the same pattern as his grandfather’s favorite pen and pencil set, all the other boys carried their hermit crabs to school for show and tell. As soon as Billy sold his turtle to a man two trailers over, who had explained to the boy how he needed a pet that would “stay off his back,” Billy bought his very own hermit crab. As he painted his hermit crab red and black, all the other boys bought gerbils. Billy knew gerbils smelled bad, with or without their pee seeping into the bed of cedar shavings you really had to change every day so your room won’t reek. Instead, Billy chose a tarantula. He was older then, almost thirteen, and could handle things with more legs. All the other boys called him a weirdo and a freak and accused him of thinking the history teacher was “hot.” Mrs. Beasey with her sagging breasts suggested Billy start going by William when he began high school. By the time Billy changed his school records to William, all the other boys were going by Johnny or Davey or Bobby. Something about that Y dangling at the end drove girls crazy. By the time William found a girl to drive crazy when he placed his closed lips lightning-quick on her closed lips, Johnny had seen his girlfriend’s chest three-and-a-half times. (A glimpse of nipples escaped him on the last try.) As soon as William saw nipples, Bobby told tales of exploring more than one vagina, though he used a different and better word to describe each one. When the middle finger of William’s left hand finally grazed a solitary pubic hair on his Homecoming date before she pushed him away, two of the other boys (Johnny and Davey?) had gotten their girlfriends pregnant. As soon as William got his girlfriend pregnant, a month after they graduated high school, the other boy’s girls were on their second abortions. Of course William failed at talking his brand new wife into killing their unborn child. By the time William fell in love with his wife, three years into a marriage of low-paying jobs and apartment living and another baby on the way, the other men were divorced. As soon as Billy Jr. was old enough for his own goldfish with its own bowl and its own algae and its very own snail, the other fathers bought the sons they saw every other weekend turtles, then hermit crabs, then tarantulas, then cars, then prostitutes, then honeymoons, then more prostitutes, then doctor visits at the STD clinic, then divorce lawyers. By the time Billy Jr. was old enough to want a tarantula, nearly twelve, his father talked him into buying a puppy.