PREVIOUSLY WRITTEN ON HIGH SCHOOL NORMALITY
"Is anyone back there?"
"I find myself not so much in the mood for caffeine."
"I'd like to drink her coffee."
"Don't talk about her that way!"
"Because--she's, well, special."
"Move it, jerk!"
The four of us were in Aaron Stanwick's truck on our way to Avondale for Regional Auditions. Any time we had something for choir that required us to drive a long distance, one of us drove. Since I had driven to All-State Jazz/Show Choir auditions in Rebellion (my charcoal Pontiac), and Michael Florence had driven to Chandler-Gilbert Community College in his Jeep, it was Aaron's turn (Mark Adams didn't have his license, so he always got to be a passenger).
My name is David, and I'm a normal high school student.
And being a member of Summit Peak High School's choir made these little road trips all the more normal.
"Aaron, can you PLEASE put on some normal music?" We were listening to Flight of the Conchords, which Mark HATED, while the rest of us loved it. Our rule is that whoever is driving gets to pick the tunes, and since Mark couldn't drive, we tried to choose music that wasn't his fave. It was surprising that Aaron liked Flight of the Conchords so much being that he doesn't really like listening to vulgar things, but he actually found humor in it. I always blasted Coldplay, while Michael always blasted Michael Buble.
Before we hit the road, as was our usual ritual, we stopped by Coffee Plantation to grab a few necessities--some water bottles, a few muffins, and of course, a look at the beautiful new cashier, except that she wasn't there tonight. I wondered where she could have been?
"Well, David, people do go home from work sometimes."
"I can't believe you still haven't talked to her," said Michael once we were safely on the freeway. "I mean, it's been three weeks."
"I know, but every time I try, I just...can't." It was true. Talking to girls was never really my forte, even being in choir, where the girl to guy ratio was about 10:1.
"David, just go up to her, tell her that she looks nice, and take her to the back room."
"Mark, I'm not going to have sex with some girl that I've never even talked to."
"I didn't say you had to have sex. Although, maybe a blowjob would make you a little less tense."
"OKAY!" Sometimes we forget that Aaron is Mormon and doesn't like hearing such graphic terms.
"And I am not tense," I said as I looked out the window. All I kept thinking about was the girl, with her brown hair fastened in that delicate ponytail (okay, so a ponytail isn't exactly delicate, but it gets the job done). If only I knew her freakin' name. She never wore her name tag, unlike the other employees at the Coffee Plantation. I guess she preferred to be mysterious, which was sexy, yet annoying at the same time.
"WE'RE HERE," exclaimed Aaron as we approached the parking lot of Firelink High School, and it was BEAUTIFUL (that was sarcasm, by the way).
As we got out of the red truck, the rundown school came into much better focus. The parking lot sat on a torn up road, and the walls of the school were as dilapidated as an old shoe (the air kinda smelled like an old shoe too). The sidewalk was cracked, and there was so much graffiti on the walls of the entrance that it was hard to see the actual lettering that said "Welcome to Firelink High School, a Drug-Free School" (Yeah. Right.)
Ms. Connolly, our 24 year-old choir teacher, greeted us at the entrance. "Good, you guys made it alright."
"It's a wonder that we did with Aaron's driving."
"Hey, Mark," Aaron replied, "maybe you should take your permit test again. I hear SIXTH TIME'S A CHARM!"
Ms. Connolly directed us to the sign-in counter. That was where we would sign up for times for our sight-reading, and then our required solo. I would be singing "Blow, Blow Thou Winter Wind," a piece based on a text from Shakespeare's As You Like It. It was the same one I auditioned with last year and made 1st alternate, so I figured that it wouldn't do any harm to audition with the same piece.
After I signed up for my sight-reading time, I turned around to find a place to sit and wait, but in the process, my eyes popped out of my head as I saw the last person I expected to see--the Coffee Plantation girl!
After Aaron signed up for his audition time, he walked over to me. "Well," he said, "this is interesting."
"What do I do?"
"Why don't you just talk to her?"
"Are you sure now is the right time?"
Just then, Michael popped out from behind me. "Is that--"
"The Coffee Plantation girl? Yes." My heart was pounding. The girl of my dreams was standing not 20 feet away from me, and I didn't know what to do.
"This reminds me of a porno I once saw."
"Just go up and talk to her."
"What the hell am I supposed to talk to her about?"
"Ask her what song she's auditioning with."
"Or tell her what song you're auditioning with, and say that you'd rather her blow that winter wind."
"Ok," I said. "I am going to talk to Coffee Plantation Girl."
But before I could move..."Joy Harris?"
And without further ado, Coffee Plantation Girl, whose name was apparently Joy Harris, gave them her score sheet, and proceeded into the room to do her sight-reading audition.
"Well," said Michael, "that happened rather quickly."
"Kind of like--"
"DON'T SAY IT," we all said at the same time.
After that, things did happen pretty quickly. All of us auditioned, said "Peace out" to Ms. Connolly, and before we knew it, we were back in Aaron's truck listening to Flight of the Conchords. We were all pretty quiet for a little while, and then, of course, the silence was broken by none other than Mark. "Seriously, dude, she was RIGHT FREAKIN' THERE!"
"I know." That was all I could say. My mind was consumed with Joy--what a beautiful name. Joy--a name that described how I felt whenever I saw her. If her middle name was "Nervous", which it probably wasn't, that would have been even more perfect. But then I thought--did she see me when I saw her? Could she know how I felt? Could she have felt the same way--loving, but shy? And then for some strange reason I thought of my family; the monsters whose screaming disrupted any sense of normality that was included in my life.
Aaron dropped Mark off, and then Michael. And then, when it was just me and him, I told him what I was thinking. Aaron always seemed like the person who I could talk to about more serious things, like my family turmoil. "Aaron," I said, "do you have to drop me off just yet?"
"I guess not. Do you want to grab some dinner?" It was about 6:00.
"Yeah. Let's go get some pizza."
"Pizza sounds good. We'll split the price?"
"No, you were the one who paid ungodly prices for gas tonight. I can get the pizza."
"Okay," he said, and just like that, my Mormon friend and I headed out for a pizza and a night of deep conversation.
When you have three best friends, it's always good to have a conversation range for each one. Mark had all of the guy talk, Michael had the philosophical banter, and Aaron had the feelings discussions. They talked to me about everything, but I didn't mind.
A lot of people don't even have one good friend. I'm lucky enough to have three.
Normal High School Student