HIGH SCHOOL NORMALITY contains strong language and some themes not suitable for audiences under 17. Viewer discretion is advised.

Monday, March 30, 2009

I Hate Everything About You

"Are you Calvin Adler?"
"No, I'm his son. Can I help you?"
"Just make sure he gets these papers and let him know that he's being served."

"Did you find a job?"
"My name's Jim. Here's an app."

"If we're going to be in a relationship than we have to be able to talk about these things."

"Look, I don't usually do this, but I'm down three guys, and I really can't handle this job without at least one more person."

"I can come by Monday after school. Around 2:30."

"Perfect. Consider it your trial run. If you do a good job for me, you're hired."


"Come on, kid! Get a move on!"

It was my first official day of work at the UPS Store, and my boss, Jim, was being a real tool. I had heard about difficult bosses from my parents, my sister, and kids at school who worked, but I never imagined that it would be so--brutal.

"David, stop standing there jerking off and get Mrs. Paulson her mail!"
"Yes sir." As I observed when I did my trial run the previous day, it's better to just say "Yes sir" when it comes to Jim. He's not a bad guy, or even a bad boss. He's just--well--harsh.

"Here you go, Mrs. Paulson. Sorry for the wait."
"Oh it's quite alright, deary. Have a wonderful day."
"You too."
Jim looked at me as the little old lady walked away with her mail. "It's a good thing that you have such strong people skills, or else you would NOT be working here."

Generally when someone insults you in such a way, you would feel insulted, but I just felt grateful. Each day more applications came in of people wanting jobs. These people would have to wait for a real interview while I got the job basically on the spot. It actually made it worth it to have an asshole like Jim as my boss.

Another good thing about working at the UPS Store was that right across the way, my girlfriend Joy Harris, worked at the Coffee Plantation, and on any given Saturday, my best friends, Aaron Stanwick, Mark Adams, and Michael Florence, could be seen sipping coffee (Hot Chocolate for Aaron), and talking about absolutely nothing. I had a feeling that it would be a while before I would be able to join them at the Coffee Plantation for a Saturday meeting, and while I was sad, I understood that I had to do what I had to do. It was what my family needed.
My name is David, and I'm a normal high school student.
And while having a job is a normal part of high school, I couldn't help thinking that spending time with my friends and girlfriend was more normal.


Part of my job description is answering the phone.

"Thank you for calling the UPS Store. This is David, how may I help you?"
I was so good.
"I've been expecting a package. A really big package."
She was so bad.
"Sorry ma'am, but you are just going to have to wait for that package."
"That's ok. Really I just wanted to hear your voice and let you know that I love you. Have a great day at work."
"Same to you. Have a nice day."
"Who was the package from?"

I laughed a little to myself.

I worked until six that night, leaving at closing time.

"See you tomorrow, David."
"Looking forward to it."

Joy was waiting outside the store for me, and as I walked out, she gave me a huge bear hug.

"I missed you."
"I missed you too."
Joy was really excited as we walked to Rebellion, my charcoal Pontiac. Once we got on the road, she told me her exciting news.

"I have some exciting news!"

Told you it was exciting.

"What's up?"
"My friend Jamie is moving to Arizona!"

I have a certain animosity toward the state of Arizona. It's just too dry, and there's way too much cacti.

"Well, Jamie's dad got transferred here, so the whole family's moving."
"Well, at least Jamie will have a friend here."

Joy talked about Jamie all the time before this news came up. The two of them met at a summer camp when they were 8 and had been best friends ever since. Apparently she had come to Arizona a few times, but it would be different now that she was moving here.

"The BFFs will reunite!"

Have I mentioned today how much I love Joy?

When I got home that night, my parents were having one of their infamous arguments. You would think that hearing them argue would get old, but really and truly I just got used to it.

"How was WORK, David? You know, WORK!?"

My dad had lost his job because of the recession, and my mom had definite animosity toward this fact.

"Yes, David. Did you deal with any DIFFICULT CUSTOMERS? You know, people that are DIFFICULT!?"
"Work was fine, everyone was nice. Now will both of you grow up so I can do my Chemistry homework?"

They were silent, which I guess is what I wanted. I got to work on my Chemistry homework, but it was hard to concentrate. I kept thinking about this Jamie person. It was just a gal pal, it's not like it was anything to worry about. But then again, with her working, and being at a different school, and now having Jamie around, where would I fall on her priority list?

Before I knew it, I had been working at the UPS Store for two months, and Jim decided to give me Saturday off.

"I'm gonna be trying some people out. Don't worry, you still have a job, but I'm still understaffed, so I need to work with a couple other people. And besides, you've been working hard all week. Hang with your friends."
"Thanks, Jim." I was genuinely grateful. I hadn't really spent a lot of time with Aaron, Michael, and Mark outside of school since I got the job.
I met them at the Coffee Plantation, our Saturday routine pre-job. Joy was working that day, which was perfect, except there was this guy checking her out at the counter, and from afar it looked like she was flirting back. Before I could say a word to the guys, I made a B-line to the counter and tapped the guy on the shoulder.

"Hey buddy, this is my girl."

He surveyed me for a moment.

"You're David?"
"Yeah, and you are--"
"Honey, this is Jamie."

I was astonished at my latest discovery.

"I've heard so much about you, man."

He reached out his hand for me to shake, which I did, although reluctantly.

"Yeah, I've heard a lot about you too...man. Hey, Joy, can I talk to you for a sec?"
"Sure, but we need to make it quick. I'm supposed to be working, afterall."
We went to the storage room, where she was "getting some more coffee beans". This seemed unconventional, and unprofessional, but I had to do it.

"Um, Joy, I don't know if you noticed but JAMIE IS A DUDE!"
"Um, yeah?"
"Um, why didn't you tell me?"
"You never asked."

This was true. I guess I just always assumed that he was a she. He was her best friend and all.

"Look, honey, I didn't want you to react this way."
"Than why didn't you just tell me what was what the first time you mentioned Jamie?"
"Because every other guy has reacted--well--badly the fact that Jamie had a y-chromosome."
"And how many times do I have to tell you that I'm not like any of the other guys?"

There was a short pause.

"Look, I need to get back to work, but why don't you guys take Jamie out for lunch or something?"

I pondered this for a moment, but I knew that I had no real choice.

Aaron, Michael, Mark, Jamie, and I decided to go to our favorite pizza place, 3.14. It had good pizza, good atmosphere, and, of course, several games on several plasma TVs. Sports generally ease the awkwardness, except--

"How can you hate the Red Sox?"
"I have roots in New York."
"Yeah, but why the Yankees? They're so--"
"Well, I was going to say boring, but I guess everyone's entitled to their opinions."

Things were getting unnecessarily heated between Jamie and I, but for some strange reason I couldn't stop. It was as if I was trying to find everything wrong with him.

"So Jamie, what do you think of Arizona?"
"I guess it's nice. At least Joy's here."
"So you and Joy are pretty close, huh?"
"Well, we've known each other forever. When we were kids, we took baths together."

This guy just didn't know how to quit.
"I took a bath with this girl Rene once. You know, there's nothing like the sight of a naked, wet body of the female sex."

I love all of my friends equally, but sometimes, I really want to kill Mark.

"So, David, do you and Joy ever take baths together?"
"I don't really think that that's any of your business."
"Sorry. I mean, any other time she's had sex with someone, I've know, but she never said anything about her sex life with you, so I didn't know if it just meant--"
"We haven't fucked yet, okay? We've come close several times in the last three months, but we just haven't."

If you couldn't tell, I was getting really pissed off.


Saved by the bell! "Hello?"

"David, it's your mother. You have to come home right away."
"Why? What's going on?"
"I'll explain when you get here."
"Okay. I'll be there in a few."
"What's up?"
"That was my mom. I've gotta go, but I'll talk to you later."
"Hey, it was really nice neeting you, David."
"Yeah, you too." That statement was debatable.

I pulled up to my house and walked through the front door. What I found when I walked in was shocking.

There was a note on the coffee table that said in chicken-scratch handwriting: "I can't do this anymore. I'm sorry. Goodbye."

"He was all packed and out of the house when I got home from the grocery store."
"So, he's just--gone?"
"It seems that way."
"Do Libby and Jake know?"
"Libby does. Jake doesn't. They're at his school carnival."
"Wow. Just--wow."

That night, I got my usual call from Joy. She sounded concerned.

"Jamie and the guys told me that you had to cut early. Some family emergency?"

On our first date, Joy told me that in order for us to work as a couple, we had to be able to talk about serious matters, but being that this was so catastrophic that I didn't want anyone to know, I said--
"Everything's fine. Nothing to worry about."

I felt bad at first, but I didn't want to add any more complications to my life. Especially since it was obvious that everything was about to change. So, I continued the conversation.

"So, Jamie tells me that you're not a virgin?"

Okay, probably not the best conversation topic, but--

"I've only slept with one guy, and that was Jamie. We gave each other our virginities when we were 14. Lots of friends do that. What did he say?"

In a smooth attempt to get out of the hole, I decided to go with the easy route.

"That's what he said. I just wanted to confirm. He seems like a (this was excrutiatingly painful) really nice guy."
There was a pause.
"What's wrong?"
"Oh, nothing. I'm so--glad you like him."
I didn't like him, and I didn't think he was a nice guy, but what else was I supposed to say? Joy was my girlfriend, and Jamie was her best friend, and apparently her "first", but little did I know, something else was going on. But with everything happening at home, I felt like being oblivious. Afterall, life is so much better without the added complications. When it comes to love, maybe ignorance really is bliss.

David Adler
Normal High School Student

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