"I love you."
"Until I am ready to say it, I don't want to say it without meaning it."
"There's nothing wrong with waiting until marriage."
"I never said there was anything wrong with it. It just wouldn't be my choice."
"Lost your virginity yet?"
"No reason. Just wanted to know if you found whatever it was you were looking for."
"I guess I just thought that if we had sex, well, it would make me feel like less of an idiot for saying I love you."
"I love you too."
"So all I am is money to you?"
"No. Now the only money I see is the money that you're being SUED FOR!"
"David, you need to get a job. You need to be able to help out with some things."
"I'm sorry Mr. Adler, but we are not hiring right now."
It was the fifth place that morning that told me that they were not hiring. It was beginning to get frustrating.
"Well, thanks anyway." That was the fifth time that I had said that exact same thing.
When my mom told me that I needed to get a job, I didn't realize that it would be so hard to do. I mean, a lot of people I know from school have jobs, and several people that just turned 16 are getting jobs every day, but for some reason, everywhere I looked there was a hiring freeze.
My name is David, and I'm a normal high school student.
And it should be normal for a high schooler to have a job, right?
In every fast food place, restaurant, and clothing outlet, it is not uncommon to find 16 year-olds such as myself working for their money, and making bank depending on how many hours they work. There had to be somewhere that I could work.
After I called the fifth place that morning, I met my three best friends, Aaron Stanwick, Michael Florence, and Mark Adams at our favorite little coffee shop, the Coffee Plantation. It was also the place where Joy Harris, the love of my life, worked. Worked. That's it!
I rushed into the Coffee Plantation, dropped my laptop off at the table with my friends, and headed to the counter, where Joy was working.
"Well if it isn't my favorite customer?"
"Well if it isn't my favorite--what's your position again?"
"Yeah, and as my favorite cashier, you would know if there were any cash registers that needed attending to?"
"Sorry, babe. We don't have any openings right now, but there are plenty of places in this shopping center. I'm sure you'll find something."
"I hope so. My mom says I've got to start helping out. My dad certainly isn't doing much."
"Well, like I said, there are plenty of places that I'm sure would love to have someone as cute as you. Now, are you going to order something, or are you going to flirt more?"
"Can't I have both?"
I kissed my girlfriend and then I ordered a double espresso. I needed the caffeine to write my column for the school newspaper, The Summit Sentinel while still tuning into the guy talk.
"Good morning, gents."
"Got the laptop today?"
"I've got a column to write."
"I hate it when you have columns to write."
"Because you get into your writer mode."
"What Mark is trying to say is that when you are working on a piece, you're always focused solely on that. I can't even count the times that Mark has asked you what you've thought of an escapade and you've said, 'I'm sorry, what?'"
"That's so not true."
"Yeah, it kind of is."
"Look, the Sentinel is like my job, and part of that job is writing an annual column. And I'm much more focused doing it here than at the madhouse. Especially with everything going on with the lawsuit, it's like World War IV at my house."
"Wouldn't it be World War III?"
"No, that happened when I was 14."
My column was called "David's Desk", and it was an academic advice column that ran every month. This month, it was all about how to not let the economy affect how you do academically, including ways for you to distract yourself from the foreclosure signs and focus on your grades. I knew what I was going to write about, but getting the words to flow in just the write manner was what was going to be difficult. I began writing about the different extracurricular activities that you could busy yourself with, as well as the academic programs with which you can get involved, when suddenly--
"You slept with Faye?"
"Shhhhhhhhh! Not so loud! I don't want word to get to Remi about this."
"Mark, you have done some pretty stupid things, but this is just unbelievable."
"How did this even happen?"
And he told us the story. Mark was on a date on Friday night, and saw Faye Winston, a girl who Mark had once been in love with, sitting alone at the plaza. He told his date that he would be right back and approached Faye.
"He decided to spend the weekend with his parents."
"And he didn't invite you?"
"His parents don't even know about me. Why the fuck do you care?"
After an awkward silence, Faye looked at Mark. "Will you sleep with me?"
And that is how Mark Adams lost his virginity.
"You are an idiot."
"That's an understatement."
"Look, guys, I made a mistake. It just happened."
"Didn't you pay attention to the PowerPoint in sex-ed last year?"
"Twenty-five slides that all said learn to say no is not exactly the best way to teach sophomores not to have sex."
We were amazed. Absolutely amazed. It was only a matter of time before Mark would lose his virginity, but how could he lose it to such a heartless bitch?
Seeing as the conversation continued to consist of bashing Mark, I went back to my column. I started typing, and all of a sudden I was on a roll, until--
"David, is that a help wanted sign over there at the UPS store?"
Could it have been that my prayers had been answered? Was there a job waiting for me there?
"I'll go check it out right now. Watch my laptop."
I got up from the table and walked across the street to the UPS Store. I had seen people my age work there on more than one occasion, but I never really thought about working there. It could have been a cool job.
"Hi, my name is David Adler, and I'd like an application please."
"Certainly. My name's Jim. Here's an app."
I carefully filled out my application, making sure to fit in everything the way it needed to be. After I finished, I handed Jim my application. "Here you go."
"So how soon will I know if I got the job?"
"A couple weeks, or less depending on how many apps we get. I can imagine we'll be getting a ton considering how the economy is."
"Well thank you Jim. I hope to see you soon."
I've heard that sucking up is generally a good thing when it comes to seeking employment. It shows the employer how much you care about getting the job.
I left the Coffee Plantation with my column finished, and my hopes high that I would get a job at the UPS store, but that wouldn't stop me from applying everywhere else I could.
I picked up several applications in that shopping center; Old Navy, JoAnn's, a few restaurants, and even this pottery-painting place. Pottery-painting was never really my style, but I was a little desperate.
I got home at around two. My mom was out grocery shopping, and my dad was probably visiting the sick. He's really not a bad guy. He just doesn't know how to take care of things the right way. Libby and Jake were both home, though. Since I didn't really have anything else to do, I joined them at Libby's laptop, here they were cracking up.
"What's so funny over here?"
"We're watching Punky Brewster. Sit down, it's wonderful!"
My sister Libby was going to be 30 in April, but she often went back to her childhood in the 80's and watched the programs that she watched back then, including Punky Brewster, KIDS Incorporated, and the Mickey Mouse Club. It was always interesting to watch these with her because she knew every line, and everything that was going to happen.
"Cherry gets locked in the refrigerator, and Punky and Margo have to save her!"
Just like that.
We spent a couple hours watching 80's television, and then we helped mom bring in the groceries. Before even saying hello, she said, "Did you find a job?"
"I submitted a bunch of applications"
"How aggressive were you?"
"I asked when I could do interviews, and they all said the exact same thing: 'we'll review applications and then we'll call qualified applicants."
"Well I would call a few of them in the next couple of days. It's very important that you get a job."
"I know, Mom."
RING RING RING
Saved by the bell.
"Hey. Do you want to grab something to eat tonight?"
"Sure. I'll pick you up around 7?"
"Sounds like a plan. See you then."
"I love you."
"I love you, too."
As I hung up the phone, I realized that my mom was standing right there the entire time. I hadn't told her that Joy and I were at the "I love you stage."
"Who was that?"
"And what did you say to her at the end?"
I gulped. "I love you?"
"Wow. I didn't realize you two were so...close."
"As long as they're not having sex."
I could have used this moment to tell my mother, my sister, and my brother about our near-sexual experience, but instead I just shook it off. It was awkward enough that they were finding out about the three little words.
"So how long do you think it'll be before you tap that?"
"Really Jake? Tap that?"
"It's what they say on TV."
I don't remember being that stupid when I was 14.
Later that day, as I started getting ready for my date with Joy, I got a call from Mark.
"I was--blurbleblurble--and the--jizzoshantic--and it was--glibboglabbo--"
He was blubbering like an idiot.
"Mark, calm down. What's wrong?"
He took a moment to calm down. I had never heard him crying before. I had to wonder what it looked like.
"I--I called Faye--"
"I--I had to--I had to--"
"Hold on, Mark. I'm coming over."
I called Joy to tell her I might be a little late to pick her up because I had to help Mark. She told me that it wasn't a big deal and that we could just meet for ice cream later. I thanked her and headed off to Mark's.
When I arrived at his house, I could not believe what I saw. Mark, who usually took much pride in his appearance, was sitting in his family room in sweat pants and a wife beater. I didn't even know he owned such garments.
"You look horrible. What's going on?"
"I called Faye earlier because I couldn't stop thinking about last night."
"Well, you did lose your virginity last night."
"I wish I didn't. At least not to her."
We all knew that he would regret it, but we didn't realize he would regret it so immediately. He told me the story.
Mark had called Faye to tell her that last night was one of the best nights of his entire life and that it meant a lot to him.
"Why? It was just sex."
"What do you mean it was just sex?"
"Well, it's not like we're together. I'm still with Remi."
"But we slept together. I guess I just thought--"
"Thought what? That I was going to leave Remi for you just because we slept together? I love Remi."
"Than why the fuck did you sleep with me?"
"Isn't that what you wanted?"
"I wanted you! I'm in love with you, not your genitals!"
"This was a mistake. Mark, whatever you and I had before is over and is never coming back no matter how many times we have sex. I am with Remi, and that's how it's going to be."
Listening to Mark's story broke my heart. Yes, he was an idiot sometimes, and yes, he did a lot of really dickhead things, but he was still one of my best friends and I couldn't stand seeing him hurt so badly.
"Mark, I'm going to call Joy and tell her that I have to cancel our date tonight, and then I'm going to call Michael and Aaron and the four of us are going to go out to dinner and a really stupid movie. How does that sound?"
"That sounds good. But I feel bad about ruining your date with Joy."
"She'll understand. And remember, she cancelled on me once, so I kind of have the upper hand."
Joy wasn't too mad. She understood that Mark needed me, and that I would make it up to her. Aaron and Michael were over in a heartbeat, and then we went to get pizza, saw the latest teen comedy, and then we decided to go to the Coffee Plantation--this time without my laptop.
I was the driver for the evening, and Mark sat in front. We never let him sit in the front as a joke because he couldn't drive, but I figured I could make an exception tonight. After about an hour and a half, we were ready to leave, but before we left the shopping center, I walked by the UPS Store. It was closed, but Jim was inside doing inventory or something. He waved to me to come in.
"Hi, Jim. What's up?"
"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. You were the only person who turned in an application today, and we're closed tomorrow. How early can you start?"
I was stunned. "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."
"Wow Jim. Thanks."
"No problem. Now get the hell out. I'm workin' here!"
"Okay. See you Monday."
Luck is a funny thing. Sometimes your luck is good, and things like my newfound employment opportunity happen. But luck can turn around on the most unsuspecting people. Faye WInston was the only girl who Mark didn't have good luck with, and even though he slept with her, he didn't accomplish what he wanted. Once again, she wasn't going to leave her boyfriend for him. It was times like these when I forgot about my family and the hardships that we had gone through together, and I remembered the good things in my life, like watching old episodes of Punky Brewster and going out with someone I loved, and going out to dinner and a movie with my best friends. These were what I considered the finer things in life, and sometimes, it's just worth it to focus on these rather than the challenges that you are faced with it. Sometimes you just have to take a break and relax.
Normal High School Student