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

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Danger Zone


"Your dad's been found."

"David, your dad may have made a mistake--"
"Or two, or three, or five hundred."
"But he's still your dad, and you have to forgive him."

"We have to talk, David. Whether you want to or not, we have to talk about this."

"When do you want to talk?"
"Well, I have after-school rehearsal for my choir concert tomorrow night. You could pick me up and we could go to dinner or something."
"I would like that."

"Aren't you supposed to be weaning yourself off of those?"
"Well, I'm only taking them once a day now, where as I was taking them three or four times a day last week."
"I guess, but make sure you keep weaing yourself because those kinds of pills are highly addictive."

"I've decided to get my Smicha."
"You? A rabbi?"
"Yeah, why not?"
"I don't know, Cal. Maybe because of all of the wrong you've done, all of the money you owe certain people, all the hatred you feel toward the world?"
"You know, I thought that we could have a mature conversation, but obviously we can't."
"Then I guess you'd better take me home."

"I hate him so much!"
"No you don't. Trust me. No matter what, he's our father, and we can't hate him."
"So, how's your father?"
My mom was sitting in an armchair when I came down for breakfast the next morning.

"He's just as I expected. Oh, he's gonna be a rabbi now, by the way."
"That's nice. He can talk about being a good person. You know, I always thought he should be an actor. He's just so good at lying."

My parents really never got along, which is why my dad left a few weeks ago. I sat down on the couch as I took one of my pain pills.

"How's the pain today."
"It's getting better. But I'll tell you, I would have been a complete mess if it wasn't for those pills."
"Well, I'm glad that you're doing better. Are you coming close to not needing those pills anymore?"
"I think so, but I think I'll have a better idea after about a week."
My name is David, and I'm a normal high school student.
And after a horrific car accident, it is pretty normal to rely on pain medication to get you through your day.

With a look of skepticism, my mom spoke again.

"So Jim called yesterday and wanted to know if you were ever coming back to work."

Fuck! With everything going on with the accident and my dad and the showcase concert and finals, I had completely forgotten about my awesome job at the UPS Store, and my badass boss, Jim. I hoped that I still had a job.

That afternoon my mom drove me over the the UPS Store so I could face my boss.

"Well, if it isn't the boy who came to work one day and didn't show up for 3 weeks."
"Jim, I can explain. I was--"
"In a horrible car accident that almost resulted in you missing the last month of school. I know all about it. Your girlfriend came in the day after it happened."

I didn't even know that my now ex-girlfriend Joy knew about the accident. I hadn't spoken to her since she revealed that she kissed another guy right as we were about to have sex for the first time at prom.

"Look Jim, I'm sorry that I didn't call, but I have been so wrapped up in catching up that I completely spaced on the store. Do I still have a job?"

Jim looked at me a moment, studying my bruises that were actually healing quite nicely.

"How much pain are you in?"
"Could be better, could be worse."
"Okay, kid, I'll tell you what. I will give you the rest of the month to get better, and than you can start again on June 1."
"Thank you so much, Jim."
"You're welcome, now get the hell out of here and relax!"

The last couple weeks of school went by very fast. The Showcase Concert went really well, Choir Banquet was a lot of fun, the last issue of the Summit Sentinel was very well received by the student body, I studied my ass off for finals, and before we knew it, we were singing at graduation.

On the night of graduation, I went out to dinner with Aaron Stanwick, Michael Florence, and Mark Adams to celebrate the end of the year and the fact that the following fall we would be seniors.

"I just can't believe that in just a couple months, we're gonna be seniors."
"And then we'll be in college, going to a whole new school and a whole new population of girls to fuck."
"Yeah, have fun getting an STD."
"Have fun becoming sterile. You know that if you don't use it, you lose it."
"And you realize that Mormons have a lot of kids for a reason, right?"
"Hey look, the food is here!"

Mark and Aaron were good friends, but they didn't see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, including the idea of pre-marital sex. Aaron was Mormon and therefore didn't believe in it, but Mark had already had plenty of it after losing his virginity to Faye Winston back in March.

Before I ate my hamburger, I took out a pill and swallowed it with some water.
"You're still taking pills?"
"I'm still in pain."
"David, the accident happened almost a month ago. Are you sure that you're in enough pain to constitute taking them?"
"Yeah. I wanna make sure that the pain is completely gone before I stop."

My friends looked at me. They were obviously concerned, but there was really no reason to be concerned. I was taking them in moderation and they were really helping with the pain.

"So Michael, how's Leslie doing?"
"She's great, but she's going to Florida this summer. It's gonna be weird not seeing her."
"I figured that after so many break-ups, not seeing each other would be almost routine."
"Shut up."
"Michael, he does have a point."
"But we're doing really well right now. What if she meets some other guy while she's there?"
"Then she'll meet him, they'll become friends, and then she'll come home to you and tell you all about how funny he was."
"I really don't think you have anything to worry about when it comes to her. She loves you, and love is an amazing thing."

We all looked upon Mark with appreciation.

"And think about how hot the sex will be when she gets back!"
And he's back.
"We haven't had sex yet, remember?"
"Yeah, I really don't understand why."
"Because we're waiting for the perfect moment. We don't really want a lot of complications and sex can complicate things."
"Or it could relieve the tension."
"There is no tension."
"Obviously there is, or else you wouldn't be worried about her leaving you while she's in Florida."
"She's not gonna leave him while she's in Florida. Michael, trust me. She's not going to cheat on you; she loves you too much."
"Joy loved you and she still hooked up with another guy."

We were all astounded by what Michael had just said. It's true that I was the last person who should have been assuring Michael that his girlfriend wouldn't leave him, but Joy cheated on me with someone she had a history with. Not some random guy in Florida.

"You know, it's getting kind of late. Maybe we should get the check and call it a night."
"Okay, I'll drive you home."

After we paid, Aaron and I got into his red truck and headed to my house. We were silent for a little bit until he spoke.

"I don't think Michael meant anything by what he said?"
"Really, because he sure sounded like he had a point."
"He wasn't thinking. We all say stupid things when we're not thinking. And we all do stupid things when we're not thinking."

I immediately knew exactly what Aaron was talking about.

"Aaron, I--"
"No. David, I think you have a problem."
"That's ridiculous! I'm not addicted to pain pills."
"Then why do you keep taking them?"
"Because I'm in pain."
"In my back and my neck."
"Specifically where does it hurt?"

I thought for a minute, and for some reason, I couldn't figure out exactly where the pain was. Maybe I didn't need the pills after all.

"Okay, I'll stop taking the pills."
"Good. When we get to your house we'll flush them."

We went into my kitchen, grabbed the bottle of pills, and flushed them down the toilet. It was harder than I thought it would be, but I needed to prove that I wasn't addicted.

"Well, now that that's over with, I should get going."
"It's kinda late. Why don't you just crash here?"
"Good idea. I'll text my mom and let her know."

We were both exhausted, so we went to sleep without a lot of talking. Meanwhile, Michael went over to Leslie's house. Because it was late, he threw a pebble up to her window, and when she saw it was him she went downstairs and outside.

"Hey baby! What's going on?"
"I--I just--uh--"
"Spit it out."
"I don't want you to find someone else in Florida!"
"Look, it's just that I love you so much, and I know you love me, but David and Joy loved each other too, and look how they turned out."
"Michael, I am going to say this once, so listen good. You are the only guy for me, and no matter how many hot guys I see on the beach in Florida, none of them will hold a candle to you. I love you and that is all you need to know."

Michael and Leslie kissed as the rain began to fall. Soaking wet, they went into her house and had sex for the first time. They were waiting for the perfect moment and the perfect moment happened.

And back at my house, Aaron and I were sound asleep, until I suddenly felt the urge to take a pill. I thought that I was in pain although I couldn't trace where. All I knew was that I needed a pill. I jumped out of bed, stepping on Aaron in the process. I heard a faint "Dang it!" as I ran downstairs to the kitchen.

I started rummaging through the cabinet to find the pills, and then I remembered that they were gone and I had flushed them down the toilet. THE TOILET! I rushed to the bathroom and, obviously not thinking, I grabbed the plunger and tried to plunge them out of the toilet.

"What are you doing?"
"Getting the pills. I NEED THE PILLS!"
"No you don't! Give me the plunger, David."

I collapsed into Aaron's arms bawling my eyes out.

"I'm so sorry! I'm so sorry!"
"It's alright, David. It's over. It's alright."
"What the hell is going on in here?"

My mom entered the bathroom, probably having heard the screaming.

"I--I need--I need help."
"We flushed all his pills earlier and he was trying to get them out with the plunger."

My mom looked at me with worried eyes. She looked more worried than I had ever seen her before. She came toward me and wrapped her arms around me as I started bawling again.

"We will go see Dr. McKendrick tomorrow morning, but right now you need to go to bed. It's 3:00 in the morning."

Before Aaron left the next morning, I gave him a hug and thanked him for saving me from myself. After breakfast, Mom and I headed to Dr. McKendrick's office.

"Substance abuse is a very serious matter, David, but it is not impossible to recover from it."
"Okay. What do I do?"
"My reccomendation is that you go to rehab for a few weeks in order to remove yourself from any possible X-factor that may have led you to abuse. When you come home, you will be referred to a psychologist that you will see once a week for as long as you need the therapy. This will not be easy, but if you want to get clean, it is neccessary."

I was at rehab for 6 weeks. Dr. McKendrick was right. It wasn't easy and it certainly wasn't fun, but when I got home I felt 100% better. Michael, Aaron, and Mark were waiting for me at my house the day I returned and we all went to see a movie. I had called Jim before I left for rehab and he told me that my job would be there when I got back.

Getting clean was the hardest thing I have ever had to do, but at least I had great friends to get me through it.

David Adler
Normal High School Student