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

Friday, October 2, 2009

Something to Talk About

"I was wondering if I could, you know, hang out with you during school hours?"
"I don't see any reason why not. We're friends, right?"
"Yeah. Friends."

"I decided to go to 3.14 for a slice of pizza, and, well..."
"Well, what?"
"Faye was there."
"So? I thought you guys resolved everything at prom."
"I slept with her."

"Where the hell have you been?"
"None of your business."

"David, I'm sorry about the way that I left, but at the time I thought it was best."
"So that Mom would get arrested instead of you?"

"I'm not looking for anything serious right now, especially with all of this stuff going on with my family, and work, and journalism, and--"
"Who's asking for something serious?"
"So we're friends?"
"Yeah, you could call us that."
"Mazel tov, David!"

I guess Mark Adams saw me making out with Callie Anderson, my--friend.

"I knew this was going to happen! As soon as you started talking to this girl you were destined to start dating her. David, what did we talk about?"
"Okay, first of all, Joy and I broke up almost four months ago and we only dated for three months. And second of all, Callie and I aren't dating. We're just--friends."

Michael Florence had suggested that I not date for a while. I'd had a really difficult break-up that preluded an even more difficult summer. But I wasn't dating Callie. We were merely having fun.

"Fuck buddy! Nice!"

Mark really does have a beautiful way with words.

"I know I can't stop you from using that word, but could you maybe use it in a different context?"

And Aaron Stanwick has a beautiful way of contradicting Mark's words.

"Aaron, I'm only using that word because that's what David and Callie are...FUCK buddies."
"Actually, so far, we're just buddies."
"How can you have a fuck buddy that you don't fuck?"
"Because we're not fuck buddies! We're not anything! We're just--"
"Friends who hold hands?"
"Friends who make out in the hallways?"
"Friends who enjoy what they do and don't want to complicate anything by putting a label on it?"
"That's a fuck buddy!"

My name is David, and I'm a normal high school student.
And the way I see it, what Callie and I were doing was completely normal.

We had started being--friends--a week ago. It was the ideal situation; have fun with each other during school, make out in the parking lot after school, and get in our cars and go home without any obligation to the other. There was none of that "candy and flowers" crap that boyfriends and girlfriends had to deal with. My Facebook profile didn't even say "It's Complicated" because it wasn't complicated at all. Just two friends hanging out. That's all it was.

"You know, Joy was a lot prettier."
"What are you, deaf? JOY WAS A LOT PRETTIER!"
"Than Callie? I haven't even thought about it."
"Because I don't look at Callie the way I looked at Joy."
"You sure kiss her like you do."
"We're friends, Jake."
"I don't make out with any of my friends."
"Because you're ugly."

Jake doesn't usually get that offended when I say that, considering he's not ugly at all.

"Hey, are you okay? You've been a little--well--off since school started."
"Just got a lot on my mind."
"You're a freshman. You have nothing to--"
"Can you stop calling me a freshman? I know I'm in ninth grade, I don't need a constant reminder from you and your friends."
"Is that what this is all about? People reminding you that you're a freshman?"
"Okay, I'm not going to play this guessing game with you, Jake. You have to tell me what's going--"
"It's Mom and Dad."

Being that my parents have been fine since Cal moved back in, it was the last thing I expected to be bothering him.

"What's going on with them? They've been fine."
"That's the problem. Things have been too calm."
"Too calm?"
"And I'm just waiting for things to erupt again. That's all."

Jake had a valid reason for feeling this way. Even when Jake and I were little kids our parents couldn't stand each other, yet they never got divorced because they didn't want to upset us. If only they knew that it would ultimately lead to our 30 year-old sister, Libby, being unable to move out because she had an obligation to pay our rent. Cal left eventually, but came back toward the end of the summer with a promise to provide the rent every month and pay Libby back every cent that he owed her. So far he's kept to his word, but I could see why Jake was suspicious.

"I think that we just need to hope for the best and see what happens. Maybe this time really is different."

To be honest, I wasn't sure if I believed that things were better, but I would have liked to believe that they were.

The next day before choir, Mark ran toward me with a worried look on his face. When he caught up with me we stopped and he caught his breath.

"What's up?"
"It's Faye."
"What did she do--besides you?"
"Nothing. Everyone else did."
"David--did you tell anyone that Faye and I slept together?"
"Well somebody did, and they told the whole fucking school!
"Oh shit! Does Remi know? Of course he doesn't, you're still alive."
"What am I supposed to do?"
"Deny it. If you say you didn't fuck than people won't think you fucked."
"You're saying I should lie?"
"It's not that bad compared to everything else you do."

In choir, as we were being voiced, everyone kept asking Mark about it.

"Did you sleep with Faye Winston?"

"Did she forget to mention that she has a boyfriend?"
"We didn't sleep together."

"Hey, maybe you, me, and Faye could get together some time."
"We didn't sleep together--but you and I still can."

"How come everyone's asking Mark about Faye?"
"Because someone started a rumor that they slept together."
"But they DID--"
"--NOT sleep together, I know, but not everyone knows that."
"What's the point of rumors, anyway? They only hurt people."

Lupe Gonzales was a really hot sophomore who had just transferred to Summit Peak, and Mark really wanted to get in her pants (well, Mark wants to get in everyone's pants, but especially this one's.)


At lunch, Mark was pleased with himself for dispelling the rumor. All sorts of people are in choir, so it wouldn't take long for the rumor to be completely dispelled.

"Mark, can I talk to you for a sec?"

Faye Winston decided to grace us with her presence.

"Um, yeah."

Mark and Faye walked away to talk.

"I take it you've heard the 'rumor'."
"Yes, and I've crushed it. You should be doing the same."
"Mark--I started it."
"I broke up with Remi because when we made love it made me feel so alive. As if something had been missing and then magically fell into place."
"So Remi's smaller than me?"
"Mark, I want to be with you."

A couple months before prom, Mark lost his virginity to Faye and told her the same thing. He was in love with her and wanted to be with her, but she was in love with Remi. Mark wasn't seeing anyone at the time, and was definitely not in love with anyone.

"We can't do that."
"What? Why?"
"Faye, 6 months ago I would have jumped at the chance to be with you, but when we had sex last week it was just sex. Nothing more."
"No. You have a way of making things harder than they have to be. If we stop now, we can forget that this ever happened and we can go on with our lives. I have moved on--with SEVERAL girls, I might add--and now you need to. You love Remi. Don't give that up on my account."
"What did she say?"
"Let me just say that things have a way of coming full circle sometimes."
"You mean she's in love with you?"
"Yeah, but I'm not in love with her. She's not for me. Love's not really for me."


The rest of the day went by quickly. Sitting with Callie in journalism felt good. It was nice to know that there was no stress and that we were both under that concensus. With Joy everything was so complicated; so extreme.

After jazz choir, Callie and I found each other, walked to our cars, kissed goodbye, and then Jake and I went home.

"No, Linda, LUCY GREER got you arrested!"
"Because of something YOU DID!"
"You know, I thought that if I just came home, things would be better; things would be different."
"Well, things aren't better, Cal. Things don't happen that way."
"Then I guess I'd better pack my bags."

My parents looked at me. It was probably the first time they noticed Jake and I standing there.

"Cal, you can't go because you can't run away from your problems. That's what you tried ot use religion for, and look where you ended up? You can't shove things under the rug by leaving. You have to deal with them, or else you will only hurt yourself."

It was silent in the room. My parents seemed astounded.

"I'm sorry about everything, Linda. That's all I can say. If I could change everything I would. I'm different now; you have to trust me on that."
"I can't trust you, Cal. But I can give you a chance to earn back my trust."
"Thank you."

That night, Cal had class, Libby had book club, and Jake was hanging out with some friends, so it was just me and my mom at home. We sat in silence and I finally said what had been in the back of my mind since prom night.

"Mom, why did you get arrested?"

She looked at me a moment before she spoke.

"Your father owes Lucy Greer a lot of money."
"Well, it's not just her that he owes to. It's the state."
"He has a three year-old daughter with her, and now had four thousand dollars in child support that he has to pay. They arrested me so they could ask me some questions about him, but I had no answers, so they brought me home. That's when I found out abouth the car accident, and the rest is history."

I couldn't believe what I had just heard. Cal had another daughter, I had another sister.

"So what's going to happen?"
"If he doesn't pay it all back, he's going to go to prison. Apparently he's working on it, but you know how he is."
"Yeah, I know."

We were silent again. I hadn't fully digested the fact that not far away was a little girl that might have my father's eyes, or nose, or hair color.

People have a way of surprising us. They may say things that we don't expect, accomplish things we didn't know were possible, or do things that hurt us so much that we simply can't believe that they could do such a thing. Cal had done some horrible things in the past, and had kept some horrible truths from us in the past, but that was all supposed to be in the past.

I couldn't believe that I actually trusted that the future would be any different.

David Adler
Normal High School Student