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

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Good Riddance

"I'm coming to your concert on Friday."
"That's great. Hopefully the music will be good."
"I'm gonna take a date with me."

"Why don't you just tell her you like her?"
"Because she doesn't want anything serious. And neither do I."
"But you obviously like her, right?"

"Honestly Aaron, I'm sick of your whole 'holier-than-thou' attitude. I'm tired of you feeling superior to me."
"You know what, Mark, if that's what you think then you can go right ahead and think it. I'm done."

"Your father owes Lucy Greer a lot of money."
"He has a three year-old daughter with her, and now has four thousand dollars in child support that he has to pay."

"The only way for us to work is if we leap; if we forget about the possibility of us falling on our faces. Otherwise, we're never going to get off the ground, and we'll never be able to fly."

"I've been wanting to ask you out for a while, Lupe, but there's always been something in my way."
"Like what?"
"It doesn't matter. All that matters is that we're together now."
"I had a really great time tonight."

It was my first official date with Callie Anderson, and it had been a perfect evening.

"Me too. I'll call you tomorrow?"
"Sounds good."

We kissed and I walked back to Cal's prius, wishing the date hadn't ended. On the drive home, I thought about our romantic dinner at 18 Degree Grill and ice skating at the Alltel Ice Den. I felt so good whenever I was around her, and there was a definite bonus in the fact that she knew nothing of my horrible family dynamic, and if I had anything to say about it, she never would.

My name is David, and I'm a normal high school student.
And without the burden of my family issues, it felt like I was in a normal relationship.


It's really sad when you're used to walking into your house in the midst of a terrible argument.

"Don't speak to me like that, Jake, I'm your FATHER!"
"You're not my father. You never have been, you never will be, so why don't you go back to Lucy Greer and try to father someone who's too young to know what an ASSHOLE you are!"

My 14 year-old brother, Jake, proceeded to slam his bedroom door six times to emphasize how angry he was. As I walked upstairs to my room, Cal stopped me.

"How was your date?"
"What did you guys do?"
"Cal, I'm really tired, can we talk about this tomorrow?"
"Sure, son. Good night."

We both knew we weren't going to be talking about it the next day. "I'm tired, can we talk about it tomorrow" is my code for "It's none of your business, I don't want to talk to you about it." Cal caught onto this when I was 13, tried to get me to talk to him about things, and finally, after about a year, he gave up, and we had little to no relationship with each other until the end of the summer when he came home. We had been trying to rebuild our relationship, but when I found out about his three year-old love child, my efforts became effortless and I really didn't care.


"David, I have something really important to tell you!"
"Let me guess, you and Lupe Gonzales hooked up after the concert and now you guys are going out?"

Aaron Stanwick was silent.

"How did you--"
"I saw it with my own two eyes before we all left to go to Sonic."
"So how did this come about?"
"Well, I've liked Lupe since I first laid my eyes on her, but Mark wanted her, so I stayed clear. But now that Mark and I aren't friends, I don't really care whether he likes her or not."
"But Aaron, he will NEVER forgive you for this. You know how he feels about the bro code."
"He never dated her, and even if he had, Mark and I are no longer bros, so there's really not much of a code in there."
"So, how are you planning to tell Mark about this?"
"I don't owe Mark anything. He can figure it out on his own."

On Monday morning, Aaron, Michael Florence, and I met in the parking lot. Callie joined us as we walked through the front gate of the school, and Michael's girlfriend, Leslie Lawrence, met up with us as we went to our designated sitting spot.

"It's starting to get kinda cold. Maybe we should move inside."
"Let's give it another couple weeks. Besides, the cold gives us an excuse to get really close to each other."

Michael and Leslie made out as Mark Adams walked toward us and Lupe Gonzales came from the opposite direction. I walked over to Mark and turned him around to divert his attention from Aaron and Lupe's reunion. I couldn't allow him to see his former best friend betray him like that.

"Hey Mark! I need to run into journalism to pick up some stories to edit. Wanna come with?"
"Sure. Anything to stay away from the Mad Mormon over there."

In Pre-Calc, I told Michael about "Operation Keep-Mark-From-Knowing."

"Are you crazy?"
"Michael, how is he going to feel when he sees that Aaron's tongue is halfway down Lupe's throat?"
"Probably the same way the rest of us felt. Awkward and rather taken aback."
"You know how Mark can be sometimes. He really liked Lupe."
"David, he just wanted to get in her pants. Besides, he's going to find out eventually."
"But he shouldn't have to find out by watching it. He needs to hear it from Aaron."
"Look, if it's that important to you to shield Mark from this, then I'll help you. But I have a feeling that this isn't going to end well."

For the next two weeks, Michael and I spent much of our energy on keeping Mark from the truth, which meant not spending a lot of time with Aaron and Lupe, or our own significant others. This gave Aaron and Lupe an opportunity to have some alone time with each other.

"It feels so good coming to school and seeing you."
"I love that yours is one of the first faces I see every morning."
"I feel the same way. Hey, whatever happened to that friend of yours? The one who always stairs at my butt?"
"Oh, yeah, we're not friends anymore."
"What happened?"
"We had a big fight, and honestly, we just weren't compatible as friends."
"I'm sorry, baby."
"It's really fine. It hurt a lot when it happened, but now I'm just kind of glad that we're not friends."

While Aaron and Lupe's relationship blossomed without Mark's knowledge, Callie confronted me about Mark's lack of knowledge.

"So how long do you plan on delaying the inevitable?"
"Until Aaron decides to tell him. It's not fair for him to have to find out the hard way. He has the exterior of an asshole but he gets hurt when he likes someone badly enough."
"And you don't think you're hurting him by keeping this information from him?"

The thought had never crossed my mind until Callie brought it up. I guess it had always been in the back of my mind that the end would justify the means, but what end was going to justify this? No matter who was going to tell him, he was going to find out. No matter how he found out, he was going to hate Aaron. And the fact of the matter was that Aaron wasn't going to tell him because as far as Aaron was concerned, it didn't matter what Mark thought of it.

"You're right. I'll tell him tomorrow morning."

The next morning, Jake and I were running late to school. On the drive to school I hoped and prayed that I would get there in time to tell Mark what was what. Yes, he needed to find out, and yes, I was done shielding him from the truth, but I still didn't want him to find out by witnessing it. He had to hear it. It would be better that way.

I finally got to school at 7:19, six minutes before the first bell. Michael and Mark were walking toward the sitting area and I caught up with them.

"Hey guys, what's up?"
"Nothing much. I'm just so happy it's Friday. It's been a long week."
"Yeah, I feel you."
"Yeah, it's been a long week for all of us. Hey Mark, I've gotta tell you something."

He didn't respond; he just stopped in his tracks. When I looked up, I could see exactly why. Aaron and Lupe were making out. Mark stormed toward them.


But it was too late. He had already reached the happy couple.

"What the fuck is this, Aaron?"
"Don't play dumb with me, motherfucker, you know exactly why I came over here!"
"Excuse me, Lupe, this will only take a minute."

They walked away from Lupe and the rumble really began.

"You KNEW that I liked her! You KNEW and you fucking did it anyway!"
"So what if you liked her? I liked her too!"
"Yeah, like I believe that. I would have known if you had liked her."
"That's where you're wrong. I knew that you liked her, so I kept my distance because you were my best friend. But we're not friends anymore, so there was nothing stopping me from asking her out."
"I just can't believe you did this, Aaron! After everything we've been through!"
"You can't use that card, Mark! The friendship card no longer exists with us!"
"Well, it sure as hell doesn't now, you Mormon piece of shit!"

Aaron watched Mark walk toward us, and both of them had tears in their eyes.

"Did you guys know about this?"
"Well, Mark, you've gotta understand--"
"Yes, Mark, we did."
"How long?"
"They got together after the concert."
"Mark, we wanted to tell you, but--"
"But what? You didn't want me to get hurt, you didn't want me to feel betrayed?"
"Well guess what? I AM hurt, and I DO feel betrayed--by all of you!"

Mark stormed off.

"NO! I never want to speak to either of you again!"

And Mark was gone.

It's strange how people can walk right out of your life with such ease. Cal had done it to my family and I just six months prior to this, and it seemed very easy for him to do so. I had walked right out of Joy's life after prom and it seemed like such an easy decision at the time. The fact of the matter is that at the time, it is an easy decision, but the aftermath of that decision is the most intense kind of pain there is, ultimately because it doesn't hit you right away.

"Libby, wait!"
"I can't live like this anymore, Mom! I'm 30 years-old, and it's about time that I started living my own life away from here!"
"Please, Libby, I can't afford it, and Cal isn't contributing a dime. Please don't go!"
"I will be glad to send you some money every month, but I will not live with that man anymore. I can't forgive him. It's not in my heart."

And yet, while the pain of walking out doesn't hit you until later, those that you walk out on feel the brunt of it immediately following the slamming of the door.

David Adler
Normal High School Student