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

Friday, November 6, 2009

Separate Ways

"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."

"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."

"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."

"So, how are you planning to tell Mark about this?"
"I don't owe Mark anything. He can figure it out on his own."

"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!"

"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!"

"You still bought the pill, so I can't give you your money back."
"Fine. But don't ever try to sell drugs to me again, because if you do, I'm going to kick your ass."

"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!"

"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?"
"NO! I never want to speak to either of you again!"
"I told you this was going to happen."

My girlfriend, Callie Anderson, was having an "I told you so" moment while we were on the phone.

"I didn't think our friendship was just going to end, though. Just like that."
"You guys will be friends again tomorrow."
"I'm not so sure about that one."
"Guys are NEVER mad at each other for more than a day or two. One minute they hate each other, the next minute they're going to the Lakers game."
"The Lakers are in California."
"You know what I mean."

She was both right AND wrong with her comments. She was right because I did know exactly what she meant, but she was wrong because Mark Adams, unlike most guys, is not the type of guy who forgives, forgets, and goes to the basketball game.

My name is David, and I'm a normal high school student.
And betraying one of my oldest and best friends was an honest mistake. Right?

"David, it's not MY fault that Mark is mad at you guys."

I decided to talk to Aaron Stanwick about it after AP Government the next day.

"But if you had just told him--"
"Why should I have told him?"
"Because deep down inside of you, you're not the asshole that has taken over these last couple of weeks."
"Oh, I'm an a-hole now? Because I saw something I wanted and I went for it?"
"This isn't about Lupe, Aaron. This is about the big picture. If Mark had liked some Mormon girl that you liked, he would talk to you first."
"Mark would never go for a Mormon."
"That's not the point!"
"Then what is!?"
"You know, if you can't see the point by yourself, you really have become a total asshole."

I would have felt bad for Aaron, who was quickly losing every friend he had, but he brought it upon himself. He may have liked Lupe Gonzales the entire time, but he asked her out purely out of spite.

Choir was awkward to say the least. Michael Florence and I had never felt so disconnected from everyone before. Mark periodically gave every one of us a dirty look, but Aaron wasn't that petty. He simply ignored us.

The rest of the week went by, and then another week, and another, and then before we knew it, it was the first week in December. It was the longest time we had spent without each other.

But Michael and I had other things to worry about besides the end of our friendships with Mark and Aaron. The first weekend of December marks the annual Summit Peak High School Winter Formal, and Michael and I had to plan the perfect evenings for our girlfriends.

"So we'll meet at my house, my mom will cook dinner, and then we'll head off to the dance."
"Sounds like a plan."
"Oh, by the way, Leslie and I are probably going to be having sex after the dance, so you might not want to stay here afterward."

That was one part of the evening that Callie and I had not figured out. She had been dropping sexual hints throughout our entire relationship thus far, but I had yet to follow-up on these hints. It wasn't that I didn't want to have sex with her. In fact, I really, really, really wanted to. But I wasn't sure if it would be right. We had only been dating for a couple months, and we weren't in love. At least not yet.

"So, after homecoming, what do you want to--you know--do?"
"Well, I was going to see what you wanted to do."
"We could go to your house."
"Yeah, I guess we could do that."
"We can go to your room."
"Yes, my room sounds nice, very familiar."
"We could be naked."

It was the most blunt sexual hint I had received so far.

"Are you sure you want to do that?"
"Why not? I like you, you like me, we're dating. A lot of couples have sex."
"No, really?"

She looked at me for a moment before I continued.

"I want to if you want to."
"I want to."
"Then I want to."

So it was settled. Callie and I would be coming back to my house after homecoming and having sex. Now, to get the rest of my family out of the house.

"Mom, when was the last time you and Cal went out to dinner just the two of you?"
"It's been awhile. Why?"
"Well, maybe you guys should go out on Saturday night."
"Well, Jake and I will be at homecoming, and you and Cal will be in the house all by yourselves. So, to avoid having to cook for two, why don't you just go out?"
"Is there any reason in particular that you want your dad and me out of the house?"
"Why would you say that?"
"Well, I don't know. The new girlfriend perhaps?"
"Mom, am I the kind of guy that has sex with a girl after only a few weeks."
"I guess not. Okay, Cal and I will go out to dinner and we'll see that three-hour movie that just came out."

The rest of the week was a bit of a blur. How could I focus on anything when I was going to be losing my virginity in a matter of days?

On Saturday night, I dropped Jake off at his friend Jenny's house and then went straight to Michael's. After dinner, his mom took pictures of all of us, and then we all got into the Prius and went to the dance. Callie looked radiant in her black cocktail dress.

As we all mosied into the packed gymnasium, Lupe and Aaron were already there, both feeling quite out of place.

"I don't generally do this kind of dancing."
"I wouldn't call this dancing. Why did we come tonight, anyway?"
"Because it's our first dance together as a couple, and it's your last homecoming."
"Still, I feel weird being around all of the humping."
"I guess if you can't beat 'em, join 'em?"
"Sure. Why not?"

I caught a glimpse of Aaron and Lupe grinding, and I couldn't believe my eyes.

"Let's practice for tonight."

And with a wink from Callie, we went onto the dance floor and grinded.

Across the room, Mark was standing over by the punch bowl with his date.

"So, are you going to ask me to dance, or are we just going to stand here all night?"
"We could go fuck in the middle of the dance floor."
"What? Who DOES that?"
"Yeah, we're going to just stand here all night."

All of a sudden, Mark was faced with an unexpected visitor.

"It's Mark, right?"
"Yeah, and you're Steve Weiss. We're both very well-known throughout the school."
"So I guess you can figure out why I came over here?"
"I don't do drugs. And besides, after what you pulled over the summer with David--"
"Word is that you and David haven't been homies for a month and a half."
"Yeah? What does that have anything to do with this?"
"Well, word is that you have no one to lean on but a slut here or there. If I had no friends, I would be looking for some reinforcements."
"You don't have any friends."
"But I have drugs."

Mark looked around the room. Our eyes met for a second before he turned back toward Steve.

"I guess a little pot can't hurt anything."
"Excellent. Pleasure doing business with you."

I wasn't on speaking terms with Mark anymore, but I knew Steve Weiss, and I knew that this couldn't have been good.

While Callie went to use the ladies' room, I found Mark.


He turned around to face me, a confused look sitting on his face.

"What the fuck do you want?"
"I came over here to see what you and Steve were talking about."
"It's none of your business."
"Mark, it was Steve's amazing skills in persuasion that led me to relapse. Have you forgotten that?"
"I don't know. Have you forgotten how important it is not to keep secrets from your friends?"
"Mark, just listen to--"
"No, David, YOU listen. I am NOT your responsibility. You don't have to look after me or whatever it is you're trying to do. I'm 17 fucking years old, and I do whatever the fuck I want. We're not friends. You can't tell me how to live my life."

He started walking away.

"Mark, don't do this!"

Mark walked back toward me and got right up in my face.

"Or what?"

And he walked away again.

"What's wrong?"
"How do you feel about going home early?"
"Wow, someone's eager. I'll go find Michael and Leslie."

"Is there a reason why we never stay for the entire dance?"
"I can think of a couple reasons to leave."

We dropped them off at Michael's house, and then Callie and I proceeded toward mine. I was ready to erase what had happened between Mark and I that night. I was ready to forget about how our friendship ended. I was ready to forget about Libby moving out, and Cal's love child, and Aaron and Lupe and Steve Weiss. I was ready to be distracted for the next six to ten minutes of my life as I lay with my woman amid layers of sheets and blankets. I was ready.

"Everything with you has to be a fight. EVERY MOTHER FUCKING THING!"
"It's the only way I can get through to you, you--you--stupid CUNT!"

It was at this time that my parents stopped and looked at Callie and I. Callie's jaw had dropped open, and my face had gone blank out of astonishment and embarrassment.

"Um, you're home early."


"So, this is Callie. Callie, these are my parents."
"So nice to meet you. We've heard so much about you."

More silence. Finally, Callie broke it with a whisper.

"Do you want to go to my house? My parents are out of town."

I replied, but I decided not to whisper.

"Yeah. Let's go to your house and have sex."

We got back into the Prius and headed toward her house.

We were silent for a moment, and then I decided to break the silence.

"I'm sorry about my parents."
"Are they always like that?"
"Pretty much. They were getting a lot better, but they always do and then this happens."

When we got to her house, neither of us were really in the mood for sex, so instead, we went upstairs, dressed down a little bit, and laid in each other's arms talking, kissing, and caressing until we finally drifted off to sleep.

Meanwhile, after Aaron dropped off Lupe, he thought about his relationship with her and his relationship with us. He had given up three friendships as a result of his relationship with Lupe. He had lost his best friends, trading them in for a girlfriend. Thinking about what an asshole he had been, he picked up his phone and called Mark.


"Are you gonna answer that?"
"Nope. I'm going to have another joint."

"Mark, I know that you hate me right now. And believe me, I haven't been very positive about you lately either. But I just want to talk. Call me back."

So as Aaron hung up the phone, Mark continued getting baked, Michael and Leslie made love, and Callie and I slept, it was clear how much things really had changed. For the first time, I was in a relationship where we were on the same page. For the first time, Michael was absolutely content with his own relationship. For the first time, Mark felt like he was truly independent. And for the first time, Aaron realized how much he really needed all of us.

And while all four of us were on different pages, we all longed to find somewhere in the middle where we could all meet, allowing our characters to interact in the same fashion as they had only a few chapters ago.

David Adler
Normal High School Student