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

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Before It's Too Late

"I never want to speak to either of you again!"
"David, it's not MY fault that Mark is mad at you guys."
"You know, if you can't see the point by yourself, you really have become a total asshole."

"If I had no friends, I would be looking for some reinforcements."
"You don't have any friends."
"But I have drugs."

"Mark, it was Steve's amazing skills in persuasion that led me to relapse. Have you forgotten that?"
"I am NOT your responsibility. You don't have to look after me or whatever it is you're trying to do."

"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."

"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."

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

It was the night after Winter Formal, and I was lying in bed (fully clothed) with my beautiful girlfriend, Callie Anderson.

"How'd you sleep?"
"Better than I have in a while. I like having another body in this bed."
"It makes me feel less alone."

We kissed and then went downstairs to have breakfast.

"So what are you going to do about this whole Mark on drugs situation?"
"There's not much I can do. Mark won't listen to me. He won't even look at me."
"But this is the time that he needs all of you most."

She was right. He did need us right now. If it had been anyone else supplying the drugs, he would have been fine, but this was Steve Weiss we were dealing with, and Steve's customers ALWAYS come back for seconds.

My name is David, and I'm a normal high school student.
And even though Mark and I were no longer friends, it was normal to be concerned about this.

On Monday morning, the students of Summit Peak High School walked the corridors exhausted from the weekend. It was not uncommon to find people dressed in baggy sweatshirts rather than the preppy brand names that generally dominate the school. Of course, there was one person who, as usual, defied the general fashion expectations.

Steve Weiss was dressed in a classy, pinstripe suit and a fedora. He was dressed like a boss, but I could see right past the facade and see him for the company bitch that he truly was. Maybe if I talked to him, he wouldn't be so eager to sell Mark drugs again.

"David. What a pleasant surprise. Have you come to feed your addiction?"
"No, Steve, I've been clean for 5 months and I'm not going to start again now."
"Okay, but if you ever want to splurge a little--"
"Steve, I came over here to tell you to not sell anything else to Mark."
"Excuse me?"
"You heard me. Remember that ass-kicking I offered so many months ago? Well, that's what's coming to you if any more addictive substances pass through Mark's mouth."
"David, David, David, don't you understand that I am not the one that seeks out my customers? They find me. If Mark finds me again wanting the goods, I have to supply them. The economy is all about goods and services and I as a supplier have to give the public what they want."
"I don't need an econ tutor, Steve, I need you to stop hurting my friend!"
"But he's not your friend anymore, David. You betrayed him. You basically left him to his own devices, and, well let's face it, he's not exactly Einstein."
"Steve, just be smart here. Leave Mark Adams alone."

As I walked away, I felt proud of myself, but the reality of all of it was that there was nothing stopping Mark from buying more from Steve, and Steve, no matter the threat, would not pass up a sale.

Meanwhile, Aaron Stanwick approached Mark, hoping to talk some sense into him and maybe rekindle their friendship.


Mark looked at Aaron with that bewildered look on his face.

"This guy? Really? What could you POSSIBLY want?"
"I want to talk. Did you get my message?"
"Oh THAT? Hahaha, that was a laugh."
"I don't remember there being anything amusing about it."
"Oh it was. 'Mark I just want to talk' haha that shit's fucking funny."
"Are you high right now?"
"What if I was?"
"Seriously Mark? Why?"
"What's it to you?"
"Mark, if you're doing drugs--"
"What's--it--to you?"

Aaron looked at Mark with disgust.

"Nothing, I guess."
"Good, because it has absolutely nothing to do with you."

After choir that day, Aaron and Lupe Gonzales (the little lady that started this great big war) came up to Michael Florence and me.

"Is Mark doing drugs?"
"Hi Aaron, so nice to see you."
"Okay, let's put our personal issues aside here and talk about this."
"What's there to talk about? Mark has moved on, and so should we."
"You guys don't understand! I feel like this is all somehow my fault!"

Michael and I gave him the "No, REALLY?" look.

"I have to get to Key Club, but I'll see you all later."

She kissed Aaron and left.

"What are we gonna do about this?"
"Mark isn't friends with us either, Aaron. He's not gonna listen to a word we say."
"What if we put ourselves in a situation where he would HAVE to listen to us?"
"We are NOT locking ourselves in a room."
"No, I mean like an intervention. That's how we got YOU off of drugs."
"Actually, I made that decision on my own if I remember correctly."
"Look guys, I know that I've been a real idiot these past couple months, but you can't forget that we all used to be best friends."
"Emphasis on the used to be."
"David, maybe Aaron's right. Maybe we could stage some sort of intervention."

It sounded like it could have worked. But interventions are supposed to evoke emotion. How were we, the three people Mark hated most in the world, going to evoke any emotion other than annoyance?

"I'm in, but first, we have another person to intervent."
"David's right. You have a problem, and you need to fix it."
"What the heck are you talking about?"
"I think you know, Aaron."
"Look deep inside of you and figure it out. What is the only thing standing between you and Mark's forgiveness?"

Aaron thought for a minute and finally figured out the one thing he could do to earn Mark's forgiveness.

"Okay, I'll break up with her."
"Good man."
"But I'm not happy about this."
"Is any break-up happy?"

After school, Aaron found Lupe to give her the news.

"Hey. Um, I have to talk to you about something."
"Um, me too. Actually, I should probably go first."
"Aaron, I have really enjoyed these past two months, but I feel like we're growing apart, and I just need some time to figure some things out. It's not you, it's me. You are a great guy and any girl would be happy to have you."
"So, you're breaking up with me?"
"Yes, but I don't think that this is goodbye. It's just, ta ta for now."
"Wow, this is just so unexpected."
"I'm sorry."
"No, it's okay. I have to go now."
"I hope we can still be friends!"
"Sure, Lupe. Sure."

Now that that was over, it was time to figure out the intervention.

"Hey, the winter choir retreat is on Friday. Why not have it then?"
"That's a great idea! Except that we're seniors, which means that we'll be leading groups."
"We will have partners. We can just tell them that there will be a time period during the retreat that we will be gone. There should be no problem with that."
"Well, we don't have any other ideas, so this one is just as good as any."

The week continued. We continued our plan and Mark continued coming to school more blazed than the Beatles when they performed "Yellow Submarine". It broke our hearts to see his bloodshot eyes and his ridiculous behavior during choir, but we knew that everything would be resolved on Friday.

Friday finally came, and the three of us could not be more anxious about the events that were about to take place. We had each written letters to him that we would read aloud during the intervention. Hopefully they would evoke the emotion that needed to be evoked.

"So the big intervention is today?"
"What are you thinking right now?"
"That this could all turn out very badly."
"Well, think of it this way. At this point, you have absolutely nothing to lose. You've already lost whatever it is that you could have lost from this. Just try your best."
"Why are you so great?"
"I don't know. Why don't you answer that for me?"

I gave her a kiss, and then headed off to the choir retreat.

The choir room was bustling with excited choir kids wearing costumes of their favorite movie characters. Mal Wales and I had decided to dress as Winnie the Pooh and Tigger (she was Tigger) and we called our group the "Hundred Acre Wooders". At first she thought it was stupid, but I convinced her that it would be fun.

The festivities began, and Mark was obviously baked like a fresh cherry pie. He was running around, laughing at the games we were playing, asking freshmen for their phone numbers, and goofing off. When Miss Connolly gave us the command to go into our small groups, I told Mal I had to go do something.

"You're gonna leave me with all of these stupid kids?"
"You'll be fine. Just don't scare them too much."
"Okay then."

Aaron (aka Batman) and I met in the choir room while we waited for Michael (aka Wesley from "The Princess Bride) to come back with Mark.

"So how is he getting Mark in here?"
"He's telling him that all of the male seniors are doing a dance and they need to meet in the choir room at this time."


"David, I--"
"It's okay, Aaron. Let's just focus on this right now."

Finally Michael and Mark walked in the room.

"Um, where are the other senior guys?"

We looked at him in silence. He had sobered up a little since the retreat began an hour and a half prior.

"What's going on?"

I allowed another moment of silence to pass before I spoke.

"Mark, this is an intervention."
"Excuse me?"
"You have a problem, Mark. And we're here to help you fix it."
"What problem? You're the ones that have problems."
"Mark, we've each written you letters explaining how this has affected us, and--"
"Affected YOU? What makes you think I give a rat's ass how this has affected ANY of you? I don't have a problem, not that it's any of YOUR business."
"We want to help you, Mark."
"It's good to want things."
"Mark, please listen to us! Don't you remember what it was like when David had his drug problem? Don't you remember how stupid you thought he was, and how concerned you were for him?"
"Things change, people change."
"Mark, you know that's not true with us. We are best friends."
"No, we WERE best friends, until you ALL decided to betray me! Well I'm sick of being betrayed! I'm sick of having friends! And I am so damn sick of people telling me how to LIVE MY FUCKING LIFE!"

Mark sprinted out of the choir room, and after a moment, we ran after him, but when we reached the door, he was gone.

"Well, so much for that."
"Where could he have gone?"
"He couldn't have gotten very far. The only place he could have disappeared to in five seconds is the stage."

But when we got to the stage, Mark wasn't there.

"I wouldn't worry about it. Wherever he is, I'm sure Connolly will find him."
"Maybe you're right. Let's just go back to our small groups."

But as soon as we were about to split, we heard footsteps in the catwalks.

"I remember freshman year he told me that his happy place was Heaven."
"Um, he'd kind of have to die first."
"No! Heaven, as in the highest point on the stage!"
"You don't think he'd go up to Heaven in his condition, do you?"

More footsteps.


The three of us scurried up the spiral staircase that led to Heaven. I had been up there only once, and it would be quite a nasty fall if one were to stumble.

After about ten minutes, we reached Heaven, and there was Mark, sitting on the metal floor.

"I'll go get him."
"No. I'm the one who started this. I should be the one to end it."

Aaron slowly walked the two steps up to Heaven and carefully walked over to where Mark was sitting.

"What are you doing here?"
"I came here to talk to you."
"Because you're my best friend."
"Where's Lupe? Shouldn't you guys be not having sex right now?"
"We broke up."
"What? Why?"
"Because our friendship is more important than some girl."
"Keep talking."
"I'm sorry for everything that has happened. Your escapades and sailor mouth get on my nerves, but you wouldn't be you without those things, and our friendship is incomplete without my annoyance. But you're not you right now. You started doing drugs, and if you don't stop now, you're going to have a real problem."

Aaron and Mark sat in silence for a minute before Mark hugged Aaron with tears in his eyes.

"I'm sorry too, Aaron. I can't believe this got so out of hand."
"It's okay, Mark. It's okay. Let's just get down from here."

Mark and Aaron proceeded slowly and carefully back to the steps, stepped down from Heaven, and we all walked back down the long spiral staircase in time for the next big group activity.

"Where have you been? These underclassmen are going to kill me!"
"Mal, are they really that bad?"
"No, but you never know what they could be thinking."

At the end of the night, Mark, Michael, Aaron, and I all sat in the parking lot by the Prius and talked.

"What a cliche break-up! I'm sorry, dude."
"It's okay. She was too young anyway. Note to self: never date a sophomore again."
We all laughed. It felt so great to have things back to normal again.

"Hey, does anyone want to grab some coffee?"
"I'm in, but I need a ride."
"Are you ever going to start driving?"
"Not as long as I have you guys to drive me around."

So we proceeded to the Coffee Plantation, our favorite place in the world. It was a clear-cut sign that everything was back to normal.


"Hi David!"
"Joy? Hey, what's up? How's England?"
"Well, term ended and I'm coming home tomorrow. I wanted to know if you would want to grab some coffee on Sunday around 5?"
"Um, sure. Sounds good. I'll see you then. Bye."

Yes, it seemed that EVERYTHING was back to normal.

David Adler
Normal High School Student