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

Monday, February 8, 2010

Lose Yourself

"My name is Lucy Greer, and this is my daughter Maya. You must be David."

"How do you know my daddy?"
"Well, your daddy is my daddy too."
"So you're my brother?"
"If you want me to be your brother, I would be honored."

"So, who broke your heart?"
"Love shows no bounds, and then, after I lost my virginity to her, she chose Remi."
"So now you just always choose you?"
"Better to be the dumper than the dumpee, right?"

"Do you really think we can do this?"
"What, have a baby?"
"I'm in if you are."

"Doesn't it bother you that Cal had this whole other family that we didn't know about?"
"Well, David, if I have learned anything from being married to Calvin Adler, it's that in life you have to be prepared for anything. That way, there are no surprises and no one gets hurt."
"David, have you been taking a hiatus from studying in this class?"

My AP Gov/Econ teacher, Mr. Jackson, had recently decided that it would be appropriate to point out my lack of APEG skills to the entire class.

"Yeah, I guess."
"Well, maybe it's time that you get off of that hiatus."

Ever since we had gotten back from winter break, it had been so hard to focus on school; not only was I balancing work, my social life, and my half-sister Maya, but I had a ton of work to do for The Summit Sentinel and I had to practice my sight-reading for regional auditions. How was I supposed to fit the Production Possibilities Curve into my busy schedule?

APEG wasn't the only class I was struggling in; I was failing miserably at Trig. Identities in Pre-Calc, As I Lay Dying made me want to lay dying, and Jazz Choir on top of all of my music in Acme Choir was presenting more of a challenge than it was worth.

My name is David, and I'm a normal high school student.
And on top of all of the personal shit I was dealing with, I was dealing with a very normal high school problem...


And I wasn't the only one of us dealing with it either.

"I haven't done any of my homework, and I don't care."

Michael Florence, Mark Adams, and I all stared in disbelief at Aaron Stanwick.

"Aaron, you haven't missed a homework assignment since 6th grade when you had to stay in during YOTSAW Recess!"
"YOTSAW Recess?"
"Your Opportunity to Sit and Work. If we did all of our assignments over the week, we got an extra recess."
"Oh. Cool."
"I know, I can't believe it either, but it's just that I'm finding it increasingly difficult to focus on my work. I mean, I've already been accepted into BYU, and I got a ton of scholarships, so I just don't see the point in working hard anymore."
"But Aaron, you're up for valedictorian! You're really gonna let Aabheer Padmavati or Susie Chang beat you?"
"What good is being valedictorian?"
"Well, we'd much rather hear you speak at graduation over Aabheer or Susie."
"Although they are both totally worthy candidates."
"You guys, it was one night of homework. And I didn't even have that much. I'll be fine."

But as the first month back at school continued, none of us were fine...

"I failed the Lit Terms exam!"
"I don't understand a THING about Polar Graphs!"
"I'm FAILING choir?"

...not to mention everything else we were all dealing with. As Michael and Leslie approached the end of their first trimester (which was still a secret to us, by the way), they had a lot of baby stuff to deal with.

"Can you believe that in just one week, we're gonna know if it's a boy or a girl?"
"Yeah, it seems like only yesterday that we were freaking out about the possibility of being pregnant. It's a good thing my parents have been so supportive. How are your parents being?"

Leslie was silent.

"Leslie, you DID tell your parents...didn't you?"
"Not exactly..."
"Michael, I wanted to tell them, but everytime I started to, they went into this whole thing about how proud they are of me because I never make any mistakes! And you know what a disappointment my sister is. I can't let them know that I am a disappointment too!"
"How long do you think it's gonna be before they notice your stomach getting bigger?"

"I don't know. How long do you think it'll be before the guys catch on?"
"I wasn't going to tell them until you were ready for everyone to know. Obviously you're not."
"Michael, you know how my parents are! They'll kick me out of the house!"
"You're not going to know unless you tell them. Besides, since all you ever eat is salad, I doubt they'll buy that you're just gaining weight."

While Leslie and Michael dealt with telling their secret, Mal Wales was having a hard time keeping her own.

"Hey Mark!"
"Uh, hey Mal. What leads you to make this completely random conversation that will not lead elsewhere?"
"Relax, no one that cares is around."
"Oh. So what's up?"
"Look--it's just that--well--I'm having a hard time keeping this thing of ours a secret."
"You're the one that didn't want anyone knowing. I would have been happy to tell the entire world."
"I know, but the problem is that if we tell the whole world, how is that going to look for me?"
"It'll look like exactly what it is--you're fucking the hottest guy in school."
"You just don't understand, Mark."
"What don't I understand?"

Mark was clearly clueless.

"Never mind. I'll just--see you later."
"So are we on for tonight?"
"No, I have plans."

As Mal walked away, Aaron and I approached him.

"What was that all about?"
"It didn't look like nothing."
"She was just telling me that--um--she needed help with her part in Salmo."
"She's an alto."
"She wasn't asking for help. She was just making polite dinner conversation."
"But it's 7 in the morning."
"7:00 already? Wow, I've really gotta get to Sociology!"

Mark stormed off, leaving Aaron and I dumbfounded.

"What's up with him?"
"You know, I think it's better not to ask."
"Good point. Anyway, are you and Callie going to my Super Bowl party?"
"That's the plan. Hopefully I won't be asked to babysit."
"Lucy and Maya are still there?"
"Whatever happened to only staying for a couple days?"
"My mom has grown accustomed to the Greers apparently. Personally, I can't get enough of the little one. But there's just something I don't trust about Lucy."
"It's not like she knew the Cal was married."
"I know. There's just--something her that's not right. I don't know what it is, but there's just something I don't trust about her."
"Maybe you need to open up your heart to her. It's what God would want."
"When have I ever cared what God would want?"
"Your Bar Mitzvah?"
"That was a great party."
"Not as great as my Super Bowl party though!"

That day, when Jake and I got home from school, I started thinking about trust (naturally, instead of looking over the Supreme Court cases I had to memorize). I trusted my ex-girlfriend, Joy, until I found out that she cheated on me. I trusted Steve Weiss until his powers of persuasion led me to relapse on Vicodin. I trusted Cal until I found out about every lie he had ever told us. Lucy Greer had given me no reason not to trust her, but still I couldn't find a way to do so. Maybe opening my heart to Lucy was like opening a new box of matches; I wanted to light the candle, but I didn't want to get burned again.


Maya came running into the living room and jumped into my arms.

"Hey kiddo," I said as I kissed her forehead. "How was preschool today?"
"We learned how to count!"
"That's exciting! How many fingers am I holding up?"
"That's right! You are so smart!"
"Not as smart as you!"
"Well, no one's as smart as me," I said, adding a wink. I loved that kid more and more every single day. She was easy to talk to, easy to take care of.

"David, can you watch Maya on Sunday?"
"It depends on what time on Sunday. I'm going to a Super Bowl party."
"Couldn't you take Maya to the party?"
"I would, except that this is the Super Bowl, and I highly doubt that Mark will be able to watch his language."
"What am I supposed to do? My first day working at the Sugar Shop is on Sunday!"
"The Sugar Shop? As in--the strip club?"
"Yes. I auditioned this morning and they gave me the job on the spot!"
"How very--nice for you."
"So you understand why I need you to do this for me?"
"Why don't you ask Jake to do it? He doesn't watch sports."
"I don't think Jake and I have even spoken two words to each other since I got here."
"Well, you'll find that he's very--interesting. And Maya will love him! Please Lucy, I haven't really hung out with my friends in a long time, and as much as I love Maya, I need a night to be a teenager again."
"You're right. I will ask Jake to babysit."


"David, I'm calling an emergency meeting at the Coffee Plantation. I've already informed Michael and Aaron and my mom's giving me a ride."
"Don't you have homework?"
"Don't you?"
"Alright, I'll be there in 10."

"Now, I have called you all here this afternoon for a very important reason."
"It better be important. Leslie and I were--dealing with some stuff."
"So, what's going on?"
"Gentlemen, remember when I fell in love with Faye Winston?"
"Who could forget?"
"And remember how I wanted so much more than meaningless sex with her?"
"That's generally how love is."
"And how fucked up I was when I found that she didn't feel the same way?"
"Mark, just spit it out!"

We were all speechless.

"So, that's why you were talking to her today at school!"
"How did this happen?"
"Well, remember David's Hanukkah party?"
"You mean the one where my entire life changed forever?"
"Well, um, Mal and I sort of fucked in the coat closet."
"Don't worry, I dry-cleaned the ones that were exposed."
"So that's why she no longer wears her purity ring!"
"Yeah, she was waiting until marriage and then one day I noticed it wasn't on her finger."
"Wait wait wait! She was a VIRGIN???"
"And you just took her virginity like it was nothing!"
"I didn't know!"
"Look, it doesn't matter anymore. What matters is that Mark is in love again, and hopefully Mal feels the same way."
"What if she doesn't?"
"Then you'll shake it off and go back to hooking up with random girls like you always do."
"But what if I don't want that anymore?"
"I'm beginning to see how wrong it was for me to hook up with all of those girls. I mean, do you know how many STDs I could have gotten?"
"Mark, this is so unlike you. What happened?"
"Mal Wales happened."

So, on that Thursday night in the Coffee Plantation, we planned the perfect way for Mark to reveal his love for Mal. At first, he wanted to serenade her like I did for Joy last Valentine's Day, but we told him that Mal is not the kind of girl who would be impressed by a barbershop quartet. Then he suggested giving her flowers and candy--BAD IDEA. Finally, we decided that the best way to approach it would be for him to just tell her. As romantic of a person as Mark could be, romantic wasn't what Mal needed. She needed real.

Sunday at the Super Bowl party was where we decided the action would take place. I picked up Callie and her and I went to the party together.

Aaron's mom really pulled out all the stops for the party. There were banners that said "Go Saints" as well as banners that said "Go Colts" (The Stanwicks were all about creating peace, not inducing rivalry). There was an assortment of chips and several dips, along with a bag of fresh fried chicken from Albertson's. It was gonna be a good night.

"So, Mark's really turned over a new leaf?"
"It's probably been coming for a while. But I'm proud of him. We're all sort of growing up."
"Last semester of senior year. I guess growing up is to be expected."
"And growing up means being responsible, and balancing priorities."
"And priorities include homework, right?"
"I've always made homework a priority."
"Well, starting now, I am too. As of this moment, my senioritis is officially gone!"
"You're so cute when you're getting your priorities straight!"

We kissed in a way that we hadn't in quite a while. I had been so caught up in other things that I almost forgot about the one person who should have been my priority all along.

As the first quarter continued, it seemed that the only person really paying attention to the game was Aaron. Michael kept trying to call Leslie to find out where she was, Mark was trying to focus on what he was going to say to Mal, and Callie and I were enjoying our time with each other. Occasionally we would yell at the screen about a bad call, or laugh at a cute commercial, but my overall focus was on Callie; she was the most wonderful thing that had ever happened to me.

The Who rocked the half-time show; they were even able to do the infamous scream during "Won't Get Fooled Again" after working up to it for a little bit. As soon as the song ended and the commercials went back on, Mark got up and looked at Mal.

"Hey Mal, can I talk to you for a second?"
"Sure Mark."

While they walked into the kitchen, there was a knock on the door.

"Hey Leslie! You're just in time for the second half!"

Aaron didn't notice that Leslie's eyes were red from crying.

"Babe, why don't we go upstairs and talk?"

Michael and Leslie went upstairs and stayed by the stairs to talk.

"Gee, if only I had a girlfriend to talk to."
"Don't worry Aaron. You'll find someone."

In the kitchen, Mark was very nervous. The entire future of his and Mal's relationship hung on her decision.

"So, um, what's up?"
"I've been thinking."
"Oh Mark, what have I told you about thinking? You might hurt yourself."
"Mal, this is serious."

"Have I told you lately how great you are?"
"I guess if you're telling me right now, that counts, right?"
"Well, you really are something. You're just the only person who really gets me. You know how to read me, and I feel like we connect on a level that reaches beyond just high school."

"So, they really kicked you out?"
"They didn't even think about it, and they didn't look back."
"Leslie, I'm so--"
"Sorry? Don't be. I don't need anyone to feel sorrow."
"Leslie, would you please calm down?"

"I've been thinking a lot lately about, well, us, and I--um--I--"

"David, you know that I feel the same way, and that you're the most amazing guy, and that I wouldn't be able to find anyone better in a million years, but there's something I have to tell you."

"You just don't understand Michael! Your parents are supporting you! They're supporting this! My parents kicked me out!"
"Whatever happens, we'll get through it TOGETHER!"

"I love you, Mal."

"I got into NYU, David."


Whether the shouting threw Leslie off balance, or the stress led her to lose her footing, we didn't know. All we knew was that all of a sudden, we heard a thud as she fell backwards and tumbled down the stairs.


We all ran over to a motionless Leslie as Michael came running down the stairs. Once he was down there, he held her in his arms, agitated with worry.

"SOMEBODY CALL 911!!! Oh my God, Leslie, I'm so sorry! Oh God, I'm so sorry!"

Aaron called 911, and about five minutes later, an ambulence came for her. They put her on a stretcher and Michael went in the ambulence with them. Callie and I took the Prius and Mark and Aaron went in Aaron's red truck, and once we were at the hospital, the only thing to do was wait.

David Adler
Normal High School Student

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