Chapter 7

I am in art class, and I have begun working on today’s assignment, a self-portrait.  I decide not to use a pen, pencil nor crayon (they don’t call them crayons in art class anymore, they are pastels). Just as well, Patty won’t be impressed with my coloring skills, especially if I color outside the lines. I am going to use acrylic paint (it says that on the big bottle). I have no idea what I am doing. Meanwhile, most of the other kids have sketched their mug shots onto paper.

            I’m not doing that. I’m cutting out the middle man and going right from paint brush to the canvas. There are various paintings on the classroom walls. One is by this guy named Picasso, who is obviously famous. I have seen the bizarre stuff he has painted before. If they call that art, then my splatter job just might pass.

            I have gotten myself into a bit of a jam with the mess I am making on the canvas.  I went right into painting my facial features. It’s now very clear that the face on the canvas is someone else’s, not mine. It’s so bad I have to chuckle to myself. Soon, I break out into a loud laugh. It’s so loud that other students start to stare at me. It’s the type of attention that usually makes me crawl into a hole. For some reason, I don’t care this time. I am having too much fun. This has taken Patty’s attention, as she comes by to look at my crappy masterpiece. 

            “Wow, that is really something special Fergus. Is that a self-portrait?”

            “Uh yeah. Kind of like a Picasso, huh?”

Patty laughs. “I don’t know if I’d go that far, but you’re improving. I can show you a few things to help you out, if you’d like?”

            I move over as she sits herself in front of my painting. She lets me know that I shouldn’t start out with black paint. I have no idea what she is doing. Within minutes she has it looking better by using some colors to “highlight”. I just learned that word, so I nod in agreement as Patty explains it to me. Evidently my mouth has no control, because I softly say, “You’re amazing.”

Patty smirks. “Well, sometimes it is just a matter of choices and vision.”

           “I get it; you just let your creativity take it in any direction.” I reply, like I know what I’m talking about.

She let me off the hook even though I’m a clueless fool. As she walks away, I get a warm happy feeling that is sure to keep a smile on my face all day. Everything appears to be going slower today. I find myself not giving a crap about anything that anybody says thanks to Patty. I just smile and listen to whatever babble spews out of people’s mouths.

At lunch time, I sit with Tim and Steve. They look at me as if something is wrong; like I am on medication that is misfiring, or drugs. Must be the cough syrup I tell them. Patty has put me in a place I have never been before. Is this all the fuss people sing about when they are crazy for someone?

            When my sixth period Spanish class ends I walk back to my locker. There is still no sight of Manny Gomes. I don’t know how much longer this is going to play out, but I know that eventually our paths will cross again. I can’t say that I am not afraid of him, but it’s only because he’s got a few pounds on me. But I am not going to let him dictate what I do and when. He probably doesn’t give me much thought. He’s probably more interested in sacking quarterbacks and whipping other guys with wet towels in the locker room.

            I stand in front of my locker and read a sign that is posted on the wall nearby me. It reads:

“Curious?  Join the debate club today.”

I pause for a moment. Something in my head tells me to check it out. All I know about debating is that is probably a lot like arguing. Hell, I can do that. Here I go; this is happening. This would be the first thing I ever joined that was not a sport.

I walk into room B3 to check it out. There are only two students sitting at the teacher’s desk, nobody else is in sight. It’s a girl and a big guy with a half-ass beard. I have seen them around campus, but I don’t know their names. She is probably a senior. This guy is years ahead me in the puberty department.

            “Hi, is this the place for the debate club sign ups?”

            “That depends …You up for being mentally challenged and becoming a bad ass?” Says the girl.

            “Well, if you are looking for a guy to be a bad ass, I’m your guy,” I blurt out.  

I can’t believe I said that, how dumb.

            “Ha, ha, good man. You came to the right club then,” the girl snaps back.

            “We’re having a meeting this Thursday at 3 p.m. Be there, and no excuses. If you need us to write you a note for your mama I can do that,” Mr. Pubic Hair Face says.

            “I’m good on the note Scruffy, I will be there,” I fire back.

            “I like you, what’s your name?” the girl asks.

            “Fergus Gordon.”

            “You Cindy’s' little brother?”

I pause, a little bummed. “Yeah, she’s not in this club is she?”

            “Nope, not yet; but she is welcome.”

            “Don’t worry; I’m the only Gordon you’ll need.”

This is my lame attempt to be a wise guy. They smile and look at me as though I’ve met their club criteria.

            “This is Kurt, and I am Vanessa. Welcome to the club, Gordon.”

            “I don’t have to try out do I? And will you guys cut me if I am not good enough?” I ask. Kurt rolls his eyes.

            “Like I was telling you dude, we are going to make you into a bad-ass. It’s different than a bad attitude. Show up, and we will take care of the rest.”

            “I’m not much of a speaker to be honest,” I say.

            “Don’t worry Fergus,” Vanessa replies. She hands me a pen. I sign up and leave.

I sit at my desk in my room and stare at the mountain of homework to plow through. What the hell; math and English homework ruined my Patty buzz. Math (especially Algebra II) is even harder than the first time around. I’m supposed to take this crap so I can get into a good college. I think I might need a tutor because I’ve spent way too much time coming up with wrong answers. 

As for literature, I can tolerate it - and it seems to suit my brain better. I can think about plenty of things to read and write about. My problem is proofreading my papers. I didn’t realize that I made so many stupid grammar mistakes and the lame issue of leaving out little words in a sentence.

            My sister walks by. Since I’m in such a great mood I yell,

“Hey Cindy, how’s school?”

She steps into my room carrying a People magazine.  I never ask her about school because she usually lets us know at dinner.

            “I think this is going to be an awesome year because I have good teachers. I figured out which ones to avoid, the stars are lining up. How are your classes going?”

            “Better than last year by a mile and I have art class which I thought was a sure ‘D’ or ‘F’ for me.”

            “Oh yeah, since when do you like art? I have never seen you draw anything in years.”  

            “Well, to be honest, I like the people in the class.”  

            “The ‘people’? Like who?”

            “You know Patty Anderson?”

            “I think so, isn’t she a hippy-type girl?”

            “What is a hippy girl?”

            “You know: long straight hair, flowery clothes, a lot of jewelry, sometimes wears patchouli oil.”

            “Poo chew lee oil?”

Cindy laughs. “It’s Patchouli oil. It’s oil that has a distinct odor that hippy types wear.”

            “Nah, she smells good. No weird stuff like that,” I quickly reply.

“So, you’re checking out a senior? Go for it little brother.”

            “Yeah, I like her. But I don’t think she really notices me. She probably thinks I am just another dude that is trying to get in her pants.”

I don’t know if I should have opened this can of worms with my sister, because she might now try to become Patty’s friend. That would ruin my overall plan. The last thing I need is my sister talking to the girl of my dreams.               

“Don’t be that guy who never says anything. Shyness is one thing, but being a chicken is another. I think you are more of a punk rock guy and she likes guys that are more sensitive,” she lectures.

            “I can be a hippy.” My sister gets a smile out of me.

            “I don’t know. You don’t have any hippy clothes and you have short hair. You are kinda the anti-hippy.”

            “What are hippy clothes?” I’m genuinely asking.

            “Forget it Fergus. Just be yourself; not a poser. You might be a dork in her eyes until you show her something special to make her look at you different.  

            “I don’t know what that “something special is yet”  

            “We’ll get you some different clothes, but no hippy stuff.”

            My sister gets it, and I was sure Ferguson would approve. As he wrote in his book, “… do your homework and get to know what your object of desire likes.” It’s a good start. My sister and I are in a good place, and I hope it lasts.

            Tonight’s real homework is not math and English, rather how I’m going to get Patty to really notice me? It won’t be easy, because I’m not a senior, a hippy or a great artist; so, I all I have to work with is my personality. I’m fucked. I think I only have a few choices. I can be funny, which only goes so far. How funny do I have to be for her to be my girlfriend? Plus, I have to skate a thin line with this approach. As the manifesto states: “If you’re too goofy for her standards, you could end up looking like a buffoon. And no one likes a buffoon; except other buffoons.”  I think fun and exciting with some dashes of comic relief are the way to go. Getting closer.

Ferguson, with all his worldly ways, writes that in order to win a girl over you also have to be heroic. But how I am going to do that?

My desires are just within my reach; I just have to create some action. This could get interesting. Or, I’ll just crash and burn like the kamikaze pilots we’re learning about in history class. Either way, I’m going to shake things up.