Chapter 20

I run to school again. My next meet is in three days and I am going to surprise some people. It’s amazing how much I have improved. From throwing up, to gagging, to barely trotting, to running with good endurance. I have even surprised myself. Running to school with my books strapped to my back is making me stronger as well. There has to be at least twenty-pounds of weight back there. I shower, then get to art class early again.

            Mr. Ballantyne is probably wise to my flirtations with Patty, but he also likes my early bird ways. Plus, it’s none of his business. He also likes the fact that I run cross country. Supposedly he was a runner back in the day, which he reminds me of a few times. I tell Patty about my meet on Thursday and ask her if she is going. She says she isn’t going. She said it without any hesitation either. Bummer. I don’t ask her why, I just let her know that we need her support. She changes the subject and goes about her business. She leaves without saying another word. What’s up with that? I can’t read this girl.

            Sometimes you think women are really into you and what you have to say, but then you aren’t sure. My dad once told me that when you’re trying to woo a woman, be prepared to be happy and depressed in the same breath. I didn’t really understand that until now. He also said women are fickle creatures. I don’t know what fickle means, so I looked it up.

Fickle; adjective. 1) likely to change, especially due to caprice, irresolution, or instability; casually changeable: Fickle weather. 2) Not constant or loyal in affections: A fickle lover.

I shake the cold shoulder off and move on with my day. I have to deal with two tests today, math and Spanish; my two hardest classes. My sister helps me with my math, but I don’t study as much as I need to for Spanish. Believe it or not, watching the Spanish television channels helps me. I can work the flow of the words by repeating what people say. Most of the time, the people on those shows talk so fast that I can’t understand what they are saying. I ask other Spanish class students if they watch Spanish TV. A couple girls laugh at me. They tell me that I only watch those shows for the beautiful women and that I’m not fooling anybody. I deny their accusation, even though they have a point.

I see Susan at lunch sitting in the cafeteria with some other girls. I grab Tim. Susan invites us both to sit down with them, much to Tim’s surprise and dismay. Susan is happy but the others look like we have a deadly virus. I break the ice and tell them we are not contagious anymore and they are in no danger. Susan laughs as her girl crew smiles a little. I’m glad Tim is with me because he’s super shy and he needs this interaction with the babes. We handle ourselves like cool cats; no stupid things said or gestures made. We are gentlemen. We don’t burp, nor did we gobble our food like starving animals.

I have a lot of thought about how and where I am going to take Susan on our first date. I don’t have wads of cash lying around, so I will have to take money out of my savings account because my allowance for chores is not going to get it done. According to my calculations, I need fifty bucks for a decent date. My dad is not going to fork up that much, but I know my Mom is good for a twenty spot. I think I will just take her to a movie, because I can just sit there with her and don’t have to talk all night. Hell, I don’t know. I could always ask my sister. She is an expert at this type of thing. She is the master of ‘dateology.’

Next semester, I can take my driver training. Maybe, by later next year, I will have my driver’s license. I can’t wait for that freedom. The sports car on blocks that has been sitting under a tarp on the side our house for five years is going to be on my list of things to get done. I need a pot to piss in. I am getting a job as soon as I turn sixteen so I will be flush with cash.

I’m at the debate team meeting, were we start to prepare for an event next week against another school. We are debating climate change and what needs to be done to help control it. I have not done much research on this subject. I didn’t get picked to be on the 1st or 2nd team. They still want me to go watch and observe. I’m treated like a rookie, which is probably what I deserve. I haven’t mastered any kind of speaking style or tone. When I practice in class in a group of ten kids, I get brain farts. I don’t articulate. Kurt tells me that once I get a grasp of the material; the articulation will follow.  

 Today I thought about what would Ferguson do? I slam my fist down on the lectern and say, “Climate change is real. If we don’t do something about it now, what will be our kid’s future?”

What little I have read about climate change made perfect sense to me.  I said it loudly, and everybody in the classroom stops. Some kids high-five me and others yell out approval. It’s a fun moment, the highlight of the debate. I can’t mumble and mail in my responses anymore. I didn’t make the starting teams and that bugs me. I can do this if these smart kids really accept me. Right now, I think they treat me like I’m just some dumb sap that they can help. What these smart asses don’t know is that I will rule this team in a matter of time. I am ready to take the gloves off and force my will.

After that meeting, I’m a little pissed. And when I get angry I need to take it out on something or somebody. I walk by the basketball gym, I see the JV team practicing and get a sick feeling in my gut. I should have tried out again this year, I felt ready. I walk into the gym and sit on the bleachers for a brief moment.

I put my stuff down, run onto the court, and grab a basketball. I start shooting on one of the side baskets and some of the players stop to watch me. I’m probably not supposed to be here but screw it - and Coach Ryan for that matter. I nail some shots from the outside. In fact, I hit five in a row. I take a few more dribbles, then I sit the ball down and walk out. Yeah, I can have an attitude and right now I’m feeling it.

When I get home from school, I climb the stairs and throw myself onto my bed. I put on some headphones and turn on the music. As soon as I close my eyes, I feel my foot being wrenched on. It’s my brother and I want to clobber him.

“Hold on hot head. That dude Ferguson called and left a message on the house number.”

“What? When did this happen?” I lash out.

“I don’t know, like four,” Robby mumbles.

           I push my brother away as I jump on the bed and shadow box. My brother looks at me like I’m an idiot.

I run downstairs and listen to the message. It’s barely audible and I can hardly understand what he is saying. But I did manage to get a phone number. He spoke fast, so I had to rewind it ten times. I get a nervous feeling in my gut. I want to call him back, but at the same time I want to write down what I want to say. I don’t know if I’ll just get one shot at this.

            First things first; I must talk to my sister about how I’m going to pull off a date with Susan. Before I could even ask her for her expertise, she tells me she has no time to tutor me for math.

“Chill for a second. I need your advice on a subject that you’re an expert on,” I say in a slick tone.

She gives me an odd look, like I am screwing with her. “What do you want?”

“I asked a girl on a date. I need some advice.”

Cindy laughs. “What makes you think I’m an expert?”

“Okay, maybe not an expert. But someone who knows the game a bit more than I do.”

I must have pushed the right buttons on her control panel, because she turns nice all of a sudden.

First and foremost, she wants to know who the girl that I’m going out with is. Of course, when I tell her about Susan she has no clue who she is. That’s probably a good thing. She tells me that a man with no money (and no car) probably has at least two strikes against him. But she says that she will make sure I pull this off; but that the next time I’m on my own. She says I need to learn; like all of the other boys. She tells me to meet the parents and bring them something. That will buy some goodwill and ease their concerns about me. They are, after all, foreign exchange parents. They have to be extra careful with the girl they’re looking after.

Second thing, I need a driver but not a parent. She suggests hiring a driver or a ride sharing type thing. Third, be a gentleman; especially if she is a girl you like. If you are just going to hangout, then that is different; you are just friends. But this usually is not the case in high school. Cindy asks me what my intentions are. I’m embarrassed because I have no idea what I’m doing. If she’s talking about sex, then it isn’t something I want to discuss with my sister - ever.

So according to Cindy we are going to go to a movie, have popcorn, drinks, then candy. After the movie, I need to get an ice cream or something of that nature, so we can walk around. If things go well, maybe we can hold hands. Then the date is over. I need to call my ride and go home. And if I’m lucky, I will get a hug with possible kissing. I can call her in the next few days, unless it was not a good experience.

            Honestly, I wouldn’t care if we even went to a mall or a park. Cindy tells me not to be a cheap skate. Even if I don’t have much money, at least I should show some generosity and see that she has a good time. If the date doesn’t go so well, move on. You can usually tell fairly soon if it is going well and if you want to keep dating. I don’t know that much about Susan. But I want to know more; and what I know so far, I really like.

            It’s different with her than it is with Patty. Susan is a junior and a blonde. She’s a little bit taller than me, probably around five-foot six. I am five foot five. If she wears heels, she will be taller than me, kind of like a basketball center. I’m okay with it though - but is she? She wears boots a lot, which I love. Something about girls wearing boots, I guess that’s my thing. I must admit the fact that she is German (and when she speaks in her language) it hypnotizes me. You don’t hear German being spoken that much anywhere, except Germany. Or in an old World War II movie. Time will only tell if she will be my girlfriend. Best not to dwell on that too much.

            Then we have Patty: a senior with long dark hair that I cannot seem to get out of my head. I feel comfortable around her. I can say anything to her; except unfunny dirty jokes. I think that she has got her eye on someone else though, or she already has a boyfriend. Anyway, I have nothing to lose. I am going to use all of my “powers” no matter how limited they are. Like my sister told me, show some potential.

            I have plenty of that and more. I don’t know much about anything. But I’ve learned that from reading Ferguson’s manifesto that you have to make things happen, create excitement, take charge and be open to all possibilities.