Chapter 6

I spent the weekend reading through the manifesto. It transported me back thirty years, into the 1980’s. I don’t know how much high school has changed, but I’m guessing kids have a lot of the same problems. The number one issue I think every high schooler wonders about is how they are perceived. After reading through the manifesto, it looks like Ferguson Bogen finally said, “screw all of this game playing, I am going to make my own rules; and if others don’t like it, then too bad.”

This is inspiring. Maybe I should use his book to my advantage.

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            It’s Monday morning, time to unleash the new Fergus with a fresh start and a new attitude. I can always go back to the old Fergus and be miserable, but not today; and not this year.

I awake at five in the morning for some reason. The house is dead quiet, except for my dog Tucker who is snoring. How a small dog can snore like a lumberjack baffles me. I picked out my clothes today with some actual thought put into it. I packed away any shirt that makes reference to wrestling and cartoon characters, at least for now. Those shirts will officially be handed down to my younger brother. Now he can’t ever say I never gave him anything. I am going to wear black jeans because that’s all I have, besides shorts and some dress slacks. More thought went into my shirt. I needed a shirt that makes a statement about who I am. I own plenty of shirts of my favorite punk rock bands but wearing my Bad Brains or The Germs t-shirts are not the effect I want. I find a shirt in the bottom of my dresser that I have never worn. Yep, this is the one I am wearing. I had my sister order me this shirt on the internet. I sat down one night and watched a movie with her called, Rebel without a Cause. The main actor, James Dean, was a straight up cool cat that wanted to be a normal functioning teenager. I found this t-shirt with the saying, “I have a cause now.”  

            I don’t care if nobody knows who he is, that actually makes the shirt more interesting. This seems to be something straight out of Ferguson’s book. It’s about creating something to wonder about. Dean was good looking enough that the girls have no choice but to look at the shirt; then they have to look at me.

            I’ve been thinking about how I was going to get to school. I could ride my bike, but I’m going to walk even though I’m a mile and a half from school. Why not take another page out of the manifesto? Walk to school, observe your surroundings, make friends, pet dogs, whistle and think about the world … Be like Kane - the guy on the old TV show Kung Fu. He walked everywhere and would beat your ass if you gave him any shit. My dad loves that show.

            My good friends Tim and Steve will be definitely be confused as to why in the hell I am walking to school. I can read them like a book. They will always sleep in as long as possible before their mom’s start yelling at them. Then they ignore the yelling, put their headphones on, then try to squeeze out every minute of sleep before they throw on some clothes. They won’t even glance in the mirror. Only enough time left to scarf down Captain Crunch and be on their way. They are not ready to learn what I know. This isn’t any fake Star-Wars-Jedi-crap; this is the honest truth.

            If I tell them I walked to school, they would try to interrogate me. They will look at me like I am a kook; but that will be my first lesson. The first step is telling your friends that this is how it is going to be. They may not understand your actions. But If they are friends they will hopefully understand your reasoning. 

            I made some notes that I am going to carry in my pocket, just to give myself some reminders. It is so easy to fall into the old ways of Fergus, the grumpy little devil. One line from the manifesto has stuck in my brain, “Trying to be noticed is different than being yourself.” It went on to say that there will be times when your voice needs to be heard. But there are way more times that you need to just SHUT UP. All of this stuff I am reading seems so true, but I am just a beginner. A novice, as my dad would say.

            I am so glad my brother gave me this book, even though he told me it was just good for a laugh. Someday he will understand what a weird place high school really is. Right now, he just thinks it’s an extension of junior high.

I looked up Ferguson in my dad’s freshmen yearbook. Then I took out the rest of the years. This gave me a better idea of who he was. At first, I thought he was just another shmuck like the rest of us; floundering around like a bunch of lost morons. Somehow, he became this whole different person from year to year.

            As I flipped through the sophomore book, I searched his name and found him posted on ten pages. The dude was on the tennis team, the German Club, the Science club, Chess Club and the CB club. I told my dad that aside from the tennis team, those other clubs were for nerds. What was the CB Club? My dad didn’t like my attitude when I asked him that, as he was quick to tell me that was his way of fitting in. He tried to explain the CB Club to me. They were radio transmitters that were popularized by truckers, but of course those things are ancient history. My dad had this big radio contraption called a HAM radio he used to blabber on now and then. This explains why we were the only family on the block with an antenna on the roof.

            I have real issues with what is supposed to be cool, what is supposed to be nerdy and what is supposed to be normal. My dad told me I can be my own trendsetter - be yourself and don’t worry what others think of you. I guess that is what he is doing right now. I know he smokes weed in the garage because my brother told me saw his stash in a coffee can. Of course, my little brother could be full of shit. But my father doesn’t seem to care what others think of him, and he seems perfectly content in his ways. 

            In the manifesto, Ferguson writes that bullies were not the only ones who can torment you. There are also kids who judge you then try to manipulate your attitude.  Words are words, and until you start being your own person bullies and mean kids will get the best of you. 

            My favorite part of the book is the section where Ferguson talks about how to handle bullies. I must have read it a dozen times. He gives ten ways to handle them. I wrote them down and put them in my pocket along with some notes on how to speak to the opposite sex. Well, off to school I go, down the street to my new beginnings. 

             I have never walked more than a mile to school before. School starts at 8 a.m., but I head out at 6:30 a.m. I am gone before anyone in my house is even downstairs.

The air is warm so no coat is required. I chuck the newspaper towards the front porch and it hits the screen door. It is probably going to wake up the whole damn house, except for Tucker, who can be the most useless watch dog in the world. It’s quiet outside except for the neighborhood plumber guy who fires up his van every morning and lets it idle for ten minutes. Why is he always watching random houses from his van? And why are there no windows?

            When the hood is this quiet and deserted, you get a chance to peer into your neighbor’s houses and cars. People leave all kinds of crap in their car overnight: fast food bags, bottles, coffee cups, clothes, cigarettes, etc. If I had a car I wouldn’t be letting it look like a dump inside, much less put a bunch of dumb bumper stickers on it declaring who I wanted for president. What if your candidate loses? You will be driving around like a nimrod in denial; as some people do.

            People drive by me staring like I am a walking zombie or something. They are probably wondering why this kid is walking to school early in the morning. Is there something wrong with his mental status? Doesn’t he own a damn bike? I love it. Let them wonder. I am surprised that one of these drivers didn’t pull over and offer to give me a lift. Do people still do that? I guess I had better watch out for the weirdo’s that drive around looking for kids to mess with.

            I normally wouldn’t notice birds chirping, but this walk was one big nature scene.  Birds whistle and some caw while others dive into fountains and bathe. Those tiny little hummingbirds are flying around at warp speed into the feeders that hang in front yards.  A few dogs bark as some cats roam about and jump on fences. Sprinklers are running as homeowners try to keep their lawns from turning brown.

            More people are leaving for work as I come up on the seven o’clock hour. Men and women get into cars while they carry large coffee mugs, briefcases and purses.  Car doors slam and engines are starting up. Some forget the radio was left on, so they get a blast of loud music. Lights go on in living rooms, and bathrooms are constantly being flushed.

            I covered over a mile. A good pace, as I’ll be in front of the school in a few minutes. It is now 7:15 a.m. I could have busted out this mile and half in thirty minutes. I way over calculated my time. I think I am going to be the first kid at school. I have no idea what goes on at school this early. I have time, so I make a pit stop at 7-11 and knock back a Slurpee. This fires up my body like rocket fuel. 

            I am at school by 7:35 a.m. Kids start showing up every couple seconds. I see a lot of freshmen being dropped off. How do I know they are freshmen? They have huge back packs. Soon they will learn that carrying those things like pack mules isn't necessary. They are on the road to becoming hunchbacks. Not to mention you look like a geeked-out moron.

            The ‘senior area’ already has girls and boys claiming their rights to their turf. It’s a long wooden bench. For three years the rest of us have to watch most of the seniors act like a bunch of royal asses. Oh well, I will probably sit on the bench one day and act like a pompous jerk declaring my superiority too. Or will I?

            I head to my locker and realize that I need to clean it up because it’s rancid. I never really cleaned it from last year. I have left old food in it and it has a dirty clothes stench. Old papers and stale French fries have long since died on the bottom shelf. I grab a garbage can and chuck it all in. I eat an old fry; it’s surprisingly edible. The first act of my turnaround is complete. I have shed the remnants of my past.

The day is new and I all I have to say is - “Watch out suckas, Fergus is fo real.”