Chapter 14

I leave for school sleepy but happy. The story that my dad told me got me thinking that I should do more crazy things. I feel as though I’m stuck in a rut; doing the same old thing every day like my parents. I have all kinds of thoughts and impulses that I never really act on because I have had my share of troubles. The problem is I either get caught, then told not to do careless and stupid things; or, my friends are not willing to go along with me to try new things. I think that Ferguson probably tried to do the right thing most of the time, but it seems that he had his wild side as well. He probably got bored with his day to day routines of homework, bells, teachers and needed to entertain himself. He had a way to get to you to do things you wouldn’t normally do. The fact that my dad played naked volleyball in San Francisco is way out there. I could never ever see myself doing that. But you never know. I’m sure my dad did a lot of things that he will never tell me about, but I think he really wants me to be open to new experiences.

            Because of my nutty mood, I feel the need to release my creativity in art class. I am getting better at quick sketches, as opposed to the scribbles I usually make. It takes me five-minutes to draw a sketch of Patty using my favorite art tool; an 8B soft lead pencil. I give her the picture. My drawing partner, Bill Knudsen, sees me hand it to her and calls me a suck ass.

            “Big fucking deal, you’re just jealous you didn’t think of it,” I say.

            “She is not into you dude, don’t you see that?”

When I hand it to Patty she laughs, which isn’t the response I thought I would get. “Who is this?” she asks.

            “Oh, it’s you … Maybe it’s not so good, but if you squint your eyes just right you can see the resemblance.”

She squints her eyes. “Oh yeah, I guess that’s me. Thanks Fergus, you’re getting better.”

            “My pleasure. It’s all in the speed. If I could draw faster than my brain could ruin a picture, then I might be able to do more.”

She lets out an infectious giggle. “I guess I haven’t heard that theory before - but it makes sense, I suppose.”

            Thanks to my little exchange with Patty I have a spring in my step. I head to history class, where I’m not doing that good. I’d probably be lucky if I can hang onto a “C.” One more flunked test and I’m in “D-land”; stomping grounds for the dumb-asses.

I always study the least for this subject, I find no joy in this class. I need to turn this thing around, so I think of Ferguson and what would he do. What method would he use? Through my reading of his material, he had the idea that if you became friends with the smartest kid in class you should automatically improve. Who is the kid here that gets A’s and knows how to pass these stupid classes? It’s between Noel Lubber and Nancy Yen, two brainiacs who can help me keep a solid “C.” Maybe even turn it into to a “B.”

I already sit near the front of the class to keep from sleeping in the back, but that doesn’t seem to be working either. I knew Noel from PE, we had to wrestle in front of the whole class. I pinned him in a long battle; I hope he isn’t mad about that. I feel bad because he is a nice guy.

I ask him how he got good grades in history and he tells me to use flash cards. I turn to Nancy Yen, who is also nice, but she doesn’t talk too much. I go right up to her and ask how she is doing in class, pretending I don’t know already. She says she is doing pretty well and that it’s an easy class. She’s being modest. But the part that gets me is that she says it is a really easy class for her. Not fair.

Okay, now that I have art and history planned out, what am I going to do with Algebra II? I don’t know how I am going to get through this mess. I’m probably one of the bottom five people in this class. Again, I have to use the strategy of interrogating the smart kids. There are a lot of them in this class. These kids seem to understand what the trick is to getting “A’s.” How can their brains understand this stuff? I must have been daydreaming for years in math class, because it doesn’t register.

This time I approach Brian Busey, whom I have known since kindergarten. He suggests I memorize the rules and show my work on the tests then the teacher will give me credit. If you don’t get the answer right but are able to demonstrate part of the formula and general knowledge of the equation, then the teacher doesn’t give you a zero. A light bulb goes off in my head, I need to at least write something down instead of leaving my test questions blank. I ask Brian if he could help me. He says he doesn’t have the time but tells me about a website that shows you all the tricks in half an hour. Not a whole lot of help; but at least it’s something.

It’s now obvious to me that I need to spend more time on this course; which is the sad reality. I want to join more clubs, but it looks like I need to get some of my grades up to “B-” territory. Now I see why my sister’s door is always shut. She’s in there filling up her brain with knowledge. I’m a little depressed over this, it’s stuff you have to do if you want to achieve your goals.

            I pull out Ferguson’s book at break while in the library. I need to eat some brain food instead of a donut. I open the book. This is the first thing I read:

            “Gifts to a Lonely Soul - find that person that appears lonely and show them that you see them. Sometimes it’s hard to tell, but you get the feeling they don’t have a lot of friends or family they can rely on. There is a widow that lives on our block that seems to have very few visitors. I know she has children; but for some reason they don’t come around very often. It takes very little effort to stop by for a quick “hello”, just for company now and then. She loves to get some dessert along with flowers. Most kids walk right by adults without a care. Trust me, I got a talking to about this from my grandma. She told me that someday that could be me; old and lonely. I get it, thanks grandma.”

I see a lot of kids on campus that appear to be loners, quiet types. I am not a lonely guy, but I get lonely thoughts. I didn’t think I’d ever be one to join any group, or ask people, for help. But somehow, I’m making new friends. Most important of all, I’m creating action. That is one of my favorite things in Ferguson’s book. I thumb through the book and come upon this:

“Superpower #9 – Create excitement. There is nothing worse than being bored. Have you ever been in a boring class where the teacher has everybody falling asleep? I will never forget the time when I was in math class and, in the dead of silence, someone started hiccupping. The sound got so loud that finally the class irrupted in laughter. The stiff teacher even broke down and smiled. He never acknowledged the student who was inflicted with the hiccups; though he knew who it was. I am not saying you have to start hiccupping. But, it is an example of loosening up a tense situation. Sometimes things need a jolt of excitement. There are a variety of ways you can do this without making a scene. The first thing to do is to get another person to except your idea and have them tell someone else; and so on. Believe in your cause. Never stand for boring and/or depressed thinking. Get up and shake yourself off, get over your pity. Get some movement in your body. Get some movement in your brain. Again, beware of road blockers - those who want to bring you down. They say, “Take a pill and shut up, sit down and be quiet.” When I hear that, I get even more excited to induce change.

I laugh, feeling great after I read this stuff. I’m starting to bring the book to school because I need a hit, like some kids need pot. Pot can’t give you power to do things that you normally wouldn’t do. The stoner kids that I know might want to play video games or bang on their drum sets and eat pizza; but they probably won’t do much more. I just want to run outside of the library and yell like a wolf. People will stare and laugh at me, but Ferguson and I wouldn’t give a damn what they thought.

I leave the library. I don’t yell but I have a good feeling. A happy feeling, probably like smoking pot. I don’t smoke the stuff but have tried it. Maybe I will give it a try again, someday. The kids I have seen do it are not the ones I hang around with much. 

It’s the afternoon, I go to my locker and I open it. Someone has slipped a note through the slot. I open it:

“Mary Bogen wants to meet you, come by anytime. - Tanya”

            I am so excited I howl. Kids look at me and laugh. A few other kids howl while others laugh at me. But I don’t care; what a day it’s turning out to be. I still have an hour left of school, so I head to Spanish class.

I sit in my uncomfortable desk-chair and think about my plan of action. I’m not paying attention to anything my teacher is saying. I get called on to give an answer for a Spanish sentence, so I make up some crappy response. The kids laugh because they know how lame it is. Screw them, I don’t give a damn about “Mi casa.” No disrespect to the Spanish speaking people of the world but I can’t possibly remember every damn word they say.

            I am going to head over there after school and find out what is the real story behind this Ferguson guy, once and for all. I can’t rely on my dad to give any more information. Who knows, the guy might be living in the next town. He could be a derelict. Or in prison.

This has become my secret mission; and no one else is going to know about it - yet.