"Critics who treat 'adult' as a term of approval, instead of
as a merely descriptive term, cannot be adult themselves...When I
became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of
childishness and the desire to be very grown up."
Chapter 1- The
Growing up, one must learn the harshest rules of life. Rules that
are inconvenient truths to the reality we, as a species, have
been dealt. Such rules can be minuscule and seemingly trivial.
For instance, the fact that the Buffalo Bills will be forever
known as the team that lost four Super Bowls in a row, and is
destined to float among the bottom of the league's rankings every
year is unfortunate. At least for fans of said franchise.
But it's a fact of life. A small and mundane fact that has no
huge impact, but a fact nonetheless.
But in addition to these facts, come the ones that are larger.
Ones with a wider impact on society that no one can avoid, no
matter how convincingly they pull off a track star impersonation.
If you don't drink in college, you're questioned. If it's not for
religious reasons and just because you don't feel like getting
blackout drunk, you're seen as bizarre- an oddity in this world.
You're also expected to grow up. Not only in the sense that you
need to become business savvy and learn to fight for survival in
the harsh world outside the school-yard, but also in the sense
that anything and everything you enjoyed as a child must be
kicked to the curb like an old tire. If you like cartoons, you're
a child. On the other hand, late-night clubbing, drinking, toking
and relieving sexual lust into any girl you find are often seen
as the bastion of maturity.
If one person knew all about this, it was Nick Smith. He'd been
labelled many things in the past: nerd, goody-goody, 'Gary Stu',
In reality, he didn't mind these nicknames. Sure hearing them
repeated over and over tended to get tiresome. It could even get
downright annoying. But all these names meant was that he had his
head on straight. His friends, those that were supposed to be by
his side, would take part in the teasing. Even is two best
friends, Pete Dewey and Tyler Clements, would mock him openly-
They were both extremely cool guys, though Tyler could be a bit
brash and cocky- he was the kind of guy that acted more macho
than he was. Every day, before he'd get ready for school, he'd
make sure to have some "manly" article of clothing on, such as a
shirt with a football team or a rapper's face- Kid Cudi and Wiz
Khalifa were among his favorites. Whether he enjoyed rap for the
rhythm, message, or because of his tendency to bandwagon was a
Nick's other friend, Pete, was often stuck in between the other
two. He wanted to fit in, yet still leaned more towards Nick's
side of the geek scale. His messy black hair and pale face kept
him from being a hit with the ladies, save for those who were
into the goth types. Not that he was goth, his looks just
betrayed him in that regard. So often he found himself torn
between listening to his heart and siding with Nick, and
listening to his social-status focused brain and siding with
This lunch period was no different, as Pete sat quietly while his
nerdy friend made an offer to his manly friend. The cool cat
recipient rolling his eyes as he listened to Nick's proposal.
The cafeteria was packed with students. The smell of Grade "D"
meat wafted into the air, serving as a warning to those with
sensitive stomachs to turn around and flee- making an apparent
evolutionary weakness into a strength. The white walls were
shining and clear, only the few "Got Milk" posters hung up added
some personality to the otherwise dreary, yet boisterous,
lunchroom. The crowd of students added a bit of vibrancy to the
place, and sunlight streaming through the giant windows did the
Nick, Pete, and Tyler all sat near the entrance of the cafeteria,
munching on their lunches and trying their best not to heave it
up as Nick proceeded to come to a conclusion.
As he finished his suggestion, Nick found his eyes drawn to the
massive head of Wiz Khalifa on Tyler's shirt. Sure his mouth was
moving and words of content were spilling out, but for the
briefest moment he couldn't help but to allow himself to get
distracted by the rapper's head, making him realize just how
ludicrous he was to believe Tyler would accept his proposal with
"So, what do you guys think?" Nick asked, slight hope in his
Tyler shook his head, "I think it's a terrible idea."
"Me too." Pete said, deciding to take Tyler's side on the issue.
It wasn't a surprise to Nick, though. For as often as Pete felt
conflicted, in the end his brain would kick his heart to the curb
and pull Pete towards Tyler.
But Nick was persistent. "How is it a terrible idea, exactly?"
Tyler grabbed a napkin and wiped his mouth of ketchup that had
smeared onto his lips from the burger. "Well Nick, we're
seventeen. I'm pretty sure that puts us above the trick-or-treat
"That's garbage." Nick protested. "There's no maximum age for
trick-or-treating. You can do it if you're fifty, for Christ's
"There may not be a formal limit, but it's implied." Tyler shot
back, taking another ravenous chomp out of his burger, a glob of
ketchup landing onto his tray, mixing with the macaroni salad.
Pete nodded, "Yeah I actually agree with Tyler on this. Isn't
part of growing up moving on from your childhood?"
Nick gave Pete a small shrug, "Well, to some extent sure. We
can't live in the blissful fantasy that we did when we were
younger. But at the same time we shouldn't just disregard
everything that made up such a major part of our lives."
"Yes we should." Tyler said with an emphasized bluntness. "Face
it Nick, we're different people than we were back then.
Nick gave off a small laugh, "We are?"
Tyler seemed a bit taken aback by Nick's answer, before
responding like he questioned the existence of gravity. "Yeah, no
shit we are. Think about it, when we were ten what did we talk
about at lunch, or in any situation like this?"
"Um..." Nick said, thinking back to what he would consider 'the
good-old days', whereas Tyler saw it as the 'pre-sexual fantasy
days'. Finally, Nick answered. "Football and movies?"
Tyler nodded, "Bingo. Also cartoons. Lord knows we've had our
fair share of discussions about Pokemon and Dragonball-Z."
"What about video games?" Pete asked, ending his somewhat
Tyler shook his head, "We still talk about them. They don't
Nick started to get a big agitated. "What's your point, Ty?"
Tyler turned back to his friend, his eyes showing the glimmer of
"We talk about three things at lunch in high school." Tyler held
out his fingers and counted down. "Sex, alcohol and school."
"Bullshit, we still talk about movies and cartoons and we
definitely still talk about football. Just last week we said how
the Bills were fated to never win a Super Bowl."
Groaning, Tyler rubs his temples with his thumb and forefinger.
"Okay fine, bad example. But I still stand by my point that
relationships and parties have taken over because we've outgrown
everything else. That's just a fact of life, and you need to
Somewhere across the cafeteria, some kid dropped their lunch,
eliciting a chorus of laughter that resulted in the boy running
from the lunchroom, face covered in mashed potatoes and milk.
Nick watched this with a distant pity before responding.
"You know my brother went trick-or-treating last year and he was
Tyler starts to gag, pounding his chest, his coughs have the
unmistakable presence of laughter. Even Pete, who still kept
mostly reserved, couldn't help but join in the laughter.
"What?" Nick asked.
"I'm sorry, but when did Ryan become the pinnacle of maturity?"
Tyler asked, referencing Nick's older brother by name.
Nick sighed, "Look, I know that Ryan is a..."
"Retard?" Tyler asked.
Nick glared at Tyler, "No, he's not a retard. He's..."
"Mentally challenged?" Pete chimed in.
Nick pressed his index finger and his thumb into the sides of his
nose, groaning. "No! Come on guys!"
"Yeah man you just copied what I said." Tyler said, looking at
Pete. "I already called him a retard."
"Mine was politically correct." Pete said, a hint of superiority
in his voice.Tyler rolled his eyes, face-palming.
"Fuck being politically correct!" he said, before he turned
towards Nick, pointing an accusatory finger at him, "You're
brother is a retard, Nick. I mean, last year, he did an entire
presentation in Health class where he tried to convince everyone
that masturbation is a form of cardio."
Pete suddenly perked up, turning to the now blushing Nick. "Did
he really do that? I thought that was just a rumor."
"Nah man. I was in his class when he did it."
Nick sighed. Images from that fateful day flashing through his
mind. The ridiculously comical posterboard that no teacher
outside of the sexually charged areas of San Francisco would take
seriously. What made it even more hilarious to Nick was his
memory of Ryan coming home the night before the project was due,
reeking of alcohol and weed, shirt stained with sweat and some
other unrecognizable substance. But knowing his brother, Nick
prefered to keep ignorant about it.
Nick finally spoke up, "And I saw the project when he came home
from school. If I remember correctly, it was titled, 'How to Lose
Weight and Feel Spectacular at the Same Time'."
Bot Tyler and Pete erupted into a fit of laughter, especially
Tyler who was laughing so hard he found it difficult to regain
his breath. Slowly, Nick joined in as well, chuckling over his
brother's idiocracy just as his two friends were.
Tyler saw this and nodded. "See? Even you can't say your brother
isn't a dumb-ass."
Nick nodded, "Yeah I'll admit it. No argument on that one."
Slowly the trio begin to die down, their laughter subsiding to
small chuckles. The cafeteria was even noisier now, most students
had acquired their lunches and took their seats at one of the
many tables. Those that didn't were preparing themselves to eat
their meals in one minute, as the bell was about to ring,
signaling the end of the lunch period.
Even with all of the laughter and joking, Nick wasn't done trying
to convince his friends to go on his little nostalgic adventure.
Knowing they wouldn't accept unless he "reached across the
aisle", Nick decided to make them a deal.
"Look, if I promise to go to Mike Newton's party, will you agree
to go trick-or-treating for a little bit?" Nick asked. He didn't
like parties. Hell, he downright hate them. The boring atmosphere
for those not willing to get plastered, the over-the-top
electronic music made it impossible to hear anyone, especially
yourself, the flashing lights of red and gold, the smell of booze
wafting in the air. All of this was a huge turnoff for Nick when
it came to partying down. But if it meant his friends would agree
to go from door to door, begging for candy as they did when they
were ten, it was worth the boredom and the ear-breaking music.
"Oh yeah that's right, the Newtons live in your neighborhood."
Pete said, remembering that the party house, that of the Newton
family, was roughly twenty houses down the road from Nick's home.
Nick's neighborhood was rather large, especially when compared to
the other neighborhoods in the area.
Tyler looked from Pete to Nick, who gave him a pleading look that
most people would consider downright pathetic. He knew he was now
in a losing position and let out a sigh in defeat. "Alright, you
know what? I cave. When do we meet at your house?"
Nick grinned. "Five-thirty should work, that gives us an hour and
a half before the party starts. Just make sure you're all dressed
and ready to go by then so we can head out."
Tyler gave his friend a look of disgust, "Ugh, we have to wear
"We're going trick-or-treating. Plus the Newton's party is a
costumed one. So you might as well dress up, otherwise you'll
stick out like a dick on a subway."
Tyler's eyes lit up in fear, the very idea of not appearing to be
one with the "cool" crowd shook him to the core. Still, he wasn't
too happy about dressing up, especially since he still needed a
costume, and more likely than not the good ones would be gone.
"Ugh, fine. But I'm gonna be embarrassed carrying around a bag of
candy at a party when I'm trying to pick up biddies."
Nick smiled. "Thank you."
The three friends turned their attention back to their meals,
just in time to hear the bell ring, signaling that lunch was
over. Both disappointed that they were still hungry, yet relieved
that they were free of the cafeteria food, the three friends
stood up to leave, grabbing their backpacks off the ground as the
cafeteria began to empty, students congesting the doors leading
out into the hallway.
"Well regardless of what happens tonight, I'm gonna get laid
tonight." Pete said, speaking up with more confidence than he
showed all lunch.
Tyler grinned and gave his friend an enthusiastic nod. "All
right! Yeah! My man Pete's gonna pop his cherry!"
Tyler patted Pete on the back, grabbing him by his shoulder and
giving him a small, friendly shake. Nick couldn't take it anymore
and looked back down at his tray. Slowly, he made his way over to
the trash-bin and dumped the contents down, some of the mashed
potatoes were so stuck to the plastic even using a fork to scrape
away at it was useless. Giving up, Nick made his way over to the
cleaning station to drop it off, thankful to get away from the
peer pressure of sex talk. Had he stayed, he knew that Tyler
would have pressured him into vowing to do the same thing Pete
had moments before. At least now he was still somewhat in control
of his own destiny. He knew Tyler thought he was strange. Here
was a kid. High Schooler that didn't drink, watched cartoons
about dragon-riding vikings and talking, colorful ponies as a
means of escape, and didn't have a desire to sleep with any girls
He knew it made him stand out, and he knew Tyler often questioned
his sexuality- Pete telling Nick all about the talks he had with
Tyler where the meat-headed friend would ponder the possibility
that Nick was gay. As he tossed the tray into the washroom and
made his way towards the doors leading out into the hallway, he
stopped. His fellow classmates like sardines trying to fit
through a tiny hole. Nick decided to wait a minute for the crowd
to die down, not comfortable being in such a claustrophobic
setting. He leaned his back against the glass window of the
cafeteria, waiting for the mob to thin.
Thoughts began to flood his mind, daydreams of not only his life,
but the fantasies he divulged himself in. What everyone would
consider "childish" and "immature". His mind also traveled to
possibilities, and desires. One of which kept popping up over and
over without any sign of stopping.
"I wonder if anyone else out there knows what I'm going