I arrived at school that Wednesday two hours early, once again. I
needed the extra time to pace the campus before flipping open my
cell phone to call my father. Walking from the parking lot to the
library, then back to the parking lot, then back to the library,
did nothing but make my heart pound harder. Anticipation can
overload, building a fortress of emotions, expanding like a
balloon. My hands sweat, my feet tap the ground, and my hand
flips open the cell phone. I called his direct office line rather
than the front desk. I couldn't handle waiting another full
"Hello. Stan Bianco speaking."
"Hi dad, it's me."
"Matty? Thank God honey, how are you? I miss you. Are
you ok? I'm sorry. I'm sorry about everything."
I walk, heading to the eastern part of the campus,
joining the rest of the cellular gathering.
"I'm fine dad. Everything is great. And, I'm the one
who's sorry. I shouldn't have ignored you the entire summer. I'm
coming home Friday."
"Two-tone misses you like crazy." I was reminded of
how horrible of a mother I have been to him. There's another one
to add to the list. "Your mother has officially moved out of the
house. She moved into an apartment on Park Avenue. You should
really give her a call too, if you haven't already. I know it
would make her day."
"I will dad."
I had another hour and a half to kill before class.
What to do? What to do? Normally, sitting at my table in the
Campus Center with nothing to do but people watch would take up
the time. But not one single individual was enticing my
creativity. I look down at the Bic pen staring up at me. It was
telling me to grab a hold of it. Ever since I had attended that
college, I had never had to choose another table to sit at. The
table always remained vacant and available to me. It has seen my
highs and lows, and in betweens. I hadn't claimed much in my
short-lived life. It was about time that I put my foot down and
claim the table that was clearly mine. If I could, I would have
claimed the chairs as well, but the table top was enough to claim
sole ownership of. Now, the whole damn school, present and future
students, can know that that table belongs to Matty Bianco.
I walked into class five minutes early, expecting
peace and quiet. Instead, I was the last one to arrive. My seat
called out my name, right in between my two down falls. It was
time to take care of numbers two and three on my list.
"Did you find the article boring? Maybe it was the
fact that we were proofreading a 1500 word article on kayaking,
but Katmai is supposed to be wild. She should have made her
article, um, wild." This time, Buddy Holly is certainly
"I did too. Since, I've never heard of the park
before, I wanted to learn more about it."
"Nothing against kayaking. I've done it before, but
man this just proves that anybody can publish just about
anything." This was the first time my serious neighbor shed his
It was time to finally introduce myself.
"I'm Matty. What's your names?"
"Jim" Such a short name for such a serious face.
"I'm Ant. Nice to meet you."
"You too. Are you guys majoring in Journalism?"
"I am, but Jim's not."
"You two know each other?"
"We've known each other forever. Same elementary
school, middle school, and high school." Jim said.
"Where did you guys go to high school?" I found
myself not quite knowing where to look, since the question was
directed to the both of them. So, I face Jim, since he answered
my first question.
"Colonie High." Ant replied. I now flip my direction
"What year did you guys graduate?"
"99'." Flip back over to Jim. That's the year Danny
graduated, from the same school.
I face the blank computer screen.
"Actually, Jim and I have lived three houses down
from one another all of our lives." And, back to Ant.
"Do you guys know Danny Salinski?"
"Morning folks, how is everybody?" The class breaks
away from their solitary games and internet browsing. "I see
these computers might be a vice for some." Stan drops the brown
leather suitcase that seems universal for every male college
professor to own, onto the main desk. "How was the assignment?"
"Dreadful." Serious Jim is also blunt.
"Deceiving. I wanted to learn more about Katmai, not
her damn boring Kayaking experience." Ant, he is freer with his
blunt tone and word choice.
"Ok. How about you Miss? What did you think?" Me? I
thought that only high school teachers called out randomly. I
swear, those who use this awful method thrive off seeing a
student sweat with embarrassment.
Wait a minute; he just referred to me as "Miss." I
have been referred to as Miss once in my life, and that was an
utterly annoying presence. I prefer Ms.
"I agree with Jim and Ant." I threw the embarrassment
back at Stan's face. I wanted to make him realize that students
have names. "I had difficulty wanting to proofread such a boring
piece of writing." The words came out naturally. "I realize that
not all articles are going to be exciting or interesting to me,
but reading that article made me want to kayak Katmai and
re-write the article myself." It felt great.
"Excellent. Even though those are just opinions, this
was a great example to show just what can be published. There are
more to come." Stan, the professor winks at me. Who in the hell
winks at a student without even learning that student's name
I add Stan to the list.
Lecture ended early once again, leaving enough time
to converse amongst our peers.
"I caught Professor Stan wink at you Matty. Watch
out, next thing you know, he might ask you to participate in
after class sessions." Jim winks at me, mimicking Professor Stan.
"Think he'll be one of those Professors who wonder
why half of his students dropped out of his class?" Ant asked,
"I hope not, I need this class. I need to learn this
stuff. Will you drop the class if he does become one of those
"Nah, I need it too. You and me, we'll kick him and
the class's ass. Ok?"
"By the way, I do know Danny. How do you?" I almost
forgot that I had asked the question.
"Oh. I'm his girlfriend. Almost going on two years."
Ant immediately looks down at that the books he has stacked
beside the computer.
What the hell did he mean by that?
I never thought it would be possible, but the
impossible had occurred. Lying in bed at night, the silence had
become deafening. It was as though laziness had completely
dictated over ever part of Danny. He had no job, no duties, nor
any responsibilities. One might think that all of the extra spare
time would enthuse him or create energy. Nope. Not in this case
scenario. This was a case where silence created an echoing drum,
pounding in my ears. So, as usual, I initiate the conversation.
"Hey, it turns out that my serious neighbor and the
know-it-all actually went to high school with you. Does a Jim or
an Ant ring a bell? I know you graduated with a lot of people,
but maybe if I--"
"Jim Patterson and Ant Manillo?"
"Um, I don't know their last names. Ant wears a pair
of black glasses that look like Buddy Holly's glasses."
"Yup. That's them."
"What were they like in high school?"
"Nice, I guess. I never hung out with them. They hung
out with Sara Lowell and Perry Fischer. Those guys were the
eclectic, intelligent types that distanced themselves from the
rest. I'm sure they're cool, I just never really talked to them."
Danny did not present any negative connotations about
Jim or Ant. He presented no factual reasoning for Ant's reaction
to my relationship with Danny.
Danny was apart of the popular clique during his high
school days. The difference between Danny and the rest of the
jock-based clique was that Danny Salinski was naïve, and that
naivety lingered. He never actually saw himself as a hierarchy of
Colonie High, he just saw himself centered in conformity. Maybe
that's where the potential resentment in Ant's reaction stemmed
My list now consisted of this:
1 Call mom
2 Give Two-tone all of my love
3 Bring Tara back into my life, as my best friend again
4 Influence and make Stan Jensen learn all of his
student's name in the 11 am Introduction to Journalism class
5 And, find out exactly what Ant meant by saying
Thursday morning, I just happened to park my car next to a forest
green Neon, in which Tara was coming out of. No "hello", or "how
are you?" came out of my mouth. No actual formal greeting was
presented to her. Instead, a very quick and emergent question
came pouring out of my mouth.
"Where's the Acura?" Tara stops dead in her tracks.
"Why are you driving a Neon? Where's the Acura?"
"The Acura had an unfortunate mishap over the summer.
Somehow I'm alive. I've had the Neon for a month now, but you
wouldn't know that though."
"You got into an accident? What happened?"
"Really, I'd love to catch up, but I have to go to
I watch her walk away from me, once again. I notice
that her naturally straight hair had now rested against her upper
back. I close my eyes and take a deep breath, while reaching into
the depths of my book bag for my cell phone. I open my eyes and
start walking towards the campus, in the opposite direction of
My mom works in retail. Knowing that she'll be the
one to answer the phone is impossible of knowing.
"Hi, can I speak to Anne Bianco…I mean, um…Anne,
please?" I didn't know which Anne to ask for, Anne Bianco or Anne
"Hello, this is Anne speaking. How can I help you?"
"Matty?" Did she no longer recognize her own
"Yes. I'm on my cell phone." It had to be the cell
"Glad to know that you're alive and…well, I don't
know if you're well or miserable. Tell me, daughter." I wasn't
quite sure if she used sarcasm as a disguise for her worry, even
though my mom is not a worry-wart.
"Actually mom, I'm pretty damn good. I am officially
a journalism student now."
"How is it? Is it everything you thought it would
"Yes. Yes it is."
Silence formed as thick as a sheet of ice. I needed
to break through it.
"Mom, I'm sorry. I must have made your summer harder
than necessary. I didn't know how else to react or what to do. I
was confused, angry, and very, very lost. I know it's trivial,
but all I can say is that, I'm sorry."
"Matty, I knew all of that. I gave you time. You're a
lot like me; you become chaotic and don't know how to rationalize
it all. Time is the key and I respected it. You're dad on the
other hand, he was the one biting his nails and wanting to call
the cops. He did actually, twice, and the Chief of Police told
him to leave them alone" It's nice to know that the police in my
town care about me. "As long as you're good now, that's all that
"So, I'm coming home this weekend. Can I sleep over
your new apartment on Saturday night?"
"Your bedroom is waiting for you."
Genetics lecture took place in an almost entirely
packed auditorium. The professor can't be taller than 5 foot,
where she had to stand on her tip toes to reach the podium. A
sense of deja vu reigned over, than her voice projected loud and
clearly through the working microphone.
I sit in the very last row of the middle section,
with one other person, who occupies his time by drawing in a
notebook I don't know his name, but I do know that he wore the
same blue flannel shirt on Tuesday's lecture and I was pretty
sure that he had not washed his hair in days either.
Lecture is more of a comfortable setting in
comparison to the lab. My first lab class took place directly
after Thursday's lecture in a mold infested laboratory that
lacked a source of air circulation. The only available table was
upfront and center. I take a seat, expecting the very same
professor as I had for lecture to walk on in. My expectations
usually never go according to plan. This professor is tall, lean,
broad shouldered, and apparently a mute. Just about every
professor enters a class room by greeting his or her students.
Not this woman. She slams her books down on the front desk and
refuses to look out at her students, who are all watching her
every move. I wondered whether somebody had just pissed her off
or if she was just naturally miserable.
"These will be your permanent seats. Whomever you're
sitting next to will be your designated lab partner." And the
cheese stands alone, yet again. "You...I guess when having a lab
partner is necessary, I will fill the void." What a joy! "As for
today, basically, you will be working with Beano. If there are
any ridiculous remarks out of any of your mouths, expect to walk
out of here with a zero." Really, I can't wait.
As she speaks on about Beano and its relation to this
genetics lab, I put her words on mute. I look deep into her
grey eyes. Her eyes are large and sad. I can see that her tears
want to desperately pour out. All of her pain settles heavily in
her eyes. She's attractive, behind her wrinkles. Every crease
represents the hurt caused by a man. The one wrinkle directly
above her left eyebrow is the deepest. He left her for another
woman, before he could stretch his lying face for the ultimate
revenge. He left her with a scar that will sting for life.
"Here's your Beano, space cadet. Did you even hear a
word that I said?" No.
"Ok then, go get the rest of your equipment."
Equipment? What other equipment? Shit.
The professor stands behind her desk, with arms
folded, watching my every move. I try to watch the every move
both of my neighbor's, to the left and the right of me. It seemed
that everybody else got the knack of the lab like the snap of a
finger. I glance over to the left, from the corner of my eye,
trying not to make my idiocy obvious. I couldn't quite mimic
their movements. I glance up to meet the glare of the professor.
Immediately, I look down at the blank data sheet.
My failure demises my obscurity.
I slowly move my eyes to my neighbors to the right, who were
moving way too fast for my idiocy. I give up on being a copycat
and look directly at the bottle of Beano, wondering how in the
blue Hell the gas defense mechanism has anything to do with the
science. The other "equipment" consisted of food coloring,
another unknown liquid in a bottle, and test tubes. I stare at
them all knowing that I was screwed.
"I suggest that you listen to my every word for now
on or you'll be the first one to walk out of here with a zero." I
could feel the chuckles coming from behind me travel up my spine.
I felt like a misbehaved high school student who had been
pinpointed out from amongst her peers, for making a blatant fool
"Take the Beano and dump it into this clear thing
here which is called a test tube." She was speaking to me as if I
really were an incompetent and incoherent individual. The subtle
chuckles turned into roaring laugher that tickled my sweating
neck. I wanted the laughter to diminish into thin air, like dust
I now have a new addition to the list.
I needed rejuvenation. Denise's meatloaf and mashed
potatoes saturated my stomach, only to subside the humiliation. I
needed the creek to bring my confidence back to life. I wanted to
be alone at the creek, but you and I both know that would never
"I've never been humiliated like that before. I am
going to be front and center all semester long, just waiting for
her to kick me out with a big fat zero that she is dying to give
out to someone."
"So, she ended up doing the whole lab for you, who
cares? Just listen next time babe." Sitting Indian style, Danny
picks up his acoustic guitar. "Just think, you'll be the one
with the professor as your lab partner, you'll pass with flying
colors." He strums away, ruining the essence of "Dancing
"That's just it. I don't want to pass with flying
colors. I want to conquer it. In fact, I have created a whole
list of things that I want to conquer. The top ones are regaining
both relationships with my parents and Tara." He nods, all while
continuing to butcher the only Dave Matthews song that I actually
like. "That's why I want to go home this weekend."
"We can. I know your mom won't care, but your dad
might have a problem with us sleeping in the same bed. It'll be
the couch for me, huh?"
"Actually babe, I want to go alone. I think it'll be
better that way." He strums, giving me no verbal reaction. "This
whole situation is not only new to me, but for my parents as
well. I think by me going alone will makes things easier and
hopefully better. You understand, right?" He stops the butchering
"I do, but Matty, time is running out for us. The
pitching camp starts at the end of this month, then I have the
pitching clinics and before you know it, I'll be going to spring
training and then the season will begin. Don't you want to spend
as much time together as much as we can?"
"Well, yes of course I do, but it's only a weekend.
We can do something on Sunday."
"It's a school night for you."
"So? We don't have to be out all night." I was
determined to defeat the potential redundancy. "Babe, I have to
do this, ok? If you want to come to Sandyville on Saturday or
Sunday and hang out, you're more than welcome to pay my parent's
He smiles and continues right back where he left off.
I walk into class that Friday morning, receiving
smiles from both Jim and Ant.
"I meant to ask you Matty, where did you go to high
school?" I like how Jim incorporated my name into his simple
question. He made it a proper question.
"No way. That school is a legend. Doesn't your high
school hold the record for the most high school drop outs?" Ant
asked a less proper question, with a smirk.
It is true. Sandyville High School holds the record
for the year 2000 for the most high school drop outs in the
Capital Region. One must not be fooled by the steadfast, sleepy
commotion of the residential streets and avenues. Once that foot
steps out of the area, the cityscape engraves the atmosphere.
Within the city, the plaza and McDonalds sits, where drugs are
traded and sexual antics are displayed. This is where the
anticipation of a downfall lies.
"My class originally had 81 students total and
resulted with 50 students who graduated. The ceremony was
literally an hour and a half long, if that."
"Ours was three hours long. I fell asleep, twice."
This was the first sign of sarcasm I noticed from Jim.
"Danny told me. I couldn't imagine how horrible it
must have been to hear a bunch of names being presented with
every kind of award imaginable."
"How long have you and Danny been together again?"
From the corner of my eye, I watch Ant immediately turn in his
seat to face the computer screen.
"It'll be two years November 30th."
"Sorry to interrupt what I hope are interesting
conversations, but it's time to become journalists. Ready Miss?"
"My name is Matty. Why haven't you asked me my name
yet? Don't you have a class list with all of our names listed on
I couldn't believe my mouth. That bold remark came
out, without self-conscious hesitation.
"Why, yes I do. I just figured with more
participation, such as yours and your two friends, I'll ask and
then it'll be easier for me to know everyone's name by face."
"What about attendance? Financial Aid is the radar
for our attendance, Stan."
"As for attendance…name?"
"Jim. As for attendance, don't worry about it. You've
been here all three days, I have a feeling that Financial Aid
will leave you alone."
"But what if there is more than one Jim? Is there
anybody else named Jim in this classroom?" I ask. This sudden
burst of boldness was like breathing.
"Ok. How many Jims are in this class? Raise your
"Does James count?"
"James at computer 18, no...James does not count. Oh
Hell, let's do freaking attendance. I didn't think this was such
a big deal." You thought wrong, Stan.
Class had went though its entirety and I was prepared
to walk out and head to my next class which was Communications,
but I noticed that Ant was taking a longer time than usual to
grab his books and leave. So, I decided to pussyfoot around as
He looks over at me with a smirk on his face.
"Don't you have a class?"
"Yeah, I'll get there." Finally, the apparent
slowpoke had all of his books, as well as the one pen in his
hands. I strap my bag around my shoulder and start to follow Ant
out of the class room. He turns around, still smirking.
"Well, have a good weekend."
"Wait, I have a question for you." We head down the
crowded hall way side by side. "What was Danny like in high
"Is this about the comment I made the other day?"
"Yes. What did you mean by it?"
"You're going to be late. Why don't we talk about
this another time?"
"Screw class. Just tell me, please."
"Want to go to the library?"
We held the conversation off till we reached our
destination, the third floor of the library, where the microfiche
resides. We sit down at a round table that could easily fit six
or seven people.
"Ok, so tell me Ant."
"What class are you skipping anyway?"
"Communications, so what? Don't change the subject."
I must have carried that sudden bold attitude of mine all the way
to the library.
"Ok. Ok. I hardly know the guy, but I do know his
ex-girlfriend, Sam. We're neighbors. We were really close, since
we were five years old. For years it was always Jim, Sam, and me
doing everything together, then Danny came along. The two of them
were inseparable from Sophmore year till the day she left for
college. She broke up with him that following weekend. You remind
me of Sam, a lot."
"Is that why you said, 'figures' when I told Jim and
you that he is my boyfriend?"
Wait a minute, I remind him of her? He knows four
things about me: My name, where I went to high school, my major,
and that Danny Salinski is my boyfriend. Do I look like her? I
knew nothing of Samantha, or Sam in this case, other than they
dated for nearly three years and she was the one to break up with
Danny. I had no idea if she had long, thick, curly hair too. I
had no clue about her exterior or her interior. If I did resemble
her, than I would have to reevaluate everything. I really did not
have the time or the energy to analyze Danny's motives.
"How? Do I look like her?"
"No." And a sigh of relief just benumbed the room.
"She is blonde and blue-eyed, but you both carry the same
"How could you tell? Honestly, the first time we
spoke I thought you were a know-it-all who despised me right on
the spot." He laughs at my presumption.
"Nah. I know I may come off like that sometimes, but
really it was just a little freaky for me. I think that my ever
knowing knowledge of Katmai was a defense mechanism since I
really didn't know how to act around you. Sam can walk into a
room and exude her quirky sweet attitude. I sensed that out of
you, immediately. I know, I'm weird."
"No." I place my hand under my chin. "Not at all."
"Danny was popular, being a jock. Playing either
soccer, football, basketball, or baseball, automatically made one
popular. He never talked to any of us. Sam, she was one of us and
then she meet Danny. She transformed form our chatty, spunky
friend into his muted sidekick. I honestly don't know the reality
of their relationship or with the friendships she gained; I'm
just basing this on what I had witnessed during lunch and I hated
it. It was as if she were too scared to let go of his security.
For instance, one day she decided that she was going to sit with
us during lunch. Of course, he wasn't going to have it. He whined
and made her feel guilty for swapping seats, just once.
Eventually, he got his way. I watched my friend get up from her
seat and follow him on over to the 13-person jock infested table,
silently." I remove my hand out from under my chin and bow my
"Shit. Matty, I'm sorry. I'm not trying to make him
out to be a bad guy. I'm just answering your questions, based on
my high school perspective." I lift my head back up, and look
into his baby blue eyes. I mentally take off his glasses, clearly
seeing the truth in his eyes.
"I know you did. He still has those tendencies,
although he has started to mature. He still needs to mature more
though. I hope that the minor leagues will do that for him. He'll
become more dependent on himself and learn a lot more about
"He made it."
"Yup. He did."
I had accomplished one and half items from my list,
in one day.