It was a curious assignment to give oneself - I was open about that from the very beginning. It was original and a little sadistic, but should hardly surprise someone who understands the teenage mind. When I looked at myself in the mirror and realised how far I'd progressed from the short, weak nerd that I'd once been, it seemed only natural to avenge myself on the girls who had once torn my heart to shreds.
But I suppose (and I'm sure Mr Richards, my English teacher and the only lucid postmodernist, would agree) the decision was not sparked by a single realization. There was Camp James, where I realised I was king of the nerds - not because I am a nerd, you understand, but because I represent everything every nerd wishes he was. I am certain that of all the people anxiously following the previews of the new Star Wars Saga Edition Role-Playing Game, I have the nicest abs. There was my realization that I was over Scarlet, the latest in a line of decadent, lanky ladies with more hair than sense. And there was the English lesson where Mr Richards revealed he, too, had fallen for the wrong types of girls in his youth. Not wanting to turn out anything like Mr Richards, I decided I would become the wrong type of boy that girls would fall for.
This is not as easy as it sounds. Despite looking (in my personal opinion) like a Roman general, I am famed for my generosity and humility. The reason nerds flock to my side is because I listen to their concerns and proffer my advice with serenity, as if Buddha or Jesus masqueraded as a school counsellor. I laugh at their jokes. I smile with only a hint of condescension when they make announcements like "lightsabers aren't that colour in real life". I touch them on the shoulder when they're feeling down - maybe even hug them if any girls nearby are into that sort of thing. In other words, I'm too compassionate and likable to be sexy.
When you look at someone like Nicholas, girls surround him because plays hard to get. And, perhaps, because of his obsession with gyms. I have a suspicion he's a closet homosexual, and it's the sight of all those sweaty, panting men that draws him to those soulless places. I have no such weaknesses, and would be happy to comfort his girlfriend when he reveals his gay-ness in a debauched, albeit muscular, orgy.
So my first objective was to become more distant and cruel. This is surprisingly easy, even for an egalitarian like myself. Now, when I admonished Eliza over her loyalty to postmodernism - that shallow, elitist façade which spurns the real world but is remarkably interested in government funding - I obfuscated and humiliated her with an array of words that the poor girl had probably never heard before. In her estimation, I soared as words like "Pyrrhic victory" and "Empyrean" fell in a jumble out of my mouth and flew around her confused head.
So this is the story of a nerd rising, crushing the established hierarchy of desirability and 'coolness' beneath his pretty feet and shapely legs. Three labours for a lazy Hercules.
Natasha was my first love, and one of the most tenacious. Back in the heady days of Year Eight, when Mr Richards actually liked me, we shared the same English class. I can remember how pretty she looked when she was angry - and she had plenty of opportunities for anger in Mr Richards's class. I recall her passing a sheet around the class to find out what our average report mark was - I think she was impressed with my 96%, even though she covered it up by muttering something about it dragging the class average just above her own mark of 54%.
I don't know exactly when I fell in love with her - maybe it was when she ran her hands through my hair to give me a comb-over, or forced me to put on my glasses so I looked like Harry Potter. Perhaps it was her long, thoughtful silences when she was asked even the simplest of questions. I suppose in retrospect I should have fallen in love with a girl with whom I'd shared more than a couple of words over the year, but it seemed like a perfect relationship. She was vacuous and puerile - it shouldn't have been hard for me to weave an enchantment around her by using a few long words.
Unfortunately, nervousness is the bane of vocabulary, and my few stammered comments did nothing to seduce her. Instead, I looked across the room at her and sighed. I scrawled "I © NS" in my book, and scared the shit out of Nicholas Samuels, who was sitting next to me at the time. Hey, I'm not the closet homosexual!
About the only thing that can be said about those heady times was my ascension to the noveau riche on the last day of term. My friends bet me a substantial sum of money that I wouldn't have the guts to ask out the gorgeous Natasha - who was punishing me for not bringing my glasses by lying prone in her bikini. I approached, my rapidly blinking eyes, twitching head, chattering teeth, restless hands and swinging arms the only sign of my nervousness. I asked her to go out with me. She raised a shapely eyebrow - a trick that I've since used to vicious effect in debates and arguments - and turned me down. I nodded manfully, and ran back to spend my newfound riches on a sorrow-drowning Vanilla Coke.
Now, I'd promised myself things would be different. The first, and possibly most important, thing was that I didn't actually like Natasha. I thought she was an obnoxious whore whose debauched lifestyle would win her an STD and a trip to alcohol rehab before I got into university. This, I suspected, was actually my greatest strength - I'm sexy because I'm a smooth operator, and if I get embarrassed or anxious, I lose my cool. Since I didn't actually care about Natasha or her feelings, I could be the consummate suave gentleman.
Natasha and I no longer share an English class, which is probably a good thing for everyone. However, we both do Drama - I because the blood of Thespis runs through my veins, and her because it's a bludge and taught by a cute teacher. As luck (or Eros) would have it, we were working in the same group and we had already met several times over lunch to discuss our dramatic progress. It was a simple matter, during our next lunch out, to grab her hand and smile. "I really like your performance of Titania," I said. "I think our acting styles intermesh." I was, of course, playing Oberon, the handsome lord of the forest. Unfortunately, I wasn't allowed to go shirtless during the performance - the cute teacher feels threatened, and in retrospect it's probably for the best given Nicholas is also in our class. I wouldn't have wanted him to interrupt the special moment between Natasha and I by throwing himself at my half-naked body.
Natasha was radiant. I imagine that was the first time anyone had complemented her for her acting, and there's a reason for that. We went through our lines one more time, and I made sure she was ready for the performance the next day. We hugged, and went our separate ways. Machiavelli was never so subtle.
The next day, we performed before the entire class. I let my parents buy my drama blacks, so they didn't hug tight to my body like I'd expected. Nonetheless, I was dynamic and powerful - capturing the energy and vitality of the forest. A primal, dramatic force burnt away the last traces of effete intellectualism, and as I clutched Titania-Natasha to my chest, I improvised.
Our lips met in a burning kiss. It was almost as sexy as the time we played Space Jump. I unclasped her and she collapsed to the floor, dazed. Exit Oberon stage left, leaving Bottom to improvise his way around a fainted Faerie Queen. The fey opportunists playing Moth and Mustardseed brought her back to life by making out with her, like midget Prince Charmings, and then Bottom somehow managed to work another pash into the proceedings. It was damn sexy improvisation all round, I must say. Blew the other pieces out of the water, even the one that set Hamlet in a strip club. "Be thou familiar, pimp, but by no means vulgar".
It's my personal theory that Asians are raised so strictly that as soon as they escape the muffling embrace of their slanty-eyed parents, they explode with unfettered sensuality. Or maybe it's something about my Greco-Roman good looks (I'm not actually wog, but I've seen statues of the Caesars and that's exactly what I look like) that attracts them and turns them into mewling harlots. Whichever, I've been lucky with Asians even when I wore big glasses. Now that my enormous eyes and almost effeminate eyelashes are unconcealed, they come in droves.
This particular Asian is a curious case. She's a twin, but her sister is called Amelia and as white as I am (less Greco-Roman though). Both her parents could pass for Liberal voters or Ku Klux Klansmen, so I suspect she's adopted. We don't want to hurt her feelings, so the question's never been broached and it may remain unanswered.
Now, I don't believe it's quite fair that my love for Ana was unrequited. She's often flirted with me, and at one point even held my hand as we walked to English. She even did the special deaf-love thing, where you point to your eye then your heart then at a person. And during Drama she'd tap me on the back just so I'd turn around and look at her. Yeah, she's another Drama student. As my dad says, "it's a good way to meet girls" (but then, he says that about anything with a favourable ratio of girls to boys - ballet dancing, for example, or Nursing Mothers).
Unfortunately, Ana is a harlot, and it was mainly my air of nerdy virginity and innocence that attracted her. It's a tragic accident or cosmic joke that I manned up at about the same time I fell in love with her. Ana has plenty of manly men, but I held the nerdy niche in her heart.
Of course, it would be too repugnant to actually become a geek again, and I'm not sure that that would work anymore anyway. Instead, I recreated myself as a handsome young boy unsure about women. I wanted her to look at me and say: "oh, my, that's so kawaii. I want in his pants," and I think returning to my good old glasses was the perfect touch. It helps that the swimming carnival was coming up, so I could take off my shirt and wear my glasses and absolutely wow her.
It worked, I think, quite well. I must explain how I switched personalities from suave seducer to innocent and handsome. I think about the character I wish to become - most mornings, I think of George Clooney playing James Bond - and then pass my hand over my face. That allows me to focus and enter into my new role. Life is not so different from another theatre (I seem doomed to exist in the theatre of cruelty or of the absurd).
It is a sad fact that I am damn skinny (one cannot fit clothes by flexing alone), so most of my clothes are too big for me. Occasionally, I will wear a shirt that could serve as a tent. In this case, as I neared where Ana was sitting, I grabbed the collar of my shirt and dragged it over my head. The intention was to fling it aside and tense my stomach as I turned to look shyly at Ana.
Billabong failed me again, and I became engulfed by what had once been a halfway decent shirt. I tried to continue walking as if nothing was amiss, and ran into a pine tree. I fell over, and wished myself away to my happy place.
That blend of Arcadia and the Playboy Mansion kept me comforted and calm until slender Asian arms grabbed at the shirt and tore it off. I forgot to flex as I stared into those enormous Asian eyes. If one needed any more proof Asians are a superior version of humans, there's the fact that they can't blush. Ana basked in the heat rolling off my face.
I muttered an apology, or thanks, or another generic phrase that can be encapsulated in mumble-form. She stared at me, and then kissed me on the cheek. "Oh my god, you're so kawaii!" she crooned, and cocooned me in her arms.
A true master uses whatever tools he has at hand, and rolls with the punches. Ana uses her lips, and her legs and… well, that swimming carnival was a lot of fun.
There are perks to falling in love with your teacher's daughter, but not many. Mr Richards might be a postmodernist, but I doubt even he would have the temerity to redefine "corruption" to exclude favouring your daughter's boyfriend. Postmodernists only mess around with unimportant words like "art" or "language" or "meaning". But I digress.
Of all the girls I have loved and lost, Dianne is the closest to me. She is a good friend of mine, and I have already broken her heart - she liked me when I began this silly vengeance exercise, and I don't think she'll see me the same after Ana and her escapades. In a way, I feel kind of bad for hurting her, but it's not my fault she liked me.
When Dianne was on the rebound from me, she asked out the nefarious Nicholas. Nicholas has contrived to make my life a misery - every girl compares me unfavourably to him, every boy compares me unfavourably to him… luckily the teachers still prefer me. I still don't think it's a good idea to ask Mrs Attercop to put in a good word for me with "whatever sweet shy girl I fancy", despite her enthusiastic offer. Now, I'd always had Dianne in mind as a tentative girlfriend, because she seemed so keen on me, and she was pretty and clever.
In fact, my original plan had been to avenge myself on Natasha and Ana and stop there… but I feel so miserable that I let Dianne slip through my fingers and I'd had such success with the other two that it seemed the natural conclusion to what had been an interesting couple of weeks.
I started by impartially observing Nicholas and Dianne. Just like the ninjas that Dianne was so fond of, I was emotionless as they snuggled against one another. I felt nothing as Dianne gazed lovingly into Nicholas's eyes. Nicholas's toned body may have excited Dianne, but I was ambivalent. It came at a price - his manhood. And, given I was undiminished in that attribute, sobbing like a girl whenever they touched would certainly be inappropriate.
Don't get me wrong; I still speak with Dianne, sharing our deep and innermost hopes and fears. These conversations just take an uncomfortable turn now her hopes are that Nicholas will make out with her and her fears are that he'll break up their relationship. It's rather difficult to explain to such a nice girl that she has her hopes and fears all muddled up. Maybe that's a bit of karma for telling her how deeply in love I was with Ana and Natasha when I knew she liked me… but Ana and Natasha aren't Nicholas!
It was then, staring at them in Modern History, that I realised what my problem was. Dianne was a sucker for romance and openness and forgiveness and blah blah blah… and what better example of romance and openness and forgiveness than the Prodigal Boyfriend prostrating himself at the woman he should have loved at the beginning? She had gone for Nicholas because I wasn't available… when I revealed how fond I truly was of her, she'd have no compunctions about leaving him and returning to me.
That was the theory at least. I approached Dianne and asked her to walk with me. When we reached that shady, secluded spot on the oval, I told her how I felt. I was the consummate gentleman. I did not ask her to break up with Nicholas, I told her I understood that she might want to stay with him and I respected that. I waited for her response.
She breathed deeply. She cried, and I held her tight like a good boyfriend would. She told me there was nothing she had wanted more than for me to tell her that. But I'd never been there for her, and someone else had.
We held each other for a long time. She held me because she wanted the moral support, and probably because it gave her an excuse to nestle her head amongst my pecs. I held her because I was hoping Nicholas would stumble across us and assume the worst. But he didn't. Ana did stroll past with her new boyfriend - she waved flirtatiously.
I could have had either but now I had neither.