A Teenage Perspective on Dating

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic


This short little story is something I did as an exercise back in Graduate School. It was supposed a short story based on a given prompt. Mine was "Teenage Relationships." So with that, I wrote
this little piece. It's MAYBE just SLIGHTLY auto-biographical in the loosest of terms since the story is based off my memories of myself and my friends' experiences. But which parts are me and
which parts aren't? Who can say?

Submitted: June 21, 2018

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Submitted: June 21, 2018

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Even though technically I was a teenager by middle school, I didn’t officially become one in my head until May 15th, 1999. The metamorphosis happened without my realization. My sister was off at college by then, so I had no references to teenage behavior. As far as I knew, I was being the normal Dustin Walsworth I'd always been. I played videogames, hung out with the guys, watched action movies, did guy stuff: pretty much the usual.

However, my idea of what was normal wasn’t the same that I had always believed. For example, the complicated relationship between myself and my neighbor, May Kingston, used to be fairly simple. She was the annoying girl Mom and Dad made me include when I played with my best friends, Johnny and Alex. That dynamic worked out pretty well; May was all smiles until she got mad at me for winning or not letting her have her way. Then she'd get mad and beat me up with her judo moves. No exaggeration: that the four-foot nine red head next door knew enough martial arts that would put Jet Lee and Jackie Chan to shame. I’d keep my distance as much as possible whenever she got mad at me, but that didn't stop May from extracting her rage upon my fragile body. And that was the cycle of our friendship: forced playtime enforced by Mom, fragile tranquility that depended on May having her way, and her inevitable rage that meant a short period of pain for me. Yup, my relationship with May was pretty easy to understand and maintain.

Then she started acting all weird and totally screwed up our dynamic. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the summer of 1997. Why you ask? Because... wait for it... May Kingston kissed me that summer. That's right! The same violent-prone girl who'd punch me in the kisser at a moment's notice actually decided to become the kisser! Just like that! Out of nowhere! And we weren't talking just a small peck on the cheek like my grandma used to give me. No, this was full-on lip-to-lip action for a solid thirty seconds! It really confused the hell outta me truth me be told. I never thought in a thousand years May actually liked me - especially like that.

In the later years of my life, I gained the wisdom to know that I totally made the first mistake. I wasn't mature enough to understand what a kiss like that actually meant to her. Hell, I didn't know what it meant to me at the time. We were both twelve, but May clearly wanted a lot more than I could give her. She started hanging around me more after we kissed, even if Alex and Johnny weren't around to play. She kissed me a couple more times that summer and, well, I sort of just went a long with what she wanted. I mean, it wasn't like I thought she was ugly nor did I not like her as a person, inspire of her sometimes firry nature. It's just... I was a simpleton, a twelve-year-old simpleton. I liked riding my bike, having water gun fights, building ill-planned forts in the woods out of scrap wood, scraping my knees, getting dirty, and the occasional spree of videogames. Mom was the only woman I needed in my life - mostly because she paid for stuff and made dinner. I didn't know how to respond to May's feelings for me. So I did what she wanted to keep her happy - oh and to keep me from getting beat up.

It was a good plan that held up for the summer. But then school started back up again in September. May and I both were in the same grade at the same school, so it was only natural that we'd run into each other. And when we did, she'd be super clingy to me and started acting all airy and stuff; she even skipped over towards me the second day of school while we were taking seats in the cafeteria. My guy friends started making fun of me because she was hanging around me and acting all lovey-dovey. At first I didn't really respond to them. May was one of my best friends, so I wasn't going to ditch her just because some of my classmates acted like twelve-year-olds.

Two weeks into school, however, I did something that was truly bad form. And to those of you reading this and happened to be at the age of twelve, please don't make the same dumb ass mistake I did. It was Friday after school and May caught up with me after we got our books from our lockers. She locked arms with me, like she usually did, and together we walked towards the main exit. She was talking to me about plans she'd made with some of her friends to go shopping, asked me if she should buy something I'd like on her. Before an awkwardly embarrassed me could answer, a couple of other kids from our grade walked passed us with jeers and laughs. "Ew, which one of them is the guy!?" one of them chided. "You're such a puss, Walsworth! Your ape girlfriend's buffer than you!" another one cleverly sneered. "Bet Kingston's got more hair on her chest than you!" the last one put so eloquently.

I tried to take it in stride, but May was especially pissed and raised her fist with an appropriately said "Fuck you, shit-wipes! Go blow Rammy's dick!" By the way, Rammy was the school mascot and, as you can guess by the name, subject to all manner of inappropriate jokes.  The group of kids ignored May's anger and simply walked away, laughing and carrying on. That only made her angrier, as she stomped on the ground and huffed with irritation. "Damn, I hate those cock-suckers!" she sneered. "They're only jealous 'cause they couldn't a girl to touch 'em even if they paid." May's rage didn't ease as she turned her gaze towards me. "Why'd you just let them say that stuff!? Aren't you supposed to defend me!?"

"I dunno, they don't bother me much," I answered with a shrug. Truth was their remarks didn't. I've had worse said to me by my own sister.

But that wasn't want May wanted to hear. Her green eyes narrowed with growing anger. "For crying out loud! I'm your girlfriend, Dusty! You're supposed to stand up for me!"

"I am? But you can stand up for yourself, better than I could for you." Which wasn't a lie. In that regard, May was twice the man I'd ever be.

But again, that wasn't what May wanted to hear from me. "That's not the point! Don't you know how this stuff works? You're the guy! You're supposed to defend me when other people talk shit about me! That's how you prove you're my boyfriend and that you love me!"

And this was the worst mistake I made in my twelve years of life up to that point. "May, we're... I don't love you like that." Yep, I really just said that to a girl who was physically capable of breaking every bone in my body at her will. In hindsight, not the smartest thing I could've done. I quickly realized that when I saw the worsening expression on her face. "No-no-no! I love you, May! Like, you're awesome and stuff! But... I..."

"Dusty, what are you talking about?"

There was no way I could make that end well. I already opened up a little about my feelings. I figured the smartest thing I could do was just come completely clean about them. "May... I umm... Don't really know what's going on with us really." She was quiet, oddly quiet, and somewhat calm. She was keeping a pretty straight face too. I wasn't really sure what to think about it. So I kept going. "We're friends and stuff and that's cool. I like that we're friends. But... since you kissed me this summer. I don't know, things have been weird."

"They have?" May asked sincerely.

"Yeah... I-I liked that we kissed and stuff. But it felt weird. And I've... well... honestly... felt weird around you since last summer."

"What do you mean weird?" May asked. "I thought you're happy to be around me."

"I am! But... I don't know it's weird, May. And now you're saying you're my girlfriend when we aren't a couple."

"W-we...we-we're not!?" That Friday was the first time I ever saw May like that. Normally when she wasn't happy with me, she'd get mad and yell at me and hit me like always. Her green eyes would always narrow and she'd look like something akin to a charging bull. Sometimes I swore fire came out of her nose when she shorted in rage. But in that moment, as I stood there utterly surprised at her reaction, May wasn't angry. Her face didn't harden; quite the contrary, it looked ready to shatter like cracked glass. Her eyes got real big and puffy, watery with tears ready to fall. Her lips trembled as she tried to speak her words of disbelief. "B-but... we... we... a-and I thought... All th-this time... it wa-wasn't... You weren't..." She closed her eyes as her shoulders tensed and her tears fell. That was the first time I ever saw May cry. And honestly, it scared me to see her so vulnerable. May wasn't like that; she never cried about anything the whole time I'd known her. She was easily the toughest kid I'd ever known. Yet there she was, crying and sobbing, unable to control her emotions.

What came next was something I should've expected. "You jerk..." Then with a vengeful flare, she cried out and lashed out with violent fury. "I fucking hate you!!" Next thing I knew, WHAM!! I was knocked straight to the floor by a straight I didn't even see coming. It was so face and so fierce like something out of a martial arts movie. It made my whole head ring with ache. I tasted blood in my mouth and felt my throbbing lower lip hot with intense pain and swelling. May hit me many times before, but never like that. That was an attack. I was too dumbfounded with awe at her might to really process my pain. But I had enough wits and brains to know I wasn't the one really in pain. I hurt May's feelings worse than I knew back then and I couldn't do anything about it.  All I could do was watch May run away and she cry her eyes out as I laid there on the school hallway floor.

 

* **

Things weren't quite the same with May and I after that. The weekend after I didn't see her at all, even when I went by her house to apologize to her. Mrs. Kingston told me she wasn't feeling well and that she didn't want anybody over. So naturally I obliged. But a weekend turned into days without seeing or talking to May. And days turned to weeks. And weeks turned to an entire school year. I mean, yeah I saw May because we went to the same school and stuff, but we didn't talk. I tried, but she would snub me without a moment's hesitation. She wouldn't look at me either. In fact, she'd do everything humanly possible to avoid eye contact with me. And if she did have to look in my direction, it was like she'd look through me. Alex and Johnny knew something was up between us, but I couldn't bring myself to say what. I just left it at "May's pissed off at me again." And so she stayed pissed off, the rest of the 97-98 school year and from the 98-99 year after that. We graduated middles school without talking to each other ever since that fateful Friday.

By the time summer of 1999 came around, I had moved on - I had to. May wouldn't give me the time of day and I couldn't exactly keep trying to be peacemaker if she didn't want peace. So I did what any teenage guy would do: find another girl to crush on. Who was the lucky girl? She was another kid I knew from school named Collette Loranndo. We had actually been in the same classes since grade school, so we knew each other for a while. I had never really thought of her as attractive, even though she had always been pretty when I thought about it. I really noticed her charms when we started high school in 99. Oh man, that girl was smoking hot. Her face would make the ancient Greek goddesses envy her perfection; her dark hair was long and luxurious, curling elegantly as it framed her face and fell to the middle of her back; her body, oh man her body… I should actually just leave it at she had an awesome body so that I don’t embarrass myself. Suffice to say that Collette was the most beautiful girl in Maple Leaf as far as I was concerned. And it just so happened that my idiot brain caught up to what boys should like in a girl after I graduated middle school. I might have dropped the ball with May, but I wasn't going to make those mistakes with Collette. Why? Well for one thing I was actually attracted to her like that. I wanted to be her boyfriend, like really badly. And since November of 1998, I've been fantasizing about locking lips with Collette's gorgeous mouth. I just had to get her to see my appeal and devilish good looks. There was just one small problem standing in the way.

“Dusty, you don’t have a chance in the world with her,” Alex said bluntly while we and Johnny played videogames after school. “You’re a totally goofball. She’s not gonna want to hang around a guy like you.” It’s hard to properly describe the social structure of teenage kids. The culture’s complexity is stemmed from the total irrationality the average thirteen-year-old has. I mean, somehow someone as awesome as me ended up being labeled a geek. A total injustice, I know. I thought it was stupid that Alex and Johnny ended up in the same boat too. Who labels someone a geek just because they play video games, play Magic the Gathering, watch nerdy sci-fi movies, ready fantasy books, and gets socially awkward around people who don't do those same things? It's ridiculous and I hated that Maple Leaf's teens did that to my friends and  I! But we weren’t the kind of people to hold grudges. We figured the “cool” people were jealous that we were so much better than them.

“He’s right bro,” Johnny shrugged, regarding Alex's comment on my interests in my classmate. “Collette’s not in your league man. She's cool, pretty, smart, real nice to everyone. She ain't a geek like us.”

"So what?" I protested as I mashed the A button on the Nintendo 64 controller. "That's just some bullshit the other kids put on us!

“It's the law of the jungle,” Alex shrugged. "We gotta deal how we gotta deal."

“This blows!” I groaned as I frantically moved the joystick in a circular motion. Johnny and I were over Alex’s house playing a game of "Super Smash Brothers". It was a mindlessly violent and pointless game that had no true objective outside of beating up your friends.But it was so much fun! It was the only game around where Donkey Kong could extract his revenge on Mario by throwing a Bob-omb in his face. And whenever the guys and I needed to blow off steam, "Super Smash Brothers" was an incredibly effective tool that kept us from becoming angsty violent teens that nobody wants in their school. “There’s no reason why Collette wouldn’t go for me," I continued to argue. "Name one reason why she wouldn’t.”

“Well…” Johnny started, giving me a dangerous smile. I knew what that meant; I had just given him the open door to lay out all my faults in front of me. “I can name a couple. But the biggest one is because you acted like a total douche to May a couple years ago."

"Whoa, whoa, dude, that wasn't my fault!" I said defensively.

"Really? Because way I heard it, May was giving you her all and you dumped her like a sorry sack of horse crap."

"I did not! Things... just didn't work out for us."

"Well either way, I'm sure a lot of girls know about you dumping her. It's not going to make a lot of people eager to date you."

"Yup, you blew it home-slice," Alex nodded as he executed a well-timed aerial combo on Johnny's character.

"Not to be mean, but May's not popular," I groaned as I maneuvered my character to dodge a thrown barrel. "I doubt most girls even listened to her. And the ones who did wouldn't blame me for it, right?"

"Not to be mean? Dusty, that was the douchiest thing you could say, dude," Alex said, taking time to look away from the screen to leer at me in disappointment. "I should tell May you said that so she'd punch you in the face again."

"Fuck off." We continued playing the round of chaotic, frantic melees and mayhem. I was playing angry, doing whatever I could to make sure Alex and Johnny felt my full wrath for their unjust comments. Unfortunately for me, playing angry makes me prone to all kinds of stupid mistakes; I fell off the stage several times over chasing in hopes of getting a spectacular coup de grâce. After a while I sighed and gave up on my vengeful path, seeing how it wasn't winning me many points. "So what's another reason why Collette wouldn't date me?" I asked.

"The other obvious one is that there are better guys out there, Dusty," Johnny answered.

"Like who?"

"No need to get all defensive. I'm not saying  you’re a bad choice, even though you did let your douchiness show a bit. It’s just most girls in can do better than guys like us. For instance: guys on the football team, guys on the basketball team, wrestling team, guys who run track, guys-”

“Alright so you’re talking about the jocks. Big deal.” I groaned. “Most’ve those guys are dumb anyway cause they got their brains beat out with the ugly tree.” That’s right, the whole tree, not just the stick. Jocks were only good for their workout routine, not their looks. At least as far as I was concerned.

“As far as smart guys go, there are definitely smarter guys than you,” Alex laughed. “And Collette's a smart cookie. She's gonna want someone with some brains. And well, just over all, if I were a girl I’d think I could do better than you.”

“What’s that, bro?” Johnny laughed. “You mean you’re not a girl?”

“Your mama sure didn’t think so when I was done with her last night!” he retorted.

“Oh! Smart comeback. But if you’re so smart you should’ve seen this ass kicking coming!” And in a spectacular display of zany, intense videogame violence, Johnny took command of the game and the lead with Alex’s defeat. “Booya! In your face!”

“Hey can we get back on topic here?” I rolled my eyes. I was losing that game anyway, so I didn’t care about my score. “How do I get Collette’s attention?”

“Dude, why do you even care?" Johnny asked. " I thought how you dumped May that you didn't want a girlfriend at all.”

That was actually a good question. I never cared about getting a girl’s attention before her. In fact, I remember not wanting to even be around girls most of my childhood life, especially since May was the paragon of female behavior I had at the time. But somewhere around my thirteenth birthday, I started noticing stuff about girls: their shapes, their smells their mysterious alluring nature. Mean, I always knew women had boobs and hips and stuff, but I never noticed them until then. After May and I kissed back in 97, I thought it was the weirdest thing. It made me uncomfortable and hot and I heart would beat super face for no reason. And like I said, at first I didn't like how it felt. But that last year of middle school, somewhere along the line when I decided that Collette Loranndo was the apple of my eye, I decided that I want those feelings around her; I actually wanted to kiss Collettte and be uncomfortable around her like that. Makes no sense, I know, but it was what my mind and body wanted.

“She’s nice to look at, but I think that’s all you can make happen bro,” Johnny continued.  “Besides, wouldn’t May get jealous if you went around paying attention to some other girl?”

“Why would she?” I shrugged. “It’s not like she’s my girlfriend. She punched me in the face.”

“Really? You’re the only guy who knows what her spit tastes like,” Alex said crudely. “Does any other guy know?”

“H-how would I know that? I don't care what she does.” Or who she did it with for that matter.

"So you're saying after two years of getting the cold shoulder that you don't miss her? Cause I can tell you straight up that May hasn't really moved on," Alex gave me a knowing wink as chuckled. "She misses you, dude. Must've made a good impression."

"Ugh, shut up, asshole!" I groaned as I used his distracted moment to knock his character clean off the stage. "I'm not interested in her like that!"

“Why wouldn’t you be, bro?” Johnny asked. “All jokes aside, May's kinda good looking and she's technically a jock with all the martial arts stuff she does. Not many girls around who can kick a guy’s ass with her pinky toe. And you guys like the same stuff too. She hangs around outside all day like you do, still likes to play kid games like tag and capture the flag like you do, doesn't mind getting dirty like you don't - which should really be a plus, right?" Johnny added as he playfully punched me on the shoulder.

I wasn't ready for that one. My face went bright red like an apple. "Fuck, dude, knock it off!" Johnny laughed hysterically, so much that he didn't even noticed he let his character fall off the stage platform.

My good friend continued his reasoning as to why I should date May even after he realized he lost a point.  "She also doesn’t really care that you’re a band-geek who plays a girly instrument like the clarinet. And as far as looks go… well, you guys match up. She’s your type bro.”

“What a minute… The hell is that supposed to mean?” I glared, taking my eyes off the TV screen. That last remark sounded awfully left-handed.

“It means you’re ugly as sin, Dusty,” Alex said. “Just like your game!” That line was oh-so clever. And of course since I wasn’t looking at the game in progress, I missed the fabulous move that threw my character into the digital abyss. Like I said, I was losing anyway, so I didn’t really care about one more death on my record. “But really, I don’t see the problem with the girl you already got. She’s your type, so just go with it. Apologize like a man  and never mind what we say.”

“Apparently, May won't even let me do that. So what else can I do?” I shrugged. “Anyway, I like Collette a lot more. So any ideas how to make this happen?”

“We don’t start school for another month. I’m sure that’s plenty of time for us to come up with something.”

“Well you’d best come up with an extra life! Cuz you’re done like dinner!” Johnny yelled as he claimed another victory over Alex.

“You joking?" he groaned. "That wasn’t even creative…”

 

* **

 

One month passed. The next thing I knew it was September, 1999. I was officially a freshman at Maple Leaf High School. I was in the place where dreams and nightmares were created. Movies, books, and TV shows were all inspired by the fluxing energy that was high school life. Brotherhood, sex, scandals, cheating, creative genius, academic excellence, heroic deeds: all were found within the realm I had just entered. I was on the brink of manhood, ready to dive into the vast ocean of hormones, women, and deeds that would surely get me grounded. My true future would be shaped there. It was unfortunate for my social future that I was a band-geek whom was apparently unattractive,  according to the guys' analysis. Since I injured my knee in seventh grade, I couldn’t play sports anymore. I lost my jock status and it made me incredibly sad. As far as school social structure was concerned I was a nobody, just some goofy kid who liked to play a lot of videogames and who played a girly instrument in marching band.

However, I couldn’t let that get in the way of my goals. Like all the other freshman teen boys, I had my eyes on one prize alone: a girlfriend. Seeing how there were plenty to go around, the competition was far from swift and cutthroat. The jocks mostly stuck to cheerleaders and girl-jocks, the cool crowd was too busy being lost in their own world to care about anything, and my other fellow geeks lacked the guts to even talk to a girl. I had spent my last month of summer break thinking of every possible plan to win Collette’s heart. And if I couldn’t get her heart, I at least wanted her attention. A wise man once told me that a true man is willing to put his life on the line for a select few things in this world: his values, his honor and pride, his family, and his true love. I didn’t truly love Collette since I barely knew anything about her, but I truly loved the potential that she would possibly return my affections. In my teenage head, that kind of broken logic made my endeavors worth the effort.  So without further delay... I present to you "Dustin Walsworth's sorry-ass attempts at winning over Collette's affections!" In chronological order of course.

Attempt No. 1: “Help her With her Books”

I had seen this in every teen drama sitcom since I could remember watching TV. Every show from “Happy Days” to “Saved by the Bell” had the classic high school display of chivalric behavior. Collette was perfect for this plan, due to one important innate short-coming on her part: her clumsiness matched her unparalleled beauty. Surely there would be a time when she would drop her books onto the polished hallway floor and I would conveniently be there to come to her aid. We had a couple of classes together, so the opportunity would present itself in just a matter of time.

Within the first week of school, I had my chance. Right after algebra class in front of the classroom, Collette in all her beautiful inelegance tripped over the slightly raised doorway in the and dropped about four books and a few notebooks all over the floor. And luck would have it that I would be right there to assist her in her time of need. “Hey, you need a hand?” I asked with my debonair smile.

“N-no, that’s alright,” Collette answered, looking up at me with her beautiful brown eyes. “You don’t have to.”

“Don’t worry. It’d be rude to not help when I’m standing right here.” Thank all the cheesy movies I watched as a kid for those smooth lines right there. I proceeded to pick up her books and papers. And everything should go smooth like butter, right? Wrong! Of course, everything goes completely wayward in seconds. How exactly? Get this. As I proceed to pick up her things, I trip on a loose sheet of paper and fall right on my butt. Naturally I spill everything that I had picked up all over the floor. Collette just looked down at me with this mixed expression, a smile that was amused but also jeered me with the silent line "what a fucking buffoon this guy is." To compound my utter failure someone else helped get her books off the floor, another girl even. Strange how she didn’t even bother to help me off the ground; she addressed me when she asked Collette “Who’s that idiot on the ground?”

“Oh! He was just trying to help me, but Dusty’s just as clumsy as I am.”

“Well that’s pretty useless then, isn’t it?”

That was rather harsh, other girl. There was no need to be like that! But before I could get the wits to say something, they both started on their way down the hall. Meanwhile, I was sitting in the middle of the doorway, having other kids step around me saying "Get out the way, dumbass!" Needless to say, that mission was a failure.

Attempt No. 2: “Hey! There’re no More Seats Left!”

I’ll be the first to admit that this particular attempt seemed like a completely stupid plan. Even when I conceived it at thirteen years old I knew that was a stupid plan. But that’s the pathos of your average American teenager: we do stupid things. What was this plan exactly? Well the old “can I sit here?” trick from when the cafeteria tables are full. Most wouldn’t think to use such a silly idea because it was a convention used in books and TV far too often. If it did work, that was because the other person felt badly that the asking party was such a loser. Did I want to be that loser? If it worked and I got to sit next to Collette, then hell yeah I'd be that loser! Desperation could be pretty if you disguised it well enough.

Lunch came around and I waited outside the cafeteria to make sure a majority of the seats would be taken up. But at the same time, I had to time it so there’d be a possible opening for me to sit at her table. Collette sat with a small group of other girls, usually about five or six others. It was actually sort of bold trying to squeeze my way into a flock go girls just to get one’s attention. Just about every sitcom I watched showed doing such a bold thing was dangerous and only lead to disaster on the highest level. But my hormones and desires drove me to great deeds of bold stupidity. I aimed to be the type of guy who lived by the motto “Nothing ventured, nothing gained.”

Boldly I went to the cafeteria later than usual. The place was packed. The only seat I saw open was the usual place where I sat with the guys. They knew what I was up to though, so it wasn’t a big deal that I wasn’t there. In fact, I saw my friend Roy giving me the thumbs up as soon as I walked into the room; it was amazing he saw me from over fifty feet away in that crowded place. I didn’t signal back as I didn’t want Collette to see that I was possibly planning to sit next to her. The table she and her girl friends sat was right over by the windows on the far wall. The small flock of teenage girls was in position like usual. Collette was there just as planned and luck shined on me that day for there was a seat right next to her that was mine to claim. That day was going to spell success!

If you were to spell success F-A-I-L-U-R-E. I know, right? “How could that brilliant plan possibly go wrong?” is what you’re thinking. Contrary to what most would think, I actually didn’t get run off by Collette or the other girls. I never made it to the table. While I was in transit across the expansive cafeteria, an unforeseen disaster struck. Seemingly out of nowhere some upper classman plowed into me with his tray of food. He glared down at me and said “What the hell you doing!? Watch where you’re going, shit-faced geek!”

Anyone with any semblance of common sense knows to not talk back to the upper classmen, especially if he’s a senior. Being the lowly freshman, I had no place to defend myself and was supposed to apologize profusely for my negligence. Logically I should have been civil about the encounter. But I was a teenager by then. There was no way I could possibly make a smart decision about knowing my social graces. I decided that no self-proclaimed royalty of the school was going to boss me around that day! Why you asked? Because I was a teenager: I was beyond feeble logic!

Boldly I looked the kid, who was actually probably a legal adult at the time, straight in the eye and said to him “Why don’t you learn to control those boats you call feet and shut that whole in your face!?” And with that, the classic cafeteria brawl commenced. Everyone gathered around chanting “Fight! Fight! Fight!” hungry for blood and violence. I liked to think I was a guy who could put up a good scrap when things got dirty. After all, my crazed judo-monster neighbor tortured me for years. Somewhere in that time I learned to fight some.

I won’t tell you exactly how the brawl turned out. Let’s just say that taking on a guy who was a foot taller than me was a bad idea. I came out a bit worse from wear and with a 1-day suspension for insult to injury. At least I was able to get a few good hits on him too; I had made sure he didn’t walk away clean. That made me feel a little bit better about the whole incident. But I still failed to make it to Collette’s side. I don’t think she saw the fight, so perhaps it was all for the best. I was able to say that I took on the royal upper class of Maple Leaf High School and lived to tell about it. In retrospect, my plan was only a partial failure then. I did increase my popularity a bit after getting into that fight and I got a little more respect from my classmates.

Attempt No. 5: Poetry is The Language of Love

The first thought that comes to your mind is “Hey Dusty, what happened to attempts three and four?” Don’t worry; they happened. I would just like to say that attempts number three and four aren’t worth mentioning. The fact that I skipped straight to number five should indicate they were failures. They were absolute failures on the highest level. Suffice to say that I would rather wade chest high in New York’s sewers than recall just how badly I failed. I live by the old saying that “history is his-story”, so my history doesn’t have attempts three and four in them. So no matter how many times you ask, I’m not going to tell you.

So on to this brilliant plan that pulls at a woman’s heart string every time: poetry. It’s about as cliché as having a sports car painted red, a bride wear white, and a monkey that likes bananas. But there’s one thing no one could deny about any of those facts: they’re mostly true. The same logic applies to women and poetry – the same teenage logic that is.

That plan took place a few weeks into the semester. By that time, Alex and Johnny were telling me to give up and focus more on trying to win back May or forget about girls all together for a while. I wasn’t having any of their talk and went on to execute my plan. It was brilliant. It couldn’t fail. I knew for a fact that Collette went to school early because her mom would drop her off on her way to work. I lived so close to Maple Leaf High that I could walk there in ten minutes if I took my time. To ensure that no one would be around to mess up my plan, I was going to meet Collette a half hour before the early homeroom bell. Only the jocks would be on campus for their practices and the teachers would be busy preparing for the day's classes. I was sure to be uninterrupted.

So what was I going to do? Simple. I had picked a rose from our garden, removed the thorns from it on the way to school, and prepared a spoken poem I would recite as I gave it to her. It went a little something like: “This rose is for you. Though I fear it will wither in your hands. For even this beautiful flower will wither in jealousy in your presence. For your beauty far surpasses that of any rose, any flower, any words my limited vocabulary could conceive.” I know. I was so corny to come up with such a shallow, sophomoric poem. I told that to Alex and he laughed in my face. “Dude, if that works then I’m a plaid mongoose! That’s gotta be the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard in my life!”

My retort was the forever optimistic. “Dude, she’s gonna dig it! Trust me. Women like this kinda stuff!” Johnny pretty much had no comment. I knew he was thinking that exact same thing, but didn’t want to admit it. I didn’t care; I was a man on a mission. I was going to win her heart or die trying. Well… maybe not really die, but until she said no. So with my freshly picked fall rose in hand and my poem firm in my memory, I marched into the still warm early autumn morning.

I arrived at the school to find it still very much quiet. The football team was out on the field behind the gym, the soccer team was doing drills on the front field and the only cars in the parking lot were the cars of the teachers and school staff. Collette wouldn’t be outside since she didn’t do any sports. So I went into the school from the side entrance behind the football field closest to our homeroom. It was amazing how quiet the corridors of the school were when all the students weren’t there. The lockers lining the walls were all uniformly shut. The overhead lights reflected off the tile floor like glass. Every footstep I took echoed for seconds after the initial click. It sounded cool, like I was walking down the corridors of a stone castle on my way to greet my fair princess.

I walked down to the end of the first corridor and rounded the corner to see Collette sitting outside our homeroom door reading a book with a content smile on her face. She was one of the few people I knew growing up who actually liked to read. Since my footsteps were super loud on the finished hard floor, she immediately looked up and noticed me way before we were in comfortable talking distance. We waved at one another as I approached. “Wow, you’re actually here early,” she said with some genuine surprise. “Are you in trouble again or something?”

“Not this time,” I smiled back dumbly. Usually if I ever came to school early it was because I was in trouble. “I actually came to see you today.”

“Me? Why… do you wanna talk to me?” That’s when Collette noticed the rose in my hand. Being observant person I was, I took that as my cue to execute my plan. It was a bold move and I still had time to back off if I really felt like taking the safe road. But I had to go for it; it was then or never. And for the first time of my life, I noticed an incredible emotion that left me completely helpless. For the first time on record, Dustin Walsworth was nervous to talk to a girl.

I presented the rose to Collette and with forced effort I began to recite my poem. “Th-this rose i-i-is for you,” I began to stutter. “But… B-but I fear it… y-you will wither in its hands. Wait! No that’s not it!” I was crashing like a wingless 747 full of lead bricks: fast and hard. I had to pull it together and make it work. “I-I mean… Umm, lemmie start that again. Okay… This rose is for you. Though I fear… fear it will wither… umm… wither in your hands. F-for even this beautiful fl-flower… makes you jeal- No! That’s not it either!”

Meanwhile Collette was staring at me with an expression that was somewhere between confused and even more confused. She was subject to listen to me babble like a witless idiot first thing in the morning and I was helpless to do anything to stop myself. I started over at least three more times and each time I would butcher another section of the poem; a couple times I butchered the same section. It occurred to me then that it would have been a good idea to actually write it down. Because, you know, teenage boys only think of smart things like that when it's too late. Luckily, for both our sakes, somewhere in my ramblings, Collette stopped me and asked “Are you… trying to give me the rose, Dusty?”

I did what any other awkward teenager would do in that position. I nodded and handed it to her.

“Aw, well aren’t you sweet! You’re the first boy who ever gave me flowers! Or just a flower in this case,” she finished with a giggle.

“Well… you know. I just… thought you might like it.” I said.

“I do! Thanks a lot! And… you get an A for effort on your poem-thingy you were trying to say.” Out of all the hardships and embarrassment I endured those weeks, it finally seemed like I was going to succeed. Yes! Collette Loranndo was actually impressed with me! I had finally gotten her attention after all my hard work! Alex and Johnny said she was out of my league, but I had just proven that guts, effort, and a little charm can go a long way in winning the girl of your dreams. At that moment I could’ve died a happy man. “But don’t you think you should be trying this on someone else?” Collette continued. “I thought May was your girlfriend.”

How easily the fragile dreams of a teenager are dashed within an instant. I couldn’t believe she thought May was my girlfriend. True we kissed a few times and stuff, but that hardly made us a couple. “May… Kingston?” I asked for verification even though I already knew whom she met.

“Yeah. I heard she hung out with you a couple summers ago when you hurt your leg and couldn’t go anywhere. I've seen you two go out a couple times too. And I heard from a couple of her friends during gym that she talks about you all the time!” Collette giggle with her own imaginary muses running through her head. “I can totally see you two together. It’d be so cute!”

“Y-yeah… huh, it would, right?”

“I can’t believe you haven’t thought of asking her out yet! You’ve known each other forever, right? You can’t tell me there’s no connection between you two.”

“No… there is a connection all right.” We made a couple connections with our lips over our weird friendship. And not to mention all the times her fists connected with my face; that last punch she gave me still hurt my head when I stopped to remember it.

“You should totally give her flowers like you did with me! But get something else besides roses,” Collette advised. “They’re so overdone! Get her favorites; every girl has a favorite flower! And if you’re gonna do a poem, you shouldn’t butcher it like this one. Try writing it down, silly!”

Yes, stupid Dustin, write the poem down. “Yeah… I’ll do that,” I laughed dumbly.

And if the whole situation wasn’t already strange and awkward enough, Collette said something that was totally out of left field. “And you know, Dusty. You’re a nice guy and all, but I don’t think you’re my type. Besides, I’m already taken. My girlfriend would get kinda mad if she found out you’re hitting on me.” At first I had thought she made a mistake and clearly meant boyfriend. Apparently, she didn’t make any mistake. When I said “Boyfriend?” to try to correct her, she corrected me instead and said “No, girlfriend.” Naturally, my first thought was “why would her friends care who she dates?” I had heard girls call each other “girlfriend” all the time so naturally that what I thought Collette meant. Whom ever she hung out with was obviously way too possessive not to let her date. I just left it alone then and thought nothing else of it. Since we had nothing else better to do, we just talked until more people started coming to school. Collette left me with a guidebook of advice about how to ask out May by the time homeroom started. The rest of the day went by as if nothing had ever happened. Mean Collette was still just a classmate when everything was said and done. From that day on, we did talk a bit during homeroom.

* **

After school that day Collette shot me down, I ran into an old friend of mine. As I walked back to my house after band practice, I saw May waiting at the light. She was wearing a pair of black denim shorts and a yellow and white stripped t-shirt under a lightweight cotton jacket. She grew her red hair longer since the last time I saw her, which technically was a few months ago, but we hadn't said a word to each other in two years. She still had her lean, athletic build from her judo practices and she looked fantastic... for May Kingston, of course.

We noticed each other and suddenly it was like time stopped. We both froze, unsure of what to do. There was a lot that was said a couple years ago. And there we just as much unsaid in the time we've been apart. We didn't make eye contact; we both looked incredibly uncomfortable. I think May wanted to run away again and I think maybe I wanted her to so that the awkward moment could end. But I also wanted to talk to my friend I hadn't really seen in two years. "H-hey, May, wait up a sec!" I called out to her. I expected her to run away again, but that time she didn't she waited at the corner, even after the light turned green to cross. I hurried over towards her, unsure if my good luck would hold up. In a matter of moments, we stood face to face for the first time in what felt like forever. Our eyes for just a moment before we both awkwardly looked away from each other. "Long... time no see, huh?" I said, trying to suppress my nervous jitters.

"It's... been a minute," she answered back, looking just as uncomfortable as I felt.

"You've... grown your hair long... I-it looks good."

"Oh! O-oh yeah, I did... Wanted to go for something... different." She didn't look up at me, but May smiled a little all the same. "Thanks... Your voice changed, huh? Y-you're starting to sound like your dad."

"I'm not! Everyone's saying that. It's kinda annoying."

For a long while we both stood there, too awkward, ashamed, and embarrassed to say or do anything. I know May wanted to talk to me about what happened. And honestly so did I. But how could I bring it up? It was such a hard moment back in middle school. I really hurt her feelings with what I did to her. I wasn't sure if I could even bring that up. But lucky me, May had plenty of guts to do that part for me. "Hey... Dusty umm... I'm sorry I punched you like that."

I flinched a little when I realized what she was talking about. I didn't think she'd be so direct about it. "O-oh, you mean that tap on the face a couple years ago?"

"Tap on the -? Dude, I floored you and your lip was bleeding and  the whole left side of your face looked like sponge."

"Well... okay fine I can't downplay that," I admitted as I mindlessly kicked the sidewalk. "I thought I was gonna die on the floor. But... I-I also realize now I had it coming. I was a real dick to you, May. I'm sorry about that." It was weird. I didn't think apologizing would be that easy. I thought we'd end up arguing over who was right and who was wrong. I thought May would've yelled and screamed at me for acting the way I did. Hell, if nothing else, I thought she was going to punch me again. But none of that happened. She said she was sorry and I did too. But... where do were we supposed to go after that?

I still felt a little tense. And so did May considering how ridged she stood an how anxious her face was. At last she looked up at me, looking like she did that day, raw with emotion and ready to cry. "Why did you say that stuff to me?" She asked, her lower lip trembling a little. "Why did you say that I wasn't your girlfriend?"

Holy fuck, how was I supposed to answer that? The truth was I didn't know! I was a scared kid with no concept about dating relationships. In fact, I really understand them then; I just wanted to have a girl's company so that I could share the pleasure of kissing one again. There was no way in Hell I was gonna tell May that. She'd probably hate me for real if I did. "I... I don't know..." I wanted to look away from her because I could tell she was getting close to crying again. And if I made her cry like that again, I'd probably join her in all my shame. May was someone I'd known all my life; she deserved a better answer than that. I kept eye contact, and took in a hard breath. "May, I... I was scared. I didn't know what all that meant. I didn't know if I had to be different since we... you know, started kissing and stuff. And ever since you kissed me, I felt weird around you."

"Weird? Wh-what do you mean? You... y-you didn't l-like it?"

"No-no-no-no!! I did like it, May! I-" I stopped mid sentence because I just realize what just came out of my mouth. I blushed like a coy moron, chuckling uncomfortably before I continued. "I... umm... yeah, I liked that we kissed and stuff... But it confused me at the same time and made me feel... different. Like I couldn't concentrate on anything while we did and I'd feel... I dunno, like weird like I'm losing my balance. And..." I didn't want to readily admit some of my body's other reactions, so I just left it at "a-and just plain weird."

May looked like she'd calmed down enough. She wiped at her eyes, making sure none of the threatening tears fell from the corners. "So kissing me made you feel weird... but a good weird?"

"I guess... I dunno, how did you feel?"

She looked ready to lay on a big, eye-opening explanation that would have completely changed my outlook on love and relationships. But instead she hesitated, her cheeks matching the redness of her hair. It was her turn to wear a goofy smile as she giggled and said "I-I think a good kind of weird describes it good enough."

"So, you liked it then too?"

"Well no duh, Sherlock! Why else do you think I kept kissing you? I wanted to. I wanted to be your girlfriend; I still wanna be your girlfriend!"

"Y-you do? Even after... I made you cry and stuff?"

There was a brief moment of hesitation before May gave her answer. With a determined expression accented with her still blushing cheeks, she said to me "God, Dusty, you're such a damn moron!" And without warning, she grabbed me by the straps of my backpack and yanked me right up against her. And before I could open my mouth all the way to gasp in surprise, her lips made rather rough contact with mine. May wrapped her arms around me and pulled me even closer against her, which I didn't think there was room to do. The next thing I knew, we were once again lip-locked in a blissful kiss. The feeling was like... well... different than the other kisses he had. The other were tingly and hot and made my heart nearly pound of my chest. That kiss was different. It was like... like I was being wrapped in a soothing warmth instead of set on fire from the inside. I felt like I was being wrapped in everything good from the inside out. And May's lips, while sort of forceful at first, were soft and accepting, even as she managed to work in a little tongue on my lower lips. My heart speed up, but it didn't feel overwhelming. It was a kiss that said "I love you," "I want you," "I need you," and "I miss you" all at the same time.

I don't know how long we stood there at the corner. I don't know how many passerbys watched us embrace and share in our kiss. And truth be told, I didn't really care. The only thing I knew was that May's kiss that day really, really felt... good and clear and right. Unlike the others that made me nervous, that one somehow put me completely at ease. In time our kiss ended, leaving us breathless and she held me close still. There was a line of drool still connecting our lips as we looked deeply into each other's eyes. I imagined we looked just like a young couple from a slice of life anime, looking affectionately at each other's blushing faces. There were no words between us for a long moment, at least not until we heard some other kids behind us say "Eeeewww!! Get a room before you splouge your pants!!"

Nothing killed a romantic mood faster than some sixth graders teasing you. But in their defense we were like making out in the wide open public in the middle of the day. We both quickly separated ourselves and wiped the drool from our mouths. I felt like such a embarrassed pervert as the kids laughed past us to cross the street. Feeling equal parts refreshed, relieved, and embarrassed, I looked over at May and said "Sooo... y-yeah, I'll be a better boyfriend now."

May took a couple deep breaths and smiled, letting the redness in her cheeks and her teeth show. "You'd better! Or next time I'll hit you harder!"

"Y-you can hit harder than that? Shit, I think I'd die if you did."

"Yup, that's the idea."

Oh man, what did I get myself into? Sure May's kiss kinda rocked my world a little, but I quickly realized that there was no way I could ever piss her off. If I didn't die of guilt making her cry again, she'd literally murder me with a Bruce Lee one-inch punch. But then as scary as May was, she was equally cute in the way she could say that to me while smiling blushing like that. "But seriously, May... I'm sorry. I really am."

"Apology accepted," she said as she laced her arm with mine like we used to do. "Lets' head back home, okay? I got a ton of stuff to tell you about! Like for starters, I'm 1st Kyu in Judo now! And I'm 3rd Kyu in Karate!"

"Umm... I'm not sure what that means?"

"It means your girlfriend is a total badass!" Later that night when I looked up what those ranks meant, I realized it actually did mean that May was legitimately a badass. We spent the rest of the afternoon catching up on May's front porch. Her mom was happy to see me after such an extended absence and was equally happy we made up. When I got home, I gave my parents the good news and they acted like I had just won the Olympics - especially Dad. Right away he was ready with dating tips and what I should and shouldn't do with a girl. It took every excuse in my repertoire to escape  his unwanted advice, including "Sorry, but I gotta get my homework done." I don't think he actually believed me, but he let me go upstairs all the same.

Truth be told, I didn't do an ounce of homework the whole night. I had to detoxify my brain a little from everything that happened that day. I went from making an ass out of myself in front of a Collette that morning to reuniting with May and discovering she was the one I actually liked. It wasn't until we made up and spent the afternoon together that I realized I missed her a lot. And not just the kissing, but being around her. I had to take in and process that May Kingston wasn't the annoying girl next door anymore, but instead my girlfriend - my girlfriend I actually had feelings for. I had to process that I actually loved her like she loved me two years ago. I thought I just liked kissing her and the attention; I thought I could get the same from Collette and it would be just as good. Man was I wrong. The moment we made up and May kissed me on the street corner was the moment I knew it was right to be with her. Because everything in those moments that our lips met felt absolutely right.

As I lay on my bed, smiling and blushing at the thought of our kiss and the prospect of more to come, I came to a frightening realization. Ever since the past summer, I was thinking of nothing but girls and how to get their attention. And after getting back together with May, I was thinking about was how we would spend more time together. No more was I plotting my next victory for a water gun fight; no more did I think about the next upcoming videogame to hit the store shelves. I wasn't thinking about kid stuff to do with Alex and Johnny anymore. Instead I said to myself with wide eyes in complete dismay "Oh shit! I'm... a love-sick, mindless teenager... Just like Jaclyn!"

 

The End

...Well, there is a tiny bit more...

The next day I told Alex and Johnny about successfully repairing my relationship with May. We were taking turns playing "Jet Force Gemini" on Alex's Nintendo 64 and they seemed minimally impressed at best. "Great job at not being a douche this time," Alex said.

"Maybe now you'll game better, bro," Johnny said as he continued on shooting fictional aliens in the game.

"Geez, you guys were the ones who wanted me to get back with her," I groaned irritably. "Thought you'd at least be happier."

"We'll be happier when your "Smash Brothers" game gets back on track." I really couldn't expect much more from the guys. But that's kind of what I liked about them. Johnny and Alex stayed the same and loyal. I could always count on them for support and advice no matter what. They also seemed happier that May would occasionally join in our gaming sessions, claiming that games of "Super Mario Kart 64" and "007: Goldeneye" would be more competitive with 4 players. I guess things wouldn't go completely back to how they were, but that's okay. I never said it outlout loud, but I liked how we all played and got along as teenagers. We seemed a lot less complicated than my sister and her friends.

 

Okay... so there's just a little bit more left...

A few weeks later I got the chance to catch up with Collette after our algebra class. I gave her the good news that May and I are dating and an official couple. She smiled so bright and laughed so loudly I thought maybe she was the one who just got a new relationship. "Oh my gosh! I'm so happy for you guys!! See? I told you May was the girl for you!" Before I could go on, her brown eyes looked at me expectedly. She looked absolutely ready to ask me a question that burned on her mouth. "Sooooooo... have you two kissed yet?"

I chuckled nervously and obliged her question. "Yeah... we did."

"That's so incredibly awesome!! Way to go, Dusty! I knew you had it in you!"

How odd that Collette, the girl I at one point has prospects of dating, was so incredibly supportive of May and I's relationship. I don't think she knew her personally. I figured maybe she was the type who just appreciated love between people no matter what, the real romantic type of people, you know.

"Oh, I know what we should do! We should totally go out on a double date!" Collette offered. "Vivien doesn't have practice tonight and we were gonna go out to the bowling alley! You and May should totally join us!"

I wasn't sure how it was a double date when Collette was just going to bring her friend along and not her boyfriend. I was going to argue the topic, but why bother? She was happy and was giving me an excuse to go out somewhere with my new girlfriend. Why not accept, right? "Okay, we'll be there. The alley that's by the mall, right?"

"You got it! Be there at eight sharp!"

Luckily it didn't take a lot of work to make it happen. My parents were okay with me being out a little late since it was a Friday night and May was all for a night of bowling. In teenager fashion, I spent most of the afternoon showering and getting ready to look my best. I mean, sure May knew me my whole life and has seen me at my worse, but I learned that good boyfriend always puts in the effort to look his best for his girl. So I put on my best pair of jeans, my uncuffed Vans skate shoes, my cool skull crewneck tee, and a black collared woven shirt over top. I combed my hair back smooth and sprayed a touch of Old Spice aftershave on the underarms for scent; trust me, chicks dig the Old Spice.

I went over to meet May at her place at seven forty-five. I meet her on her porch dressed and ready to go. And for a moment, I thought my jaw was gonna drop. I saw her dressed in the very same dress she wore when we first kissed back in the Summer Festival of 1997. Of course, two years later, that yellow sleeveless dress hugged her hips and chest a lot better and the hem of the skirt came to about mid-thigh instead of her knees. She also had on a pair of brown heels to match the brown purse she carried and her long red hair was tied up into a rather sexy ponytail. Despite seeing May in a swimsuit before, albeit it was when we were younger, that night was the first time I thought of her as genuinely sexy. "Whoa... you're... like... damn."

"Damn? What's that suppose to mean?" she said defensively.

"No-no-no! It's a good damn! Like, damn you look fine."

The compliment placated her enough for a smile. "Try to keep your tongue in your mouth there. It'll be embarrassing if you drool over me in public."

"Embarrassing? May, your dress is kinda short to be bowling in, don't you think?"

"No worries. I got my spandex shorts on underneath. No fear of panty-flashes here! Besides," she started to add playfully. "How else can you tell if my form's looking good when I throw?"

"Your form's looking pretty good right now," I winked.

"Cool it, Dusty. Save the romance for after we beat Collette and her boyfriend."

So with that we were on our way. It was a short walk to the mall and bowling alley from our neighborhood, so we took our time and chatted on the way there. It turned out that May did Know Collette from elementary and some of middle school. They shared some of the same classes for a while and were friends. She told me some stories about how they got into trouble, mostly because May wanted to do something unreasonable and Collette suck her neck out to help her. It kind of reminded me of how Alex would always vouch for Johnny and me whenever we messed up and got caught. I kinda had a new found admiration for Collette, knowing she stuck up for May like that. I knew not too many people did.

We made it to the Mega Bowl bowling alley by eight fifty-eight. We got to the main entryway to see Collette waiting for us and waving us down. She was dressed quite nice like May, wearing a cream colored long-sleeve blouse, pleated skirt, and stockings to cover her legs. Her hair was slightly curled and framed her face like a porcelain doll; the red lipstick and blush on her face really help sell the doll look she was going for. "Hey, you guys made it!" she called as she waved towards us.

May and I hurried over and were greeted with smiles and short hugs for each of us. "Of course we would," I said. "Finally get to see the mystery man you're dating."

"Really, Dusty, I already told you my girlfriend's coming tonight." Collette giggled. "She should be here in a second, she's just parking the car."

"Aw, so we're not going to see who you're dating, Cole?" May asked. "I was kinda looking forward to it. Mean, I was kind of worried about you not being interest."

"Oh really? Like you're one to talk, May," Collette said as she crossed her arms. "I would've sworn you'd sooner beat up a guy than kiss one."

"I'm lucky enough to get both," I chimed in.

"Dusty, I don't beat you up!" May vehemently denied. "I practice with you. There's a huge difference!"

"Sure there is... until you hit me."

"That's because you suck at keeping your guard up!"

Collette was having a great time laughing at our banter until another girl came from around the side of the building. Instantly Collette's expression brightened as she hurried over to her side. She grabbed onto the arm of the new girl, who was dressed in dark jeans, loafers, a knitted tee-shirt, and a blazer. First thing I noticed was that she was tall, taller than me; I figured her height would make her a great basketball or volleyball player. Her hair was shoulder length, but she had it style and parted on the left like a guy's haircut. Her clothing, while very current and good-looking were also notably men's clothes down to the shoes. About that only thing that was outwardly girl were the subtle features of her face, the shape of her hazel eyes, and the fact that I could still see the shape of her breasts under her otherwise loose t-shirt. Her jeans and blazer his most of her other shape. If I hadn't taken the time to stare at her, I would've swore she was a he.

Little did I know that Collette was about to drop a huge bomb on everything I thought I knew about relationships, which admittedly wasn't a lot to begin with. "Hey there, you're just in time for introductions!" she said to the girl who's arm she grabbed.

"Oh, so this is your friend?" I asked. "Does she go to our school?"

"Yup, I'm a junior on the basketball team," she answered smoothly. See, what I tell you? Basketball player! "I don't recognize you two. Are you freshmen like Cole?"

"Yeah we are." May answered. "My name's May and this is my boyfriend Dusty."

The newcomer shifted her attention to me for a moment, her eyes inquisitive as she studied my face. "Dusty... Dusty... that sounds familiar... And... Oh! You're the clumsy kid who tried to help Cole with her books that one time! I remember you now!"

I cocked an eyebrow of suspicion. "What? When are you talking about?"

"Cole told me all about you! You're one funny ass dude if half the stories she told me are true! And the way you tripped over paper. Man, I never saw someone eat it like that! It was great!"

"Oooooh.... Oh fuck, you were the one from that day!" Yup, that day I first tired to win Collette's heart with my stupid antics. Who would've guessed that the world was that small? Well, I guess high school is that small after all. "Man... this is embarrassing?"

"That sounds like a story to me," May said, eyeing me with suspicion. "What was he up to?"

"Just trying to be a gentleman is all," Collette said with a giggle. "And... failing at it."

"Thanks for backing me up, Collette," I groaned.

"Don't worry. We all embarrass ourselves every so often. It's part of life," the new girl said. "By the way, the name's Vivien. But I like my friends to call me Vie."

"But only I have the pleasure of calling her my girlfriend!" Collette added with an overly giddy smile.

That kind of reaction wasn't the kind you get when you're hanging around just friends, boys or girls. Nope, I recognized that starry-eyed look from a mile away. I wore it enough around May, but... why in the world was Collette looking at Vivien like that? Mean, the only way it made sense, which it wouldn't, would be if they were... "Say... Collette, when you say girlfriend you mean?"

"Girlfriend." she shrugged. "You know like May's your girlfriend? Vie is mine! See?"

Grammatically her sentence made sense. But the context did not. My brain wasn't piecing this together at all. So I had to keep asking to get it right. "So... umm... lemmie get this straight." I pointed at Collette. "So Vivien is your?"

"Girlfriend." she answered, much like a teacher answers a student slow to reach an answer.

"Okay." I pointed at Vivien. "So Vivien, Collette is your?"

"Girlfriend," she answered with a touch of impatience. "Geez, man, you need a cup of coffee? You're a bit slow on this."

"So... you're each other's girlfriends." They both nodded. And then like magic, it all came together in my teenage mind. And in that instant, it was blown away. "Wait-wait-wait! You two are dating!? Like how me and May are!?"

"Umm... yeah?" Collette answered, tilting her head to the side. "It's not a problem, right? I told you ahead of time I had a girlfriend. What did you think I meant?"

"No-no-no! It's not a problem at all! It's just... well... I... I didn't know that's... like a thing... for girls to date each other."

Vivien leaned over toward Collette and said in a rather loud murmur "This Dusty guy is way sheltered. You sure he's okay?"

"Oh relax, Vie," Collette smiled. "He's okay. I told you before: Dusty's an idiot. He only says dumb stuff because he doesn't use his imagination."

I totally ignored that open shot at me and turned towards May. "Hey, did you know like... girls dating girls was a thing? Is that like... normal??"

Unfortunately for my inquiry May looked just as puzzled as I did. "Sorry Dusty, this is all news to me too." And just when I thought I had figured out girls and dating, apparently I found out that night I knew absolutely nothing at all. Not once in my small town life did I ever heard of same sex relationships. My parents never talked about it, sex-ed in middle school didn't, no TV shows I watched talked about it: I had no frame of reference to that kind of thing. So a good quarter of our night turned into May and I asking Collette and Vivien about their relationship and how it worked. Turned out two girls dating was a lot like any guy and girl dating. The way they talked about being together sounded a lot like how May and I spent time together. So it stopped being all that foreign after a while and we just got to bowling and having fun.

Turns out I learned a lot hanging around Collette and Vivien. For one, I learned that despite Collette's mild manners at school, she gets just as hot and competitive as May does when it comes to contests. I also learned where I can get some nicer clothes from Viven and some fashion tips to step up my game. She told me "No girl wants a boring partner, so gotta man up if you wanna stay the man." Oddly she gave me better advice than my male friends did. I learned that despite May's claims that wearing shorts was okay with her short dress, I could still see a good amount of  butt detail whenever she bent over to throw her bowling ball. Of course, that was something I kept to myself.

 

Okay, really, this is The End


© Copyright 2018 Warren Knightly. All rights reserved.

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