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 minute.
“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
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 addressing me.
“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 personality.
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 to him.
“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 first?
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, directing
“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
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
“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 from?
My list now consisted of this:
2Give Two-tone all of my love
3Bring Tara back into my life, as my best friend again
4Influence and make Stan Jensen learn all of his student’s name in the 11 am Introduction to Journalism class
5And, find out exactly what Ant meant by saying “figures.”
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 class. Sorry.”
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 Tara.
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 daughter’s voice?
“Yes. I’m on my cell phone.” It had to be the cell phone.
“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 be?”
“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 matters.”
“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 of
“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 happen.
“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 a visit.”
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
“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
“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 it?”
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 hands.”
“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 well.
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 school?”
“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 presence.”
“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 head.
“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 himself.”
“He made it.”
“Yup. He did.”
I had accomplished one and half items from my list, in one day.
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