This Sort of Thing Always Shocks Me

So, as we all know, Facebook is a part of our lives. Well, not all our lives, but some of our lives. It’s not a big part of mine, but I do occasionally go on there. Lately, having become addicted to a certain game, I’ve been on more than usual, but that’s beside the point.

Today, lo and behold, I get a message from a person who was with my in high school. Now, let me make one thing clear: I hardly remember who I went to high school with. My friends and I were the nerdy kids and had our own nerdy outcast group going, and didn’t pay much attention to what anyone else was up to. So it took my a couple minutes to recognize the name and realize that this guy had also been in the same “gifted kids” program as me when we were in elementary school.

His message said that he had something important to talk to me about and could I please message him back. Half of me thought it was a prank. The other half of me thought he was going to be advertising some party or something like that.

It turned out that he’d remembered an instance when we were fighting about something at this program we’d been in when we were both eight or nine years old. He remembered that he’d pushed me down and that I’d fallen. He said that, remembering that, he felt awful about it and apologized, adding that he hoped that I hadn’t been severely hurt by the fall.

My jaw literally dropped. I am usually shocked when people I don’t know very well remember my name or recognize me. I am sometimes even shocked when my friends actually seem to want to hang out with me. I’m being serious – I really, honestly, am not fishing for compliments, it’s just that these are my gut reactions to things. So when somebody I hardly know at all apologizes for pushing me over when we were kids? I’m floored.

Faith in humanity? Gains ten points.

Di’s Date

“Amazing.”

“Do I detect a hint of sarcasm there, Mister?”

“No, no, not at all… Me? Sarcastic?”

“If I had a dollar for every time I saw that angel face, I’d be very rich by now.”

He snorts his laughter and goes back to digging into his apple pie. This is a normal Tuesday afternoon for us. We sit in the corner booth, I have a banana-blueberry milkshake, and he has a slice of apple pie with a big dollop of vanilla ice-cream. I tell him things about my life, and he doesn’t take them seriously. Next up, he’ll tell me things about his life, and I’ll be sympathetic, interested, emphatic. At the very least, I’ll pretend to care.

“So listen, Di,” he talks with his mouth full, and I cringe a little. “I hear you’ve got senior-prom coming up, yeah?”

Uh-oh.

“Yeah… Why?” I know what’s coming. I just know it.

“Only I’ve got this friend, he’s my age, and he never went to his prom, and I was thinking that, you know, you could go together.”

See? I knew it.

“I’ve got a date already, thanks.” I take a huge slurp of my milkshake, hoping that my full mouth will stop me from wringing his thick neck. Stupid Brian. He always thinks that I just have to meet his friends. He just knows that they’re all perfect for me. Truth is, I think that’s the main reason we have these little Tuesday meetings. He’s had a girlfriend for years – not that I know how she can stand him – and his friends make him exploit the fact that he’s got a step-sister, a fresh-faced high-school girl, to try to get set up. I don’t know about you, but I find that mighty sad.

“Oh, yeah? Who? Only, you know, that guy in your chemistry class works for your dad, remember? So my mom started talking to him the other day, and she asked about you, and he said that no one knows why you haven’t got a date since you’re so pretty and all.”

I swear, he almost leers at me. Almost, but never quite really. Thank goodness he seems to actually be devoted to that Anna he’s been with since they were both twelve or something. Thank goodness she’s got the diamond on her finger and the caterers booked for July. Thing is, I know who it is who blabbed to Brian’s mom about me. It’s Rob, and he’s my best friend, and he thinks that my quote relationship unquote with my step-brother is hilarious. He thinks that I’m a complete nincompoop for having agreed three – yes, three – times to go on blind dates with Brian’s friends. I mean, come on! Statistically, one of them had to have been nice, right? Well, apparently not. I swear, if Brian’s going to talk me into just giving one more of his bad-mannered, greasy-haired, wandering-hands friends a chance, well, I don’t know if I’ll be responsible for what I might do to him on prom-night.

“No, Brian. NO. I’m not going out with another of your little friends. I can’t even believe that I agreed to those three idiots you tried to foist on me.” I’ve finished my milkshake, and Brian’s busy scraping his plate with his fork. It’s almost over, and I can’t wait to get out of here. If my dad hadn’t insisted that me and his new step-son try to get along… I mean, I love my dad, and I guess Mary’s okay and she makes him happy so whatever, but why on earth did they both think that this would be a good idea? Sure, he makes me laugh, and sure, we’ve been doing these meals for a year, but still, he’s such an ass.

“Well,” he sighs, leans back, and pats his stomach a bit. I can just see him in twenty years, turning forty, leaning back exactly the same. I can’t really see Anna in the picture then, but hey, I don’t know her that well so who am I to judge, right? “Well,” he repeats. “I guess that’s your choice.” He throws some money on the table – Dad always pays for these meals – and we head outside. He gets into his car, this banged up old thing that he’s got, and rolls down the window.

“Hey, Di!” I’ve been looking the other way, since my mom’s supposed to come pick me up. I turn my head to look at him. “Just don’t come crying to me when you realize that this friend of mine is that guy you were couldn’t stop talking to Rob about – the smart, motivated, classy guy who came to speak at your class about how good it is to go to college!”

Wait. No, seriously, wait. Matt, the adorable junior at the U who came to class last week is Brian’s friend? Holy cow!

“Brian, wait!” I shout, but he’s already rolled up the window and he’s pulling out into traffic.

Damn.

Flash Fiction Thursday: Beating Up Brad

I hate Brad. I’ve hated him ever since first grade when he grabbed me from behind and shoved my face into the sandbox. Let me tell you, that was not a fun experience. It was even worse when it became a daily thing, a sort of routine form of torture. It wasn’t until third grade that I hit him back. Boy, did I pay for that. Ever since then, Brad beat me up almost every day. Poor Mom, she kept thinking that Dad was doing something to me when I was at his house. But that’s Mom’s fault for only taking me one day a week. Dad knew what was going on, alright. He knew, and he tried to teach me how to fight back – he’s that kind of a guy – but it never really stuck. We used to have the biggest fights, since I never agreed to tell him who was beating me up. He called school to complain a few times, but they kept assuring him that “there’s no bullying problem at our school, sir” and “the nurses say that your son is simply very clumsy and that there’s no reason to assume he’s being hit. We have very good boys here, sir.”

See, that’s the other thing. I went to an all-boys school. Guess what? That wasn’t fun, either. I don’t think I spoke with a girl who wasn’t Mom or Auntie Rose until I was in high-school. That’s where the next fun part started. Brad went to the same high-school I did. Now, you may think that he’d grown up a little, and that if his parents were sending him to a co-ed school, that meant that he would be too busy hitting on girls and would stop picking on me. But, of course, as luck would have it, Brad found those girls who liked seeing that he was big and strong and could hit an obnoxious nerd with glasses like me.

I’m a senior now. We’re both seniors. I’ve still got the glasses, but I’ve got some muscle on me now. See, Dad finally had it with my split lips and black eyes. He started sending me to the gym twice a week when he saw that even in high-school I was coming home bruised a couple times a week – at least by then, Brad had less time for me. So even though nobody’s noticed, I’ve been building up muscle over the years, and my pimples have gone away, and you know what? Brad’s going to go bald early and I’m not. Still, that hasn’t stopped him from leering at me or threatening me or banging my locker as he passes by so that I squeak. I have this tendency to squeak. I know it’s not attractive, but what can you do?

Anyway, tonight’s Prom Night. I think it’s about time I proved to Brad, myself and everyone else that I’ve gotten stronger than him. I guess a decked out hotel lobby full of my fellow students and a bad hired band is a good place to do it. Plus, we’ll both be in suits, so my beating him to a pulp will at least look classy. You know, just in case someone films it and puts it online.

Blasts From the Past

Isn’t it strange how things seem to synchronize in life? Sometimes it’s craving something sweet and suddenly discovering a cake mix you’ve had for months and forgotten about. Sometimes it’s driving along, thinking about how you really need to replace your toaster, and then seeing an appliance store the next time you stop at a red light. Sometimes it’s reaching your hand out to call a friend you haven’t spoken to for ages, and having the phone ring just at that moment with that person on the line calling you. Life is sometimes funny that way. Coincidences probably, or so my rational mind deduces, but it doesn’t take away the sweet taste of mystery that comes with it.

This week, I’ve made some remarkable findings. First, I found my old poetry notebook in which I’d copied, by hand, all the poems I’d written on the computer. Reading through the poems, I was surprised at how much of what I’d written then still applies to me, but in a different way.

Second, I most likely found the reason I don’t sleep well is because of something in my past – I never put two and two together until getting the input from someone else, but once I did, it clicked. Not that it’s helped me sleep better, but at least I know a likely reason for it.

Third, I got an email from OpenDiary, a website I used to write in during high-school. I had two diaries there; one written when I was sixteen, the other when I was seventeen. I accessed both diaries and downloaded them to my computer and read through some entries. As with the poetry notebook, it was a surprise to read my words back then and think how they mean something different, but still relevant, to me now. The best part, though, is that there are a few entries about the beginning of my relationship with Sir B. F. and those made me smile a great deal.

Last, I found my daily-calendar from senior year in high school. It’s full of lyrics, big decelerations of boredom, private jokes my friends and I had then and lots of hearts dedicated to Sir. B. F. as well as the various bands I was seriously into at the time. I loved finding the doodles I had done while bored out of my mind during class – a big Christmas tree with presents beneath it drawn on December 24, random cat and bunny drawings, some manga attempts.

It was strange, finding all these things day after day, but I enjoyed it. I love those weird synchronizations in life. How about you?

A College Essay

Months ago, around September and October, my days were spent at work, studying to become a customer service rep, and at home, slaving away over essay after essay for the colleges I was applying to. I’ve been looking over them lately, and many are extremely similar since they were built over the same mold. Here is one, however, that I like because of its genuine explanation about why I’m so looking forward to college.

Many people, myself included, have a very hard time enjoying elementary and high-school education in and of itself. This is especially true here in Israel, where many school years begin with a teachers’ strike because our schools don’t get the funding they need, and thus teachers aren’t getting paid what they should. This, in turn, leads to ever-fewer people choosing teaching as a profession, which means that the teachers we students get are often there because teaching was their last resort, or  because they once wanted to be teachers, but the years of working in a zero-respect job with hardly more than blank paychecks have made them bitter.
Another reason why many people don’t enjoy their high-school education is because we don’t really get to choose what to study. Certain things are forced upon us and then taught in such a way that leaves them joyless, the necessity of studying them rendering them dull.
I tried, as much as possible, to enjoy my studies to the fullest despite the way they were taught. I tried to make history come alive despite the droning quality of my teacher’s voice, tried to make literature exciting despite how it was hacked to pieces and dissected in class as if that was the only way to analyze it, tried to make the hours of grueling math homework on the weekends be cathartic and a source of pride rather than an unbearable chore. I succeeded, sometimes. But it’s hard to be enthusiastic about your studies when there’s little help or support from the school.
This is why I am so excited to be going to college in the United States, and also why I am reluctant to choose a major straight off. I’m so enthusiastic and willing to explore different subjects for a year or two before declaring my major, and I feel that this will rekindle my passion for learning new things. I do know that I might well end up majoring in English – but then again, perhaps I will major in Writing or Psychology or maybe even Drama. My interests are varied and as of now, I cannot choose which field I want to study exclusively.