Gagging on her fresh perm, Rhonda cracked the window of Jeff’s red Chevy. He was yammering about the movie—Texas Chainsaw Massacre–but chances were, they wouldn’t be watching. She eyed the plaid blanket in the back and the way he rested his right hand sloppily on her left thigh. It didn’t matter. She despised horror movies, anyway, and Jeff had full, red lips, which split into a sweet smile. So what if he was in Vo-Tech, tinkering on cars, while she dreamed of Harvard? He had warm hands and an eager bulge, and she had tired of being perfect.
Darlene took her time, reluctant to emerge and discover today’s torture.
Emily poked her head back through the locker room door. “Not bad, Dar. Just indoor soccer.”
Relief. She could run around, pretending to vie for the ball for 45 minutes. She walked across the gym floor and sat one over from her friend; Ms. Stevens always counted by twos when making teams.
Forty-three minutes in, Darlene looked up and froze. The ball veered toward her, struck her head forcefully, and accidentally flew toward the opposing team’s goal. Cheers. For her. And no one noticed her scrimmage vest was on sideways.
Marnie and I hung out at Burger King, downing free refills of Diet Coke and baring our souls. We tried to buy beer; when that failed, we bought Wonder Bread, tucking slices under strangers’ wipers in the parking lot.
We wrote deranged poems and dialed random numbers to recite them. We laughed endlessly, helplessly.
She’s how I survived high school.
When we met again after freshman year of college, I was wearing a t-shirt bearing Ronald Reagan’s face with a line through it.
Marnie studied my shirt for a long moment before asking, “You’re a Democrat?”
“Oh, shit,” I said.
Watch The Breakfast Club a minimum of five times.
Cry a lot.
Laugh a lot.
Care a lot less about what other people think.
Keep a journal, but tear out the pages and discard. Burn them, if necessary.
Read something provocative.
Sing in the shower.
Make something cool.
Make a sound track for the following situations: heartbreak, euphoria, failure, disillusionment, creative foundering, despondency, envy, stupid people, kicking ass, revenge, and staring at the ceiling.
Be a good friend to your good friends–including you.
Avoid all long-term consequences: pregnancy, herpes, jail, death, and dismemberment.
Whoever you are, be more so.
A shout out to Mr. Maher and his high school class in San Diego. Every November, he challenges his students to write a 100-word story every day for 30 days. He lets them brainstorm suggested topics, and then writes accordingly throughout the entire month. No exceptions–because he is awesome. I can’t help but be inspired to write a few 100-word stories myself. Surviving high school was yesterday’s topic. Feel free to chime in with your own advice in the comments.