It happened after art class by my locker. I wasn’t supposed to know when it was coming, that way it would be spontaneous and seem more real. The thing is, it really did seem real, as much to me, maybe more to me, than it did to the phonies, though they bought it too, hook line and sinker (as my dad would say).
These are some of the insults I remember being hurled at me: You’re bossy, you use big words, you’re a know it all, and your hair is greasy. Here are some I might have said in return: you’re untrustworthy, you’re oversensitive, you brought this all on yourself!
I really felt bad about that last one. I don’t know why I said it; it just slipped out. That was the last thing that was true. Sharon had done nothing to bring on the torment of the phonies; I knew that. Why had I said it? I guess it was to get back at her for the greasy hair remark, or the know it all stuff. I can’t wash my hair every day because it frizzes and sometimes that makes it just the tiniest bit greasy on top, but the ends are still dry. I’ve tried just about every shampoo, conditioner, you name it. She knows this is a sore spot with me and it was a mean thing to say, even if she supposedly didn’t mean it. As for using “big words” I like words and I like to use them, what do you want from me? If you don’t know a word you can go look it up in the dictionary, that’s how I learned them. Jeeze! As for know it all, well okay, maybe that’s sort of true, but then so is she and so is Sam, we’re all very opinionated people. It hurt though, I had to admit it and I really was truly mad when I screamed at the top of my lungs.
“Oh yeah, well I’m through defending you then! You’re on your own and you’re no longer my friend!”
Sharon kind of winced when I said this, like she wasn’t sure if I meant it or was acting.
“Fine.” She finally said. “Good riddance.” And stomped away.
“Ohhh! Big word,” I yelled after her. Then I tried not to cry.
I looked up at the kids in the hallway who were all staring. Clark Winthrop turned away quick and tried to get his locker open, but he didn’t seem to remember his combination.
Denise Maura walked up to me. “Told you she was a witch.” Only she used the “b” version of the word.
“Yeah,” I said, “Guess you guys were right about her all along.”
“Yeah, well, you’ll learn we’re right about a lot of things. Want to get some lunch?”
“You mean, with you?”
“It’s not a trap, Carson.”
I swallowed hard. “Yeah, I know.”
“Don’t come if you don’t want to. I just thought you could use some company after that assault. Gawd, she thinks she’s such hot stuff!” Only she didn’t say stuff.
So that’s how I ended up sitting with the phonies at the quick lunch. Michelle Taylor kept giving me they eye, like she couldn’t understand why I was there, but she deferred to Denise who just acted like it was the most normal thing in the world for me to be sitting there eating a half-cold, half-soggy, slice of congealed school pizza with the popular crowd.
Denise and I started hanging out a lot. She invited me to her house for dinner. I met her parents. They’re really nice and the food was good – meatloaf and really juicy, not dry. We hung out in her room and played records. It turns out we like some of the same things, like I still really like The Carpenters and so does she, only we’re suppose to be too old to like them, so you can’t just go around admitting that. We’re supposed to like Led Zepplin or Peter Frampton or something, but I don’t know why, I just don’t. Anyway, neither does she, so we hung out in her room and secretly sang at the top of our lungs to “Rainy Days and Mondays.” It was fun.
Sam would call me at night to get a report, only I really didn’t have much to report. I wasn’t about to tell him about the Carpenters. There wasn’t really anything to say.
“She’s got to have some deep dark secrets!” he insisted.
“If she does, she hasn’t told me any yet.”
“Well find out something soon. We’re losing momentum!” and he slammed the phone down.
“And how are you doing Carson?” I said to the dial tone. “Oh, so glad to hear that. I miss you too. And yeah, I agree that Sharon went a little too far with the insults, I’m sure she didn’t mean them…” And then I slammed the phone down too.
At school Sam and Sharon had to pretend they weren’t my friends, so they would either avoid me or give me dirty looks for show. We never went to RT or even the Ice House together anymore for fear of being seen as friends. I did see them once at The Ice House when I was there with Denise Maura, Michelle Taylor and Steve Parnelli getting banana splits. They sneered at us and I sneered back. We had to pretend, after all, that we weren’t really friends.
“Stupid jerks.” I said to Michelle.
“Losers.” She said and laughed.
I laughed too. I had to. I had to pretend we weren’t really friends… Sam got up and walked out, casting this look at me over his shoulder and Sharon followed him and took his hand and they stormed out the glass door of the Ice House – and then it hit me, we weren’t really friends anymore.