There was Eric. Tall, in shape, but young enough that his features still have that puppy-dog look. Because I’m too shy to talk to him (1), I just stare at him like he’s in a fish bowl and hope against all hope that sometime through the course of the year I can come up with something interesting to say. Right now, all I’ve got is, “So, you like the Ramones, huh? Me too.” Not exactly riveting.
Professora R made me sit near him. I thankfully dodged being in his group, but the group I was stuck with was impossibly close to where he sat. Fidgeting in my seat (2), I went through the motions of the tedious review activity, praying to whatever god was listening that Eric didn’t flash his 100-watt smile when I was sitting so goddamn close. His smile was infectious enough from across the room. I busted out my graphing calculator in hopes that Drug Wars, a nice, school appropriate game (3), would distract me.
“Can I borrow your calculator?”
No, you absolutely cannot because you aren’t supposed to be (4) talking to me and it’s going to be awkward for me if you accidentally touch my hand when I give it to you and I’d just rather not deal with it because you aren’t talking to me, anyway. “Uh… Yeah, sure.” And I gave it to him. And that’s the extent of our relationship. Calculator sharing and him in a fishbowl.
There was Jake. Also tall, also in shape, and just barely old enough to fill out his features. He talks to me (5) so he can pump me for information. He views me as some sort of utensil, which can be used for answering questions about appositives and inequalities and not as a whole human being (6). I don’t really mind. At least we have something in common. We are mutual victims of circumstance since we’ve been in about seven or eight classes together since freshmen year. The classes that we do share (7) become of utmost importance, if only so I know all of the insignificant answers to his insignificant questions.
My teacher wasn’t there yet and my whole class was locked out of her room. Jake stood next to me for a while. I shifted, not entirely comfortable with the height differential or the fact that he would probably feel a social compulsion to talk to me.
“Is it locked?”
What a stupid question. There are fifteen kids outside of the room, standing by the door. Would the door really be unlocked? “No, we’re all just standing out here for fun.” He laughed nervously. The sarcasm surprised him. A simple, “Yes,” would have sufficed. Being authentic (8) hadn’t been his intention, so the conversation kind of tailed off. And I didn’t pick it up. And that’s the extent of our relationship. Insignificant questions and dropped conversations.
There was Trevor. Not very tall, marginally in shape, and the oldest and most physically mature of the three. One could say we mutually talk to each other. Usually, it’s pretty civil since we have a lot of things in common and a genuine interest in what the other has to say. But there are times where all the things we have in common aren’t terribly important and our genuine interest gets distracted by details (9).
Sean was untangling my headphones out of an OCD inability to listen to my iPod with the tangles intact.
“Why doesn’t she like the Cardinals? The Red Sox,” indicating my iPod, “the Indians,” indicating my T-shirt, “why not the Cardinals?”
Why are you asking Sean like he knows? And what does it really matter? I know just as much about baseball as you do. I love the Cardinals more than you do. “I do like the Cardinals, but I’m a baseball fan, too.” He rolled his eyes, lowered his voice, and kept talking to Sean. I swiveled my chair back to face the computer screen. And I didn’t pick a fight with him. And that’s the extent of our relationship. Mindless bickering for the sake of bickering and some actual affection.
You would never say that any of them were alike. Not in the least. But in the passage of time, they’ll start to blend together. Their physical differences will become less pronounced, the little idiosyncrasies of their personalities will be forgotten or misattributed, the completely separate reasons I enjoy their company will become one trivial, unremarkable reason. The daily little concerns about where they’ll sit, what question they’ll ask, what topic they’ll pick for an argument, will be replaced with more immediate and demanding concerns. And they’ll just be guys I liked in high school. Not Eric with his 100-watt smile that made me like Spanish class again. Not Jake with his obvious questions that make me laugh and feel smart. Not Trevor with his uncanny ability to get under my skin without pissing me off. And I won’t even remember to miss them by then. So I’ll mourn the loss now. Not so much the guys, who are no real friends of mine, but the irrelevant made relevant. The insignificant made significant. The unimportant made important.