Becoming Popular

By , Candler, NC
Popular, that was all Matt Walker wanted to be. He wanted to be able to hang out with all the popular guys like Chris Jones and his friends. He wanted to be personally invited to sit at the “cool” table
at lunch. Most of all he wanted an amazing girlfriend. And there was only one girl who would do: Stacie
King. She was perfect. Straight blonde hair, bright blue eyes, rich, she was popular among all girls and
especially guys. That was the problem. There wasn’t a guy in the school who didn’t think she was
attractive. By some miracle, she was single. Matt had decided that if he could get Stacie to date him he
would instantly be popular. But how could a nerdy, Nintendo-obsessed, fifteen-year old, nobody get a
gorgeous and extremely popular girl who was constantly surrounded by adoring boys?

Matt looked at the sign-up sheets posted on the hallway bulletin board. He was awful at most
sports, but he figured with a little practice he could become amazing at one of them and Stacie would
have to notice him. He looked at football. No, too much tackling. He thought. Then he moved to soccer.
Too much kicking. Finally, he looked at basketball. Eh, why not? So it was decided. Matt Walker was
going to be North High’s newest basketball all-star.

Shoes squeaked across the school’s old gym as boys tried out for basketball. Matt was
confident. His dark brown hair was combed to the side and he was wearing his brand new sneakers. He
had played basketball before and at the time hadn’t thought he was very good, but then again he didn’t
watch the sport very much so, for all he knew, he could be amazing. As the coach called his name he
knew he would do well. Matt made some minor mistakes and missed some shots, but he was sure he’d
seen plenty of other people he thought were worse than him.

The next day, Matt looked at the list of people who made the team. He searched it twice, then
three times. There’s got to be some mistake! He thought as he promptly walked to the head coach’s
office and knocked on the door. Opening it swiftly, the coach looked at him straight in the face and
said, “I’ve been looking for you, son.” Matt sighed with relief. It was a mistake. “I was wondering if you
wanted to become the team’s mascot.” The boy felt like punching the man in the gut. It was one thing
to not make the team, but to be asked to be the mascot?! It was unspeakably horrifying. Needless to
say, he coldly turned down the offer.

Now what? Matt wondered as he walked inside his home. Football and soccer tryouts were still
available to him, but he had considered basketball to be his best sport, and he had failed at that and
been mortified by that awful job offer. He just hoped it didn’t get spread around school. With a sigh, he
sat down on the leather ottoman in front of the T.V., his Xbox controller in hand. This was the only place
he could ever be very good at sports. As he looked down at the black controller, he faced reality. Matt
was a nerd, at least in the gaming sense. He had an Xbox, a Wii, a PS3, and he even had a Super
Nintendo. He had nearly a hundred games in all and that was right after selling a lot of them. He was
wearing a Nintendo shirt and his room was covered in Nintendo knick-knacks and posters. To be sure,
this wasn’t that abnormal and many other guys were hopelessly addicted to video games. He wasn’t the
worst in the world either. It’s too bad, Matt thought, that Stacie doesn’t like video games.

A week or so later, Matt was trying to come up with a plan to impress Stacie. Suddenly, the girl
herself appeared and walked over to the bulletin board in front of him accompanied by another girl who
had wavy brown hair. A billion thoughts raced through his mind. Should he talk to her or just stand there
like an idiot? Honestly, the decision was hard. “Hi!” said Matt, his voice cracking. Stacie turned and
grinned. “Hi, it’s Marty right?” “Uh no it’s Matt actually.” “Oh yeah, sorry!” she turned to her friend and
explained, “He’s in my history class.” The girl nodded smiling at Matt, said, “Nice shirt.” Matt smiled
back and thanked her, but inwardly was thinking: crud! I’m wearing my Nintendo shirt again! Looking
towards the sign-up sheet for the school play, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Stacie asked, “So Matt, are
you planning on auditioning for the school play?” Matt began to stutter no, but was cut off as Stacie
rambled on. “You totally should. You know, a lot of guys don’t audition for plays, and I totally don’t get
that. It would totally be nice if someone cool would audition this year especially because it’s totally
going to be a romance and it’ll be totally super amazing!!!So are you going to audition?” Matt
immediately answered “Uh, totally!” “Cool. See you later Mike!” Ignoring the fact that she got his name
wrong, a marvelous scheme was forming in his mind. Stacie had said that normally uncool people
audition, but if Matt, obviously a cool person, auditioned they’d have to choose him to play the male
lead role. Then, Stacie would get the female lead role, they’d become inseparable and voile, he was
popular.

Matt, feeling extremely nervous, slowly walked up to the stage. He had practiced every day ever
since he received his script, but still he was unsure of whether he would get the part of Lysander. Stacie
was trying out for Hermia, and Hermia falls in love with Lysander so it was vital for him to get that part.
As he looked at the four guys who were trying out, he could tell he would have a pretty good chance at
getting the part and that gave him confidence. He absolutely had to get the part, otherwise, he’d go
back to being a friendless nerd who plays video games all day. At the moment, there was nothing he
wanted more than to be Lysander.

He scanned the list. Finally, his eyes rested on his name. He slowly traced his finger to the part
he would be playing. Lysander! Now, he at last had a chance at being popular. At last he could be the
one who everyone wanted to be. At last he could be Stacie’s amazing boyfriend. As he walked through
the halls, he could already see himself being the most popular guy in school. Forget Chris Jones, here
was Matt Walker, the new definition of cool. Passing the drama classroom, he overheard the director of
the play, Mrs. Stanford talking with her assistant. “We don’t have enough people to play the parts, Jill.”
Through the crack in the door he saw Jill frown. “I know. We have more than enough girls, but all we
have for the boys are those two kids Joe and Matt.” Looking impatient, Mrs. Stanford asked, “What do
you suppose we do?” Jill looked thoughtful suddenly an idea came to her. “I know! We could have
another tryout. We could put flyers up all over the place and have an announcement made every
morning about it.” “But what about the kids we already chose to be in the play?” “Well, I guess we can
just keep the girls’ parts and just sort of have the boys try out. After all, the boys we have weren’t that
great.” Matt stiffened, offended. “Well, I guess that’ll work.” Matt had heard enough. Great. That’s just
great. He thought As soon as the guys hear who’s playing Hermia, they’ll all decide to be the world’s
greatest actors and I’ll have no chance whatsoever! Perhaps if he practiced harder, and studied the
script more thoroughly, he’d have a chance. He doubted that.

Sooner than he would’ve liked, the day came when it was time for Matt to try out. Again. As he
watched the other boys, of whose number was many, he thought he might have some chance. But
suddenly, something happened that squashed every ounce of hope in him. Chris Jones stepped up to try
out for the part of Lysander. It was all over. There was absolutely no chance for Matt to be Lysander
now. He sighed despondently as he watched a truly marvelous performance. When his turn approached,
he barely knew how he was doing. All he could think of was that Chris Jones was going to be Lysander
and there was nothing to be done. After a seemingly endless amount of time had passed, he finished.
But then something truthfully awful happened, on the second step down, he tripped and began
somersaulting down to the floor. As he got up and quickly dusted himself off, somehow unhurt, he
reddened and grinned widely as if he had meant to do the stunt to the approving laughter of his
audience. Well, if there was some chance of him being Lysander before, it had to be gone now.

Matt maneuvered his way to the list. Come on Matt Walker, Lysander. Please, please, please,
have chosen me! He thought to himself desperately. Finally, he found Matt Walker. He took a deep
breath and crossed his fingers. Looking cautiously, he turned his head and saw the part he had been
given. He was Puck; Puck the stupid fairy who messes everything up. Puck, the annoying lackey of fairy
King Oberon. Puck the fairy who turns some guys head into a donkey’s just because he felt like the
man’s name deserved it. Matt thought it couldn’t be worse. He suddenly thought that there was a
mistake. He couldn’t be Puck! But then Matt remembered what had happened at the end of his audition
and knew that there was no mistake.

Matt sighed as he walked into the auditorium. He would have to perform as that imbecile for
months. Probably Stacie and Chris would laugh at him behind his back. But who cares anyways? There
was no way that Stacie would ever like him, and he almost didn’t care. She couldn’t even get his name
right. He really didn’t care anymore; if you had any doubts of that you could look long and hard at his
Nintendo shirt. He slowly trudged up the stairs to the backstage to wait for his cue. “Hi.” Matt glanced at
the person who had spoken. At first he didn’t know her, but then he remembered she was with Stacie
when she had talked to him about the play. “Oh, hi. What was your name?” Putting her brown curls
behind her ears, she replied, “My name’s Justine.” He smiled at her. “Nice to meet you. My name’s-” she
cut him off. “It’s Matt. I remember.” Looking at his shirt she asked, “So which of those characters off of
that shirt is your favorite?” “That’s easy, Link.” Justine nodded. “I think my favorite would have to be
Zelda.” Matt was fairly impressed she even knew who that was. “Do you play video games much?” she
laughed embarrassedly, “Yeah, I play probably too much. I have an Xbox and a PlayStation. I even have
an Atari.” His eyes widened. “Really? Every time I see one it’s too expensive for me to get. That’s pretty
awesome though.” For a while, they talked of video games, but then soon they’re talk went to the actual
play. “So who do you play?” Matt asked. “The fairy Mustardseed.” “Cool, I play Puck….” He was about to
complain about how stupid his part was, but then Justine said, “That’s great! He’s my favorite character.
If it wasn’t for him the play would be totally boring and the main characters would have never fallen in
love. He’s really the best part of the show.” Matt smiled. “Yeah, that’s exactly how I feel.” Matt was
beginning to think that doing the play as Puck with Justine might not be so bad after all.





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