Manso's Shame This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

March 11, 2011
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My name is Manso. Manso Folds. It’s not much of a name I know, but there’s nothing much I can really do about it, is there? Even if there was something I could do (and I suppose there is technically. After all, how hard could it possibly be to have your name changed?) I don’t think that I would do it. I like my name you see. It sets me apart from other people. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that I am the only Manso in my school.

Anyway, I have something I must confess to you. First of all, I steal things. I steal things frequently, and I enjoy every second of it. I don’t steal because I need the things I take. Quite the contrary. I steal because I love the feeling of it. I love every single doubt that goes through my mind as I prepare myself to violate the law. I love the anxiety I feel as I walk through a store with unpaid for items in my pockets. I love most of all the feeling of great satisfaction I get when my shoplifting, or burglary’s go successfully.

So yes, I am a thief, and a young one at that. I’m only seventeen you see, and I’m sure quite a few of you are thinking to yourselves what a shame it is that a boy my age has already begun violating the law. Well if you’ve ever seen the news, you know that people younger than I are committing far worse crimes then me. When you put it in that perspective, my occasional theft seems measly in comparison.

The purpose of my writing this is not to tell you about my disregard for Illinois law (oh, yes I live in Illinois by the way) but to tell you about something far more shameful. If you had the pleasure of having met me, you would know me to be fearless, witty, smart, and quite handsome if I must say so myself (and modest to boot). So, after learning all of those things about me, you would be very surprised to learn that I had a shameful weakness.

As I sat in the cafeteria of my favorite high school (or the one I go to anyway) this weakness had me in its treacherous grip. I’d really rather not continue. I’d much rather just leave things where they are now. I had a weakness. It had something to do with high school, or perhaps cafeteria food, but now I’m over it enough to write about it. Still, since I’ve gone this far, there really isn’t much of a point in stopping, so I suppose I will just continue on, for your benefit. Just keep in mind that you’re about to see a side of me that is certainly not typical.

So, I sat in the cafeteria at a circular table surrounded by a group of people who I suppose are my friends. I say suppose because I don’t really care all that much for them, but they seem to follow me around and try to spend time with me, so I tolerate them. I myself would do just fine without them. My hobbies take up more than enough of my time, and maintaining relationships is not something I am desperate to do.

They were talking about something, what I cannot remember, and I would nod occasionally to let them think that I was listening. I wasn’t of course, but they didn’t need to know that. Normally I would pay at least a little bit of attention to them, even if it was a tedious task trying to keep up with their boring lives. I know it sounds insensitive or whatever to call their lives boring, but they certainly aren’t entertaining. Seriously, you should hear them. Their awful. All they ever talk about is sports teams they’ll never play on, music they’ll be tired of in five minutes, and girls they wouldn’t even dream of talking to. So, believe me when I say that if you haven’t met this group of gentlemen, you certainly aren’t missing anything.

This story isn’t about them though, and I feel like I have spent far too much time talking about my lunch table drama (is drama the right word? Probably not, but whatever) so if it’s all the same to you, I’ll just continue on with the story. Where was I? Oh yes. My attention was elsewhere.

Lunch had just started, but only just. There were quite a few students who haven’t even made their way to the cafeteria yet, including her. And who is her you might ask? Well be patient, I’m of course getting there (though if you had any deductive skills whatsoever, you would have at least been able to figure out that she is the source of my troubles). I glance at the entrance to the cafeteria every so often, making sure that my “friends” don’t catch my glances. Even if they did, I’m sure they wouldn’t make anything of them, but better safe than sorry.

I glanced again just in time to see her enter. She looked lovely as usual let me assure you. She walked with a group of friends to her customary table, set her backpack down at a table and left for the lunch line alone. If ever there was an opportunity, this was it.

I told the… oh lets just call them people shall we? I’m getting tired of putting down friends, and then having to add quotation marks so that the word becomes “friends”. I just don’t like the way “friends” sounds, or for this particular situation, reads. So, I told the people at my table that I was feeling hungry and that I was going to get some food. They gave me a nod and then returned to their conversation.

I must admit that I told a bit of a fib. You see, I wasn’t really hungry at all, but I felt that if I told them that, and then took my place in the lunch line, it might have provoked some inquiries as to why I was doing so. Since I really had no desire to answer such questions, I instead told a little white lie. I felt bad about it, let me assure you, but then sometimes you can’t always be completely honest.

My timing was perfect. I made it to the lunch line right after she did, and took my place right behind her. For those of you who were biting their nails, you can relax now. I’m about to tell you who she is, and as a result, tell you my shameful secret.

Her name is Kelly, and if you haven’t figured it out yet, I have a bit of a crush on her. Let me tell you this right now. This is not one of those horribly clichéd stories where a nerd has a crush on the head cheerleader. She is not a cheerleader, and I am certainly not a nerd. If anything, I am higher up on the high school social ladder than she is, not that high school prestige means anything to me. I was pretty sure that she felt the same way as me about the importance of popularity, which I think is part of what attracted me to her.

I’m not really sure how she feels about anything though. You see, I don’t really know Kelly all that well. I have had a few classes with her over the years, and she has always seemed like a nice enough girl, but I certainly never thought about her this way. Then, all of a sudden, for no reason in particular, she’s all I can think about.

That’s the funny thing about crushes though, isn’t? You never know why they are there or where they came from, but regardless, you are stuck feeling that way until the crush runs its course. That’s the other thing about crushes; they always leave suddenly and without warning. I knew that if I really wanted to, I could wait a month or two, and I probably wouldn’t feel a thing for Kelly.

I didn’t want to wait though. I wanted to be with her, get to know her. The problem was, I was scared to death to talk to her. Don’t ask why, because I can’t think of a single good answer for you. It’s not as if I have any problem talking to girls, but as you probably know its far harder talking to a girl you have a crush on. It’s even harder still when you are dead set on asking that girl out.

So now I’m standing behind her, and in my mind there are a million things I would like to say to her, but for the life of me I can’t think of a single way to get her attention. Now, I’m sure you clever readers at home can think of ten good ways to get her attention, the best probably being a simple, “hi Kelly.” Unfortunately, your new bud Manso couldn’t think of any of these refined, socially acceptable methods. Instead, he, or I, I should say (you see what happens? You refer to yourself in the third person one time, and before you know it, you’ve made a habit of it) decided that the best method would be to call out across the cafeteria like a Neanderthal.

“Mark, did you do your math homework?” Mark turned from the salad line and looked at me, shook his head no (way to go Mark) and went back to the task at hand. I must say though, my plan, as pathetic as it was, did get the attention of Kelly.

“Oh, hi Manso.”

“Oh, hi Kelly. I suppose I could have asked you.”

“Asked me about what?”

“Math homework.”

“Oh. Well, I did mine if you need help.”

“No, I’m fine. I just wanted to make sure Mark was doing his work. You know, just checking up on him.” You’re probably wondering why I didn’t accept her offer to help me with me homework. I am too. Looking back, I now see that as the perfect opportunity to spend time alone with her. Unfortunately, I didn’t take advantage of her offer when I had the chance, and on top of it, my response to her offer came out as just plain bizarre.

“Oh, I see.” She had just said something, so the proper thing to do would be to promptly reply. Unfortunately, I could think of nothing at all to say.

This was much harder than I had anticipated it would be. As I already told you, I hardly knew this girl at all, so it was very difficult to make conversation that didn’t come off as just small talk. I knew she was sweet, and I knew that I would like to get to know her better, buy neither one of those facts could serve as adequate conversation piece.

Dangerous thoughts crossed my mind. Was it weird to ask a girl out that you barely knew? Would she say no? Worse yet, would she laugh at me and then say no? I tried to push these thoughts aside, but it was difficult.

“So, do you have any big plans for this weekend?” I said, finally managing to speak.

“No, not really. I’m babysitting my sister tonight, but other than that, nothing. How about you?”

“I was thinking of seeing a movie.”

“Oh yeah? What movie?”

“Oh, I just forgot the name of it. It’s that new comedy. You know the one with Adam Sandler?”

“I know what movie you’re talking about. That does look funny. I wouldn’t mind seeing that myself.”

“Really? I don’t have anyone to see it with, and I’d rather not go to the movies alone, so do you think that if maybe you had the time you would like to go with me?” As you might imagine, there were quite a few thoughts flying around in my head in the split second it took her to respond. Almost none of those thoughts were positive ones. Fortunately for me, her response was a positive one.

“Sure, I’d love to go. What time?”

“Tomorrow, noon?”

“Sounds good to me.”

So there you have it. My weakness. My nerves of steel soften when I talk to a girl I like. Isn’t it nice though, that a story I consider to be one of my most embarrassing awkward memories, still ends with me getting a date?

Join the Discussion

This article has 159 comments. Post your own now!

livlaughluv98 said...
Apr. 25, 2011 at 2:39 pm
Thanks for commenting on my stories!!! By the way I thought this story was really good. I liked Manso and I think this story was very unique. Keep up the good work!
PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 25, 2011 at 6:10 pm
thank you i really appreciate the feedback
Lost_in_time This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 25, 2011 at 1:21 pm

Thanks for commenting on my story: When normal isn't right. 


Now here is my two cents:  I really liked manso, he is an interesting and slightly abnormal character. The way he writes sometimes makes it a little longer then it would need to be, but overall I really really like it. Its different, and thats almost always good : ) 

  I realize this is just a short story, but I would sure love to see more of Manso's adventures... 

I'l... (more »)

PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 25, 2011 at 6:11 pm
Thank you i really appreciate the feedback
reenay_95 said...
Apr. 24, 2011 at 6:01 pm
This Manso kid is funny. However, I think you could have related his kleptomania to the end of the story somehow.
PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 24, 2011 at 9:08 pm
im glad that you liked Manso, but please let me explain  this isnt really a short story all though i did tweak it so that it could work as one  this is more of an excerpt of a book that i am working on in which his kleptomania is very well established  i changed the format of that chapter slightly so that it would work as a short story  becuause i wanted to see what the people of teen ink would think of Manso
Lily said...
Apr. 23, 2011 at 8:27 pm
Fantastic story  i really loved this keep it up this is great
PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 23, 2011 at 8:30 pm
Thank you i am really glad that you liked it
Kristina C. said...
Apr. 23, 2011 at 6:52 am

Hi!! Just wanna say thanks for reading my story. :D

About your story: Manso's quite the character isn't he? I think he could be a very strong charcter. While this story was undeniably cute, this story is a little weak by itself. Based on some of the other comments, I understand you are planning to write more about Manso. DO IT. As part of a larger story, Manso's crush could help in developing a more relateable side of his character that readers could sympathize with, however I think th... (more »)

PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 23, 2011 at 11:58 am
thank you   for your feedback  what you need to understand is that this isnt really so much of a short story as it is an excerpt from a novel   therfore his thievery would be much more established in the long run of things  i just tweaked this chapter a little bit so that it could funtion as a short story  but this would probably apear in the middle of the novel where i feel it would flow quite nicely with the rest of the story
BeatleMania16 said...
Apr. 22, 2011 at 9:30 am
i loved this--it has a lot of the characteristics of a full-length novel. with criticism (and i'm probably going to end up repeating people in this) manso was portrayed as a tough, sly character in the beginning, but by the end he was a weak one, one you might sympathize. i thought the changing of his character could have gone a little smoother, unless your point was to make an abrupt change. thanks for commenting on my story!!
PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 22, 2011 at 10:17 am
thank you for the feedback  i dont really think of him as a tough guy though  the fact that he steals does not define who he is  he is a regular person who happens to be a thief
PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 22, 2011 at 10:20 am
oh, and one more thing  if you think that the transition between the discussion of his thievery to his girl probems, that is becuase it was originally written as a chapter for a novel   this chapter would be towards the middle of the novel, so there would obviously be no introduction in it saying that he was a thief  i just added the introduction and tweaked a few thigs so that it would work better as a short story
SmileyFace13 said...
Apr. 16, 2011 at 11:12 pm
i really liked this and thought that your main character was unique and likeable. the only critism(spelling?) that i have is the way you intoduced the fact that he stole things. It kinda didnt seem to fit and i do understand that it brought out that this tough guy was nervous to talk to his crush but it just seemed like a weird way to introduce it. but then again it kinda goes along with his quirky personality. anyway great story :)
PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 17, 2011 at 9:41 am
i understand that that was a weak way to introduce his less than legal habits in a story that really has nothing else to do with theivery but there is a reason for it,  this story was meant to get a feel for the character  when i originally wrote the story, it was written more like a chapter taken out of a book, and the theif thing made quite a bit more sense, but then i changed the story a little bit so that it could function as an independant short story,  i was a little bit wor... (more »)
SmileyFace13 replied...
Apr. 17, 2011 at 4:04 pm
you did clear it :) it makes much more sense now that i have reread it with that in mind i hope you post your book on here so i can read it.
PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 17, 2011 at 4:41 pm

i will post it  thank you for replying


Midnight_Hum This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 12, 2011 at 4:06 pm
Down to Earth Feedback time: I will start off honestly. I didn't really like your story. Don't get me wrong, I think that Manso's personality was fairly well developed, I knew what he was going to say before he said it on some things. However, the piece (especially the beginning) was very hard to read. Manso (telling the story in first person) is almost never sure of himself and always tries to overstate the obvious. If it was intentional: it was annoying to read. If it wasn't intentional... (more »)
PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 12, 2011 at 8:47 pm
thank you for your feedback and i do agree with you on some things but certainly not others  while i do appreciate that manso is not for everyone i will certainly not completly rewrite him becuase some dont care for his style   i do appreciate your in depth feedback though,although some of your examples i didnt agree with  for example in the beginnign of the story i never stated that he did not like his name, but then suddenly did, i just had my character admit that he w... (more »)
Elvira1120 said...
Apr. 12, 2011 at 3:35 pm
it was pretty good, but like all writers want there work to be better, i would recommend shortening it a little, and instead of alwayes saying i suppose and he said she said , just keep the dialouge simple with no extra nwords, still over all i like it very much . it actually talked about real things
PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 12, 2011 at 3:46 pm
tahnk you i appreciate the feedback but i feel that i have accomplished what i wanted to accomplish with this peice, and am happy with how the dialouge turned out
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