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!

Niya_Smilees said...
Apr. 10, 2011 at 9:01 am
I really like it, It was hard to get away from I must say and very well written :)
PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 10, 2011 at 9:06 am

thank you i am really glad that you liked it


ArtemisH said...
Apr. 9, 2011 at 2:29 pm

This is very well written and witty:) Its really cool that you were able to do so much character development in a shorter piece. After reading this I feel like I have known Manso my whole life, and thats really hard to acomplish as a writer, well done!!


PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 9, 2011 at 6:37 pm
thank you i really appreciate the feedback and i am really glad that you liked it
..RJ.. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 8, 2011 at 8:09 pm
I don't know how, but that actually WORKED. And really well, if I may add. I could barely tear myself away from it the whole time- even to see my sister's pink spit. good job. :)
PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 8, 2011 at 8:15 pm
thank you im really glad that you liked it
PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 8, 2011 at 8:16 pm
sisters pink spit?
PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 9, 2011 at 6:34 am
oops, i some how sent sisters pink spit twice, sorry....
..RJ.. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 9, 2011 at 3:56 pm
She was making cookies and eating the dough. They were pink.
PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 9, 2011 at 10:34 pm
oh that makes sense i guess  thanks for clearing that up for me
Kelsey B. said...
Apr. 8, 2011 at 6:43 pm
This is a really good story! You did a really good job developing Manso's character :) keep writing!
PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 8, 2011 at 8:03 pm
thank you im really glad that you liked the story
Spackler said...
Apr. 8, 2011 at 6:30 pm
fantastic story  Manso feels so real  you did an incredibal job of building a believable character  keep up the amazing work   seriously awesome
Spackler replied...
Apr. 8, 2011 at 6:32 pm
p.s. i was your hundreth comment  how cool is that?
PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 8, 2011 at 6:34 pm
thank you so much for the positive feedback i am really glad that you like it, and i really appreciate you taking the time to comment on my story  i really appreciate that, as i am working on a novel length story about the character and would appreciate any feedback that i can get
PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 8, 2011 at 6:35 pm
oh, and p.s thank you also for being my 100th comment  iam so grateful to all those who have commented on it and cannot belief that this story already has one hundred comments  thank you, and good luck with your writing
Spackler replied...
Apr. 8, 2011 at 6:38 pm
no problem  i was happy to comment  this story is great  keep up the great work!
PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 23, 2011 at 8:31 pm
i will thank you
Jayanna said...
Apr. 7, 2011 at 6:21 pm
Good story! I liked how it was a guy having a crush on the girl instead of those stores about gilrs liking guys:) But you could have added more about him being a thief becuase yu talked alot about it in the intorduction but apart form that nice job  :)
PJD17 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 7, 2011 at 8:19 pm
Thank you, but this story wasnt really supposed to be about him being a thief   this was more like a chapter taken out of a full length novel that im working on  i'm not entirely sure that i will actually include this story in it or not, but in the novel i will go much more in depth about him being a thief  when i wrote this orringinally, the introduction wasnt even in there because i wrote it to be just like a chapter from a novel, but then i added the introduction to have i... (more »)
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