Popularity and Kissing

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“Why?” I asked, looking at him. “Why do you care so much about what other people think? Why is being this so called ‘cool’ so important to you? Do you enjoy having to live up to other people’s expectations? What is so great about being… popular that you have to be someone you don’t want to be?”
He stared at the instrument between us, slowly rubbing a cleaning cloth over it, his eyes troubled. He finally looked up at me, and his hazel eyes gave me a slight shiver once more. “I… I don’t really know,” he said finally, looking a little shaken and scared. “I’ve always been trying so hard to fit in, I just… I don’t know why.”
I leaned slightly closer to him, my hair falling over one shoulder; it was getting too long. I’d need to get it cut soon. I cocked my head at him, looking straight into his eyes. “Then why do you still try?” I asked in a quiet voice.
He opened his mouth a little, but didn’t answer; he closed his mouth, his dark eyebrows furrowed in confusion and frustration. “I always have,” he finally answered, looking down at his saxophone. “I guess it’s just something that I felt like I needed to do.”
“The problem is that you’re trying to be cool, which is stupid,” I said, saying the harsh words as gently as I could. “You are who you are. And everyone’s cool within their own group. But trying to force people to think you’re cool, or forcing yourself to be cool is just… it’s dumb. Just be who you are.”
He looked off to the side into the darkened band room before he spoke. “It’s hard to be who you are when you don’t know who that is,” he said quietly. “I’ve been working at being popular or cool or whatever for so long… I don’t know who I’m supposed to be.”
“No one does,” I said. “We’re not supposed to. There’s nothing you’re supposed to be. We get little clues about who we are, and who we want to be. But we’re always learning. Always going on. It’s all we can do, really.”
“But I don’t know how to start doing that,” he said, turning back to look at me. Again, I felt a thrill at his eyes. This guy had some seriously intense eyes.
“Well… what do you want to do?”
He blinked, recoiling for a moment. “What?” he asked blankly.
“What do you want to do?” I repeated.
“About… about what?” he asked, bewildered.
I blew my bangs out of my eyes and leaned back; he leaned slightly forward, his eyes focused intently on me. I felt a little uncomfortable under his intent stare, but I went on. “Anything. Do you want good grades? Do you want to change your physical appearance? Do you want a girlfriend? Do you want a different style? Do you want to join a team? Do you want to be a Buddhist? Do you want to have sex? Do you want to be a professional sax player? Whatever you want to do or be, start that now. Before it’s too late.”
He took a long breath out. “It’s so easy for you,” he said quietly. “It seems so easy for you to just be you. To play sax badly but with passion, or to draw on your pants, or to break someone’s nose. That’s so you. I don’t know what me is.”
“Because you’re thinking too much about it!” I exclaimed, standing up and stomping around the table. I grabbed his collar and pulled his face towards mine. “Listen, you. You need to decide what you want. Not what you think you want, not what other people think you want, not what your mommy thinks you want… What you want. What do you want?”
And then, quite suddenly, he leaned in and kissed me.
It wasn’t a great kiss, as far as kisses go. His lips were nervous on mine, but an explosion of emotion was hidden in his mouth, all of me to taste. His mouth was dry, but thank God it wasn’t slobbery. I leaned into his kiss, and I let go of his shirt collar, letting my eyes slip close and let myself become swept away. He didn’t really know what he was doing, so I guided him, and when we broke apart, his eyes were almost glazed over.
“Wow,” he breathed.
“You’re pretty good,” I said in admiration.
He looked up at me. “That was my first kiss,” he said, still sounding shocked.
Well. That changed things quite a bit.
“I’m glad you wanted your first kiss to be with me,” I said, controlling my expression as to not let the goofy smile take over my face.
“How about my second kiss?” he said, and then turned bright red.
I let myself grin. “You’re cute when you’re confident,” I whispered, and our lips met once more.





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