Your Boyfriend's a Jerk

June 10, 2011
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“Why would you do that? He basically called you a horrible name while he was dating you, then you break up with him, and just go back out with him again! I cannot believe you. What is going on inside your brain?!” yelled Val.
“He said he was sorry for insulting me like that, and then he promised he would never do it again, so I forgave him. I trust him, unlike you,” replied Sophie.
“Come on, Sophie, how can you let him do that and still trust him? He’s done things like this before. He just keeps on repeating this cycle of being a jerk over and over. It’s so frustrating and downright unbelievable.” Even though Val’s skin was brown, it was easy to distinguish the color of anger bursting from her face.
“Val, Sophie can date who ever she wants. You’re not the one dating him. If she trusts Damian, that should be enough. Besides, he did say sorry,” Charlotte retorted as she looked up from her history book.
Sophie sat across from her two best friends, Val and Charlotte, outside the school at a table during lunch. The sun was gleaming down on them, and there was a slight wind. Val looked amazed and disgusted. Part of her dark brown bangs fell in front of her eyes, and her hair, streaked with red, was falling out of its bun, giving her an unkempt look. Charlotte, on the other hand, had the opposite look: her sandy blonde hair was tied into a tightly bound ponytail, and her skin maintained its natural pale color. Sophie’s face was shielded from view by her flowing golden blonde hair.
This argument was continuous. It all began when Sophie started dating Damian, the captain of the soccer team. At first, Damian was charming and polite to Sophie, but as weeks went on, he started to be emotionally cruel. He was cruel to everyone, not just Sophie. But Val had seen Damian for what he was even before he started mistreating Sophie. She tried telling Sophie, but she wouldn’t hear it. Sophie believed it just wasn’t true.
“Charlotte, even you can’t honestly believe that he will never do it again, can you?” Val looked at Charlotte with a questioning look in her eyes.
Before Charlotte could reply, the bell for their next class rang. Charlotte’s short muscular legs got up first. Sophie’s long boney legs followed while Val’s slender ones struggled to unfold from the pretzel position. Their high school was three stories high and looked like it was just built. The outside of the school looked welcoming and organized. On the clean white walls inside the school, there were signs for clubs and posters of upcoming events. The lockers were dark red, and the floors were tiled and clean. There were windows in every hall, which gave the school an outdoor feeling. The halls were buzzing with conversation and overflowing with students trying to get to their next class.
Val sat in her class not really listening to the teacher lecturing. She was too enraged with Sophie. “What was she thinking? You can’t just forgive someone that quickly for insulting you with nasty names. I would be so angry with him. He would also be gone in a split second, and I would never talk to him. Why can’t she understand what a jerk he really is? I need to make Sophie see the side of him that everyone else sees, then, hopefully, she will realize that he’s a jerk. Maybe if I try a different approach like asking her questions about Damian she might listen to me.”
Charlotte was in the same class sitting next to Val. On any other day she would be attentively listening to the teacher, but today she couldn’t focus. Her head was filled with thoughts.” I can see why Val is so mad, but Damian made up to Sophie for it. He won’t do it again, will he? I mean, he’ll keep his promise. But what if he doesn’t? What if he ends up breaking Sophie’s heart? Maybe Val was right; Damian might keep on repeating this thing of his. No, I have to keep on believing in Sophie’s decision, that’s what I’d want her to do for me.”

In another classroom, thoughts submerged Sophie’s brain, drowning any thoughts of getting her paper done. “Thank goodness Charlotte helped me fend off Val. I’m not sure what else I would have said. Sometimes I don’t understand Val. We used to get along so well. Now all we do is fight about Damian and I get so stressed out. Damian isn’t perfect, like all people, but he isn’t bad. I see the good side of people not the bad side. Why can’t Val look at the good qualities in him like I do?”
Later that day Sophie, Charlotte and Val were at Charlotte’s house for their weekly Friday sleepover. Charlotte’s house, with its brown color and quaint two stories, had a look of a gingerbread house; welcoming and warm. The inside of the house had the same feel. As soon as all three girls got there, they went down to Charlotte’s basement. The soft, green-carpeted floor got covered with three sleeping bags and three backpacks. As the three girls sat down, Charlotte asked what the others wanted to eat. They both wanted pizza. Charlotte went up the steps to place the order. Sophie’s green eyes met Val’s brown ones in an awkward silence until they both looked away.
Val spoke first. Her voice was gentle. “Sophie, I have a quick question. Why are you going out with Damian? You do know that he’s mean and doesn’t respect you, right?”
Sophie didn’t recognize the kindness in Val’s voice. “I started going out with him because he was sweet and charming. I do know that he isn’t perfect but he does respect me,” she said defensively.
“Have you ever seen him with his friends when you’re not with him? He acts like he’s a king without any empathy or thoughts and they’re all his subjects. It’s all wrong and it makes me sick.” Val was now looking at Sophie. Her voice was still gentle but, more determined now.

Sophie still couldn’t place the tone of Val’s voice. Was it pity? No, it was one her mother used to use. It was one of compassion and concern. What would her long-gone mother say to her about dating Damian? She had never thought of this before. Maybe Val was actually trying to help her?
“Hello. Sophie, are you there?” Val’s voice had gone back to its normal tone.
“What? Oh yeah, no, I haven’t seen him with just his friends.” Sophie came out her thoughts to answer Val.
Charlotte came back down the stairs to find Val staring at Sophie. In return, Sophie was looking out into space. I hope Val didn’t say anything to upset Sophie, like usual. I wonder what she did say because Sophie looks like she just heard upsetting news.
“Hey guys, pizza will be here in about 30 minutes. Sophie, are you okay over there?” As Charlotte said this, her blue eyes gave Val a sharp glance that felt like a piercing dagger.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Good, I’m not sure I can wait any longer for pizza,” replied Sophie, turning away.
“Val, what did you do? I don’t think I’ve seen you and Sophie together this quiet since Sophie was single,” asked Charlotte in a whisper.
“I have no idea what I did. While you were gone, I asked her why she’s going out with Damian, that’s it. Then she just stared at the wall.”
Sophie never thought that Val would be the one to make her think about her mom and Damian in such a deep way. “Was this a way for Val to get Damian and her to break up? It couldn’t be. Val wasn’t that good of an actress. She thinks she is always right and that she always knows best,” thought Sophie. That quality in Val made Sophie mad. Her hands slowly clenched into a fist. Her face went from a blank stare to a face with rage that was the facade for her hurt.

“Valerie, would you just get off my back for dating Damian? It’s not like you know what you’re talking about; you haven’t dated somebody for years. I bet you didn’t even know that I was planning to dump him if he did anything like that again, did you?” Sophie had blown up. She was returning every emotion that Valerie had thrown at her.
“How can I if you won’t listen? You don’t see what I see, and I don’t have to date somebody to know what respect is and what isn’t.” Val was waiting for this argument to happen for weeks and she was prepared. “How was I supposed to know that you were going to dump him? Unlike you, if you told me I would have listened and maybe I would have gotten off your back.”
“Did you know that you give me more stress every time you talk or more like yell at me for Damian? Sometimes I can’t even think straight after we fight. You used to be my best friend, Val. Why can’t you get over this?” Sophie’s voice changed from a yell to a dangerous hiss.
Val’s voice became a harsh whisper to match Sophie’s. “No, I didn’t know that this causes you stress. The only reason I yell is because I feel you don’t listen to me if I don’t. I can’t get over this because he’s a jerk. The only way I could get over this is if you break up with him and put your friends before your boyfriend.”
“You know what, I won’t break up with him until you accept that people can date and like whomever they want; Charlotte has accepted that.”
“Fine, but I’m not Charlotte, and I can believe and accept whatever I want,” Valerie got up and started rolling up her sleeping bag.

“What are you doing Val?” Charlotte’s voice had a sound of caution in it.
“I’m sorry, Charlotte, I can’t be here anymore, not with her still here.” Val jerked her finger at Sophie.
“I can’t stay here either Charlotte. I believe I have a paper to finish, and right now I despise Valerie.” Sophie got up too and started packing her things.
“What? You can’t both leave! What about the pizza?” asked Charlotte.
“I don’t think I have the stomach to eat anything right now. I’m sure your brother will help you eat it,” said Val.
The pizza came shortly after the two girls left. Charlotte sat at the kitchen table staring at the pizza replaying the scene that just occurred. It seemed scripted for a movie, shocking and harsh. There it sat, one third cheese, one third sausage, and one third pepperoni. It was the last symbol of the friendship the girls thought would last. That Friday was the last sleepover they ever had together.

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