Big Night for the Freshmen
Short StoryBig Night for The Freshman By Christopher Kemp I am always going to remember my high school days; no matter how old I get. When my grandpa always said that those four years of your life will be the most fun you ever had, he was completely right. Centerville High School, Class of 2012. I was one out of the 758 kids that graduated that year. It’s hard to have an identity when your class is that huge. Usually students are remembered for scoring touchdowns, performances on stage, being named Val Victorian, or the one kid who threatened to bring a gun to school and blow everyone’s brains out. I was neither of those. I think I will always be remembered for going to Homecoming in 2008 as a freshman, with senior Julia Neal…. *** I hate taking the bus home from school. I swear I could walk home in twenty minutes instead of driving around for an hour. These kids on the bus are so damn annoying. The cheerleaders are always in the back giggling and whispering to each other about the gossip for the day. The skater punks are always listening to their iPods and the freshmen jocks right in front of them always talking about Sunday’s NFL games. Then there was me, sitting in the front seat. It’s always a grind. The bus driver Mrs. Peters always smells like rotten eggs and cigarettes. But on the plus side, I sat across from senior Julia Neal. She was always reading or doing homework. I heard she had like a 4.5 GPA. I didn’t even know that was possible! Most of the time I tried to glance over at her long brown hair and her dark brown eyes. One time I asked her, “Hey Julia, how come you take the bus home? Can’t you drive?” She replied, “It might sound silly, but I don’t want to pick up my brother in seventh grade at Watts Middle School. I would rather sit here and read. You know, just unwind after the day?” “Oh, ok,” I said. She gave me a beautiful smile that I thought about when I went to bed at night. When I got home I walked in the door and there was my mom, as usual, sitting on the couch watching Operah,“Hey sweetie! How was school today?” Everyday I would reply the same thing, “Fine. Lots of homework.” I went into the kitchen to see if she made any cookies for me. Yes! She did! I love being an only child! My mom walked in and said, “I got a letter from School toady…” “Really? About what?” I asked while stuffing these chocolate chip sugary treasures into my mouth. “Well it was just to inform the parents about Homecoming this year. Are you planning to go with anyone?” I sat there, and pondered over the question, while washing down the cookies with my 2% milk. “I don’t know,” I said. “I might go with a group or something.” My mom replied, “I think you should ask someone!” I shot back, “Mom, I don’t know anyone besides my friends from Jazz Band and the Drum line.” “Well….” She said, “I am sure you can find somebody. Just think about it.” She walked out of the kitchen and I went down to the basement to practice. Ever since we’ve moved from Colorado Springs, to Ohio, I have met a few friends. I don’t like to admit it, but I am popular among the fine arts folk at Centerville. I was the only freshman in like the last ten years to make the Jazz Band, AND Drum line. My percussion instructor, Mr. Thompson always says to the class, “Why can’t you guys play like Hunter?” The seniors always glanced over with their mean-mugging eyes and always whispered, “F*ing Freshmen Suck Up!” I didn’t care though. I just did what I did best; Pound the drums and give the band the beat. Saturday morning I woke up at like 10:30am or so. I had no homework and no chores to do (that I knew of). I tried to make an omelet, but it ended up looking like s***. Black, burned, and egg yolk was oozing off the counter. I threw it away, and just had a bowl of Golden Grahams cereal. After practicing my snare for like two hours, I decided to take my dog Mia, for a walk. I loved her. She was a mutt. Some cross between a black lab and a husky. I remember getting her for Christmas when I was seven years old. It was for sure the best gift ever. I grabbed my Air Force sweatshirt, put on the leash and walked out the door. It was pretty nice outside. One thing I like about Ohio is that it doesn’t snow in late September. I was walking down Hidden Oaks Drive when I heard, “Hey Hunter!” I turned around and saw Julia, walking her golden retriever. Somewhat nervous and alarmed for some reason, I said, “Oh…um…hey Julia.” “I didn’t know you had a dog?” she said. “Yeah, she was a Christmas gift when I was seven.” “Ahhh, that’s cute!” she said. “I didn’t know you lived over here?” I said. “Well we do ride the same bus…” she replied. Embarrassed, I said, “Oh I guess you’re right.” She just laughed and said, “Where are you walking to?” “I don’t know,” I replied. “Just exploring the new neighborhood.” “That’s cool, did you just move here?” she asked. “Yeah my dad is a Colonel in the Air Force. We got re-located in August.” “That’s legit.’ Julia said. “My brother is at the academy right now. He wants to be some special operations pilot or something.” Still amazed that this senior is having a conversation with a freshmen, I said, “Do you-“ she cut me off, “Want to show you around the neighborhood? Sure!” I was a going to ask her if she wanted to be in the Air Force, but getting to spend time with this senior would definitely be HUGE bragging rights among my band friends. We walked around the neighborhood. She showed me all these houses and told me who lived in them. When we came to this run down house, whose lawn hasn’t been mowed in like a year, she said, “The people who used to live in this was were like suspected terrorist.” “Holy s*** that’s crazy!” I replied. “Yeah I know,” she said. “My mom is a realtor and she is trying to get the place tore down or something.” We kept on strolling around till she asked, “Whose your advisory teacher?” “Mr. Bare” “Isn’t he a freshmen English teacher?” she asked. “Um…yeah.” “Wait! You’re a freshmen?” Kind of confused on where she was going I said again, “Um…yea.” “Oh my. I must be off on my judgment. I thought you were a junior!” Being flattered I said, “I’ll take that as a compliment.” We both laughed at the “misunderstanding.” I guess I did look old for a freshman. I work out a lot with my dad. He always makes me do like fifty more push ups for him and drink this nasty ass protein shake after. I knew that would always pay off! We kept walking till we circled back to my house. I said, “Well, I think I am going to take Mia back now…” She replied, “Ok see you Hunter!” Then she patted Mia’s head and said, “See you Mia!” I walked inside and ran to the window. I watched her walked off. Wow! I didn’t realize she had such a great ass! “Who were you walking with?” I turned around and my mom was there drinking probably her fifth cup of coffee. “Oh that was just Julia,” I said. “She is a friend I guess.” Out of nowhere my mom asked, “You going to homecoming with her?” Troubled by the question, I said, “Mom. She’s a senior. And I’m a freshmen.” Then being the encouraging my she is she said, “Oh it the age doesn’t matter. Its about having a good time!” She left the room and I looked down to see my Mia panting and wagging her tail at me. I asked Mia, “What do you think Mia? Do you think Julia would be of to go to homecoming with a freshmen?” She just kept wagging her tail and panting. “Good. I’ll take that as a yes.” Every day for the next two weeks I talked to Julia on the way home from school. We chatted about school drama, Air Force life, what it’s like to be a lonely child…etc. We started going on more walks together when it was nice outside. Mia and Samson (Julia’s dog) seemed to like it, so we just kept taking them out together. One Thursday afternoon she said, “I was talking to my friends about you. My one bf Casey, whose plays the clarinet in Jazz Band said you’re like a beast at the drums.” Trying not to brag, but also trying to take pride, I said, “Yeah its kind of what I do.” We kept walking till she asked, “Do you think you could play for me?” I said, “Sure.” We walked back to my house, put Mia and Samson in the backyard, and went downstairs to the basement. “Wow are these all yours?” she asked. Her eyes were gazing upon my drum set, congo’s, bells, tambourine, and maracas. “Yeah,” I bragged. “I told you drumming was my thing!” She laughed and shook her head, “Show me what you got!” I climbed behind my sanctuary, grabbed my lucky drumsticks, and told myself, “Play like you’ve never played before….” I pounded away. Giving a one-two beat on the bass, and whacked the snare and symbols in a perfect rhythm. My eyes were closed. I was just letting the beat fly out my body to impress Julia. After about a minute I ended it with a drum roll and hit the crash symbol. I looked up and saw Julia’s face, which had, “WOW!” written all over it. I asked her, “Want to try?” “Sure,” she said. She climbed up, and sat down the seat. I gave a pair of drumsticks and said, “These are my lucky ones.” She replied, “Let’s see if they work. It was hilarious watching her hit the snare and trying to time it up with the bass. WHACK-WHACK-THUMPH-THUMPH. I just started laughing. She turned around and asked sarcastically, “Are you making fun of me?” I said, “Here let me help you out.” I sat on the seat behind her. My hips connected with her hips, my arms entangled with her arms. I said, “Let’s start simple.” I started to give slow beat to the bass and I did an easy going symbol to snare rhythm. I finally let go of her arms and she was doing it all by herself! After about a minute, we both stopped and started laughing. A cell phone buzzed and she looked at her text. “Oh shoot,” she said. “I forgot I have and help my Mom cook dinner.” Saddened that this moment had to end, I said “Ok.” I walked her upstairs and she grabbed Samson. “See you Julia!” I said. She turned around and did some crazy combination of a wink and raising her eyebrows. I think that was some sexual attraction look. But trust me, I wasn’t disturbed by it. I walked inside and saw my mom pull into the driveway. It looked like Julia waved to her and my mom waved back. She came inside and asked, “Oh Hunter…was that cute girl Julia?” Thinking I was in trouble I said, “Yeah…I just showed her my drum set. We didn’t do anything bad….” She laughed and said, “Oh stop your nonsense! Are you going to homecoming with her?” I replied, “I hope so Mom.” I went into the living room to do my homework. Today was no ordinary Saturday. I just wasn’t going to sleep in, practice drums, or do some stupid chores. I was going to ask Julia to homecoming. I don’t know how I am going to do it. If I see here while walking Mia, I’ll just ask her there. I know other people sent flowers or wrote on their car, “HC?” But I wasn’t going to go overboard. I still doubted she would say no because she was too cool and attractive to not to have a date already. But then again, she probably would have told me, and it was a week away. I called over to Mia, “Mia girl, time for a walk!” She hopped up, and wagged her tail wildly. I have never been so nervous before. While walking the thought never came up to me that I should have took a piss before I left. My palms were starting to sweat and my legs became to shake every step I took. I came up to Julia’s house, and how convenient! She was sitting on her porch, reading. I called out, “Julia!” She looked up, smiled and waved me over. I sat down with Mia next to me. She asked, “What’s up?” While my voice was still shaky, I said, “Oh…um…just…you know…walking Mia.” She chuckled and asked, “You alright?” Thinking she knew what was going on I shot out, “Juliawillyougotohomecomingwithme?” Then the awkward silence came. Then she said calmly, “Say it like an upper classmen…” I collected myself, took a deep breath, and said, “Julia, I was wondering if you didn’t have a date to homecoming next week, I was wondering if you wanted to go together?” She smiled and laughed a little. “You know what Hunter,” she said. “Why not?” I said, “Oh thank God!” We both started cracking up and I told her about how nervous I was, and how much my mom was bugging me about it, and what the plans were for next Saturday night. Oh I couldn’t wait. *** I remember that next week at school I was like the most popular kid. I think it was even on the video board; FRESHMEN DRUMMER ASKS SENIOR TO HOMECOMING. Some of the senior football pricks gave me dirty looks as I walked down the hall. A lot of my band friends kept teasing me saying, “You gonna get it in this weekend?” I always blushed, shook my head, and walked away. I remember my mom taking me to the mall to buy a nice shirt and tie. I remember her saying, “How about this blue shirt and yellow tie? It looks perfect!” Not knowing anything about fashion at the time, I just trusted my mom would know what the hell she was doing. I never knew what kind of night I was going to have leading up to the dance Saturday night. *** I started to get ready 3:00pm. I took a hot shower, shaved, and brushed my teeth. I tried to tie my tie perfectly, but after like five times I just asked my mom to help out. That just proves right there that I am a freshman. Not being able to tie a tie? I put a little gel in my dusty blond hair and combed it over just a tad. Not to formal, but not sloppy. Pictures were at 4:30pm at Julia’s house. My mom offered to drive me over, but I told her, “Mom. I can’t have you drive me over there. I will like a complete dweeb.” Before walking to her house, I took one last look in the mirror and I told myself, “Big night Hunter. Don’t act like a freshman.” While on the ten-minute walk to Julia’s house, I started getting all pessimistic and s***. I started asking myself, “What if you aren’t a good dancer? What if you spill something at dinner? What if you get harassed all night by seniors?” Before any more doubts came into my head, I walked up Julia’s driveway. There looked like five couples were already there. They were just standing around and talking. Some were taking pictures and others were being told by their parents, “Now if you come home drunk tonight, you are getting your license taken away!” Oh s***. What were we doing after the dance? “Hunter!” I looked over and saw Julia. She was wearing this blue dress that came right below her knees. Her brown hair was down, and the makeup on her eyelids and face made her look like a model. How the hell did I get this?!?! “You look handsome,” she said. “Ehh,” I replied. “I try my best.” We got our pictures taken with the others. Bright flashes coming from like fifteen parents were blinding my eyes. My mouth hurt from smiling for five minutes straight. Finally one of the moms said, “Ok, we’re done! Have fun kids!” Thank God. “Hey Julia. Do you and Hunter want to ride with us?” It was Tom West. The quarterback star at CHS. “Umm…sure!” she said. “Hunter, this is Tom and his girlfriend Lauren. We’re tagging along with them” I just kind of waved my hand and said, “Hey. What’s up?” You know the usual saying you say to strangers when you don’t want to look like a tool. “Hey Hunter,” Lauren said. “Julia tells me you’re like a drummer?” “Yeah, I am in the Jazz Band and Drum Line.” I said, trying to brag a little. After a little bit more small talk we hopped in Tom’s Ford Escape and drove off to dinner. We were at Bravo’s Italian Restaurant. The place was packed with Centerville students who were going to Homecoming also. I swear every girl in the place ordered a salad. There was green leafs in front of everyone at every table. I ordered some Chicken Fettuccini pasta thing. It was pretty cool at dinner. I got to meet the other couples. I already knew Andrew and Andrea from Jazz Band, and Teddy and Kayla from Drum Line. So at least I wasn’t so left out. I met Aaron and Kelly, who were the typical football player/cheerleader couple. I guess how all these couples connected together was that all the girls have been like best friends since pre-school. I can’t even remember my pre-school buddies, since we moved to Texas in first grade. While eating dinner, I didn’t try to rush and look like a pig. Whenever I looked across the table, I always saw Andrew and Teddy giving me these crazy looks. I always mouthed to them, “F*** off!” Luckily, I knew them well enough that we could always screw around with each other. The girls did most of the talking at dinner. They talked about every topic there is out there. It was funny seeing them go from childhood memories, to school gossip, to future plans, to politics, to their jobs, and to the dreams they had last night. Tom and I just had our own conversation going. I asked him, “So do these dances get pretty wild?” He sort of chuckled and said, “You’ll just have to wait and see.” After about a minute or two of eating, Tom slapped my shoulder to grab my attention, and said, “Oh yea. One warning for freshman, make sure you put on plenty of deodorant before dancing, and if you are sweating to bad, just go get a drink or something.” Slightly amused and troubled by the statement, I asked, “Does it really get the hot in the gym?” He looked up at me and said, “Just wait and see freshman, just wait and see.” We arrived at the dance around 8:15pm or so. There were still students lined up outside to get in. As me and Julia walked up to the door, she asked, “You ready to have some fun?” I replied, “We’ll just have to see what kind of dancer you are…” “What! You don’t think I can dance?” she asked. “I don’t know. You probably can,” I said. “I just know my drumming talents gives me an advantage with the beat!” Julia said, “We’ll just see who the better dancer is then I guess.” Our arms interlocked as we walked the rest of the way to the gym. After putting our jackets, purses, cell phones, and other valuables away, we headed down the hall to the gym. There were balloons, glitter, and banners everywhere. I could feel the bass shaking the floor. “I have feeling this is gonna be nuts,” I said. “You better believe it!” Julia said. We walked into the gym and I was shocked by what I saw. The gym looked like just what I pictured in to be. A DJ on the stage, teachers guarding each door, and a massive student body dancing and grinding. She grabbed my hand and said, “Let’s go!” We ran into the ocean of dancers and started grinding right away. Yeah by Usher was blaring out of the speakers. Everyone’s hips and legs were all in a synchronized dance with the beat. This was insane. After about a few songs, I looked over and saw some kid pulling out a bottle of Jack Daniels and chugging it while he was dancing. “Holy s***!” I said. “What?” Julia turned around and asked. “Some kid is drinking right here!” “Oh,” she said. “That’s pretty common around here.” When the DJ stopped the music and said, “Alright CHS, it’s time to announce this years kings court!” Hundreds of kids just started booing and yelled, “More music! More dancing!” Julia said, “Lets go get a drink.” We went back to the lobby and got some punch from the serving tables. Tom called me over, “Hey freshman! Over here!” I came over and said, “What’s up.” “You haven a good time he asked?” “Hell yeah!” I said. “You were right. This place is wild!” Suddenly he grabbed my drink out of my hand and pulled out a water bottle filled with vodka into it. “Take this,” he said. His bloodshot eyes winked at me, and I took a sip. Holy s***! The drink burned my lips. My eyes kind of squinted and my head shook. Tom, Andrew, Teddy, and Aaron all started laughing and saying to each other, “I remember the first time I had that s***!” Then I heard Julia call my name, “Hunter!” I looked over to the boys and they said, “Hurry! Down it!” Then with all my fifteen-year old body I could handle, I drank the “Senior Special.” I turned around and saw Julia. “Come on! The best part is coming up!” She grabbed my hand and led me off. I looked back at the seniors and they just gave me a thumbs up. My head was already spinning when we walked into the gym. The DJ yelled, “CHS! YOU READY TO PARTY ROCK!” All the students started screaming and jumping up and down. What the hell was going on? “Let’s go!” Julia yelled. We headed off into the crowd and danced like we have never had before. I swear I saw some couple on the floor making out, but I convinced myself the alcohol was kicking in. Our hips swayed together in perfect rhythm till the song ended. The DJ yelled in the microphone, “Alright CHS! Find your date!” Just the Way You Are came on-Time for the finale slow dance. I looked over to Julia and saw here smiling face. Her arms went behind my head, and I put mine around her waist. We stepped side-to-side with the beat, while getting closer and closer with each verse in the song. Finally our foreheads were touching. My blue eyes were locked on to her brown eyes. They closed, and our lips met for a kiss. Right there in the middle of the gym, a freshman was making out with a senior. Can you say romantic? We both pulled away, both laughed with each other till the song was over. I put my arm around her and said, “Were to next?” “The after party at Tom’s,” she said. We retrieved our belongings and walked out to the car. On the way to Tom’s house, his girlfriend Lauren was driving. Tom face was against the passenger window with his tongue sticking out like a dog. Me and Julia couldn’t help but laugh. Lauren just turned around and gave us a death stare and told us to keep quiet so she could focus while driving. When we got there Tom stumbled out of the car and almost face planted on the street! It was hilarious seeing Lauren try to lead him to the house, trying not to make it too obvious that he was already plastered. I changed into a pair of jeans and sweatshirt, as did Julia. Down in the basement, about thirty kids were all circled around talking with red cups in their hand. There were three kegs in the corner. How the hell did they get their hands on those? I didn’t care. I just wanted some. I grabbed two cups for me and Julia, and we sat down with the group we went to the dance with. “That dance was off the walls!” said Teddy, while taking a big chug of beer. “I know,” said his date Kayla. “What a way to end senior year!” We just talked about the kids who got kicked out of the dance for dancing to “erotically” and for being caught with alcohol. The music was soft and mellow and everyone was drinking and having a good time. At around midnight or so, Julia asked me, “Hunter want to get out of here?” The sexy devilish look her eyes were giving me a hard-on. I had a feeling of what was to come. We headed out the back door and just kind of walked around. Well, I should say more stumbled around. We were both laughing at the fact that neither of us could walk in a straight line or stop cracking up. Finally we both collapsed in the back behind a huge oak tree. Our heads were facing up towards to stars and open sky. “Hunter,” Julia said. “I really like you.” Knowing she was a little bit more drunk than me, I said, “Is that so?” “Of course,” she said. “You’re like the coolest guy ever? I totally thought you were going to do some “freshman thing” tonight at the dance, but you walked around the place like you owned the place!” Yea she was definitely had one two many beers. “Yeah, but-” Before I could say there were other freshmen their to, she was on top of me, and we were making out. We went at it for an hour or so. Then Julia said, “Are you down?” I looked up and nodded my head, and she started to take off her shirt. Before we knew it, we were both half naked in the backyard of Tom West’s having sex. After we were done, Julia and me still stayed outside. I told her, “Julia, you’re like the coolest person I know.” She looked over and said, “I am pretty sure you said that like ten times when we were doing it!” We both laughed until I said, “The keg might have had something to do with it.” We walked back to the basement and we saw the clock on the wall-3: 37 am. “Oh s***!” Julia yelled. “What’s wrong?” I asked. “I told my parents I would be home at 2:00am!” I rubbed my eyes and said, “What the hell are we going to do?” “I don’t know,” she said. “We only live about ten minutes from here.” We got our things together and started to walk home while everyone else was downstairs puking and staring to get in fights (all because of the booze of course). Probably a good thing we dipped out of there. The walk home was pretty quiet. We were both exhausted from the big dinner, dancing for two hours straight, drinking, and having sex. After about a twenty-minute walk home, we finally got to her house. “Well,” I said. “Well,” Julia said trying to imitate me. “Oh shut up!” I said sarcastically. After a few giggles I said, “Julia, this had to be one of the best days of my life.” “Me to,” she replied. I gave her one last kiss one the lips and then I said, “I hope you don’t get into too much trouble.” I watched her walk inside, and then I trotted off home. *** That night truly was the best night of my life. Julia and I never were officially ever in a relationship. She helped me with my homework, I taught her how to play the drums, and we had sex whenever our parents weren’t home. One of the saddest days of my life is when she went off to college. I knew I probably wouldn’t see her again. But we Facebook each other once in awhile and we hang out whenever she comes home. Now that I am 28 years old, I can say that it was pretty stupid of me to drink and lose my virginity at such a young age. But I will never regret the moments I shared in my life with Julia.