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This One Goes Out To Sam and Derek.
It was sixth grade; an adolescent’s preview to the many awkward middle and high school years to come. Everyone is from different schools. Your elementary school friends turn their backs on you. All of these “popular” kids that you barely know expect you to be beautiful, flawless and plastic like them. It gets much, much worse by eighth grade. You don’t really think you’ll make it another two years.
If you want to fit in, it was obvious as to what you had to do. Wear the right clothes. Say the right things. Reject the wrong boys. Talk to the right girls. That, and go to all school functions- sporting events, orchestra concerts, but more importantly, dances.
These weren’t high school dances. There wasn’t grinding or making out. A few kids got their first kiss, sure, but it was an innocent teenage peck.
The entire student body must have been there. Well, at least every sixth grader, most seventh graders, and the “popular” eighth graders.
It was the February/Valentine’s Day dance. It was in the cafeteria, which is a pretty big room. It is split into two rooms; white, concrete bricks painted with more white separated the two rooms. There were three eight foot gaps that you could walk through to get to one side from another.
My friends and I were leaning up against the blank concrete walls. He was up against the air conditioner, parallel to us.
It seemed like a typical dance. Pop and hip-hop blasted through the cheap rented speakers. A disc jockey was at the front of one of the rooms. The other one was full of food and drinks. Teens filled both rooms up easily.
We’d been looking at each other the whole night. Making faces, staring contests- you name it. I would be making eye contact with my other friends but could still feel his stare hitting my cheeks like bullets.
I wanted nothing more than him to ask me out. This was beyond a crush. We’d known each other for three weeks. He had started our friendship by flirting with me. I don’t know if it’ll ever end. I hope it doesn’t. Maybe he’ll end up like the best friend in all the movies- we spend hours on the phone and go everywhere together, but strictly as friends. We fall for each other and sacrifice the wonderful friendship when we go out. We get married and live in suburban Connecticut with two kids and a dog named Peyton Manning, after his favorite quarterback.
He’s still staring at me.
Swing, swing, swing from the tangles of my heart is crushed by a former love. Can you help me find a way to carry on again? Tyson Ritter’s voice comes out of the cheap rented speakers. The All-American Rejects’ song halts as the DJ’s voice takes over.
“Hey Langston Middle School! How are we all doing tonight?” She yells.
Everyone scream s things like, “good!”
My night might be good if I would get the courage to walk across the room and ask Sam to dance. But no, I’m a coward who’d rather hopelessly stare at her while sitting on top of a metal air conditioner, listening to my friends tell perverted jokes.
“We’re gonna give shout outs now! Come on up here and give a shout out to anyone! Your boyfriend, your best friend, your favorite teacher- ANYONE!” The DJ shouted. The kids started to get in line to take the mic and give a shout out to their friends. I didn’t. They started to come through the loud speakers. I was still staring at Sam. She was so pretty. Her brown wavy hair was down tonight, rather than usually up in a ponytail. Her jeans looked old but whatever- this dance wasn’t formal.
“Here’s a shout out to the eighth grade!”
“This one’s for Jessie and Michael!”
“Let’s hear it for Joseph Drew!”
At least a dozen kids had gone up by now. It seemed rather stupid. Whenever a popular kid was called over the loudspeaker, everyone cheered. Some kids who thought they were funny gave shout outs to the losers of our grade.
I tuned in and out for most of them. Not that my friends’ conversations about guys and the surfeit amounts of hooker make-up they applied was much more interesting.
“This one goes out to Sam and Derek!”
She looked me straight in the eye. I didn’t know what to do. I opened my mouth and shrugged. Her friends were talking to her now.
Her tan skin was now bright pink. All of my friends gave me looks, pretty much saying, “What the …?”
I dunno guys. I dunno.
I wanted to melt. Then and there. This was horrible. I felt like I was about to cry. I wasn’t even sure who went up there, but they had risen humiliating me to an art form.
Derek started walking towards me.
“Sam. It’s okay. I don’t care.” I said, although it was a bit embarrassing. She seemed more upset than I was. I needed to comfort her.
I might have asked her out, had she not pushed me and walked outside the school.
The tears started rolling as I walked home. Conveniently, I lived two short blocks from Langston Middle. I couldn’t face everyone. The popular kids or the rumors that were bound to be swirling around come school.
More importantly, I couldn’t face him.