Book excerpt

Out of my league

Posted on October 14, 2008. Filed under: Book excerpt, Good ol' days, Self-deception |


The students at Park Shore Junior High came from “feeder” elementary schools, back in the days when no one went to private schools, and you lived where you learned. I didn’t have much experience with kids from the “haves” neighborhoods; I was a “have-not”. I don’t mean I was homeless or raised by beggars, but I didn’t know anyone with an air-conditioned car or wall-to-wall carpets. It didn’t take long to learn that the “haves” ran the school, but there were more of us than there were of them. The have-nots were just waiting to be inspired, a la Victor Hugo. I played on the chronic disgust and unmitigated jealousy they had for those to whom things came easily, and I got myself elected freshman class president. And editor of the newspaper, a position that kept my name before the masses. And “Best Citizen”. But I was short. Really short. Shorter than any of the girls. And I only had about three pubic hairs; actually, it was exactly three, as I knew from careful and frequent inspection.

The freshman prom was the biggest social event of the year, and I didn’t have a date. About two weeks before the dance, after an intense internal battle between lust and sensibility, bad judgment stepped in. I cornered Leslie Batson by the book lockers and blurted in a pubescent voice that squeaked on the word “prom”, “Will you go to the prom with me?” 

Leslie was the head cheerleader, a big-time “have”, and a fifteen-year-old goddess. She was in several of my classes, so it wasn’t like I didn’t know her. I had even talked to her from time to time. As I waited for her response, I wish I could tell you that she went all gaa-gaa and gushed, “I’d love to!” Hell, I wish I could even tell you she said, “No.” But the truth is, she didn’t dignify me with any verbal reply at all. Her head just sort of fell back in an act of incredulity, her blond ponytail waggled in the space between her shoulder blades, her blue eyes squinted tightly, her mouth opened and her iridescent lips turned upward at the corners as she began laughing. Her orthodontic appliances sparkled as she shook. Her maroon and white cheerleader outfit emphasized the vastness of what I’ve come to know as the “time-space dimension” that separated us, and the “Warriors” logo emblazoned across her chest bounced on her never-to-be-seen-by-me teenage breasts with each guffaw. True, she never did actually say she wouldn’t go with me, but as she walked away with her “have” friends, the pleats in her short skirt bouncing back and forth across her society derriere, I got the feeling she wouldn’t. In point of fact, she clichéd the event by going with the football quarterback, who later played for the Atlanta Falcons. 

It is some comfort that the quarterback eventually became a unemployed druggie. But it would be more comfort if she had married him.


NOTE: this is a modified excerpt from Chasing a Light Beam, a late-draft short novel about one man’s reaction to the discovery of quantum reality.

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