Always the Good Kid
By Sharon Poppen
Always the good kid. Never one to fight the system, Tommy decided that he couldn’t graduate high school without breaking at least one rule.
Once coming to that decision, he thought hard about what to do. It had to be something noticeable or it wouldn’t really count. He knew he was considered a nerd. He made a list of the reasons for his nerdhood: straight A student, twelve years of perfect attendance, never a homework assignment or book report missed, no piercing, matching clothes, never a drink of alcohol, let alone drugs and he was still a virgin. Yes, he thought, I’ve been a straight arrow. The time had come to update his list.
There was a term paper due the next day, Tommy left it undone.
To miss his first period class, he decided he’d leave home on time the next morning so as not to upset his mother. But, he’d spend an hour at a coffee shop near the school.
Sticking a needle in his ear brought tears to his eyes and a trickle of blood colored the sink. The safety pin he fastened in the hole didn’t stem the bleeding, but a couple of ice cubes helped and eventually the bleeding stopped. He hoped the band-aid and a tale of a zit would satisfy parental curiosity.
He slit the knees of his Levis with the scissors, then tore the slits into ragged holes. He turned his red YMCA lifeguard shirt inside out. A pair of shoes consisting of a white Nike and a brown loafer, but no socks, completed his ensemble. He’d change clothes in the coffee shop restroom.
Tommy stuffed the items into his backpack along with an empty beer can he’d dug out of a neighbor’s trash.
Tommy drew the line at breaking the drug rule, even if he had known where to get some.
The virgin stigma required a partner, so that one he couldn’t change.
With his plans completed, Tommy tried to sleep, to hurry the morning. But, his pending walk on the wild side had his adrenalin boiling. He dozed fitfully, but was awake to see his clock move ahead hour by dragging hour.
Finally, his mother called from the kitchen. Breakfast was ready. Feeding five children kept his mother too busy to notice Tommy’s jitters. He hurried through his cereal and left for school.
At the coffee shop, all went as planned. He arrived at school just before his first period class let out. His nerves got the best of him and he had to pee. As he was finishing, the period-ending bell clanged and an idea popped into his head. He reached in among his clothes and books and switched his Buddy Holly black rims for some Elvis shades.
It was now or never. Making sure the beer can was visibly peeking out of his backpack, he took a deep breath and barged out into the crowded hallway.
He’d only gone a couple of steps when a blond cheerleader raised her eyebrows. “Very nice,” she giggled.
A redhead from his science class grinned. “My, my, the caterpillar is set free.”
Three hotties from his english class smiled and cooed, “Hi, Romeo.”
At this point, Tommy was in a confident strut and fully enjoying the smiles on the faces of girls who’d never looked his way before.
And so it went down the long hall to his trig classroom. His friends Duane and Todd were already seated in their front row seats.
Duane’s eyes bugged out. “What the heck are you doing?”
“Attracting babes!” Tommy boasted. “They’re really digging my new look.”
Todd coughed and pointed toward Tommy’s middle. “Yeah? Well I gotta say you’re definitely looking.”
Tommy looked down to find his penis, uncaged and standing at attention. In his nervousness, he’d forgotten to zip.
A hand clamped down on his shoulder just as he finished tucking in and caused Tommy to zip off a tender layer of skin.
He was ushered to the principal’s office and his mother was called. The three-day suspension actually turned out quite well. After a lecture from his mom and a Come-to-Jesus meeting with his father, Tommy spent most of his time on the phone with the blond cheerleader, the redhead and the hotties from his English class, among other calls from female classmates.
The final couple of months before graduation were the best Tommy could ever remember. He was voted “most popular” in the senior yearbook and by graduation night, he’d crossed off the item requiring a partner from his rules-to-break list.