Grade 9's A Mess, But Little Romeo Meets Juliet Next
Act 2 of a true modern day story with the theme of Romeo and Juliet
Act 2 Part 1
Along the fair flat Saskatchewan Prairies our scene continues to grow. Romeo is about to meet Juliet among the fray of life and it's lows. The hero tries everything to make it through high school and unto a place I belong. Can you predict the ending of this song?
Little Romeo pleaded, but it was finalized to move into a split level in Pile 'O Butts. I watched my dreams come down crashing. No Calvin. No forensic science class. Everything I'd worked so hard for; gone.
I remained a stone as we pulled up. The girl-next-door froze, checking me out, before doing a few cartwheels. I ignored her, hoping if I pissed off the neighbors, we'd be forced to move back. I'd have to find positives in the meantime.
I'd get a room in the basement and a little more independence, but that was all I'd found. The old house had character, good memories, and security to Little Romeo. I'd stopped being scared of storms, able to watch them from the enclosed balcony. The backyard was small, but opened up to a large, underutilized field. One where I wouldn't find bullies. All this house had was a hot tub.
Wait... what? I'd never met someone with one. It might be weird to have the boys in it, but I figured it would even interest a Christian girl I'd been chasing. I looked at the hot tub, reasoning I could fit 7 other girls in it. If this nerdy boy could manage that, surely I wouldn't get bullied in high school.
The plan seemed flawless except the hot tub didn't work. It never got repaired under the fixed agreement. They'd offered $2500, saying more work had to be done than anticipated. My parents took them to small claims court wanting the full amount. It was the only selling feature for her stubborn boy.
We won! But only what a 30-year-old hot tub was worth; $500. That wasn't even one tenth the cost of a new one! The hot tub became an elusive promise, a possibility of getting fixed while my parents were actually figuring out how to dispose of it.
Grade 8 graduation wasn't the only graduation I thought was silly that year:
Little Romeo started high school without friends. Mother Teresa was convinced it would be like nothing had changed from Grade 2. Like I hadn't left 7 years ago while that group of kids continued growing bonds. Like I hadn't been dodged for my surfing Pikachu.
Taking the bus was also a new experience for anxiety boy and I made a name for myself: That kids whose music is so loud, you can hear it from the back. Ivan, the bus driver, would try his best with me.
I was late for the bus most days, him constantly reminding me to be on time. The kids were complaining about being the last bus to arrive. I'd try my best, but was sad dealing with a lot internally. I'd chase the bus down the grid road to catch it on occasion, my friend Kilo, stating if it weren't for me, they'd have always been waiting for him.
I walked into this new school; four times bigger, containing seven times the number of students, spread between four grades. The map I held showed a figure 8 in it's design. All Little Romeo saw was an infinity of getting lost. I was going to need a compass and sextant to navigate the halls. I wandered, a boy really searching for my parents and an exit.
I found homeroom instead as the bell rang. Kids were already congregated in social clusters. I'd have passed out if not wanting to make a scene. Only one desk was free. The hands of fate would reward me an enemy, and a friend.
I hadn't seen the group of boys from Grade 2, but did notice a boy from Grade 8. I'd only met him once and I froze as we locked eyes. I'd met him at Track and Field sticking up for a kid getting bullied. He hadn't forgotten about me, and now sticking up for that kid really did echo consequences. Five minutes into Grade 9, I'd found my bully, another Jordan; this one created by me.
I sat and processed life. I was now convinced high school was going to be horrible. My intuition rarely let me down, it was whether I chose to listen or not.
Fate also had me sitting next to a spunky girl named Koki who made introductions. She was small but towered over Little Romeo with her bravery. She encouraged me to join extra curricular activities.
I'd already told myself no one would see me run, so Track and Field was out of the question. She suggested Cross Country which was counter-intuitive. I liked Track because I won, not because I liked to run. "Life's not always about winning, Romeo. Sometimes it's just about setting and achieving personal goals,"
Even a self-proclaimed Guru needs their own, and that's what Koki became. When she wasn't unknowingly teaching me how normal people thought, she was saving my character during social situations. Such as a debate held at the start of the school year:
Mother Teresa insisted I be in an activity so I joined Cross Country. Next, she suggested I join something called Improv. It was acting but everything was made up on the spot. She thought it would be right up my alley.
She was right, my creative side shone and it came naturally, allowing me to be expressive and accepted. Improv would have a huge impact on Little Romeo but not before dishing out its own Catch-22's. I'd been trying to reform my nerdy image, ridding myself of things I'd get bullied for. Now I was involved in a direct expression of my weirdness.
As a team, we participated in the first Pep Rally. Our coach said we'd march up to the front acting like chickens, balking and flapping our wings in front of 700 students, minus any who'd skipped. It was a mixed bag. Some praised my bravery, but most laughed at me, not with me. Not that I was laughing, but since the rest of the team was going to do it, so would I.
I became irked at Koki who stopped attending practice before the Pep Rally happened. I couldn't be mad, she didn't join another club, she formed the Greenall All-Greens, an environmental club. While I couldn't be mad, I refused to help, feeling stranded in a weird club. I'd have dropped had I not met Spenny.
He was two years older so I was confused why he wanted to hang out. There was a social rule: Don't converse with minor niners. He told Little Romeo that he didn't care about that kind of crap, I was funny shit. I respected his rebellious nature against our messed up system. He applied it with the same intelligent paste I'd use.
It didn't matter our team was strong, we lost points for everything. We'd include the special education students and spares on stage, wanting to be inclusive. We let me wander the scenes as background. We'd all vowed to be at our one event of the year, even if we were sick. We lost points for everyone on stage, who never spoke a line.
It was also apparent we were being punished as the only out-of-district school. Our fan base was zilch to that of the cities wealthier schools. Each year, the other teams would insist we kept getting poorly judged. We didn't know what to do but cry or be angry.
I got lots of freedom, even as a rookie. That's how I knew I must not be terrible. I played Mother Goose during our storytelling event. It meant a lot that trusted me with the mantle.
If I liked acting, I should join one acts. That was random selection between three teachers, Sandy Toes being one of them. I figured with the luck of the draw, I'd end up with her. No thanks.
Jesse and James sat near us. They pulled of the name switch on the teacher, pranksters themselves. Like most people, I'd never know where I stood. At school it seemed like the more wheels, the merrier. Outside of the institute, it felt like everyone was set.
I was mad, calling BS at my permanent record, reasoning only the high school transcript mattered. I'd put so much effort into Grade 8, they could just toss some D's on my Grade 9 report cards.
I thought I'd been doing good with a 33% in art class. James had only handed in 1 of 13 assignments, maintaining a 3.75%. We reasoned the school would bump him up to a solid 4%. I wasn't beating that mark no matter how hard I didn't try!
Jesse was the troubled one of our class. It wasn't long into the semester that an innocent, naive boy learned what "The Shocker" was. It was me who was shocked at the idea of sticking a finger in a girl's butt. Even more so while I had two other ones up front. He'd start a black market, getting involved with drinking, pot, and cigarettes.
He offered me one that I'd denied. He insisted I take it for a rainy day, explaining the effects I'd already known of. I was growing tired of fighting people on everything. I took it and it broke on the way home, me being forever clumsy. It wasn't long before I lit up what was left, having received it from both institutions that day.
I hadn't come across anyone I'd known, but finally saw someone happy to see me; Aphrodite! I went over and said hi as we caught up before class. I walked away, relieved having found someone I knew. A buddy approached me, asking if I knew her and warned Little Romeo to steer clear. She was trouble and no one liked her.
I was now conflicted. The only person I knew, and it threatened my being. What had she done to earn such a reputation? As soon as we reconnected, I started distancing myself. She'd still try, a group of friends and her surprising Little Romeo at my house one night.
I hadn't told her where I lived and appreciated the effort, but it was almost 9:30, my bed time. Not a very attractive quality. I stepped outside to four giggling girls my parents hadn't met. They wanted to know if Little Romeo could come out and play, giggling more. I wanted to, reasoning they didn't just want to play. I used homework as an excuse, and told them to come earlier next time.
Except there was no next time. Like high school would for Little Romeo, it took would take Aphrodite for a ride too. I saw less of her at school, while rumours increasingly spread. After hearing one, I spent the night secretly crying in my room, unsure of who or what to believe.
While I'd been wishing for someone to save me like Sydney, I couldn't help but lay in bed and wonder to the extent that actions had consequences. Had the small act of my ignoring her, led to where she was? I figured we'd have dated, but where would have have led? Would I have let her drag me down with her, hoping she could be saved, trying to understand her? Would she have tried to be a good girl for me, and would her friends let her? And Major Romeo would wonder if he'd have ever met Juliet in that reality.
A month in a family meeting was called, G-Ma came over too. I was acting up, angry at everything. A truly rebellious side was making a grand appearance. They asked what was wrong as I rolled my eyes. The circles we'd been doing since the beginning of my time.
The bullying landscape had changed. They relied on psychological warfare in this environment. While the school was bigger, there was less space for me to hide. What I'd learned from Calvin was all but useless now.
I had a meltdown as rage boiled through tears, "I effing hate this place and I hate you for making me move here!" I cried as G-Ma rubbed my back. I'd have ran away, but was stunk in the corner with the defensive line up front. I stayed hoping something would click. How we'd gotten here in less than a year.
But things weren't going to change and time wouldn't reverse. They made it clear they made the rules and I was free to leave if I didn't like them. Even Microbiology started walking a tightrope.
On a better day, Mother Teresa asked what I wanted to be when I grew up. I gave my Classic Look of Disdain. I wanted to be a Microbiologist, I told them already! Were they listening to anything? I tried to prove a point.
I insisted I'd be a KFC worker, since they had the best gravy. When she asked where I'd stay, I said I'd sleep in the back. All the free rent and KFC I could stomach while never being late for work. She laughed while I remained unamused.
She tried reminding me about a goal I hadn't forgotten that Christmas. She bought me, "The Dummies Guide to Microbiology". I snorted; I didn't choose this place. Any alternatives were quashed. If she really wanted me to be a Microbiologist and to retire in Shady Pines, she'd be doing something that worked. This wasn't.
I conceded and agreed to go to Luther College, where Montague had gone. I didn't think I'd fit in any better among a school of rich, preppy kids, but anything had to be better. Like a hot tub, I was presented an option to be told it wasn't possible.
My Aunt C offered to take me in during the week so I could go to Campbell, the original high school I'd wanted to. Mother Teresa didn't like the idea. I started to feel like I was supposed to be living everyone else's life.
Grade 9 was chaos. It wasn't just my parents that didn't understand me, but my peers as well. My brain was going to fast to convey everything, and I lacked an ability to summarize, or a filter. I could see what I wanted to say in my brainscape, but could only grab a few world while things were lost in translation.
I'd become the culprit of humiliating rumours:
The start of semester two would see the loss of my greatest supporter:
When I thought life couldn't get worse, MMORPGS led to stab threats at school:
And when I wasn't getting it from life, I'd find my owns ways to add to the fire:
Hormones were raging, but I'd already been caught twice with porn. Luckily, Jesse sold the stone-age variety on the black market. $5 a magazine and I could alleviate search history anxiety. That was still a lot for my broke butt.
I don't have to tell you what was up, and the actions were quite repetitive. I hid the porn between my mattresses but it disappeared! If my parents were going to be snoopy, looking to get me in trouble, the least they could do was change the dirty sheets! I searched, anxiety ridden, for a week.
My parents had left me wallowing in uncertainty before hosting another family meeting, this one to talk about Stumpy and I's relationship with the ladies. Montague said women weren't objects to be idolized. It sounded religious. He continued by saying I should respect them, I wasn't by doing unsavory things.
I insisted that I did respect women, I just respected all of them! They were all beautiful in their own ways. It was just business, I'll be it illegal at my age. Why would they be posing, if they cared about me doing unsightly things? It was a pair of boobs I was allowed to look at, and she wouldn't get offended. I'd paid $5, and we'd silently agreed it was all okay. She wasn't going to be mad, or take it the wrong way.
My parents and I managed to find a middle ground, one of few times they talked to me like a human instead of their kid. I played the 'unfair rule' card, stating all the other boys were allowed pinups. Montague pointed out they probably weren't naked, but we met in the middle.
I could have fully clothed girls on my wall, but I wondered on what my parents actually meant. I didn't want to find out too late it was girls in parkas. They said anything but private parts, and they wouldn't help me ascertain the images. They'd left a determined weird boy to do business on the black market. Their logic rarely made sense.
I went to Jesse informing him my porn had been confiscated. He lit up, knowing I'd need more. Instead, I inquired on Swimsuit and Lingerie editions. Like any good businessman, acquisition of a product not on demand was double.
I went home after buying them and had a good look through; maybe two or three. I cut out the best ones and thought about putting them on my ceiling, really make things effortless for me. But I was small so that would be effort on its own. My bed was in the corner this year and I could barely reach the top of the wall. I tacked them up, and they needed to be in order, best led the border.
I was both pleased with my victory, and the number of ladies on my wall! My parents got mad at my art display. I wasn't sure what they had expected! I got mad in return, reminding them about our agreement. Surprisingly, it was Montague that reminded Mother Teresa about the deal. The posters stayed while adding their own confusion. Somehow, I didn't get bored with these non-nude photos, like I had with porn magazines.
I wasn't finding any reprise, and started to become more self-aware, wondering why I was losing control and having meltdowns. They handed me a map in Social Studies and told me to draw it, something I'd been doing for years. This wasn't art class, I'd already failed that!
She didn't care and said I had an assignment to do. I reasoned if I didn't have one... So I ripped it up in her place and got sent to the office. Once cooler heads prevailed, I explained why I hated Social Studies, the one time the school listened to my thoughts.
I'd first entered the workforce as a Tiny Romeo in Grade 3:
Now in high school, I only heard the same thing; if I wanted things or money, go get a job. Tiny Romeo used to get paid for grades; $20 an A. I'd swindled Montague over the first time, knowing I was getting graded by unit and not subject. The kids wondered why I was jumping up and down over a report card, "I just made $220 from it!" That ended when Montague said I shouldn't need an incentive to get good grades.
I'd get arguments no matter what I did. I started working for a local convenience store for ten months leading into the summer. At first, Mother Teresa didn't like the hours or idea, saying I needed to focus on those terrible grades. I pointed out the lectures about getting my own money.
It was hell. The workers commented that I was the first male to be hired since their owner's son. G-Ma worked there so I thanked her for getting me the job. The comments seemed true since I'd spent the 10 months stocking shelves. I'd watch an illicit stock thievery ring go down, and watch new employees go straight to till.
It didn't matter since the point had been to make money and I'd come out with nothing after 10 months. I was never good with cash and since the owner had control of our pay, she extended an adult benefit to us; tabs. I'd rack mine up, and with the amount of hours I'd get, be lucky to walk away with a crisp $20 a check.
Since Mother Teresa hadn't wanted me to work, I was now confused why she wouldn't let me quit, saying I'd made a commitment. I fought with her until she said I had to make my own choices. I did. I quit immediately and never looked back.
Whoo! That was grade 9. I went into summer thankful for the break. One year down, only three to go, and things couldn't possibly get crazier. I'd spend most of summer cooped up with no viable way into the city. I'd 100% complete the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time, and all but beat two optional bosses in Final Fantasy 7. While I managed that fine, managing people only became increasingly difficult.
The Christian girl and I dated for a month during March. I'd realized it was the people in a girl's life that mattered, so I worked more on making her older sister like me instead. It worked in conjunction with a mixed CD I made. She lived in the city, but I loved Calvin, opting to double up my visits with him, hoping to salvage that.
I'd invited everyone over for my birthday party, Mother Teresa stating the obvious, that the girl couldn't spend the night. We held hands, but she seemed distant. It wasn't long before she asked if we were actually dating since we never saw each other. I couldn't argue. I wanted to cheer and watch her play softball, but could never get the ride. She was too busy to be online. We ended it.
Calvin and I started conversing less as grade 9 progressed. I stopped fighting Mother Teresa for rides. She'd say the other parents don't drive, and I'd say that doesn't matter, she said nothing would change, and everything has. I continued building a crystalline structure around my heart. A diamond lattice. Unbreakable.
I was excited to see an MSM messenger tab flashing from Calvin that summer. "Hey!" I sent him, but the tone was different, less enthused. He informed me that him and the Christian girl were dating, he'd wanted me to hear it from him first. I was confused.
There seemed to be some unofficial bro code, one rule about dating friends' exes. I knew I'd never date any of his. However, I reasoned that me and the girl would have never worked out, but maybe they were meant for each other. I wanted everyone to find 'the one'. I didn't know how to proceed, so I just let it be.
I'd started Grade 10 more optimistic than I had the previous. Where the sentiment started, it also dissipated. I couldn't take spares, but was hoping not to anyways. I took Choir, making the contingency plan to eliminate a second semester of grade 12, even if I reasoned that would be the year of fun if I'd fit in.
I walked into homeroom, which was just temporary, not static like Grade 9. Both Jesse and James were there. I sat down and noticed another kid. I'd met him once at a sleepover in elementary. He'd been quick to assert his dominance, but I'd hoped maybe he was now just looking for a good friend. Except Jordan was also in homeroom, and they quickly became friends.
I had to take school seriously now that a transcript was forming. I walked into math hopeful, and left knowing I'd screwed myself over not paying attention in Grade 9. I could only do my best to play catch-up.
I'd thought about taking a shop class to learn boy things, but a brain-reality only formed. I'd chopped off my hand and blood was squirting out the stump. I ran around frantically. The girls were screaming, while the boys laughed. The teacher yelled at me for getting blood all over the place. I opted for French class instead, although I knew it would be with Sandy Toes.
She put on Grease for the school production that year, my all-time favourite. I only wanted the role of Danny but knew I'd be lucky to play the bench he sung on. My heart sang when Koki hijacked the French class and we spent it singing Grease songs. The lead wasn't in our class, so I got the role of Danny.
Grade 10 became the Year of the Girl. The hot tub was out of the question, but I reasoned if this nerdy boy could somehow get a threesome, I wouldn't get bullied. Especially if I lost my virginity that way. I was chasing on legendary bird from Campbell, and was about to add another; Juliet.
I first met Juliet in the final days of October, during the Great Lunch Feast. I'd been doing circuits around the hall with my friend who was half-Asian, our school's closest thing to ethnic representation. I'd point out she was a person, not a blue Himalayan Yeti. We reached the front foyer when Huckleberry waved us both down, speaking in a creepy undertone; he wanted to show off his Grumpy Greta sitting on a bench.
I went over, but my eyes veered left from his offering. I could no longer be bothered with anything except a Little Tall girl who was sitting there, smiling big. I'd forgotten I'd come with a friend. She must have been a spellcaster for time slowed down and the voices became "wah wah wah's".
I captured her smile like a Polaroid, while allowing her to capture my heart. She was quiet. I tilted my head slightly concerned, Where have you been hiding the last two months?
I needed a game-plan, Obviously this girl is something special. I have to go over there, and do something sooo weird, that she never forgets about me. Wait, am I in my head? How long? Am I starring?! Don't stare at Miss Universe! Blink! Maybe a few times! Maybe I should just go do something.
And so I went and sat down next to her and now she was stuck in the middle of an adolescent sandwich. She started to laugh as I got stars in mine. "Who's this?" I asked, smiling big, recalling to blink.
The bench didn't fit the three of us and Grumpy Greta arose, generously making more room for us, "Her names Juliet,"
It was beautiful, it was different, and it started with a J, like mine. But I grew my Classic Look of Disdain; I wasn't talking to Grumpy Greta's. I smiled again looking at Juliet, "That's a cute name... My names Jory," I said, having forgotten everything I hated about myself.
This was still too average, I needed to do something weird. I swung my legs up and rested them on her lap. Juliet laughed and my heart was sold. Grumpy Greta wouldn't have it and moved my legs off Juliet's lap. In a snide voice, she said, "She's got a boyfriend, ya know?"
Of course she would! Any guy would be stupid not to date Miss Universe, the most beautiful girl in the world! Did she think I was stupid? The lunch hour was coming to an end and I might not get a second chance to make my presence known to Miss Universe. "Well... She's not married..." I said, swinging my legs back up again for a second approach on those long landing strips.
I must have made a statement. Grumpy Greta and the border patrol went for the swat, but not before Juliet rested both arms over top of them, making Little Romeo smile. She'd accepted my offer.
The bell rang and Little Romeo got up first, "Could I have your hand?" I asked. Juliet must have known, she extended it and I kissed the back of it, "It was a pleasure to meet you," And thus, with a kiss I died.
I didn't want the lunch hour to end, I wanted to find out where that smile originated from. My insides bubbling with catalyzing chemical reactions. I walked away with Huckleberry as they walked towards the Grade 9 hall.
"What grade is Juliet in?" I asked worried.
"They're in Grade 9," he told me.
"Oh..." I said dismayed.
"Why, you like her?"
I'd usually say no to such an encounter, not believing in love at first sight. How could you love someone you didn't know? "I don't know... Something feels weird..." a confused Romeo said, "But she's in grade 9..."
"Oh well, who cares?" Huckleberry said.
And there you have it. He'd given me permission to chase a girl in Grade 9. Whew! Skirted that bullet as quick as it came. But this was going to be something different. Not a marathon, not running for the sake of running. I was going to try anything, and everything to get Juliet. I started a Triathlon. The first semester was swimming, something I was never good at.