High School: Junior Year (Chapter 6)
The Year that Solidifies Your Place in the High School Food Chain
(Ralfie's Point of View)
I didn't catch what Elena said to Sam. I was too busy thinking about what was inside of the folder and then Sam just gets up and leaves the cafeteria. Elena, Selena, and Alana walk back to their table in their tight little triangle, ignoring the mixture of facial expressions they passed. I looked around the room and there were people displaying a plethora of different expressions. Some people even smiled about it all. The only people who wore a blank face, as if nothing just happened, were the emo kids. Then again they always wore that the blank face expression. Last year, Don Kinsley, who has been heard asking people to call him Lord Nightstar, didn’t crack a smile when he was the only person in southern Texas to get into Yale. All he could say was “cool” and go about his business.
After a while the cafeteria resumed to its usual noisy state. Sam left in such a rush he left his back pack. “Where do you think he went?” I heard Erik asking Emma. Typically Wes would have answered sarcastically, but all he did was take out his laptop.
“The girl he likes just ran out of the cafeteria almost crying because of something in a folder that no one knows about. I think he left because he wanted to get a candy bar. I’m sure he’ll be here soon.” Erik was probably the only person in their friend group who didn’t have much common sense.
“What are you doing?” I asked Wes. We could all tell when Wes was concentrating on something by the way he sticks his tongue out. He called it his thinking face. Wes didn’t answer but he kept click-clacking away at his keyboard.
Before I could ask him again, Nicolas from the team came up to me, “Hey Ralfie, got a minute?” This was weird. I thought the team and I were past the “got a minute” conversation starters.
“Sure, what’s up?” I asked.
“Sam, the kid that ran out after that girl, you’re friends with him, right?” he asked.
“Yeah. We grew up with each other. Why?” I really hoped that he wasn’t about to tell me what I thought he was going to tell me. I want the team to like me and I want to be able to play in the games and not get stuck on the bench because the captain thinks I can’t follow simple jock rules. Honestly I don’t know what I’d do if they’d ask me to stop talking to Sam—or any of my friends, for that matter. I remember my dad telling me that it isn’t the friends from high school that you hang out with for the rest of your life, but the friends you make in college. So if I left them now, wouldn’t I just be getting a head start? I was a few months older than Sam and from what I remember, we were friends since the day he was born. I can’t see myself giving all of that up. Then again, this was the year we are supposed to reinvent ourselves.
“We know he left and all, but he’s the new yearbook photographer and we’re gonna have this party at Eddy's parents' lake house today. We were wondering if he could come and take a few pics? Would he be up for it?” I felt the biggest weight lift off of my heart.
“I’m sure he is, but let me check with him and I’ll text you later?” I asked.
“Cool. I’ll see you there,”
This day just took a turn for the better, at least not for Jeanette, Sam, and I’s first high school party; at a lake house no less. I’ve heard of the parties Eddy throws there. People are always talking about it. He throws them about a few times a year. His parents are extremely sexually active and they do it all over the house so they let him throw a party for every time he catches them.
“I can’t find it!” Wes exclaimed. It was the first time he’s said something since Sam and Jeanette left. Erik and Emma were still talking about what could have been in the folder until they turned their attention to Wes.
“Can’t find what?” I asked him.
“Are you looking for dirty on Jeanette?” Emma asked with a little acid on her tone.
“Do you not want to know what’s inside of that folder?” Wes asked.
“Last I checked Jeanette is our friend and what do we not do to our friends?” Emma questioned him.
“But…” Wes began to say.
“What do we not do to our friends?” Emma asked him even more sternly.
“We don’t run background checks on our friends because that's rude and an invasion of privacy,” Wes said solemnly.
“Good. If the folder was any indication, Jeanette has a past. We should be respectful of it,” Emma stated to all of us. She was right. It seemed fitting that it would be Emma who said it.
When we first met Emma, back in middle school, it was just me, Sam, and Wes. We got to the cafeteria late one day and all the group seats were taken so it was either split up or sit with Emma. Mind you, this was during Emma's puberty stage and she stunk of BO, which explains why people weren’t sitting with her. The guys and I didn’t want to be separated so we decided to brave it out and she turned out to be cooler than we thought. We were over at Wes’ house and he was telling us different things about Emma that we didn’t know how he knew. Turns out, he hacked her online profiles and ran a background check on her. We mentioned it to her a few days later and she gave us all a lecture about it was an invasion of privacy and the things that we found out were not things that needed to be public knowledge.
We told her that there was no shame of not knowing who your birth parents were. When we told her that jumping from group home to group home sounded pretty cool—boy did she yell. Ever since then, she made us promise that we were never going to do that to anyone ever again.
“Wait! Something just came up!” Wes yelled.
Emma grabbed for his laptop and took it away before he could look at anything. “You’ll get this back when I’ve erased everything. And if I find out you searched her again, I swear I’ll show everyone the picture of you dressed up as Cat Woman. Do you understand?” Wes just hung and his down and nodded yes.
The bell rung for us all to get to class. Emma left with Wes’s computer and the three of us headed to our next class. I had just gotten out of the cafeteria and went the opposite direction from Wes and Erik when I feel a light tap on my elbow. I turn to look and it was Selena.
She may have been named after the famous Mexican singer but this girl couldn’t carry a tune to save her life. Her solo at the talent show a few years ago only gained a standing ovation because Elena stood and clapped.
I’ve been going to weight room with Natan Dominguez in the morning for weight training a few days after school started and about a week ago, she and Alana started showing up. We never talked to them because Natan was one of those weight lifting dudes that liked to stay in the zone for workouts and not get side tracked with girls. Explains why the dude was buff. There have been a few times where I would catch Selena watching me work out, but once I caught her, she would look somewhere else and pretend like nothing happened.
“Hey, Ralfie, right?” she asked, although I’m pretty sure she already knew it was my name.
“Selena, right?” I mean for it to come out as a joke but it ended up coming out rudely sarcastic. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to say that way.”
“No, it's fine. I know you’re Ralfie. I just didn’t know how to start talking to you without sounding weird.” She laughed.
“Hello would have done well.” That time it sounded like a joke.
“Well… hello then.”
“Hello,” I said back. We walked down the hall for a few steps in awkward silence. Seeing as we both had Mrs. Bannon next period, there was no way out of this.
“As much as I like how well this silence was going, I was going to ask you something.” She smiled.
“Sure. Go ahead. Although if you’re going to ask me about switching seats in class I should warn you, I don’t think I can keep up the girl talk with Alana and Elena.” It was like I was a master at jokes right now. I was on a roll. Either that or she was just being nice.
“Trust me, if we switched seats they wouldn’t notice.” The way she said was comical but truthful at the same time.
“So what were you going to ask me?” I asked before she pondered about her friends not noticing her even longer.
“I was wondering if you were taking anybody to Eddy’s party tonight?”
“No, why?” I asked. Was Selena really trying to ask me out? Since when did things change and the girls started asking the guys out?
“Cool, because I was wondering if you wanted to go together?” she asked. OMG! This day keeps getting better and better. First I find out that jocks were having a party and I was actually invited to it. Now one of the top Cheers was asking if she could be my date to the party? What is today? So many things were happening so fast, I felt like I was vibrating.
“You’re phone vibrates super loud,” she said. My phone? I took it out and saw that I had a message from Sam.
[PINEAPPLE BELONGS ON PIZZA. I REPEAT, PINEAPPLES BELONG ON PIZZA!!!]
I didn’t get it at first, but it hit me. “Pineapple belong on pizza” was our emergency code without it actually being an emergency. The last time he texted me this, he found out his parents were getting a divorce.
“Everything ok?” Selena asked.
“I have to go.” I didn’t hesitate to explain. My friend needed me.