I Punched a Girl: Part VII
I gulped so intensely I knew she could hear it. Stupid Adam’s apple.
“Hhhheh,” I croaked. That was loser for “hi”.
“Hi, Cavan,” she said. “I—”
“Shelby! What happened to your nose?” Emilio asked.
“Cavan punched her,” Andy said, French fries dropping out of his mouth.
“I win! Your fries fell out!” Eduardo cried.
“What?” Emilio gasped. “Cavan! I cannot believe you!”
“It was an accident!” I wailed.
“Beautiful Shelby, on behalf of Cavan, I apologize for his error,” Emilio said.
Shelby smiled. “Oh, it’s alright. I won’t have to wear this bandage much longer. So, Cavan, I—”
Brrring! The bell signaling lunch’s end sounded.
“I… guess I’ll talk to you later,” she said, giving me a little wave.
“Bye,” I squeaked.
As Andy and I walked toward our fifth period history class, he shot me a sly smile.
“What?” I asked. We entered the classroom and sat down at the back.
“Why did Shelby come over to talk to you at lunch?”
“I dunno,” I answered.
More kids started filing in.
“Dude, c’mon,” he said.
“Honestly, I don’t know why she acknowledges me at all. I mean, I hit her in the face.” I slumped in my seat.
“Dude, that’s it!”
“You hit her in the face. You’re an asshole! Girls love assholes.”
“I’m not an asshole.”
“Yes you are. Only assholes punch girls in the face.”
“Well… okay, yeah. You make a good point.” I sighed. “But, I dunno, I don’t think I’m that much of an asshole. I mean, I gave her a compliment this morning.”
“You gave her a compliment?” Andy grimaced. “No, no, no, dude.”
“What? What’s wrong with compliments? People like compliments.”
“Yeah, people like compliments, but not girls.”
“Girls aren’t people?”
“When you give a girl a compliment, she loses all respect for you. You’re no longer a man in her eyes.”
“Well, I’m still seventeen, so I don’t think I’m supposed to be considered a man yet…”
“Cavan, you made a huge mistake. Shelby is never gonna want you now. Girls like bad boys who treat them like shit.”
“They do?” I frowned. “But Emilio gave Shelby a compliment. He called her ‘beautiful Shelby’.”
“Emilio is different.”
“Because he’s Italian,” Andy stated matter-of-factly.
“Oh,” I said. “Wait, why does that matter?”
“It doesn’t help that the whole school thinks you’re homo, either.”
“Gee, thanks for the support.”
Mr. Reynolds came in and started writing on the whiteboard.
“Okay, class, let’s settle down. We’re starting The Cold War today.”
I never knew what he was talking about, and I never took notes, but somehow I always aced the tests. Osmosis, maybe? Er—diffusion. Osmosis was the one with water, right? Whatever. This was history class, not science.
Andy’s homo comment was really getting under my skin. Not because he said it, but because I knew it was true. I didn’t fully understand why people thought I was gay, but I had some ideas as to why. I even made a list of the reasons once. I sent it in to Dear Abby about two years ago, you know, so she could help me stop being fake gay, but she never got back to me. I pored over it so many times I knew it by heart. Ugh.
Reasons why people think I’m gay:
1. I’ve never had a girlfriend. Not because I don’t want one, but because whenever I try to talk to girls my mouth dries up and I can’t form any coherent words. Girls don’t want to date the freak who walks over to them and starts choking on air. I’ve never even asked a girl out, because I’m so afraid of rejection. I went on a date once, freshman year, but it was a disaster. The girl asked me out. Actually, I don’t know if it even qualifies as a date, because it was a Sadie Hawkins dance. From what I understand, school dances don’t count as real dates. Real dates happen off campus. Sadie Hawkins dances, on the other hand, happen in the “Irish pub”, AKA the school cafeteria filled with cheap Irish drinking decorations. I don’t know what pubs have to do with Sadie Hawkins, but I don’t really think decorating school property to look like a bar is steering people my age in the right direction. Just sayin’. They don’t serve alcohol at the dances or anything, but it still feels wrong somehow. Anyway…
2. Because I’ve never had a girlfriend, I’ve taken a strong liking to romantic comedies. I say this with great shame, but that’s the way it is. I’m so deprived of a love life that I have to get it from chick flicks.I love even the corniest, most predictable plotlines. I mean, when Mark Ruffalo plants the garden for Reese Witherspoon in Just Like Heaven and she suddenly remembers everything that happened between them and they kiss on the roof? You gotta love that stuff.
3. I’m hygienic, unlike most guys of my generation. It’s not a crime to wash your hands after you pee, okay?
4. People think I style my hair. I don’t, but apparently it looks that way. It’s got kind of a surfer vibe to it, even though I’ve never so much as looked at a surfboard, except for seeing some on TV sometimes. I didn’t even learn how to swim until sixth grade because I was afraid the pool drain would suck me in and turn me into the Loch Ness Monster. I never figured out the schematics of how that would have worked, but whatever. Anyhow, my hair’s like straight until it flips out at the ends, and it’s kind of shaggy. It looks like Ryan Sheckler’s hair circa 2006, only I’m not a douchebag like that guy, and I don’t have his abs.
5. I used to be best friends with a gay guy. I thought he was cool, and he smelled nice. His name was—and still is, I guess—James, and we used to go skateboarding at the town square together. It’s not like he ever had a crush on me or anything. The summer after seventh grade, his dad got a new job and he had to move to Oregon. I stopped skateboarding a little while after that. Rumors starting circulating that blamed my lack of skateboarding on my alleged boyfriend moving away, but that wasn’t why. I just got tired of it. I was just starting eighth grade. My attention span was shorter than Tom Cruise. James and I are Facebook friends now. He has a boyfriend named Gabe.
6. Is being Facebook friends with a gay guy a reason? I’m making it one.
7. I’m sending this list to Dear Abby.
I knew sending the letter to Dear Abby was pathetic, but I didn’t know what else to do. My mom used to read that column religiously, so it seemed like a viable option at the time.
My thought bubble was popped by the sounds of hushed whispers scattered throughout the room. Clusters of kids had their phones out, giggling at videos on the screens.
“It seems the class has forgotten about the school’s no cell phone policy,” Mr. Reynolds said. “Since I’m nice, I’ll give you ten seconds to turn them off and put them away. Ten…”
Everyone around me erupted with laughter. I looked at Andy. He shrugged. Out of the corner of my eye, I could have sworn I saw people pointing at me. It was probably my imagination, though.
“Bahaha, Cavan!” shrieked a girl in the second row. Okay, not my imagination.
Andy leaned forward and peered at the cell phone screen of the girl sitting in front of him. “Uh, Cavan?” he said.
“You’re gonna wanna see this.” He sat back in his seat.
Mr. Reynolds started counting louder. “Five… four…”
The guy sitting in front of me turned around and showed me his phone.
I screamed like I used to scream when faced with a pool drain. On the phone was the horror of all horrors—a YouTube video of last night.
My mom had recorded Andy and me banging pots and pans with my sister. She even got the part when I screamed, “Be gone, alien terrorists!” I was mortified. Why did she put it on YouTube?! Did she want me to have dildos in my locker for the rest of my life?
“Class!” Mr. Reynolds shouted over the hysteria. “I already said ‘one’. That means the cell phones get put in the backpacks right now, or I start taking them up.”
People scrambled to stuff them in their pockets. The girl sitting in front of Andy turned around to face Andy. “So like, what are you doing in that video?” she asked him in a condescending tone.
“Banging pots and pans,” he said coolly, smirking.
She scoffed. “Why?”
“To protect a little girl from aliens,” he stated, unfazed.
The girl scoffed yet again. “So, you were just banging things for no reason.”
“I told you. It was for protection.”
“From aliens?” she continued in her snobby voice.
“I’ll tell you what,” he said, “Next time you need protection, I’ll come over to your house and we can bang all you want.” He beamed in victory.
“You’re disgusting!” She turned around, visibly appalled.
“And you’re a bitch,” he said, crossing his arms.
“Mr. Summers,” Mr. Reynolds bellowed, “I believe you know the way to the principal’s office.” He opened the door.
“Sure thing, Mr. Rey.” Andy stood up, put his hand to his brow, and saluted Mr. Reynolds before strutting out of the classroom.
After class let out, I tried to walk to sixth period with my eyes glued to the floor. I didn’t want to be assaulted by anyone else who’d seen the video. Since I couldn’t see where I was walking, of course I had to literally bump into Shelby. Stupid irony. Was that even irony? Coincidence? Or just me overanalyzing stuff like a girl? Probably the last one.
I looked up slightly to find Shelby’s two perky, perfect boobs staring me in the face. Quick! I thought to myself. Look at her face! Her face!
Hesitantly, I glanced up and locked eyes with her.
“Just when you thought you couldn’t get enough of me accidentally hitting you,” I said. God, what a stupid joke.
She laughed. She laughed? She laughed!
“Where are you headed?” she asked, her big purply eyes gleaming.
“S-s-sixth period,” I stuttered.
“Well yeah, I figured,” she said.
Way to go, Idiot, I thought. Everyone’s going to sixth period.
“What class are you going to?” I asked, carefully articulating every word.
“Oh, I have pre-cal now,” she replied.
I know, I thought and almost said out loud, but thankfully didn’t. What came out of my mouth next surprised me. “Want me to walk you?”
She nodded with a smile. I couldn’t help grinning.