In the crumbling walls of Hubble Middle School (now flattened), I was the shaky smirking irritating guy in class with stretched rubber bands connecting my top and bottom braces. I was as charming as a cloud of gnats, and just about as interesting. I made seventh grade English teacher cried multiple times, my social studies teacher pushed my desk over seconds after class started, and stacks of write-to-pass papers, projects, and the like were left undone. I was awash in self loathing, painful awkwardness, and struggling with the worst bouts of ADHD I’d ever experienced. I wore the same fraying boxers most of those three years, my pants were mostly the same ‘might-as-well-be-glued-to-my-hips’ dark colored corduroys. I was dirty too.

Just to paint a picture, that was me. I was the giggling snide side kick but without the chubby face-punching lead-man.

Through the luck of having a friend with a date, I place myself in the good graces of a girl – a date – to a dance. The details are lost in the ether of time, but I’m sure I never mustered the courage to ask her straight out, and merely passed along the message through the lines. I bought a pair of pleated khaki pants, and a flowing dress shirt and tie – like a sprouting kid wearing dad’s hand-me-downs.

The day of the dance, my mom was due home just in time to take her and I to the dance. Of course, being the permanent slouch, I was running behind. I took a shower and had to dry my hair – fast. So I pulled a dry towel over my head and rubbed it fast. Now the hair was too dry and the chunky gel would only make things worse. My head only fit somewhat underneath the sink, and the cold water washed down and onto my beige striped Sears dress shirt. Instead of a towel, this time I whipped my head – clung to my legs above the knee and head-banged a few times into the fluffy bathmats. It was still damp and dripping, more drops of water falling on my skin-toned shirt. I placed my hands on my hips and flung down to draw out the water. My head didn’t clear the counter.

The off white plaster was not forgiving on my squishy body. I went to the dance, meet my date, and sat in the darkened gym when the power went out with a throbbing red mark on my forehead.

I think her name was Lauren, she was just about as interested in me as any girl would have been, she was doing a friend a favor. We didn’t see much of each other at the dance.