Most people hate high school. For me, high school was the first time I belonged. There wasn’t a ruling faction – there were cliques. Each clique kept pretty much to itself, except on rare occasions. People were civil to one another unless taunted into acting otherwise.
The clique of friends I belonged to was large – we’d all been the social outcasts of our previous schools, to some extent or another. Or else, upon reaching high school, we’d been thrown off by old friends and had to find new ones to hang out with. We gravitated towards one another, and we were cool, in our own way, because we didn’t give two fucks what people thought of us. We just did our own thing. Made our own jokes. Took over a corner of the classroom during recess. Had our own spot of grass to lie on when the weather was nice. It was good.
I even met another girl like me. She wore baggy clothes that were her brother’s castoffs. She liked anime and manga. We watched Inuyasha together on the phone every evening and squealed over our first acknowledged cartoon fandom. We also discovered music together. First Good Charlotte and then Green Day; Sonata Arctica and then Metallica; Blue Oyster Cult and Pink Floyd; Dream Theater and Kamelot and Nightwish and on and on and on – we started slow and grew quickly into metal and melodic metal and death metal and psychedelic old stuff and punk and on and on and on – we reveled in our discoveries and listened, for hours, dissecting the way each guitar rift or drum roll made us feel, the way it made our stomachs leap and our bodies roar and our heads explode with unknown pleasure. It sounds dramatic, and it was – growing up with older brothers, we’d both felt the need to defend our choices of radio pop music for far too long. High school, our brothers’ disappearance from our lives – mine to the US, hers to the army – allowed us the freedom to listen to what we’d heard emanating from behind their doors for years and finally enjoy it.
With the music, came the fashion. We started lusting after black clothing and lip rings. The latter wasn’t doable – yet – but the former was. Down the slow road to gothdom we went, doing what we could with what little funds we had. Black cargo pants and black t-shirts and tank tops and black nail polish became our daily fare.
Suddenly, we were a bit cooler. Just enough for a guy two years above us – let’s call him Frank – to pay attention to us. He had those big, big, big headphones that we lusted over. He had a CD player (MP3s, I’ll remind you, still played an average of 20ish songs in 2004 or were very expensive – but you could get a CD player that read MP3 CDS, which meant mounds more music). He listened to good, good, good music. He deigned to visit my friend and I in our (!) classroom, the lowly ninth grade – when he was in heavenly eleventh – and play us music. He put the headphones on our heads and blasted roller-coaster sound in our ears, making us forever-conscious of just how to move our heads and rock our bodies and pump our knees.
My friend didn’t think he was cute. I did. I think, in all honesty, that I was mostly just flattered by the attention, but that was enough. I crushed and I crushed and I dithered and I tried to flirt, but the truth is I have no idea how to. If I flirt, I do it accidentally and I don’t know I’m doing it. If I try, I end up being awkward.
Finally, after much encouragement, I asked him out. On a date. I asked him to go see a movie with me. His lips curled in a sweet smile, and he said sure. And I said great. And I ran back to class. And was ecstatic throughout the week.
Until Friday. On Friday he called and cancelled, telling me he was sick. I was disappointed beyond words, but I also wasn’t mad, because hey, everyone gets sick sometimes, right? I’d already had my outfit picked out and everything, but what can you do?
On Sunday (the school week starts on Sunday in Israel), at school, a girl who lived in the same town he lived in sat me down and very seriously told me that she’d seen him at the mall on Friday night with all his friends. I felt like killing her. Why had she told me that? I’d have preferred (I thought then) to not have known. To have lived with the lie. In retrospect, I’m glad I found out, though I also know that she shouldn’t have stuck her nose in my business or gotten involved.
The last I heard of him was that he had a long-term girlfriend who was religious and wouldn’t sleep with him, so he would try to spur that same friend of mine from high school into having cyber-sex with him all the time. She found him creepy. I’m rather glad the whole thing didn’t work out.