High School (short story)

Karen rubbed her annoying nose as the two classy ninth grade girls strutted along the parking lot from Dad’s black Acura to the dirty old high school.  Her long chestnut hair shone in the sun.

“Annie—you don’t think—my nose—is too long, do you?” she asked her most trusted friend.  Karen Leonard, the only daughter of a noteworthy realtor, worried of her self-image on the daily.  Her only real source of confidence was theatre.

“Karen, calm down.  You worry about your nose way too much,” Annie explained.

“Fine.  Oh my God!”  With a pale finger, Karen stealthily pointed to a group of six-foot basketball players dressed in expensive suits and black ties.  Seven of the nine players were chatting with their preppy girlfriends.  “Greenman isn’t with Spira!”  Karen was referring to the most-noteworthy couple in John Rodgers High School, Jeffrey Greenman and Spira Thame.

“Yes, that is odd,” Annie concurred.  Annie Rubenfield was a pleasantly plump drama freak who wore Lucky Sevens jeans just as Karen did; they just didn’t look anything as fashionable on Annie.  Karen, however, lacked two ounces of Annie’s popularity—but kept it to her own mind.  An urge to uncontrollably gossip reached that precocious mind of hers.

“Do you like Syd Ramona?” Annie whispered to Karen, referring to a gigantic junior year jock, who stood only a few feet in front of them.  Ramona was an infamously rough football player, whose only weakness was epilepsy.

“Not really,” Karen whispered back to her mate.  “I’m not sure, but I kind of like…Bernard.”

“Ewww!  Bernard Cronmaker?”  She horrendously accented Bern’s common last name, making a disgusted face.  Bernard Cronmaker was the second most hated student currently attending John Rodgers High School.  He once enjoyed a decent reputation in seventh grade, but he then stalked a high-class cheerleader for so many months, she permanently transferred into a private girl’s Catholic school.

“Ugggh!  No!  Cronmaker’s way too dudley for anyone!”  The word “dudley” was invented as an inside joke between Karen, Annie, and a third freshman girl, Kristen Kensington.  It simply meant, “repugnant” or “having your blind date turn out to be Steven Urkel.”  The word actually came from Dudley Dursley, Harry Potter’s porker of a cousin, who would indeed make a far worse date than Urkel.

“Ohh!  You mean, Bernard Wattenmaker.”  ‘Bernard,’ a rather obsolete name which most likely has German origins, was the given name of two freshman students at John Rodgers.  There was the aforementioned Bernard Cronmaker, and a second Bernard, Bernard Wattenmaker.

Now, let us wander away from these two fashionable yet headstrong young women, Karen Leonard and Annie Rubenfield.  Instead, let’s focus on Bernard Wattenmaker.

Bernard was a youthful lad, though his social skills were a bit off.  Here we could find him pestering the undeserving honor student, Sherm Neuman.  Bernard and Sherm had little in common—they were not friends, simply acquaintances.  All they could relate to was that they made up one-third of the practicing Jewish population of John Rodgers’s student body.

Bernard was a deep thinker, yet at times he stated everything that came to mind.  Using the line, “Kick his butt, Sea Bass,” from the Farrelly Brothers’ smash hit “Dumb and Dumber” for no reason suggests in a way, stupidity.  And that is what Bernard said when he first approached Sherm that day.

“Whoa Bernie!  Don’t sneak up on me like that!” yelled Sherm as he turned around to face the pimply Bernard Wattenmaker.

“I’m sorry, Sherm.”  Bernard looked at Sherm with his sad brown eyes which were located beneath an infamous black unibrow.

“Hey, did you do your English homework?” Sherm said, changing the subject from that random Jim Carrey flick.

“We had English homework?  What the hey?”  Although Bernard was intelligent, he doodled in class quite a bit.  In fact, it was in class that he created the famous-to-him comic strip, “Guy vs. Lotto,” which spawned several déjà vu-spewing sequels.

“What’s your grade in English?  A B?” snickered Sherm Neuman, sitting on a stone gray step.  He was wearing a shirt advertising some solo guitarist named Edgar Vargas.  The shirt was jet black and had a list of tour stops on the back—from Switzerland to Montana.

Bernard stayed silent.  Three girls walked by, and Bernard’s tragic instinctual habits caused him to stare at them.  They were among the most popular girls in the freshman class—and Spira Thame, the pampered class president, was among them.

“Ewww!  He’s looking at you!” Vanessa McQueen hissed noisily into Spira’s pierced ear.  Spira Thame’s heavily made-up mouth emitted an immature squeal.

By this time, Sherm Neuman and his pal Owen (who together made up two-thirds of the grunge band “The Putrid Spleens”) had deserted Bernard Wattenmaker for a teacher, Mr. Hardy.  A couple more girls humbly walked by.  Bernard tried not to look like a creep this time.  He realized that one of them was Karen Leonard, who shared a physics class with him.

Bernard looked rather distressed, as he was still recovering from Vanessa and Spira’s mindless remarks.  Karen turned towards Bernard.  She wasn’t drop-dead gorgeous, but had a comforting look to her.  While many boys rejected her from their list of people they’d “screw” due to her elongated nose, Bernard found that schnozz rather charming.  It seemed to set her apart from all the ditzy blonde bimbos like Spira Thame.

“Bernard,” breathed Karen in a tone only the three of them could hear.  “Just ignore those stupid girls.  You’re better than them.  If you have a problem, you can just talk to me or Annie.  You’ve met Annie, right?”

“Yeah,” Bernard awkwardly explained.  They had been enrolled in a P.E. class in seventh grade.  Annie was not a topnotch athlete, but she did seem to enjoy that class.

“Bye, Bern!  Oh yeah, and my screenname is “dramadork591!”

“Coolgeek42!” shouted Bernard, letting his own AIM screenname out.  He was pleased.  Perhaps someone did care about him after all.


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