It was Tuesday morning and Mr. Larson began to talk about the experiment that the class would do tomorrow. He wanted us to separate hydrogen atoms from water; it sounded a bit dangerous, but it also sounded really fun. High school students, Chemistry, and fire always seemed like a bad combination to me, but I guess we all have to learn about it sometime. Unfortunately that wasn't the only thing on my mind this morning. Britney sat at the octagon two tables away. She sat there with her cohort, Shelly. What a dangerous pair, I thought. Both were cute, attractive, and extremely smart; a tough to beat package on any scale.
Suddenly something slid across the table and stopped right in front of me. I looked and saw a cassette case, on the cover was a 50's convertible with two teenagers riding in it; a guy and a girl. The car was parked downtown and scenery was slightly orange. I picked it up and looked closer; printed on the lower edge of the case was the label Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark.
"Sorry Mike" whispered P.J. "I was trying to get that Becca, but it bounced of the Bunsen burner valve and went right to you."
"That's OK," I mouthed silently as I started to slide the cassette back to P.J. "Is it any good?"
"Yes" he whispered. "You should give it a try."
"Sure, let me borrow it sometime." I whispered.
"Pass it along Mike." whispered an anxious voice.
It was the voice of our long haired table-mate, Becca. I could tell she was getting impatient with our small talk, so I passed her the tape. Satisfied, she let out a grin.
Mr. Larson noticed our dialog and glared at our table. We quickly sat up straight, smiled at him, and tried our best to look attentive. He resumed his lecture.
I could tell Mr. Larson was determined to teach us something new today. This was good, since I actually enjoyed Chemistry. It was definitely an interesting subject to me. But that wasn't the best thing about Chemistry class; the best part about it was Mr. Larson teaching Chemistry. He usually gave us an impromptu performance of Chaplin's "Modern Times" during the demonstration of most experiments. Mr. Larson wanted us to believe that he kept in control of the experiments, but he usually didn't; in most cases we all had an unexpected laughing session that usually ended with Mr. Larson mumbling something to himself. I assumed tomorrow would be no different, but today I was different. I wasn't interested in classical Chemistry, I was more concerned about the immeasurable type; she sat only a few tables away.
What to do, I thought. Was she the right girl? I’ll probably go down in flames, but Joe did say that if I was going to ask out anyone in my grade, it should be Britney. He thought she was the hottest, so he said if you’re gonna get shot down anyways, it might as well be with her. Damn it Joe, I wish I had your confidence; everything seemed too easy for you.
When should I approach her? Perhaps after this class? Perhaps after school? I wonder if I can meet her without Shelly around. That was the tough part; those two were super glued together like hydrogen atoms in a water molecule. What to do? What to do? I began to get consumed by my own insecurities and I was starting to drive myself crazy.
Out of nowhere something pricked my arm. I looked and saw a set of shiny pink finger nails next to the pain.
"You're staring at them." she said with ominous smile.
My face turned white, my heart froze and my eyes balls just about fell out of my head. How long did Becca notice? How long was I staring at Britney? How long was I daydreaming? How long, how long? Thinking quickly, I thought of a cover story.
"Thanks, I was just daydreaming" I whispered. "Not enough sleep last night."
She winked and turned back to look at Mr. Larson. But I got the feeling that she didn't believe me.
"Whew that was close," I said to myself. Then I turned to look at Mr. Larson; however before my eyes fell on blackboard, a commotion two tables away caught my eye. Shelly had brought out a bag from her purse and seemed to be giggling about it. Britney was giggling too. Then unexpectedly Shelly opened it ever so slightly and began to drink something out of it. I could see that inside the bag was a slightly orange drink container; the kind you'd use with your lunch box in middle school. After she took her sip she gave it to Britney. After Britney finished both girls giggled. They did this exchange about 3 times before putting it away. I began to wonder what was in that container.
10 minutes later, they were at it again. But this time, they were both smiling and giggling a bit louder; almost to the point that Mr. Larson would hear them. I was sure he noticed them, but he continued with the lecture anyways.
I whispered to P.J. "Did you see that?"
"Yes" he responded.
"What is that?" I asked.
"They are just being stupid." he responded and then he mouthed the word "beer".
No way! That's not possible. Who would be dumb enough to drink liquor in class? Those two were two of the nicest and smartest girls in my grade. I couldn't believe it. But after putting their actions together, P.J. seemed right; all signs pointed to alcohol. I had to believe P.J.; he was the Mr. Popular for the juniors, so if anyone would know about this kind of behavior, it would be him.
Damn. No matter how much of a crush I had on Britney; this behavior was unacceptable for any student. I shook my head in disbelief. But oddly, I suddenly felt liberated. Britney didn't seem like the girl I knew. Correction, what I thought I knew. The Britney I liked was in my mind; I didn't know the real Britney at all. My crush had given me rose colored glasses, but now I saw the truth. I looked at P.J. and gave him unspoken thanks of appreciation. The left side of my brain seemed to celebrate too, as logic had finally won the day.
Now I understood my choice. It was easy; there was only one name left on my list and there was no turning back now. I knew Marielle was truly a nice girl and would never pull off an unflattering stunt like Britney's. Now I started to think about when and how. And once again, the flower fields were in full bloom and the butterflies came flying back.
Class just ended and most of the students were already out of the classroom. Mr. Larson was erasing the blackboard and I was still thinking about what happened. As we stood up from our table, I turned to P.J. and asked, "Are you serious, was there beer in there."
"The way they were acting, I'm sure of it was some kind of alcohol" he said as he shook his head.
We headed towards the door and I asked him "About that cassette, what's the name of the group?"
"It's O.M.D. Didn't you see it on the cover?" he replied.
"Yeah, but I thought that was the name of the album."
"Oh no, the name of the album is Crush", he replied.
Surprised, I snickered.
"What's so funny?" asked P.J.
"Nothing" I replied. But I said to myself, "How ironic." How ironic indeed.
Then we parted and left for our next class.
I never found out what was in that bag since it really didn't matter. Seeing a different side of Britney wasn't the most important lesson in the classroom either. The real lesson was learning more about myself, and it was a real eye opener for me. I thought I never judged a book by its cover, which I usually didn't do. What I didn't realize, was that I ignored that rule when my crushes came into view. After that day, I decided that level of stupidity was never going to happen again. However, that wasn't the only thing I learned. As an added bonus, I discovered the band O.M.D. If it wasn't for the hand of fate, I would have never listened to that band, especially since it wasn't my kind of music at the time. So when I listen to O.M.D these days, I always remember the lesson, the car on the cover, and the mystery bag. I might have lost a crush, but I gained one too.