Monday, February 18, 2013

Chapter Five B: Middle School Call Style

In the end I decided to pull a middle school maneuver, and have Mike call her for me. I invited him over the next day, Friday, pretending it was a chance to hang out and play Illumen’s Children. We got home around six after my practice. I was eager to lug Mike upstairs, but first I had to get Mike past Mom and Dad.
“Eat some cookies, Mike. Do you want a hot dog?”
            “Thank you, Mrs. Foley. Yes, Thank you.”
            “Hey, Mike, how’s it going.”
            “Fine, Mr. Foley. Thanks for asking. How are you?”
            “I’m great. You hear about Doog’s overhead volley?” I had tried to tell him at lunch but he said it sounded like a ballet maneuver and the only thing he hated more than soccer was ballet.
            “No, what’s that?”
            My dad got up, and I really thought he was going to attempt an overhead volley with the couch cushion while Mike wolfed down all the food my mom could slide under his face. Fortunately Dad kept his demonstration theoretical enough to avoid pulling his back. Finally we got upstairs. I let us play for a while before I paused the game.
            “Mike, could you help me out?”
            “What you need?”
            “I need you to call Jean.”
            “Call her yourself.”
            “I can’t.”
            “It’s not hard. You just dial the number and hit send. Or call. It depends on the phone.”
            “I did. Then I hung up.”
            “Hahahahaha.” He rolled off the bed onto the floor, and laughed, scattering game boxes, knocking over my dirty clothes basket. He kept laughing.
            After about a minute I said, “It’s not that funny. What girls have you called?”
            “Well, I’m about to call Jean.”
            “Thanks, man.” I told him he just needed to ask her what she thought of me, not to say anything about how I felt. He said how would she know how I felt if he didn’t tell her. I explained that him calling was enough to show Jean I was interested. He agreed to follow my protocol, but his smirk indicated that he didn’t take the call as seriously as I needed him to.
            He called her up. She answered with a curious voice, “Hello?”
            “Hey, Jean, this is Mike, I’m in your gym class.”
            I was leaning over his shoulder, trying to hear what Jean said. He pushed me away.
            He said, “I’m the short fat black kid.”
            He paused while she said something.
            “It’s nice of you to say, but now you know who I am, so clearly you’re lying. Look, I’m calling because my friend Doogie asked me to.” I shook my head violently at this deliberate departure from the plan.
            He listened as she talked.
            “He didn’t call because he was scared. He tried yesterday but he hung up.”
            I could barely hear her voice chirping.
“Yeah, he was the missed call. He wanted me to say that he thinks you’re attractive.”
            At this point things were out of control. “I didn’t say that,” I yelled.
            Mike said into the phone, “Wait, he’s saying that he doesn’t think you’re attractive.”
            “Mike,” I shouted, “That’s not what I mean.”
            Mike said, “Sorry, Jean, seems I’m garbling the message. Now I’m supposed to ask you what you think of him. Oh? I’ll tell him.” He hung up. I jumped him, not using super strength, but still landing solid shots on his shoulders and stomach. He balled up, squealing, “I’m not telling you what she said.”
            “Tell me,” I said, relenting.
            “First I make a call for you, and then you beat me?”
            “Come on, Mike.”
            “Alright. She said you should call her yourself and find out. She’s got your number saved now.”
            “What? She didn’t say anything about me?
            “You should be glad she didn’t insult your coward ass! Hiding behind me.”
            I turned the game back on, but he just paused it again. “You got to make the call, scaredy-cat.”
            I stalked out into the hall and hit the call button. She answered half way through the first ring. “Doogie, I’ve been wondering when I’d hear from you.”
            “Hey, Jean,” I hoped she couldn’t hear how nervous I was, “This is Doogie.”
            “I know. I just said your name.”
            “Oh. Yeah. I’m kind of nervous.”
            “I think it’s kind of cute.”
            “It’s like you’re excited about this.” There was a pause during which I wondered what exactly was meant by the word this.
            She finally filled the gap, “I didn’t know Mike was your friend.”
            “Yeah,” I said, wondering if she would judge me for having a dork friend.
            “He’s funny.”
            “And mean.” It seemed like she liked him which was a relief.
            We talked about hanging out at the diner. She brought up the last game, the one with my overhead volley.
            “You were awesome in that game.”
            “I know, right. How’d I get so good?”  
            We made talked about the soccer team. Then she complained about hanging out with Alexandra. Alexandra, it turned out was a prima donna. She would try on outfits for hours, demanding that Jean evaluate each and every one, “How does this look? What about with this?” I would have to add this to my critique of her next time I talked to Mike.
            We were running out of things to say. I said, “We should hang out.”
            “Ok,” she said.
            “When are you free?”
            “After school on Monday?”
            Mike and I usually stuffed the twenty minutes between the last bell and the beginning of soccer practice. I walked him across the street and watched him eat Chinese Store fries and we talked fantasy games, but I figured he’d understand. “Great,” I told her.

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