up in a small town had exactly 2 distinct and very similar properties to it,
one positive and one negative. 1) You knew everybody and everybody knew you.
And 2) You knew everybody and everybody knew you.
suppose that the latter of the two statements wasn’t inherently negative
growing up, at least, not until the 7th grade. You see, my father,
being the best (and only) surgeon in our small town, my family was never
terribly bad off. During the 7th grade, however, my mother, in her
infinite wisdom, had grown bored of being a sedentary housewife and staying
home all day and had decided to become a substitute teacher for the school
school district is a rather broad term for what we really had. There was one
Elementary school, one Jr. High, one High School, and one Jr. College. One
school, one name, one mascot. Everyone in my small town was, and would be for
the next several years of their lives, be a Kennedy Station Patriot. The town used
to just be farm lands, but then the farms weren’t needed anymore, and, because
Americans just love to industrialize, the not-so-bustling town of Gainesville,
Idaho was created. The city officially changed its name to Kennedy Station in
1960 when John F. Kennedy decided to stop here and campaign for the 100 or so
votes the town had to offer.
wasn’t exactly alive for that part, but the town makes sure every child with
and IQ over 4 hears it at least once a year at our annual heritage parade. And
by Parade, I mean a bunch of the local librarians and all of the History
teacher’s get-together and say the same stories to everybody that we’ve all
heard since we were kids.
to the breaking point in my adolescent life, in the 7th grade. My
mother was just wetting her ears as a substitute, and she had one of her first
jobs substituting my English class. During the roll call, as if she hadn’t seen
me in the class, she read my name off the chart, not as Daniel Earl, but as
“sweetycakes”. Sweetycakes, of all of the things to call a child going through
what is arguably the most awkward point in development and growth in the life
of a 12 year old boy, I got stuck with Sweetycakes. Needless to say, after the
roar of laughter from my classroom, the news of my new nickname had spread to
all 600 students that Attended Kennedy Station Jr. High, and wasn’t going
anywhere any time soon.
name still hasn’t left, really. It’s lost its impact and most kids think
they’re too tough to say it anyways, but none the less, the social stigmata
hasn’t exactly left me the most popular kid on Kennedy Station High’s campus.
summer between my freshman and sophomore years my neighbors had somehow escaped
the black hole of miserable boredom and mundane nature of our town and moved to
Washington. I hadn’t expected that anything would come of the move, besides a
vacancy that could last a very long time, but, I was very, VERY wrong.
2 weeks left until my Sophomore year, much to my surprise as I peered out of
the blinds into the street that was filled with the elementary school kids
playing with hoses and cheaply-made water pistols, I saw a moving van
accompanied by a luxury sedan approach the now dust-collecting vacancy next
time mine. Out of the sedan came a middle-aged, balding, business man type, an
obviously dyed-hair and Botox injected mother, and the most absolutely
amazingly gorgeous and beautiful creature that I had ever laid eyes on.
Her hair was a very
dark shade of dyed red, and the most piercing green eyes I had ever seen. I
only got a short glimpse of her before she turned and walked into what I was
praying was the place she was going to live. My parents had entered the living
room where I was watching this all happen, and asked me what had captured my
attention. I pointed out the window that pointed outward to the drive way into
“Well, Daniel, why
don’t you go over and introduce yourself?” My mother asked, obviously unaware
of the hormones involved when a 15 year
old boy sees the most magnificent creature every to be gifted upon the planet.
“It’s not the right
time, Mom, I should wait until….Something” I said with a slight quiver in my
“Well, then, I suppose
Dan is right, we should all go introduce ourselves with a housewarming gift
when they have settled in a little bit.” Dad said. I had always admired dad, he
had a very good way of reading me. Knowing the mentality of the 15 year old
male, he himself being one at some point, no matter how many millennia ago that
was, was able to get me out this
Later that evening, my
mother, after a trip to the store, made a slightly-burnt and
not-so-good-looking batch of brownies for the new neighbors. As we approached
the undecorated and yet very home-y not-so-vacancy I began to feel my knees
give out from under me.
As they opened the
door, the Barbie-doll mother approached me with the plastic smile that could
only mean one thing. The new neighbors were from LA. Of all the places of the
entire world, the most beautiful creature ever to be created was from LA. As my
nervousness subsided it was replaced with an immediate sense of impending doom.
As the mother, Susan,
apparently, introduced us all to the husband, Stewart, and their daughter, whom
did not get introduced. She and I stepped into the not-so-lived-in living room
to sit down on the dusty couch as our parents talked over brownies politely
eating around far-too-browned parts of the brownies. She began her sentence in
the worst possible way.
“So, like, where’s the
mall around here, where’s the nearest starbucks.” She said, with a voice not
even a mother could love.
I slowly sunk into the far worn-in leather of the couch, and felt my stomach in my feet.
As I opened my mouth to
answer, all I was able to muster was “Kennedy Station mall has a starbucks…I
I was interrupted by a bout of laughter in the sweetest voice I had ever heard.
“It’s okay, calm down;
I’m not a valley girl. My name is Callie.” She said with a half-chuckle still
in her voice
“Oh, wow, that’s a
relief, my name is Daniel” I replied, trying to hold back the grin slowly
emerging on my face.
“So, what’s there to do in this town, you know, fun?” She asked me.
“Did you see the kids
that were playing outside on the street?” I replied, as the butterflies
returned to my stomach.
“Yeah, what about them” She said.
“Well, that’s about the
height of excitement that Kennedy Station sees.” I said, it wasn’t a lie
either, this town could spontaneously combust and turn into the fiery
underworld and nobody would ever know any different, because nobody even knows
“Well, what a bummer.
So, do you think we’re going to be going to the same school?” She asked,
blissfully unaware of the small town life, it was actually sort of cute.
“Yeah, the same school
that everyone will go to, and always will, there’s only one of every type of
school here, the only escapes are to move and to go away to college."
I could tell that she
wasn’t exactly thrilled by the change. I didn’t blame her. I had no reason to
complain, I had spent my whole life here, and never knew any different, but
Callie had lived in a big city for most of her life, and now suddenly living in
the most un-exiting city on earth had
been a bit of a culture shock. She was used to having the world at her
fingertips, and now, she was lucky to have dirt at the end of them.
After I had become
painfully aware of the return of the butterflies, I became painfully aware of
something else. After hearing her giggle again (Oh, did I love that giggle) I
realized I was sitting awkwardly and sweating profusely.
I said some story about
the change of outside to inside causing a body shock or some sort of other
story that made absolutely no sense, when really; I had no possible way of
controlling myself around Callie. I didn’t even know the girl, and I don’t even
think it was love but something about her had me completely and totally
transfixed. It was somewhat the allure of the thought of something shiny, new,
and relatively untouched by this place.
Just as I was able to collect my brain, it was time to go.
I spent the next two
weeks helping Callie and her family move in, and show Callie around what there
was of town. The entire tour of the town was a one-afternoon affair. We spent
the last Saturday before school started traveling together with our parents for
the two-hour drive up to Boise to Lake Cascade,
where my parents had rented a cabin for the Saturday and Sunday, four bedrooms,
and two bathrooms, it was a pretty comfortable stay.
Callie and I changed into our bathing suits, her into the bikini she had asked me to
help her pick out at the mall (It was an incredibly rewarding experience, the
only time I had enjoyed shopping) and me in a pair of long board shorts that
she had picked out to me.
The lake was liquid ice. (Literally, I guess, but you know what I mean.) Anyways,
we jumped in and we immediately swam back to the river bank, shivering. We had
grown together a fair bit, and I was beginning to feel the last of the
butterflies in my stomach die off. Not only had I finally gotten a friend, but
a beautiful one at that.
Over a mug of hot chocolate with peppermint, we both discussed the impending school
year. I had learned that she was interested in theater, and I attempted to
convince her to take the theater arts class at Kennedy Station High, that was
taught by undeniably the coolest teacher at the school, Mr. Potter.
“You’re in theater, show me what you got” She chuckled, the same chuckle I had admired since the day we met.
“Oh, no, oh hell no, I’m the technical adviser” I replied. I was no good at acting
or music or school or anything, but as a social reject, I had the automatic
nerd status, and the knowledge of everything electric with buttons and knobs
comes with the title of nerd. “How about you?”
She stood up, struck the most cliché pose I had ever seen, spoke in a manly
Shakespearian voice, and recited the intro from Romeo and Juliet. All things
considered, it wasn’t bad at all, she could defiantly make the varsity theatre
group if she tried, which would me two things: 1) She would instantly be more
popular than I was; and 2) We would have rehearsals after school together.