“I told you studying was helpful,” Michael teased, lightly poking his friend.
“Shut up, Mikey,” Casey spat back as the two walked down the locker lined hallway. “We can’t all be the smartest person in the sixth grade.”
“You mispronounced ‘entire school.’”
Michael dodged Casey’s light punch, as the two stopped at Casey’s locker. Michael leaned on the empty lockers to Casey’s right.
“Are you still good for pizza night on Friday? Mom says she’ll get actual Coke this time, and not diet.” Casey asked, only to have the locker on his left slam shut, startling Michael into standing.
“No. Freakin’. Way.”
Casey muttered under his breath, “Oh no.”
A smile crept onto Michael’s face, as he was pleased to see that it was none other than Casey’s sister, Gwen Smith, interrupting their weekend plans.
“Mom said I could have Mindy and Sammie over this Friday for a sleepover and I don’t want a bunch of,” she visibly shuddered, “sixth graders,” then pantomimed gagging, “hanging out.”
“Can’t you and your stupid eighth grade friends have your dumb sleepover some other time?”
“Hey, hey, hey! Casey!” Michael slide in between the squabbling siblings, much to Casey’s annoyance and Gwen’s disgust. “It would be rude if we forced the beautiful girls,” he winked at Gwen, who rolled her eyes, “to rearrange their entire weekend’s plans. Why don’t you come over to my house?”
Grumbling, Casey relented, grabbing Michael by his arm and nearly dragging him to their next class, “Fine. Let’s just get out of here.”
With one last glance, over his shoulder, Michael winked at Gwen, who was too preoccupied talking to some other eighth grade girls to notice.
“Will you stop that?” Casey asked, once they were in the safety of their history class.
Innocently, Michael asked, “Stop what?”
“Flirting with my sister. It’s creepy!” Casey flushed a bit in embarrassment, “You don’t see me hitting on Kat.”
Michael rolled his eyes, “She’s my twin, that’s different. You’d be dating a female me.”
Rolling his eyes in response, Casey snapped back, “Whatever. Gwen likes bad boys anyhow, and you’re not a bad boy. You’re just a pain.”
“In the neck or in the butt?”
The bell rang, interrupting any further arguing the two would have had. As the class settled to begin the day, Michael was unable to concentrate. Absentmindedly, he muttered, “So Gwen Smith likes bad boys, huh?
The next day at school, Michael couldn’t wait to tell Casey what had transpired the night before.
“So I told my mom I drank all of my milk,” Michael explained as the two were at Casey’s locker so that he could grab a textbook. “But, get this,” Michael looked around, pleased that Gwen had just arrived at her locker. “I didn’t drink all of my milk.”
Casey looked at him in confusion, “So?”
“I just took an empty glass from the cupboard and brought it to the table with me. When I wanted to be excused, I just showed my mom the empty glass, and BOOM! She thought I had milk and I was excused,” Michael triumphantly explained. A snort was heard from Casey’s left, before Gwen shut her locker and left.
A bit nervous, Michael asked, “Do you think Gwen heard that?”
“Because it was an epic tale of me, Mikey Thompson – sixth grade bad boy!”
Casey rolled his eyes, shutting his locker and signalling for Michael to follow, “Whatever.”
Each day for the next school week, Michael loudly informed his best friend of his latest exploits at his locker. Whenever Gwen was in earshot, at least.
On Wednesday’s Michael shot into school, ignoring the glare from the hall monitor, to tell Casey, “So, you know how my bedtime is 8:30? Well, I went to bed last night at 8:32! How bad is that?”
However, on Thursday, he strolled up to his best friend to inform him, “Hey, Casey, guess what I did today? I told the teacher I had to use the bathroom, but I actually just went to the water fountain, ‘cause I’m a rebel without a cause.”
And Friday could not come soon enough for Michael, as as soon as he saw his best friend, he called, “Yo, Case-a-rino! You won’t believe what I just did! Mrs. Jenkins told us to raise our hands if we knew the answer to her question. I knew the answer, but I didn’t raise my hand.”
“Oh, watch out,” Casey raised his hands to his head. “We got a bad boy over here!”
Michael rolled his eyes. “Whatever. Not like you’d understand what it’s like to be a martyr.”
“I believe the word you’re looking for is ‘maverick.’
“Whatever,” Michael shrugged. “You do words, I do numbers. Anyhow, you still coming over tonight?”
“Are your parents alright with it?” Casey inquired carefully.
Michael’s face lit up, “Of course they are! They love you! You’re like, the third son they never had!”
Casey nodded, before noticing Michael’s gaze had drifted behind him. Rolling his eyes, Casey seized Michael by the arm yet again to drag him to their next class.
Their day passed quickly, and soon the boys went their separate ways in order to prepare for their sleepover. However, Michael also needed to prepare for something else, turning to the person he trusted the most for help.
“Kat, I got a question,” Michael asked his twin on their bus ride home.
Katherine gave her brother an annoyed look, “You can’t copy my English homework.”
“That wasn’t what I was going to ask!”
“You ask it every day, sorry for thinking otherwise.”
Huffily, Michael slumped into the seat, “Whatever. I don’t need your stupid advice anyhow. What do you know about girls?”
“I. AM. A. GIRL.” Katherine stated as bluntly as possible, further exasperating her brother.
“You know what I mean!”
“No, I don’t!” she angrily stated, “We don’t have a psychic bond, remember?”
Michael refused to look at his sister, choosing to glare at the bus’s floor. Multiple pleas of “Mikey,” were to no avail, prompting Katherine to leave the matter a moot point. Once they were dropped off, Michael changed his tune on the short walk home.
“There’s this girl-” he began.
“It’s Gwen, isn’t it?” Katherine interjected.
Michael’s mouth was agape, “How did you know?”
“Lucky guess,” she lied, not having the heart to tell her brother that half of the school was aware of his infatuation with the older girl. Shaking his head, he continued as the two approached their front door.
“What should I do? I want her to like me, but I don’t want to seem . . .”
“No, just . . . whatever. My point is, what do girls like? How do you ask one out?”
Katherine pondered for a moment as the two entered the home. “How about with flowers? Who doesn’t like flowers?”
“I know I like flowers!” their mother added as she greeted her oldest children. “Why are we talking about flowers?”
Michael silently begged his sister not to tell, and thankfully, she listened,
“Can’t tell you. It’s for your birthday.”
Chuckling, their mother ushered them both quickly into the living room once their coats, backpacks, and shoes had been removed, “Alright, alright, don’t tell me. Do you two mind keeping an eye on your siblings while I run to the store for some soda real quick?”
“Yup!” Michael enthusiastically responded.
As soon as their mother left, their previous conversation resumed.
“Yup. You can never go wrong with flowers.”
Michael smiled, “Excellent.”
After swearing up and down to his mother that no, the roses he had were most definitely NOT from her garden, and that YES, he needed his father’s hair gel, he was released from his home walk the few blocks to fetch Casey for their sleepover.
Mere minutes later, Michael stood before the Smith household, butterflies fluttering in his stomach. Before he could knock, Gwen flung open the door.
“Casey! Your friend’s here!” she shouted into the house.
Summoning his courage, Michael asked, “Gwen . . . could we talk for a minute?”
Confused, she moved from the door to allow Michael to enter. As she shut the door behind him, he got down on one knee.
“Gwen . . . uh. You’re like . . . really pretty, and I was wondering if, uh, you’d like to go on a date with me. If you don’t, I totally understand, with you being a good girl and all, and me being a bad boy-”
Gwen howled with laughter, only to sober up for a moment in order to respond, “Oh my.” Another peal of laughter fell from her lips, “Oh my God, Michael. This is all very cute and everything, but you’re not exactly a bad boy.”
Michael’s face fell.
“And I’m sorry, but you’re a sixth grader and my brother’s best friend. It would be uber weird if we dated.”
It was only then that he heard Gwen’s friends snickering in the living room, whispering to each other as they pointed at him.
“Besides, I’m dating Andrew Doe. I can’t cheat on my boyfriend, understand?”
Michael felt a pain in his chest as tears clouded his vision. Weakly, he muttered a “Sorry,” before getting off the floor and shutting the front door behind him as he left. Unable to hold back his tears any longer, he collapsed on the front door’s patio and cried. All he saw was an unbearable future where he would be the laughing stock of the entire school. How would he ever get any girl to date him? He was a failure!
What Michael didn’t see, however, was Casey exiting his home with his sleeping bag and backpack.
“Hey,” Casey began, sitting down next to his heartbroken next friend. Michael didn’t look up or respond. Unsure of what else he should do, he gently patted his best friend’s back, trying to imitate how his mother did it, feeling awkward as he did so. Nevertheless, Casey continued to pat his best friends back until Michael’s weeping subsided into hiccups.
“Gwen and her friends are stupid anyhow,” Casey began. “Really, really stupid. Anyone would be lucky to go out on a date with you.”
Michael finally released Casey from his death grip, his red puffy eyes assessing his friend’s honesty, “Nuh uh, I’m the idiot.”
Casey rolled his eyes. “No, trust me, my sister’s the idiot.” He put his arm around his best friend’s shoulders. “You’re the most loyal friend anyone could have, and I bet you’d be an even more loyal boyfriend. Yeah, your jokes are stupid from time to time, but you do whatever you can to make someone smile.”
Michael smiled a bit. “You really think so?”
Casey got up, pulling Michael up with him, “Course I do. Now is that date still up for grabs? It’d be a shame if those flowers go to waste.”
Michael giggled, before getting down on one knee to present Casey with the flowers.
“For me? Aw, you shouldn’t have,” Casey responded, before taking the flowers from Michael. As Michael got up, Casey linked arms with him, and the two began the journey back to Michael’s house.