A Tennessean Troy Bolton? (part 1)

Out of the blue, Joyce said that she wanted to see my high school yearbook. I reckon maybe I saw it coming, because I brought the yearbook with me when I moved to the pool house instead of putting it in storage with most of my other shit. We spent a while looking at it…and, after looking at all the pictures of my classmates (there were about 400 people in my graduating class) she said:

“I may be biased…but you realize you were the best-looking guy in your class, right?”

I wasn’t sure what to say, so I suggested that maybe I wasn’t the best-looking…there was Clay Bender, Ashleigh Renfroe’s old boyfriend, at least. He had way more of a 6-pack than I did and, since he was a swimmer, girls got to see him in a speedo quite a bit…so…

“Nope,” Joyce said. “He was hot, sure…but you were obviously Maryville High’s answer to Zac Efron.” She must have caught my look, so she added, “a taller Zac Efron. You should write about it.”

“About what? How my girlfriend says I look like Zac Efron?” That may annoy me even more than being called pretty boy. I think Joyce saw that in my face too, since she answered:

“I didn’t say you looked like Zac Efron. I said you were the Maryville High answer to Zac Efron. That’s not the same thing. And I just think it would be interesting to read what that was like. Most of us were so insecure about our looks in high school…I presume all the girls thought you were dreamy. That probably didn’t leave a whole lot of time for you to be afraid you were ugly.”

Ok, it didn’t.

At first, especially, though, it was pretty embarrassing to have a lot of girls staring at me and then ducking behind their locker doors when I walked by. It’s not like every girl in the school got totally goofy around me, but, yeah, a lot of them did, and, yeah, I noticed it. I guess it started happening as soon as girls discovered boys, which, as y’all know, is before boys discover girls…so I was a little oblivious to it at first. I was way more concerned with playing ball and hanging with Gardner and Turner my first year in high school, and, like I’ve told y’all a few times already, I was pretty retarded about girls until I met Shoshanah.

It was actually Gardner who first noticed the way girls were looking at me. “Don’t look now, Hunter,” he said one day at lunch when we were in the 10th grade, “but every girl here is looking at you.”

Of course, when I turned around to see what he meant, the girls instantly looked down or hid behind their books. So I told him he was bullshitting me.

“You mean y’all only just noticed?,” Turner said. “That’s how girls have been looking at Hunter since we got to high school.”

“And you didn’t say anything?”

“I didn’t want you to get a swelled ego problem, man,” he said. “As it is you look in the mirror way too much.”

“What??”

“You mean you never noticed that me and Gardner are always done before you are when there’s a mirror around?”

“Um…”

When did Turner become so observant, I wondered?

In any case, I wasn’t gonna take even my two best buddies’ word for something like that. I needed a girl’s input. So I went to Melanie Kate one night after dinner and asked her straight out:

“I know I’m your brother, but…am I so good-looking? Gardner and Turner say every girl in school stares at me.”

“I was wondering when you’d figure that out, big brother,” she said. She usually called me “big brother” when I was being especially dense about something. “Of course you are.” She laughed. I Just wasn’t sure if it was at me or with me. “You’d probably be the most popular boy at Maryville High if you weren’t so clueless about it.”

So that was the day I realized I was – as Melanie Kate said her best friend Briandra said I was – ‘”too cute for words”

How did I feel about it?

Weird, that’s how.

At first, it really did bother me that all those girls were interested in me just because of how I looked. They didn’t show any interest in what I was like or how well I could swing a bat or anything. They didn’t even try to talk to me. (Joyce: “of course they didn’t talk to you…you probably got them all tongue-tied with those sapphire blue eyes of yours.”)

Thing is, there was a lot worse than girls staring at me and then hiding behind their locker doors when I walked by.

I had a stalker, too.

I mentioned Becky Landry way back when I was first blogging, but I never got close to telling y’all the whole story. I don’t know if she noticed me before she was my lab partner in chemistry in the 10th grade or if she maneuvered herself into getting to be my lab partner in the first place, since she was entirely capable of that. All I know is that I had a girl for a lab partner…and that she spent the whole period every day staring at me. The staring was punctuated by – I’m not kidding – sighing. I should have known then that something wasn’t right, but, well, I reckon I was kinda used to that treatment from the other girls who made up what Turner called “the Blockettes”. (Turner took quite a few punches in the arm for coming up with that one, but, looking back, it’s pretty funny for something a 10th grader came up with.)

Actually, unlike most of the Blockettes, Becky did sometimes talk to me, but, when she did, it was usually pretty mean shit that I reckon she thought was funny, like pretending she forgot my name and calling me something else…or saying that I was a long-lost fourth Jonas brother. Hilarious, right?

Y’all know that I can take shit: anyone with Keaton Penner for a best friend needs to know how to take it. I can even take it about my looks, like when, freshman year in college, our catcher (another one of the gay ones) yelled across the locker room after my first game, “hey shortstop…you’re way too pretty to play ball as well as you do.” I still wish I’d thought of it first, but then someone yelled back “hey catcher, you’re way too gay to play ball as well as you do.”

I can get that. But I couldn’t get the random insults I was getting from Becky. According to Joyce, some men like it when chicks are mean to them…although I don’t know how Becky Landry could have been expected to know that when we were all 16.

Gardner and Turner started calling Becky my stalker long before it turned out that’s what she really was. I reckon we weren’t very nice to her, but I wasn’t interested in her…and nothing is worse than a chick who won’t get the idea and move on.

So Becky spent most of the 10th grade alternately staring at me and saying mean shit to me because (according to Joyce) she thought I liked it. Ok…let me be clear with y’all…no dude wants to hear over and over again how Joe Jonas has better hair than you do. (I totally never got that one…since I never had a Joe Jonas haircut in my life. And, okay, fine, I’ll admit it: I had a Troy Bolton haircut in those days.)

Then notes started showing up in my locker, all of them written on pink heart-shaped doilies. The notes didn’t say who they were from and they didn’t come every day. Sometimes weeks that would go by without one, and I’d assume they’d stopped, only then there’d be another one. There was usually some lameass quote like “what meaning can ‘I love you’ have if it’s an answer?”, and sometimes they were signed “your secret admirer” with…wait for it… a heart instead of a dot over the I in ‘admirer’. Y’all get the idea. It was pretty retarded (as Jacob would say), but we were all teenagers, and, if it weren’t for Shakespeare, my locker notes to Shoshanah would probably have been pretty lameass too lol.

I honestly didn’t know who was sending the notes. Nor did I really care. Turner said it was “probably some random Blockette whose dad runs a bakery and that’s where she gets the doilies” – but that was pretty much as far as our guesses went.

I reckoned that the notes would end with sophomore year, but I was wrong. There was one waiting for me my very first day of junior year, which was kinda weird, since it meant my secret admirer had an in on finding out which locker was mine even before I found out which it was. That was kinda creepy.

We finally found out who was behind the notes a couple weeks later. No, we didn’t stake out my locker or anything like that; it was just a case of serendipity when Johnny Porter was late for class one day and as running down the hallway, where he happened to see Becky sipping “something pink” into my locker.

We didn’t find out a moment too soon, since she’d started putting perfume on the notes and, well…let’s just say it wasn’t a fragrance I wanted on my shit or greeting me every time I opened my locker. The thing was, now that I knew, what was I going to do about it?

I guess I need to be fair and keep y’all from getting the idea that Becky had thick glasses, braces and bad skin. She was okay looking enough, not particularly hot and not particularly ugly. I can imagine a red-blooded Southern boy looking at her twice…and Johnny’s advice after he told me who my secret admirer was to “go for it”…like he was in a position to give straight guys advice on which girls to date lol.

Ok, so this is where the Becky Landry story overlaps with a story I already told y’all, the one about super hot and super mean Ashleigh Renfroe. About the same time that I found out that it was Becky Landry who was leaving notes in my locker, Ashleigh decided she wanted me to be her next boyfriend.

And then Shoshanah came into the picture.

One thought on “A Tennessean Troy Bolton? (part 1)

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