In my mind, I won high school. Much of my writing adore comes from my high school years.
This included Victoria, who had a lot to do with this love. And my self-esteem. There is nothing like the confidence boost when your girlfriend has a hot little mouth and smiling eyes. She was cute and pretty and curvy and and and
And I digress.
My sophomore year I joined the school newspaper. Man, I loved working on that weekly. It ruled. I started out as a reporting squirt, but by the end of the year, I would have both a weekly column and reporting duties.
On the staff were Kevin, five girls, and me. When the year ended and I joined the paper as a junior, Kevin, the wanker, did not sign up. Then it was me and six girls, only four weren't girls anymore. They were young women with figures, boobs, legs and everything.
I snagged the editor spot of the opinions page. I even had my own business cards. They said "Anthony Pacheco: Opinions".
Okay, that's a bit silly but at the time I was on cloud nine. Nothing could shake me--I was in the grove. In the grove, that is, until my friend Derek got me in trouble.
With the other staff. The other female staff. Which was, like, all of them.
Derek, you dork!
So there I was, doing what friends do, we were bitching about various things, whining, really.
I was whining that I somehow became solely responsible for headlines. We had a week to produce the paper. On Thursday, an hour before it had to go to the printer, I would be writing all the headlines.
That was no easy chore. Your headline had to have a minimum and maximum number of characters, in a particular font size. It had to fit on the page exactly. This was before computer layouts, kids. We had to lay it out by hand. Headlines we could actually change the font size and kerning, that was state of the art, let me tell you.
ANYWAY, it seemed I had a knack for coming up with the right words in the right font size. Now I was, bitching to Derek that the pressure of coming up with the headlines at the last minute was getting to me. Oh my gosh, it was PRESSURE!
"That's because," Derek said, "you're the mascot."
"I am not a mascot!"
"It's like you and six girls. They run you." Derek gave me a look. "You're their mascot. The baby. Little Bro."
"Have you fucked any of these girls?"
"Out of these six girls, didn't you say four of them were hot?"
"But nothing. You're not even getting a hand up a skirt, but they boss you around. Mascot."
"Blow me, retard."
"Is that the headline for page two?" Derek is now a big grin.
"No, that headline says BLOW ME RETARDED DEREK," I said, putting my fingers up in quote marks.
So I bet, you as an adult, can see where this went. And you are right, it went nowhere good.
On Monday, during the staff meeting, where we plan the weekly in a vague, magazine-like way, I brought up that it is not fair that I am doing my column and my reporting and my editorial page (Anthony Pacheco: Opinions) and the headlines. And the girls agreed. But they also pointed out that I have a knack for writing headlines, so it would be helpful if I could lend assistance for the other pages besides my own. I agreed to this as long as we spaced out the layout for the headlines over the course of the week, not on Thursday.
This is not as bad as it sounds. It is actually easier to fill an article in article space then it is to come up with the perfect headline. All news articles are written so the last paragraphs can get cut to make them fit.
But it is bad. It's bad because Derek was a DORK.
So on Tuesday three of the articles needed a headline. I sat there and stared at the layouts.
And stared some more.
And that's when it hit me. If I had time to actually think about the headline, I couldn't do it. The pressure of the deadline of sending the paper to the printer in time was a major factor in my Headline Writing MojooTM.
Now I had two girls.
Staring at me.
While I am staring at the pages.
"Uh, you know, I can help with these tomorrow no problem," I said. "I gotta run to an interview."
Later that evening, I call Victoria.
"You listened to Derek?"
"Dork. You have only yourself to blame."
"But, help me out here. You're a girl. How do I get out of this mess... with, um, these girls?"
"Thanks for noticing I am a GIRL. Why don't you ask Derek since he is the GIRL EXPERT? Anyway, Dad has to use the phone. Love you, bye."
Okay, I can do this.
Wednesday, I arrive to our small little newsroom, late. Not on purpose either, because I actually had an interview.
And there, on the layout desks, are all the layouts.
All of them.
Waiting for me to help write the headlines.
Now I have six girls.
Looking at me.
Looking at the layouts.
I can't think of a single headline. Not a single damn one! What do I do? WHAT DO I DO!?!?!
"Anthony, you don't look too well," Rachel said. She looked concerned.
"Uh, I don't feel so good." It's true. I felt nauseous.
"Here, sit," said Angela. "You're like sweating."
Megan fetched me a class of water.
Helen actually put the back of her wrist to my forehead. "You're hot," she said.
Sandy went into the first aid kit and then stuck a thermometer in my mouth.
Ann fetched Mrs. Reed, the Journalism Teacher.
"Wow, Anthony, you look terrible. Go home before you spread whatever it is you have to the rest of the staff!"
"I need to help with the headlines." Only, with the thermometer in my mouth, it comes out as "Iul eed to el pith uh ead-ines."
"Nonsense. If you are feeling better, you can come in tomorrow. We'll muddle through until then. Now scoot! I'll call the office."
"99 degrees," announced Sandy.
All six young women and Mrs. Reed look at me. Megan actually puts her hands on her hips.
"I'll drive you home," Angela said. And she did. All six blocks.
"Get well soon," she told me, and then kisses me on the cheek. I practically run into the house.
Oh. My. God. I am a dork. I am the Dork of the Century. I am Ass Dork. Dork Ass Dork. Dork-o-Boy.
When the going gets tough, the tough call Victoria.
"Hello, Mascot Boy. When are you coming over, anyway?"
"WHAT IF I CAN'T WRITE ANYTHING TOMORROW? WHAT DO I DO?"
"Oh, are we talking about those headlines again?"
"HELP ME! I actually went home sick!"
"I'm gonna be if I can't put out tomorrow!"
"Ha. Well at least you're not being taken advantage of any more by those GIRLS."
"But but... fine. Abandon me in my hour of need."
"Oh, now don't sulk. My parents and sister are not going to be home Friday night. Come over and I'll make you forget the disaster you're heading into on Thursday."
Now, you would think this would drive me out of my funk, but it does not. I feel stupid for thinking my newspaper friends were taking advantage of me.
At night, I lay there thinking of headlines. I fall asleep well past midnight.
In the morning, my mother knocked on my door.
"Anthony, get up for school!"
"I'm not going!"
"Well, come out for breakfast."
"I'm not hungry!"
"You have to come out and eat sometime."
"No, I don't. Just periodically slip Melba toast under the door. I'll be good."
A few minutes later, Mom actually does slip Melba toast under the door, along with a note:
Go to school, or you're not going
to Victoria's this weekend.
Oh man oh man oh man.
Fine. I go to school. Then I head to the newsroom at my appointed Hour of Doom, feeling like I am going to barf at any moment. And there, I was met by six lovely young ladies who fawned over me and asked me if I felt better. They proudly showed me the layouts.
All the headlines were there. Except, they were all in the wrong fonts. With the wrong words. In the wrong sizes. They were terrible. Terrible!
"Uh, I think if we change this one slightly it would not, um, uh, have this repeated word that's on this next headline over."
"Okay, what should it say?" asked Megan. She looked at the clock. "We don't have much time."
I read the article in a flash. "Uh, Debate Team Moves to 2nd Place, one size smaller."
"This one here can be re-arranged. Football Cheer Squad Changes Captains."
"Oooo, that fits better," said Helen.
"These two headlines are going to run into each other when the paper is folded out, so..."
And just like that, my mojoo was back.
The moral of this story?
Sometimes we all need deadlines. Good people will let you do what you're good at. Do not underestimate a group of girls. Melba toast does not make a good breakfast.
And Derek was a DORK!