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How The Duckling Didn't Become The Swan MAG
I, Serena Lee Ford, didn't go to my prom in a limo. Nor did I even start to learn to drive until I was seventeen. My bedtime was 8:30 sharp every night until I turned twelve, and I wasn't allowed to go to the mall without "parental authority" present until I was sixteen. Indeed, to say that my life has been less than eventful and utterly restrained is a sin far more grave than understatement.
Every day at lunch I refill my water bottle at the cafeteria water fountain. I take a long gulp and walk back to my table where I sit, as usual, with six other girls. All except one of us are romantically uninvolved, and as is our daily ritual, we lament over our lack of such adventures. Emily tells me that the particular malevolence by which I address the male population will eventually see me to be a stalker or mass murderer. I eat a carrot stick and giggle nervously, part of me paranoid that she may be right. I roll my eyes as if annoyed and tell her she's crazy.
After lunch, I head to my eighth period class on the exciting world of calculus. For 40 minutes I listen to Mr. Gerald Sheridan, III, lecture endlessly on the limits as "x" approaches infinity. I stare at him blankly and nod my head as if I understand. I face the bitter reality that perhaps I just wasn't born a dazzlingly brilliant mathematician.
The bell ending the school day rings at precisely five minutes of two. Every day I pack my bag and head out of calculus, wondering how I can muddle through my homework that night. Emily babbles incoherently about some topic I'd really rather not recall as we walk down the hallway and out the building to her car in the parking lot. I roll my eyes and nod my head as if I'm paying attention. But I'm not, and Emily knows I'm not; she just likes the sound of her own voice.
Every day after calculus as I listen to Emily go on and on as we walk to her car. I pull a celery stick from my bag and munch it as softly as can be expected. I cross my fingers and secretly hope for her silence. That's the main problem with Emily: she annoys me. Someone once told me that there exists a very thin line between friendship and hate and not to be discouraged by its bothersome persistence in life. I remember nodding my head and agreeing, but I didn't completely understand until I became friends with Emily.
Every day, just as I ponder the question of whether I want to like Emily or to bring her rather short life to an abrupt close, I pass by the most beautiful guy in the entire world. His name is Noah Holland. He's seventeen years old and the type some affectionately label "shallow." I prefer to coin him a charming "bimboy." He should not be penalized for his somewhat vacuous stare and careless oblivion. There is something endearing in his happy-go-lucky, come-as-you-are aura. So what if he prefers Chaka Khan to Chaucer? There is an inexplicable something that magically transforms his boyish qualities into a much more noble and dear likeness.
Emily once told me that people like Noah Holland often contain more depth than meets the eye. I had a few classes with him last semester, and we spoke briefly on sundry topics. I think Emily's right about him. And what he does lack in intellect, he makes up for in outrageousness. Last week, Noah informed me that he wants to play in a band and lead an eccentric lifestyle. I smiled and nodded my head at the time, and I told him that one needs to be rich to be eccentric. He said that was what the band was for. He tried desperately to convince me that someday, ten years or so down the road, I would see his name in the tabloids for his outrageousness and hear his name connected to fame and fortune time and time again. We laughed, but I still don't know what was funny.
Every day I smile at Noah Holland as I pass, and he grins back, holding my gaze the whole time. Emily says it's a sign. I ask her what a grin and a look are signs of. She glares at me as though I'm completely stupid and then defends her disgust with an equally rude statement. She sighs and says, "Just talk to him."
"But how?" I've been told on numerous occasions that I am no good at interpersonal communication. I've heard that line so often, in fact, that I actually have come to believe it. I try to explain this to Emily, but she tells me I'm being ridiculous. I nod and reluctantly succumb to her opinion. I ask her what it is, exactly, that I should "just talk to him" about.
"Say anything," are Emily's only, amazing words of comfort and assurance.
Every night before I go to bed, I hang up the phone from my latest quality conversation with Emily. Before I do fifty stomach crunches and a dozen push-ups, I munch an apple and wonder if I should call Noah Holland as she suggests.
I look myself in the mirror as I wash my face with astringent. For Noah, I have to be perfect. A peculiar impulse sweeps over me, and I gather up all the courage I have ever held within my soul. I reach for the telephone with fingers trembling. I begin to dial Noah's phone number. The phone rings. Once ... Twice ... I panic and hang up the phone suddenly. What am I doing?! I drink spring water and stare at the telephone beside me as though it is a foreign, vile creature. I nod my head for a reason I can't even begin to comprehend and resolve to think about it tomorrow. 1