If you want to see what a geek looks like just find a picture of me at about the age of 14 (unfortunately this stage lasted until I was about 17) Short, pudgy, ugly, too smart for the dumb kids and too dumb for the smart kids; too good for the bad kids and too bad for the goody-goodies. Not old enough to be an adult but too old to be a kid.. I didn’t listen to J.Giels or Kiss like most of the kids at school I listened to the music my much older siblings listened too. (The first pop song I knew all the words too was Lucy in the sky with Diamonds, I was 6); the music my older parents listened too. (My mother liking everything from Nelson Eddy and John Phillip Sousa to the Moody Blues and my father listening to classical) I listened to the weirdest stuff of any kid on my school; they wanted to be Farrah Fawcett I wanted to be Julie Andrews. So the only thing stranger to my friends beside the fact the band I liked not only had a squeaky clean rep in the days when everyone knew all pop/rock bands who were anyone did drugs, they dressed funny (let’s face it they did) and the one I was crazy about had a woman’s name. What could be worse?
Since I didn’t fit into any particular group of people my friends comprised some of all. My roller friends were Kim (and Woody), Cheryl (and Eric), Debbie (and Les, I had to share him even then). Some of my other friends kind of liked them but wouldn’t admit it. We traveled from Jr. high into high school together; faithful to our guys and fighting over the latest issue of many fan mag. that they were in.
As usual my family was to go to the lake for part of the summer to visit with my aunt and uncle. Now I always thought it was weird to go to the lake when we lived right near one. In fact, it’s the end of the street, but we did always go to Triangle Lake. My siblings being occupied with jobs and college, that summer I went alone, kinda cool no parents to bug you all the time not that I minded my Mom but my dad was something else. Anyway I went to the lake and spent the best summer of my life up to then.
My cousins were Kenny, Leslie, Kevin Lizbeth and Kris. The best thing about this summer was to be that Leslie was a bit of a fan, only a year older then me and she could drive. I had all kinds of things planned, she was on the look out for boys and I decided to go to and maybe learn something. Fortunately for me, she didn’t like that idea and I stayed at the lake.
An older couple owed the house next to my Aunt and Uncle’s. They’d decided to travel that summer and rent out the house. So we all helped them pack and carry out the things they didn’t wish to leave behind with strangers. Liz and I were the first to see them arrive; two cars one with people and one with people and luggage. They looked like they were moving in. We didn’t pay to much attention except to notice they were male and good-looking since the new 16 magazine had come out and I needed my BCR fix. After I’d read it 50 times I handed it to Liz, who was sitting next to me on the lawn and I took the binoculars from her to watch the house. I focused on the car since they were still bringing in the luggage, the first thing that came into view was a plaid stomach, I moved the binoculars so I could see the face, “OH My God.” I said to Liz “do you know who that is?” Pointing at the magazine she said, “Yea, it’s him.” I had died and gone to Roller heaven, it was gonna be a great summer after all. THEY were next door.
Now, the fact that we were sitting in the back yard watching a house not more then 50 ft away with binoculars must have seemed weird, but we were weird kids as was frequently pointed out to us by the new neighbors. We couldn’t figure out a way to meet them without appearing like dorks, which we did already we just didn’t know it, so we decided to let them notice us. Which they had since we had been sitting there watching their house with binoculars. Anyway, Liz and I went about our daily ritual of trying to decide if we should swim instead of fish and since neither one of us would touch the bait or fish should we actually get one we always ended up swimming. On this particular afternoon we were having this dumb conversation again when Derek appeared in the doorway. We stopped the conversation dead and he smiled at us introduced himself and asked some general questions like where was the grocery store and stuff like that. Liz did all the talking and offered to go with them and show the way. Woody came up during this conversation and after getting the directions from Liz he felt they could find it ok. We went to the dock and they headed to the car. We tried to keep and eye out for them but didn’t get to see them again the rest of the day, even though we had the binoculars in hand.
We met Les in a much more interesting way. We managed to get Kenny to bait our hooks so there we were sitting on the dock fishing when I caught one. I screamed, neither Liz nor I was gonna touch it. We must have been a hysterical pair, because Les came to the rescue laughing. He simply walked up to me, took up the line looked at my fish and said, “I don’t think it’s worth keeping.” With that he took my bluegill off the line and threw it back in the lake. I stared at him and said something truly stupid, I don’t remember what exactly but I do remember saying, “Oh my God you’re, you’re…” He smiled and said, “Yes I am, but don’t tell anyone. It’s a holiday for us and it won’t be if we are found out.” We promised and he chatted to us for a bit and recommended that we not fish anymore. Eric spotted Les talking to us and headed out to the dock. The minute Liz saw him she was in love, Les told him about my giant killer fish and I found out he would tease me like that for the rest of the summer. Les offered to introduce us to the new Roller Ian who was hiding in the house. He was so cute and funny, just like Les and he teased me mercilessly as well. I fell right away; he was always nice to me and never teased me about my crush.
It wasn’t long before Aunt Paula and Uncle Ken became aquatinted with the new neighbors, they liked them too so every thing was great. Aunt Paula soon decided they were a bunch of helpless young men and they ate with us almost every night and no one at the lake ever told a soul until the guys were gone.
We spent a lot of time that summer with them and poor Les spent a lot of time evading my cousin Leslie who was chasing him as fast as she could. As it turned out the best place for him to do this in the middle of the lake with us. We caught a lot of fish that summer, most of which we threw back and Les became expert at baiting and removing the fish from the hook without sticking himself with it. . More then once we thought Les was gonna drown himself goofing off in the boat but he always came back up. Woody taught us how to water-ski, after he taught Liz how to do something beside the dogpaddle. He also taught us how to play a mean game of volleyball and even in that Les found something to tease me about. Whenever it was my turn to serve he would yell DUCK, just because I narrowly missed hitting him in the head with the ball once when it was my turn to serve. I did hit Ian once with a golf ball but I swear it was an accident and I told him I couldn’t do that game!
My Uncle liked Derek the best thinking he was the most sensible. I spent long hours contemplating life with Derek. He was a great listener and seemed to understand how awful it was to be an in-between. During these long talks with Derek, Liz was learning to play the guitar, something she still does. She never fails to tell everyone who asks who her first teacher was. Eric patiently sat there and taught her, while she beamed up at him adoringly. Eric also wrote on every bit of paper he could find little bits of songs that he had stuck in his head. He said he wrote them down so when he needed that bit he’d have it handy.
I discovered that Les sang all the time. He was always singing under his breath or humming something. Just for fun I tried to throw him off by humming, singing something else or the same song in a different key. I never could do it. Eventually Les and Ian discovered the campus of U of M and we saw less of him as he was discreetly dating several co-eds that didn’t have a clue who he was. This really bummed me out neither of my crushes were around but I had my friend Derek to bug and soon he was out there fishing with us. Leslie turned her sites on the slower prey of Eric as Les was exceptionally good at disappearing whenever she was around, but she decided Eric was too moody and went off with a guy from AAHS. That was fine with Liz, she could now get back to her lessons without interruption for her sister. Eventually, Woody took over this task and Eric hung out on the campus with Les and Ian. Liz was crushed for about 2 hours; Woody she decided was much funnier. They took us out on their little side trips. We went to the sand dunes (we had to dig Derek and Ian out of them): Lake Michigan, (Les was foolish enough to try and go in, not believing us that it was always freezing cold): Frankenmuth (Michigan’s Little Bavaria; They gave new meaning to “all you can eat” family style dinners) and Holland, MI (tulips are blooming in Holland Michigan, silly song)
By the end of the summer we had made good friends and if it weren’t for my snapshots of them no one at school would have believed it. I went back to school no longer a weird kid but a special kid; I sporadically kept in touch with them following their lives and them mine. For High School graduation I got cards from Ian, Les, Eric and Woody and small locket from Derek with my name on it. I still have it and frequently wear it. When I graduated from college, I sent them all invitations to the ceremony just for fun, I did received messages from Ian and Derek, making me so happy, Les even sent me a diamond cut G-clef charm to wear for luck he said. He knew how much I loved music and I had tortured him by sending him tapes of every performance I did. I don’t think he ever listened to them but he never told me to stop. After college I went to England for a month’s vacation in the vain hope of seeing one or more of my friends. I did get to see Derek and Woody again and it was as if they’d never been away. I even got to date Ian a couple of times now that I was legal. I got a job interning with an auto company and got the opportunity to go to Japan. I had no idea Les was there but thanks to some friends I did get to see him and spend some time with him again.
My 14-year-old dream was to marry one of them it started out with
Les but after having him tease me so much I decided it was like having
another brother around. Then I fell for Ian but he teased me a lot too.
So I decided Derek was the better choice and still manage to keep in touch
with him. Derek will probably always be my confidant and friend as long
as he cares to be. As for Les teasing me, it is like having another brother
around but that’s ok I’ve finally figured out how to tease him back.