• “When life gives him lemons, Chuck Norris makes grape juice.”

    We all laughed, even though everyone knew it was coming. It was a really stupid joke, but that was his forte - stupid jokes with a great delivery. James was just that kinda guy that whenever he smiled, you wanted to smile back. He loved to stir the pot and ask the teachers questions just to take them off guard. He was like a brother and was just plain fun to be around, even if he liked to play with fire … literally. But he was too “emotionally unstable” (Political Correct-ese for ‘acts really bipolar’) to be in with the Populars or the Emos, so he was with stuck with us.

    We didn’t mind much.

    Patience flipped her hair outta her eyes and made some sort of comment about ninjas and antioxidants (I never know what she’s saying). I turn to her and c**k an eyebrow; you just had to respond like that. Maybe it was the purple hair streaks, the black and pink nails, or the slitted “Happy Bunny” t-shirts, but she was just weird. Sometimes I think she dressed that way just to say, “Hey Mom and Dad, I hate my name. We’re not Puritans and I wanted to be named Autumn.” That’s what we called her anyway, after her favorite musician, Emilie Autumn. She played viola in the downtown Classical Orchestra, played intramural tennis, and liked to write ‘noir’ poetry. She was really cool, but too bizarre to fit in with the band geeks, the jocks, or the journalism club. She was here by choice, unlike some of us.

    Kenny was a really sweet guy, but he had a learning disability. Nothing serious, it just took him a little longer to work stuff out. That, coupled with a horrible experience at his last school had left him emotionally scarred and about 4 years behind the rest of us. His mom didn’t let him drop though, and with 2 years of personal tutors he’d finally caught up to us, but he was still clinically shy and not many people were willing to spend enough time with him to find out how sweet and smart he was. Not only that, but when he thought things through, he mulled over every single detail for minutes. It would take him a while to answer a teacher, but in the end, he was always right.

    Then there was Caroline. Cara was really quiet. And when I say quiet, I mean it. She’s been my best friend for years, so I can say with confidence that she just doesn’t like people. She’s a bookworm like me and for the first 4 months of High School I don’t think she said a single word to anyone who wasn’t a teacher asking a specific question to her. What’s more, she’s a total genius. When I say that, I don’t mean she was a straight A+ student, or a math nerd, or anything like that. She has a talent for story telling that I’ve only seen in a few other people (people she introduced me to, coincidentally). Whenever I call her stories ‘genius’ she’d just sorta laugh and says, “Me? Have you seen my Chem grades?” So what if she doesn’t get numbers, so what if she can’t unravel the time/space equation and 10 seconds flat, or even program a DVD player. She’s amazing, and what she pulls out of her brain never ceases to inspire me (and shame me, especially when it takes me forever to write a 10 page stand alone and she does 30 pagers in less than a month!)

    I think that just about rounds out our little group. The Funny-Emo, the Crazy-Goth, the Slow-Quiet One, and the Introvert-Bookworm. Me? I’m just here by default. I can’t play any kind of sport. I took piano lessons for a while and liked them, but I wasn’t motivated enough to keep up with them or join the band or anything. I like to write, but I’m too slow. I love to draw, but my creative juices are too erratic. The math club … yeah, let’s just not go there.

    So I was sitting alone at my lunch table freshman year, just me, my sketchbook, and “Enya”. I noticed that someone else was wandering around without a table. I looked up and caught her eye. She sat behind me in Lab and I figured she wouldn’t mind sharing the table. She smiled really shyly and came to sit a few seats down from me. She noticed my CD and I noticed her copy of “The Two Towers”. We started talking, really quietly and kinda awkwardly, but pretty soon we were smiling and giggling like we’d known each other for months, not minutes. Cara sat at my little table for another couple weeks, maybe a month, then a guy with spiky brown hair and dark shades wondered over. He muttered something unintelligible and sat down on my other side at the very end. One of the Jocks at the next table made some sort of idiotic comment and we both snorted in derision. We looked at each other in surprise; he smiled at me, I smiled back, and pretty soon James was a permanent member of our temporary little group.

    The three of us stuck together like glue for the rest of that year, and when Sophomore year started, our little table was still unclaimed, so we grabbed it. We’d become so comfortable over the course of a year and summer, than we would laugh, sing, and make inside jokes without really caring who at the neighboring tables heard us. James was full of funny, stupid sayings and Cara had gained enough confidence to laugh out loud … if one was actually funny. So it was that we somehow attracted Autumn. She just kinda breezed in, said “This looks like fun”, plunked down her lunch across from me, and joined right in. We stared at her, but pretty soon her crazy, sarcastic sense of humor was a regular feature.

    That was the year Kenny came to our school too. James found him at the computer lab reading a webcomic they both liked. They started talking and became really good friends, and before too long Kenny was a full fledged group member too. By the end of Junior year, our little group was full of inside jokes, shorthand humor, and lots of love (no, not like that). We’d become like a family, and now, we’re Seniors.

    I started writing this thinking about how hard it was living through High School without any “clique” or “club” just a couple friends that no one else wanted, but I realized that now we’re our own little group. We’re not Jocks, Nerds, Preps, Goths, or even the ever elusive Popular.

    We’re Randoms, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Ariel d’Mar, Class of 09: September 2008
    (PS - I love you guys! ^_^ )