Andrew Bernard was cursed with lanky arms, over-sized ears, and an enhanced sense of insecurity. At least, it was perceived as uncertainty, since he did not respond as others his age did. He liked to think that he had a more in depth understanding of himself and the world around him. It was unlikely that anyone else would agree with him.
Regardless, whether it was sitting in literature class or walking down the hallways of the high school, he was ever stagnant behind round glasses, awkward and undefined. His classmates were the opposite. They were sure of themselves, brimming with ambition, ever connected in the social sphere that defined the adolescent years. It was supposed that he should not recognize this variance, but he was different. He was not a part of the strange world of friends and laughter and superficial relationships. He found value in being disconnected. Part of him hated that he could not be one of them, so carefree and jubilant with life, but he was also relieved he was not. That type of lifestyle had to be exhausting.
“Leave me alone, Nick!” Amy shrieked, pushing the jock away from her locker. “You are such an asshole!”
“Whoa! What has your panties all crumpled?”
Andrew has the inclination to do as he usually did, walking past with eyes averted. It was the safest path, the most logical mentality. He was fully aware that high school was a time for hurtful words and impulsive actions, which most would never remember past their 21st birthday. They definitely would have no recollection by the time they were his parents’ age. His parents didn’t know anything!
Andrew generally listened to his inner monologue, but today, he ignored it and paused in the hallway.
“Excuse me! You don’t talk to me like that!”
“You let me say whatever I wanted Friday night, didn’t ya?” Nick laughed, slamming his hand against the locker.
“You…you…” Amy’s eyes swelled up. “I was –
Her voice broke off and Andrew could only guess what series of events had passed between the jock and semi-popular, party-girl, Amy Sanderson. He was playing off of typical high school stereotypes, the nonsense that he had seen in Hollywood films that flooded the media. The same lame representations of teenagers that all the half-brained youth in his class tried to emulate.
“Just leave her alone, Nick,” Andrew said flatly, and paused, nearly dropping his bag to cover his mouth. He just instigated a stereotype. That was not on his high school bucket list.
Nick turned with the facial expression often found on the face of the mindless brute on any one of the hundreds of Looney Toons episodes. Saturday morning cartoons flashed through Andrew’s head, giving prediction of how the next few seconds were going to go.
“What is that, Andy? This is none of your business, geek! Get lost!”
“I’ll take a walk with you, Nick. Just leave Amy alone!” Andrew wished he knew why he was so adamant to protect the damsel in distress. He would later conclude that he had spent too many man hours reading science fiction stories.
Nick took two steps towards Andrew and raised his fist to pummel him for speaking outside of his stereotype. Andrew’s response was quicker, throwing a quick foot up between the jock’s knees.
Three things were learned in that moment as Nick sunk to the ground in a crumpled heap. When it comes down to it, nerd or otherwise, we are all more human than we’d like to admit. Some things are remembered past the age of twenty-one. And lastly, jocks don’t always wear a protective cup!