I was desperate. So desperate, in fact, that I worked up the nerve to ask Mark for advice. That took a lot of nerve. Almost as many nerves as there are in the human nervous system.
For two reasons:
#1: I did not want to listen to him until I starved to death. Because that was how long he would take to give me the advice.
Speaking of which, remind me to look for a motor inside his mouth. There must be something running that makes it go for so long. If only I could unplug that motor…
Anyway, #2 (and more importantly): I had not spoken to my roommate since before what had come to be known as “The Incident.” It was breaking news at Lamone, and basically shoved Mark into the popular kids’ group and me into the Bottom Feeders.
The world as I had known it had essentially done a stand-up backflip. However, it had not landed yet. But I was hoping more than I wanted my pimples to go away that the world would land that backflip. Otherwise, it would be suspended in midair and be kind of awkward to passersby.
These were the useless thoughts on my even more useless brain as I approached my room. I heard the laughter of popular kids along with Mark’s annoying laugh that was higher pitched than the highest note on a flute: My nerves only intensified to the point where not only did I want to be sucked in a hole, I wanted another hole to suck me into a deeper hole, until I reached the center of the Earth:
Luckily for me, the laughter I heard was all imaginary. When I knocked on the door, Mark squeaked “Enter” and I did.
He was alone. And stunned to see me. When his jaw dropped, revealing nasty saliva that stretched from his upper jaw to his lower (my apologies for the gory details, but they are necessary), it was the only time I had ever seen his mouth bigger than when he ranted about random stuff. I narrowed my eyes to search for some motor inside, when he broke the awkward silence.
“What do you want, Lewis?”
“Uh… I came to ask for advice.” The reason he was so surprised to see me was that as soon as he joined the group of popular kids, he told me to stay away from the room until nighttime. So it was the first time since “The Incident” he had seen me in the room other than at bedtime.
“About what?” He spoke aggressively and angrily, as if he had better things to do than to talk to me. The fact that Mark had the ability to do that showed just how much of a rut I was in. And how I needed to get out as badly as a guy who needs to go to the bathroom on a plane and the person on the aisle is fast asleep.
Believe me, I’ve been there. Done that.
“On how to get over “The Incident.” You know, a clean slate?”
“Well, you can start by apologizing. Now leave.” He pointed out the door with a snobby wave of his hand, and I shuffled out without a clear answer.
It was not until two days later that I realized he had given me an answer. I needed to apologize to Jeffrey. The problem was, it would take guts. Something I had in my body in the same minuscule quantity as intelligence in my brain:
Luckily, I needed no prodding. It was during school. I was on my way to my daily hiding spot when I rammed straight into Jeffrey. It was a head-on collision and hurt.
“Um… sorry,” I stuttered.
“Yeah, you better be, punk.” He did not even use my name as he walked away.
“Wa… Wait!” I stammered, knowing an opportunity had just been handed to me. And to not use it would be shameful.
He stopped walking but did not turn to look at me.
“Look, Jeffrey. I’m sorry. For “The Incident.” And if it is okay with you, I would like us to start over.”
He turned to face me. I shut my eyes in trepidation, fearing there would be anger. Dissent. But instead, I saw surprise. And agreement.
“Yeah. We’ll start over. Apology accepted, Lew.” A grin crossed his face as he addressed my name. “What’s up, little bro?”
And as he walked away, a lesson formed in my brain that I feel the need to share with you.
Life Lesson #21: A small apology can go a long way.