My mom pulled up in front of Francisco Middle School in our beat up Volkswagen Mini bus the way she always did every morning and as usual, it died on her.
“I swear if your dad doesn’t get this thing fixed, I’m going to take it in myself,” she said in an exasperated tone.
“Ah, Mrs. T my cousin Eddy’s got a place over off Battery if you’re really thinking about getting it fixed,” David said.
“I’m sure he’ll give you a family discount if I call him for you.”
I just looked at David and rolled my eyes as we got out of that piece of crap car.
“Thanks, David, I’ll check with Peter and let you know,” my mom said back as she was stomping on the gas pedal and cranking the car up.
We headed up the steps to school while dodging around other students late for school and trying not to hear the snickers and catcalls coming from the same gang of lowlifes that came to school every day just to pick on us.
“Nice car Turner” or “Hey betcha can’t wait to inherit that one huh Turner” or my favorite “Where’d your parents get that one, from a museum?”
All said in malice with the accompanying laughter ringing in our ears and following us all the way in through the doors.
“Don’t let them get to you AJ,” David would always say.
“Right,” I would always reply.
“Besides, I like riding in it,” he said.
“It’s old but I bet it gets great gas mileage,” he finished.
“Especially when my dad coasts downhill in the city,” I laughed.
“Yeah, I don’t know about that,” David admitted.
“Kinda scares the crap out of me sometimes.”
“You’ll get used to it after about 10 years,” I said.
Just then, the homeroom bell went off and we were elbows and knees trying to make it to homeroom before it finished ringing. Of course, we did not make it. We came crashing through the door as Mr. Wilson was just opening up the attendance book. He looked out over his glasses and down his nose at us as we hurriedly made it to our seats.
“Glad you could join us gentlemen,” he sneered at us.
“Sorry,” we both intoned back to him.
“Oh well, we really didn’t want to change anything on the last day of school now did we?” he asked.
“It’s good to know that you are both consistent at least at something.”
He continued, “And before you tell me about your transportation problems again, please don’t.”
“I am just happy to know that I won’t have to hear about them all summer long.”
“Next year you’ll get to be Lowell’s problem,” he finished saying.
I really hate when stuff happens that I am not in control of and end up blamed anyway. Hello? Just fourteen, I can’t drive and if I could, I wouldn’t be driving myself to middle school. I would be out on the road enjoying the good life. David looks over at me and smiles because he knows exactly what I am thinking. I nod back to him and smile.
“Something you want to share with the class, Turner?” Mr. Wilson asks.
“Hmm,” I said.
“You were looking out the window daydreaming, as per usual Mr. Turner with a smile on your face,” Wilson said.
“I was just wondering if you wanted to share your little musing with the class,” Mr. Wilson needled.
“It was nothing, Sir,” I replied.
He choked before he said, “A Sir, from AJ Turner?”
“It figures that the last day of school you finally learn how to respect me,” he stated.
“Speaking of learning, Sir,” I said.
“I was in the library the other day and ran across a famous quote that said, ‘Love and respect do not automatically accompany a position of leadership. They must be earned,’” smiling as I finished. Just then, the bell rang and everybody scrambled to get out.
“Way to go AJ,” Mindy Chan said to me as David and I came out the door in the middle of the group leaving the room. Mindy is the perfect girl. She is smart, funny and as beautiful as any runway model from New York or Paris. Therefore, the worst thing that she could have done right now would have been to say anything to me.
“I, ah…I mean,” I stuttered.
After which I coughed up a lung.
Just then, of course, David swoops in and grabs me by the elbow leading me away.
“Sorry,” David said in passing, “Gotta go, all ready late for Math.”
David kept holding my elbow until we got around the corner.
“Thanks for the save, Dave,” I said.
“Not a problem,” he replied, “I almost coughed up a lung myself. Could you believe it, Mindy saying anything to either of us?” he asked.
We both smiled as we headed to our 2nd period Math class led by one of our cooler teachers, Mr. Driver. We ducked into Mr. Driver’s class just in time as the bell went off.
“Okay, everybody take a seat and get relaxed,” Mr. Driver said to the class.
The door burst opened and a couple of tardy kids came in looking sheepishly at Mr. Driver who just nodded at them as they took their seats.
“We’re going to spend the next fifty minutes just talking about what kind of plans you have for the summer. Who wants to go first?” he asked.
The rest of the morning classes all went the same way that Mr. Driver’s class did. It was not until lunch that the day came to a screeching halt. Well, maybe not a screeching halt, but very close.
David and I got our trays and filled up with the standard cafeteria food, which included a ‘name that meat’ selection that could have been beef, maybe. That reminded me of a commercial I saw the night before about a new Taco Bell product that mentioned ‘made with real beef’ and I thought to myself ‘real beef as opposed to what other kind of beef is there?’
Maybe Taco Bell uses the same meat as they do here at Francisco. I was so preoccupied with my thoughts that I did not see Ricky Mako standing with his back to me talking to his gang as I ran into him with my shoulder. Our trays ended up colliding as well and I splattered most of my lunch onto his tray.
“Oof,” Ricky said.
“Ah, sorry,” I replied quickly.
Ricky turned around with a big smile on his face and I knew I was dead. He looked down at me from his six-foot height and said, “Well if it isn’t my old pals AJ and his sidekick Dave.”
He chuckled, as his gang of friends joined in.
Ricky noticed my new Nike shoes and said, “Sick shoes. But answer me a question Turner.” I gave him a puzzled look. Ricky’s smarter half Jay Lee said, “He has a question for you Turner.”
“Yeah,” Ricky intoned.
“Sure,” I said back.
“Why is it you got some of the best skating shoes around and you don’t jam?” he asked. I look around for some help.
“Jam, man,” Jay says, “You know get together with other skaters?”
“Yeah, we’re all thinking you’re some sort of poser, Turner,” Ricky said.
Now, I don’t own a skateboard because my mom had some weird dream about me on a board going down Filbert Street and crashing into the bay. Crazy right? But, I didn’t want them to know that.
“I got one at home and my parents won’t let me bring it to school because they think someone will rip it off,” I said hurriedly.
“Yeah he’s got the Arbor Hybrid GT Complete Longboard for Christmas last year,” David said.
“Pretty gnar man,” Ricky said. He looks down at the mess I made and rubs my head with his big paw.
“Don’t worry about the mess little man,” he stated. “Maybe we’ll all get together and jam over the summer. We hang mostly at Potrero del Sol on the hill,” he advised us. “Check it out and dude, bring your board I’d like to do a session on it.” Then Ricky and his friends, moved off.
I turned to David after they were out of hearing distance and asked, “I got what for Christmas?”
“The Arbor Hybrid,” he said. “It’s one of the best boards around for guys like us.”
“What do you mean guys like us?” I asked.
“Guys that would like to eat their lunch and not have it shoved down their throats,” he stated.
“Oh, those guys,” I said. We gathered up what was left of our lunch and found a place to sit.
“How did you come up with the Hybrid board, by the way?” I asked.
“Latest copy of Trasher,” David explained. I looked at him.
“Didn’t know you were a closet skater, David,” I said.
“You better be thankful I am, huh?” he said. I chuckled.
“Yeah you saved my butt on that one,” I said.
“That’s twice today, but who’s counting?” David said smiling.
After lunch, we went to two more boring last classes of the year. Then we went to our last class. As we headed to our final Spanish class with our teacher Ms. Cruz, we did so agonizing.
Ms. Cruz happens to be one of the hottest teachers in all of San Francisco and the fact that she is a recent transplant from Spain really made her even hotter. We headed around the corner and I looked over at David.
“Last class of the year with Ms. Cruz, David,” I said.
“Yeah,” David sighed.
“The last class,” I mumbled.
“Yeah,” David repeated.
Then we were there. I opened the door to a giant fiesta. The desks were to the sides of the walls and there was a giant piñata hanging in the middle of the ceiling. David and I both got a party hat and a party whistle, which we put to good use.
The final tardy bell went off for the last class of the year with Ms. Cruz and our last class ever at Francisco Middle School.
“Okay everybody you need find a place to stand,” Ms. Cruz said. “As you can see the desks are out of the way so just back up against the wall and we’ll start. “I decided to have a fiesta for our last class. It’s kind of a tradition where I come from.”
Everybody had smiles on their faces and I could tell we were all going to enjoy our last class at Francisco Middle.
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