Lakesha Perry hung out with me a lot now that we didn’t have gigs on week nights. We did our homework reluctantly because Sherona or Rhonda made us and then we’d play video games and complain about school the rest of the time.
The paparazzi thought we were dating, which was pretty funny. We weren’t dating actually, though I think Lakesha kept hoping that I’d ask her out. I just didn’t want the complication of a girlfriend.
When she asked me about it, I was honest. “Look, I like you a lot ‘Kesha, but I don’t think we should date…I don’t want you to get the wrong idea.”
“I don’t want to marry you, Mick,” she sounded exasperated. “I just want to know that you’re not going to go out with any other girl.”
“I’m not. I don’t want to date anyone right now.”
“That’s great, but lots of girls want to date you. I want them to know that you’re taken.”
“Why? It’s not like I’m flirting with them or asking them to come home with me.”
“I know, but still…”
“How about this, why don’t you go to prom with me?”
“Prom’s not for another 4 months!”
“Right. But if people know I’ve already asked you, it won’t be an issue. I only want to go with you anyway. We’d have a blast.”
Lakesha finally agreed. I think she’d rather have been my girlfriend and my prom date, but she settled on being my date. It did cause the other girls to leave me alone, which was what she wanted anyway.
I wasn’t the only one with issues with the opposite sex. My sister Sherona was seeing a guy named Dane Bijou, that none of the rest of us liked. He was a massive tool, in my opinion, but Sherona seemed to like him just fine. I thought he only went out with her because of her looks. She needed a more brainy type of guy but those types never asked her out.
We tolerated Dane for Sherona’s sake, but when he asked her to move out of our house, none of us were happy. He wanted her to get her own apartment so that he could spend the night. He didn’t like having to go home without getting any since she still shared a room with her sisters. See, I told you he was a tool!
Finally Virginia confronted Sherona about Dane. We were supposed to be practicing in the garage, but Virginia told the rest of us to be an hour late. She wanted to find out what Sherona was planning. We didn’t even hide the fact that we were eavesdropping, but Sherona didn’t notice.
“Look V, Dane’s right. I need to get a life of my own. How long are we going to continue living here? We’re adults now!”
“I know we’re adults, but Dane just wants you alone so he can stop going home with blue balls. Can’t you see that he just wants sex? He doesn’t care where you live!”
“He cares about me. I told him that I wasn’t ready for sex. He agreed to wait.”
“Sure he did! You’re so naïve! He thinks once you have your own room, you’ll change your mind.”
“Dane loves me!”
“Sure he does. Do you love him?”
“I don’t know.”
There was no way Sherona loved a douche like Dane Bijou. She the kind of girl who liked guys who could challenge her mind. Dane could never do that. Virginia and Sherona continued to discuss Dane and moving out. After almost a half an hour, Virginia finally agreed that as adults, maybe the girls needed to find their own place.
“But if we move out, we should all move out together. We don’t have to share a room, but nothing says we shouldn’t share an apartment.”
“That’s all I want,” Sherona agreed. “I want to start living my own life.”
Finally the day of our big concert at the Megastage came. It was the biggest gig we’d ever held. For me, it was pure bliss. I loved every second of performing on such a large stage and for such a large crowd.
After the concert was over while my brother and sisters were eating pizza back stage, I was feeling like the hottest shit in town. I fully admit to heading out into the crowd and strutting around a bit. I loved the feeling of being seen and admired. The paparazzi was everywhere and I was happy to let them snap pictures of me.
Man, I was so high on the adoration of the crowd, that I did something really stupid. I was approached by a girl who went to my school, Penelope Junket. She’s a bit younger than me, but boy was she smokin’ hot. I can’t believe I’d never noticed her before!
“Hey, Mick. That was a great show tonight.”
“Thanks…um?” I felt sort of bad that I didn’t even know her name.
“Thanks Penelope. I’m glad you were able to come.”
“I wouldn’t miss it. I love F-5. I have all of your CDs.”—all 2 of them. I was feeling too good about her acting so fan-girl around me that I sort of forgot that I’m not really that big of a deal.
“I think you’re really great, Mick,” Penelope sort of breathed, and I was flattered.
“Thanks. You’re pretty great yourself,” I said.
“Would you, like, want to go out some time?” she asked.
“Sure,” I gave her my million dollar smile…I’d been practicing it. “How about we hang out next week?”
I continued to flirt with Penelope for awhile completely unaware of my surroundings. Her interest in me just added to the heady rush I was feeling from our performance.
I didn’t find out until later that ‘Kesha had seen me with Penelope. Danny told me.
“Dude, you are such a dick. She was coming to find you to see if you wanted some pizza and she saw you with that girl…whatshername and then she was like, ‘I’m so upset I can’t even eat!’ and then she started to cry!”
“I didn’t know she was there!”
“So? She’s your girlfriend, right? Why did I have to deal with her? I hate it when girls cry. I was just standing there holding my pizza and wishing I was somewhere else.”
“Sorry Bro. I’ll talk to her. And she’s not my girl friend. We’re just friends.”
“I think she feels differently.”
Turned out that Danny was right about Lakesha’s feelings. Even though I thought I’d been clear that we were going as friends, when I asked her to prom, she thought there’d be more to it. After she saw me flirting with Penelope, she completely ignored me. For the next several months she gave me the cold shoulder at school. The only time she’d talk to me was if we were forced to group together in one of our classes.
I figured our prom date was off.
Danny and I actually went stag to the dance. He didn’t have a particular girl he was interested in.
“Between soccer and the band, I don’t have time for girls,” he said. It was true, too. As for me, I just went solo because I didn’t want to pick any particular girl out of all the ones that liked me.
I know it disappointed quite a few of them when I didn’t ask. Penelope actually asked me to be her date. I turned her down, explaining that Danny and I were just going to go and have a good time. She said it was a good idea and thought she might do the same thing with her friends.
Boy am I dumb. What she meant was that she was going to go with her friends but spend all her time with me. Danny got to dance with all the other girls, and I kept getting stuck with Pen. But what was I going to do?
I’ll tell you that it was with some relief that I spotted ‘Kesha glaring daggers at me across the dance floor. Penelope was looking around at everyone to make sure they saw her with me. I was getting pretty tired of it.
“Hey, Penelope,” I said, dragging her attention back to me. “I need to go talk to Lakesha a minute.”
“Why? Didn’t she break up with you?”
“We were never dating.”
“So just ignore her then,” Penelope smiled at me. “She can find her own dance partner.”
“Look Pen, I came solo so I could dance with and talk to all of my friends. Right now I want to talk to ‘Kesha.”
“Fine. But I might have all my dances taken after you leave.”
“That’s ok,” I said. She narrowed her eyes at me in fury, but I didn’t care. I wasn’t her date, and I didn’t like how she was acting.
When I first approached Lakesha and asked her to dance she just wrinkled her nose in disgust. “Why would I want to dance with you when you’re here with that slut, Penelope?”
“I’m not here with her. I came alone,” I tried to explain. “I was just dancing with her. I didn’t bring her as my date.”
“Could have fooled me.”
“Look, I’m sorry Lakesha. I know you saw me talking to Penelope after the concert at the Megastage. It was really nothing, though. I hardly knew her.”
“You were flirting with her.”
“Maybe, but it’s not like I was doing anything wrong.” Boy that was the wrong thing to say. ‘Kesha put her hands on her hips.
“Mickey Fields, you are the dumbest boy at our school. For a guy who could get any girl to like him, you’re completely clueless about them.” She poked me in the shoulder—hard. “I totally liked you, but you never noticed. Now I just think you’re scum. Have fun dancing with Penelope. You deserve each other.”
I was stunned at her vehemence. I was hoping that I could apologize to her, and we’d be friends again. But instead she attacked me then turned and walked away, leaving me standing there like an idiot.
Well, with prom a complete disaster, I couldn’t wait to get out of high school. I avoided Penelope and was steadfastly ignored by Lakesha no matter what I did to get her attention. Danny and I focused on graduating with at least somewhat decent grades (his were better) and he made me work out with him once the soccer season ended (I hated it).
All of that exercise paid off, though, when I had my birthday. I don’t think it’s entirely bragging to say that I have a rockin’ bod. With this six pack, surely I’ll find other girls who don’t ignore me or stalk me. And even if they do, who cares? I think I can handle them.
Danny was pretty smokin’, too, but what do you expect…we’re twins. (And he works out more than me!) We both partied pretty hard on on our birthday. All of us actually had a good time, the girls too. We didn’t leave Aquarius until it closed at 4am.
You know, I’m not sure why the girls moved out. They’re always coming over to our house, saying that us guys didn’t know how to take care of ourselves.
“Jeez, Mick. The only thing you can make is Autumn Salad? It’s breakfast time. How about some pancakes?” Rhonda bitched at me about my lack of cooking skills.
“I like salad,” I said, though I really hated the stuff.
“Go put that in the fridge. I’m going to make a real breakfast. Go take a shower and put on some damned pants!”
After a real breakfast, we’d all rehearse in the garage. Then, if we had a gig, we’d all go out to whatever venue we had booked. It really was silly that the girls hadn’t just stuck around. It would have saved them on gas and rent to have just stayed here.
It made a lot more sense when Uncle Paul told us that he was going back to Twinbrook to be with Gwen and Meili.
“You don’t need me to manage everything you do now,” he said. “And you’re all adults—old enough not to need a chaperone.”
We all knew that he felt somewhat guilty about leaving Gwen and Meili alone all these years to help us succeed. It was time for him to get back to his real family.
I was sad to see Paul go, but I understood. His leaving us without a manager really didn’t change anything about our status as a band. We were still able to perform and our newest CD was doing well.
I thought things were great in our life. I saw nothing but fame and fortune in our future. So, I was totally unprepared when my brother approached me outside of the theatre one night after we finished playing for a roaring audience.
“Mickey,” he hesitated. “I’ve got something I’ve been wanting to talk to you about.”
“What is it bro?” I was concerned. He didn’t have the adrenaline-pumped look on his face that I knew I had on mine. After a successful gig, I’m always pumped. Normally, on a night like this, Danny and I would head out for a drink and do some dancing before all of the clubs shut down.
“Look. I don’t know how to tell you this, but you know music isn’t my life, right?” He glanced over at the theatre. “I don’t want to do this forever, you know? I want to pursue my own interests.”
I was shocked. “Like what? You love music! You’re a pro at guitar! You get totally psyched when the energy of a crowd is good…what more do you want?”
“I want to play soccer,” he shrugged. “You know how much I loved it. I was good, too. All the coaches said so.”
“So? That was high school.”
Danny told me how he’d gone to the gym the other day and saw a flyer for walk-on tryouts for the Bridgeport Llama’s soccer team. Anyone would be welcome to try out.
“I couldn’t pass it up, dude,” Danny said. “I went in and did my best and…” He smiled like a loon. “I made the team!”
“You made the team!?”
“Yeah. I made it. Tonight was my last concert. I have to go to morning practices now. I won’t be able to be up so late. I won’t be able to party all night.”
“That’s it then? That’s fucking it? You made the damned team and now all of our hard work is over…done?”
“I’m sorry Mickey. I didn’t plan this. It just sort of happened.”
“Oh fuck you, Danny. That’s just bullshit. You must have been considering this for awhile.”
“Mickey. I’ve tried to tell you that I didn’t want this forever. It’s just time to be done a little sooner than I thought.”
“Great. Just fucking great. Did you tell the girls?”
“Not yet. I’ll tell them in the morning when Rhonda comes to make breakfast.”
I was furious. I wanted to punch my brother. I hadn’t wanted to hit him like this since we were in grade school. But I looked up into his face and could tell that my reaction was hurting him. He was good at soccer. I was being a dick…again. I should have been happy for him.
“Hey Danny,” I swallowed my selfishness and tried to show him that I was proud of him. “I’m being a jerk. I was just shocked. I wasn’t expecting you to quit the band right now. I know that it wasn’t what you wanted forever. I’m sorry that I didn’t get more enthusiastic. I’m really happy that you made the team.”
“I never wanted to be a full-time musician, Mickey. Never. I wouldn’t have started if I knew it was going to go this far.”
“I know. Don’t worry about it. And if the soccer thing doesn’t work out, you can always come back to the band.”
“Thanks Mick.” Danny and I clapped each other on the back a few times before finally coming together in a bear hug.
“Now let’s go home before we both start acting like girls and sharing our feelings and talking about what shoes you should wear with your new uniform,” I punched him playfully in the arm as we disengaged.
“You’re the wuss who is always stroking your abs and telling yourself how hot you are in the mirror,” Danny punched me back.
“Well if you looked this good…”
Danny and I teased each other the whole way home. I’d done the right thing, but I was still pretty upset. I had a feeling things were never going to be the same again.