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Embarrassment can briefly kill

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It’s the summer after 8th  grade, I’m at a block party standing right in front of Britany Hanson, the prettiest girl in middle school, I’m in my briefs, and no, it’s not a nightmare.

That summer was a bit of a wash to begin with, my best friend Denzell was on vacation in some foreign land, Tyrell was grounded for some stupid academic reason, and Butters (yes, we called a kid Butters because he looked exactly like the South Park character) had just moved. On top of everything, I was starting 9th grade at a high school none of my friends were going to attend. Needless to say I was determined to spend the remaining days of my mid-pubescent life sulking.

I heard through the infinite web of adolescent gossip that not only would Britany be attending the block party but we’d also end up going to the same high school. Now bear in mind this was before my onset of romantic illusions of grandeur; I was more interested in making a friend to brave the coming storm. Anyone familiar with the complex politics of the American Public School System could tell you that being alone leaves you vulnerable to libel and slander. Besides, she was way out of my league. She was starting varsity in soccer, and I was getting schooled by 5th graders in Pokemon.

None of that mattered during the the transitional phase between grades. If ever there were a time when the mold was weak enough to break it would be when those summer days are drifting away to those summer nights (I can’t tell you more).

I showed up to the party a little after noon. Britany was already sitting down next to the slide talking to her lapdog Joshua McCarthy. I would have gone up and joined in on the conversation except I didn’t want to seem desperate, and besides, there was an open buffet of assorted fruits. I grabbed a few slices of watermelon and did my best to seem occupied — I pretended to text on my phone.

Somehow Joshua had gotten off his leash and disappeared. I casually sauntered over to Britany and asked her how her summer was going. “I spend most of my time playing Baldur’s Gate 2” she replied. Video games, she was finally speaking my language. We managed to get a decent conversation going, it was honestly the most we’ve ever spoken in one sitting.

Everything was going well: I joked, she laughed. We were passing the threshold from classmates to minor acquaintance. Then I felt a tug at my mid section, and time stood still.

I was pulled by my waist into a rare state of existential awareness. Time was frozen, and I could see everything in a three mile radius. I could see a middle aged man eating ribs 60 yards southwest of me, I could see Britany starting to cover her eyes, and I could see Joshua with his hands around the empty belt loops of my pants.

Then time resumed. I stood there flabbergasted for a good minute or so in my underwear. the hairs on my legs stood on end like they were trying to cover up the pair of stilts that held up my torso. “Pull up your pants!” Britany cried out with her hands in front of her face. I took her advice and immediately chased after Joshua.

I tackled him and that was the end of the matter. We all laughed about it as soon as Joshua and I got up out of the dirt.

I’m not entirely sure why he decided to pants me. Maybe Joshua was just marking his territory. Maybe he just thought it was a harmless prank, I don’t know. What I do know, is that Joshua and Britany never happened, Britany and I never ended up in the same social circles, and from that day on I would always wear a belt.