I had always thought that Jamie hated me because I was everything that he was
not. Where he was the basketball captain and star player on the school team, I
could only lay claim to the dubious honor of being the only one in the class to
fail the annual fitness test. As a result, everyone saw me as the resident nerd,
and Jamie, who used to be my childhood friend, took to ignoring me although we
were in the same class. There were times when I would reminisce about the happy
times we spent together wrestling and playing cops-and-robbers in the backyard
of our homes. However, these happy memories were always erased by the
realization that we were now alien to each other. But this was all to change.
I was always the bookish one, and enjoyed going to the local bookstore to browse
through the latest publications and paperbacks. It was always my habit to sit at
a quiet corner of the crowded Borders bookstore and enjoy a tranquil afternoon
reading. Even the store attendants were used to my presence.
I was again in my cozy corner in the store one day when a young and
good-looking girl came up and flopped down onto the seat beside me. I was not
particularly disturbed by her presence, being totally engrossed in the exciting
sci-fi paperback that I was reading. But after a while, it was getting difficult
to ignore her because she kept making clearly audible sounds and disturbing my
peace. If she was not sighing loudly over the magazine that she was poring over,
she was munching noisily on a huge packet of crisps. I tried gesturing to her to
show her that she was disturbing me but to no avail. Either she was
too insensitive or she preferred to ignore me. Frustrated, I finally resorted to
spelling out my dissatisfaction clearly to her.
"Excuse me. Could you please not make so much noise? I'm trying to read
here," I said in as amiable a voice as I could. But my efforts at being pleasant
backfired. Clearly incensed at my audacity,
she started railing loudly at me for what she saw as my unreasonable behavior. I
was astounded. Never did I expect to be so embarrassed over such a civil
request. Her shouts eventually drew a small crowd who, unaware of the true
circumstances, began pointing their fingers at me in undisguised disapproval.
After all, it did sound as if we were having a lovers' spat! Totally
flabbergasted by her behavior and
increasingly embarrassed by the awkward situation I was in, I looked around for
some avenue of escape.
It came in the most unexpected form. Jamie's voice drowned out the girl's
railing and had the effect of shutting her up immediately. What he said was only
one sentence, "Stop shouting at him when it's your fault for being so noisy in a
bookstore." It must have been the icy tone with which he said it that shocked
her. Or maybe it was simply the grim look that he shot in her direction. But
whatever it was, he succeeded in making her embarrassed and she quickly left the
bookstore. When there was nothing else to gawk
at, the crowd dispersed. I turned to Jamie, grateful for his help. But all he
said to me was, "No problem. I've always had to rescue you, right?" With that,
he grinned and left the store. I was left speechless.
But since then, Jamie and I have enjoyed the same friendship that we used to
have when we were mere boys.