“Shagging is Hard” by Kendall Roderick
This story appears in the anthology “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Being a Stupid Kid.”
The hallway carpet leading into the school cafeteria was an emerald green mixed with puke brown and sky blue. I imagined that without the puke color, it might have been mildly pleasant.
I was meeting Sarah, who had been my best friend for years, for lunch. My mother had always begged me not to hang out with such a bad influence, the girl who had taught me curse words in fifth grade and who bragged about watching R-rated movies. She liked to dye her hair and wear clothes that were undesirably bright. I knew I was still desperately behind in high school knowledge, and Sarah was the only one brave enough to explain the dirty jokes and the strange words that passed through the hall daily. But my mom didn’t understand all of that.
We took dance classes together: swing, balboa, salsa, our first shag class—another form of swing dancing. It was what we did every day after school at a semi-shady downtown hippie club where we were the youngest participants. We had made college friends there and talked about it regularly. We figured it couldn’t hurt being friends with older guys. Swing dancing was undeniably our thing, but shag was something new and exciting and, as it turned out, also very hard. I had pretty much fallen over my own feet the whole night, but one of our college friends, Ray, had taken to it quite nicely. He had danced like there was nothing to it.
When I entered the cafeteria, I saw Sarah propped up against the side wall on the far end. As usual, she was picking at her food like a bird and enjoying laughs with a large group of strangers. I sat down next to her, scooching her over. Our shoulders bumped awkwardly as we tried to get comfortable on the metal park bench. I usually started the conversations. I was talkative but never one to talk during classes, so when I could talk, I couldn’t contain myself.
“Last night was pretty fun,” I said. Sarah didn’t look up, but popped a grape in her mouth and gave me a funny face. “I thought it was really difficult.”
Sarah again said nothing, but shrugged slightly.
“Everyone seemed to be having a hard time except for Ray.”
“Oh, I didn’t notice,” Sarah said, still not paying attention. She was different at school, more popular. She had more friends than I could count, but for me, it was pretty much just her.
“You didn’t? Ray was shagging like it was nothing. It just seemed so natural to him.”
Another girl at the table lightly coughed and eyed the rest of the people, who were all now paying close attention. I couldn’t imagine why.
“You didn’t think so?” I asked Sarah, confused on why she was eyeing the others as if they were participants in a game show. I crossed my arms in front of me, ready to defend myself, but also intimidated by the onlookers with their sudden intense interest. “Well, I think he’s great at shagging.”
Sarah lurched forward in an uncontrollable laugh, her body leaning into the metal picnic table as her hair lightly grazed over her food.
Sarah motioned with her hand as if she were a football coach trying to call a timeout. From the snickers on the other side of the table, I’m certain my face was turning a soft shade of scarlet, but I didn’t know what I had done wrong. Sarah had managed to say “Stop!” in a gurgle-type cough that mixed with her laughter, though my nervousness always made me talk more.
“Didn’t you shag with him?” My tone reflected my irritation and a slightly higher volume that brought more listeners.
Sarah caught the new onlookers’ eyes and magically, her laughing stopped. “Kendall, seriously?”
Sarah leaned over, cupping her hands around her mouth to form a tunnel to my ear. She then whispered, and the faint scarlet that my face had become earlier turned a distasteful color of burning flames. I was mortified because, according to Sarah, “shag” meant sex, and to high school students, it certainly meant sex in all instances. My mind played back through our conversation, and it didn’t sound like innocent dance talk.
I left the cafeteria, following the path of nasty puke-colored carpet, listening to the giggles disappear in the background.
Kendall Roderick was sheltered as a kid, not being able to watch PG-13 movies until she was 16. The lack of common knowledge actually helped in the long run and resulted in an undisturbed fairytale mind. As a child, she started writing and hasn’t stopped, having been published many times, including in several “Not Your Mother’s Books.”
Again, this story appears in “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Being a Stupid Kid.” This book is filled with 59 silly and crazy stories by Baby Boomers who survived growing up. Purchase this book today from your favorite retailer, Amazon (http://amzn.to/1vpRWoW) or Barnes & Noble (http://bit.ly/1FGUs1d).
To submit your stories for consideration in future NYMB titles, go to http://www.PublishingSyndicate.com and click on the “Not Your Mother’s Book” tab.