Junior Mikey McFarlin stands in the center of the band room, chatting with his friends. He’s got a laid back aura to him, a smirk flickering across his face. That is, until the girl with the cobalt-blue leggings and black Warped Tour T-shirt enters the room. What was a slight smile on Mikey’s face has grown to a full-on grin. He stands up straighter from his slouched position and goes immediately to speak with her.
Mikey and sophomore Natalie Cameron met at band camp last summer.
“I started liking her pretty much immediately,” Mikey said.
It took him about a month to ask her out, which he did at the Jazz Festival on Sept. 6, 2014. They’ve been dating ever since.
Every now and then during class, they’ll catch each other’s eyes and grin. Natalie pulls a double chin. Mikey attempts to replicate it.
About an hour in, the band kids pack up their instruments and resort to chatting or chasing each other around the room.
Natalie, however, remains by her music stand, eyebrows furrowed as she studies the sheets of music in front of her. Mikey cozies up to her side. They link elbows while Natalie points to a section of the music sheet.
“I have to play here to here for symphonic band, and here to God knows where for districts.”
She continues to play her trumpet, grumbling when she messes up.
Mikey wraps his arms around her, placing his head on top of her shoulder. His eyes flit back and forth over the music she’s playing.
They stay like this for a bit, in their own little bubble — seemingly unaware of the kids screaming and laughing and playing tag mere feet from them. Words pass between the two of them, muddled by the banging drums and squawking saxophones in the background. It’s private.
Back and forth, back and forth. Like a pendulum, the cord swings from the ceiling. Like a human-sized cat, senior Brock Arvesen bats it around. He quickly tires and resigns to bothering senior Hannah Scofield while she’s writing “WINTER SALE” in large block letters on the board.
She’s only gotten to the “S” in SALE before Brock picks up a green Expo marker and with the utmost care, begins to color her left hand.
“Hey!” Hannah complains. Brock smirks, and she retaliates by throwing a pretend punch at him.
He wanders away for a moment and continues batting at the extension cord hanging from the ceiling. Back and forth, back and forth. Again, he grows bored and returns to his girlfriend of one year, this time focusing all of his attention on messing up the “E” in SALE.
Brock and Hannah are the self-proclaimed co-fascist dictators of this year’s Art Club. They spend their Wednesday afternoons leading different types of arts and crafts in room 214. This week, it’s origami.
They start the meeting off with Mr. Finkelston announcing that everyone has the opportunity to screen-print their own Art Club T-shirts. Brock and Hannah giggle that instead of printing the design onto T-shirts, they could always just brand it onto Brock’s butt. Brock makes a strange gurgling sound, and Hannah steps back to stare at him in shock and awe.
“I don’t think you’ve ever burped before.”
The small gathering of kids flock around to one of the art room tables while Brock and Hannah lean against the counter, side by side. They nudge hips as Mr. Finkelston places the screen on the T-shirt.
Hannah’s right hand snakes out to remove a piece of yellowing tape from the holder. She rolls it between her thumb and index finger a few times before smacking it onto Brock’s back, making him chuckle.
Junior Carolyn Hassett points to her boyfriend’s laptop, covered in political bumper stickers.
“Nicholas here’s got Carly Fiorina, Stop Hillary and Ben Carson on his. When I get mine out all you see is Bernie,” she says.
She’s sitting at a long table in the debate room, wavy blonde hair just reaching below her shoulder blades. Her boyfriend, junior Nick Massa, sits next to her, immersed in his politically stickered-up laptop. Blank sheets of printer paper are strewn across the table, along with a purple Elements of Literature book and a red Panda Express cup.
Nick leans on the hind legs of his chair and picks up a water bottle. However, when he settles it back on four legs, Carolyn cries out in pain.
“I think my foot is severed,” she yells.
“Why would you put your foot under there in the first place?” he laughs.
She swings her left foot over his lap. “Fix it!”
Nick and Carolyn met over the summer at a debate camp at the University of Kansas. They didn’t get along with each other at first, but after having to spend three weeks with each other there, they learned to coexist. A week after it ended, they were dating. That was nearly four months ago.
They became debate partners this year, and have seen tremendous success so far, becoming Debate Coaches Invitational (DCI) co-bids. That means they’ve either placed in the top 16 or gone to finals at multiple tournaments. Maybe it’s the donuts they go and get the Saturday mornings before tournaments. Maybe it’s just skill.
According to Carolyn, they’ll be partners for the rest of this year and next year as well.
“And then we’ll go to Nationals and then we’ll get destroyed,” Nick grins.
Meanwhile, the practice round begins. Carolyn debates her opponent with practiced sass, flustering him by firing questions she knows he won’t be able
to answer. Nick shakes his head, smiling. She’s grilled him like this before, and it’s nice not to be on the receiving end of it for a change.