Daniel Jacobson had the swagger of a pubescent fourteen year old who had just learned to shave. This was because Daniel was a pubescent fourteen year old who got his first razor, a Gillette Fusion ProGlide, a week ago. But, after just one shave, Daniel had decided to grow a beard. That’s what he told his friends when they asked him about the few stray hairs poking through his otherwise hairless chin. All the girls were obsessed with a new age of “lumbersexuals,” anyway. He was just trying to appease the ladies, particularly the angelic Gabriella Stevens.
Gabriella Stevens was a goddess. Ever since she got her pink braces off in the seventh grade, she had become an idol. Strutting through the hallways with her best friend, Isabelle McPherson, trailing behind her, Gabriella Stevens parted the student body faster than Moses parted the Red Sea. Her golden hair cascaded down her turqouise North Face backpack and danced to the rhythm of her eclectic, but totally cool, collection of keychains. Each one sparkled the way her deep blue eyes did, hypnotizing every onlooker in sight. Her fashion choices were no less magnificent. As a mature young lady, Gabriella Stevens shopped at the Juniors section of Nordstrom and bought all of her gym clothes from Lululemon. Every outfit brought a new wave of fads through Edessa Middle School, from cozy heart-patterned sweaters to luxurious pleather vests. To say the least, Gabriella Stevens was a catch.
And Daniel Jacobson tried so desperately to catch her. At first, he had tried to woo her through traditional methods. When she was walking alone, he would join her. When her books were too heavy, he would carry them. When her math homework got too hard, he would do it. Daniel didn’t mind that Gabriella Stevens would become the breadwinner in their relationship. She clearly had the charisma, the beauty, and the popularity to become the president of the eighth grade. The only problem was that what Gabriella Stevens and Daniel Jacobson shared was more like the relationship between a lowly serf and an, albeit charming, feudal lord.
But Daniel Jacobson soon realized that his courting methods were far too conventional for such a modern woman. It would take a certain touch to win Gabriella Stevens. Something that said “I don’t need you, I just want you.” And ever since first picking up, then promptly putting down, his Gillette Fusion ProGlide razor, Daniel knew exactly what he needed to become: a badass.
The transition started off with the abandonment of the Gillette Fusion ProGlide razor. Then, he stopped walking with Gabriella Stevens. He stopped carrying Gabriella Steven’s books. He even stopped doing Gabriella Stevens’ math homework. But Gabriella Stevens paid no mind to such small changes. She found a new Daniel Jacobson, this one by the name of “David McPherson,” Isabelle McPherson’s twin brother. So, Daniel had to get more extreme. He started growing his buzzcut out into a shaggy mess. He found his father’s old leather jacket in the attic and started wearing that. He even started calling himself “DJ.”
But, these efforts were to no avail. Gabriella Stevens cared for DJ just as much as she did for Daniel Jacobson. DJ wasn’t ready to give in, so he tried even harder. After buying a pack of Marlboro cigarettes from a high school dropout, DJ was sure that the end of his “lady problems” was approaching. On Wednesday afternoons, DJ hung out in the school parking lot with his cigarettes. He surrounded himself with the puffs of smoke, coming from like-minded men. After his first Wednesday afternoon in the group, DJ realized that he didn’t want to smoke. He had a small fear of burning himself, after getting a first degree burn from a birthday candle when he was eight. It was because of this fear that he never learned to use a lighter. So he couldn’t exactly light his own cigarette. Of course, the other men in the group did offer to light it for him, after DJ claimed to have forgotten his lighter in his locker. To this, DJ responded by saying that his cigarette was already lit, sealing the deal by blowing out into the frosty January air. His companions should have realized that his cigarette didn’t hold that glow of a lit cigarette, but they were either too dumb or too shy to point this out. Hopefully Gabriella Stevens would fall for DJ before it got too warm outside to continue the deception. Sometimes DJ wondered if the secondhand smoke was worth it. But, in those few moments when DJ watched Gabriella Stevens hop into her au pair’s minivan, glancing in his direction, he knew it was worth it.
February 3rd was the day that Daniel’s life changed forever. It was a normal Wednesday in almost every way that it could be. The cafeteria served its “Pasta Wednesday” pasta. The drama club met to proclaim that its newest production “would never be ready.” The basketball team lost by only a few points this time. But the cold, bitter wind meant that DJ did not fake-smoke in the parking lot. Instead, he decided to take a break from his badass-ness. Report cards were coming out soon, and to say the least, his current grade in English was not satisfactory. After weaving through five different hallways, Daniel arrived at what he thought was the location of the English after school help, Room 245. But his moppy hair made it hard for him to see the closed shade on the door and his newfound carelessness made him forget to double-check the location of the English after school help.
Opening the door, Daniel realized that Room 245 was not the location of the English after school help. It was, however, an abandoned classroom where Gabriella Stevens and Isabelle McPherson did more than gossip about boys. Rocking back and forth to the beat of “Stay with Me” that was quietly playing out of Gabreilla’s bedazzled iPhone 6, Gabriella and Isabelle held each other the way that Daniel had hoped to hold Gabriella Stevens. As Isabelle rested her head on Gabriella’s shoulders, she locked eyes with their audience of one. Her eyes pleaded Daniel to go, and so he did. He closed the door of Room 245, realizing that he would never catch Gabriella Stevens.
Weaving back through the hallways, Daniel tossed his pack of cigarettes in a nearby trashcan. He sat in Edessa Middle School’s lobby, too broken to find the correct room for the English after school help. And he sat there, until the late bus arrived and he could leave behind the disaster of his love life.
That evening, Daniel put his dad’s old leather jacket back into the attic. His mom drove him to the barber shop nearby, where he opted for a buzzcut. After returning home, Daniel took his Gillette Fusion ProGlide razor and some shaving cream out from the back of his bathroom drawer. He lathered up his face, and shaved off those few stray hairs on his chin. He went to bed that night, leaving DJ behind forever.
Or at least until Thursday. When he saw the angelic Madison Moore.
Madison Moore was a goddess. As Madison Moore flicked her wavy brunette locks, and looked in his direction, he said, “Hello, I’m DJ. Do you need some help with those books?” •