October 14, 1975
Sam sat down and pulled Prince Caspian out of his backpack. An entire month of saving up and now he finally had it. He was finally going to read it.
Oh boy, oh boy, Sam thought as he opened up the book.
Unfortunately, his excitement was very short-lived. He hadn’t even read a sentence before hearing the words: “Hey Jeremy, check this out” off in the distance. Before he could even react to the voice, a large object struck him on the side of the head. Sam collapsed to the ground and blacked out for about four seconds. After finally regaining his sight, he looked over and saw a basketball rolling off in the distance. He suddenly heard the sound of laughter.
“You need better hands than that, Kruger,” a voice said, chuckling at the same time.
Sam looked up to see Jeremy, Andrew, Eric, and Bruce. They were all looking down at him and smiling. Sam groaned.
“You were reading again, Kruger?” Andrew asked. “Have you completely forgotten what recess is, or what?”
Sam pulled himself off the ground and then clutched the side of his face. His right cheek was still burning.
“I know what recess is,” Sam said, grabbing his book off the ground.
“Then why were you reading?” Jeremy asked.
“Because I wanted to.”
“Do you ever do anything else? Is this all you do at home? Sounds like a pretty boring life.”
“I do other things.”
Sam took a deep breath.
“None of your freaking business.”
“C’mon, tell us!” Jeremy shouted.
Sam grabbed his backpack and tried to walk off, but Jeremy grabbed him by the back of his shirt.
“Where you going?” Jeremy asked.
“Let go of me!” Sam said, trying to pull his shirt out of Jeremy’s grasp.
“What were you reading? Let’s see.”
Jeremy reached for Sam’s book, but Sam moved it away from him. Unfortunately, Eric had moved to the other side of Sam and yanked it out of his hands.
“Got it!” Eric shouted.
“Hey, give that back!” Sam shouted, finally pulling away from Jeremy. “I paid for that with my own money!”
“What’s this, Prince Cas-pee-an?”
“Give it back!” Sam tried to grab the book away from Eric.
“Let me see it, Eric!” Andrew shouted.
Eric laughed and tossed the book over to Andrew. Sam immediately darted towards Andrew.
“What the heck is this?” Andrew said, opening the book. “Who would waste their money on this crap?”
“GIVE IT BACK!!” Sam screamed.
Sam tried to grab the book from Andrew, but Andrew tossed the book over to Jeremy. However, Sam managed to block the throw with his arm, causing the book to fall to the ground.
Sam raced over to the book and snatched it up. He then quickly stuffed the book back into his backpack. Right as he was about to close it, Andrew darted up behind him and grabbed him by the back of his underwear.
“AHHH!!” Sam shrieked as Andrew yanked up his underwear.
Sam dropped his backpack to the ground, spilling all of its contents. Andrew then let go of Sam and raced over to all of his belongings. The rest of the guys did the same.
“Geez Kruger, do you have an entire library in here?” Andrew said, picking up two of Sam’s books.
“Wow, he actually keeps all of his old homeworks!” Bruce said, looking through one of Sam’s binders.
“Get your freaking hands off my stuff!” Sam shouted, stuffing his underwear back in his pants. He rushed over to his belongings and quickly tried to shove everything back in his bag. Unfortunately, Jeremy grabbed another one of Sam’s binders off the ground. The one binder that he really did not want the guys to find.
“Singing class?” Jeremy said as he looked at the front of the binder. “What?”
“You’re in a singing class?” Andrew said, grinning.
“No…no, I’m not,” Sam stumbled. “That binder…it’s not mine…”
“Dude, he sings!” Jeremy shouted. “SAM KRUGER SINGS!!”
“No, I don’t, really…”
“That’s cool, Kruger,” Andrew said. “What else do you do, ballet?”
Jeremy, Eric, and Bruce all busted out laughing. Sam turned beet red.
“Hey, now we know what he likes to do other than read!” Bruce shouted.
“Who needs sports?” Andrew said. “Real men sing!”
“Yeah!” Jeremy said. He then began flexing his muscles and doing a weird grunting noise.
“Errrrgghh!! I’m a man! I like to sing! Errrrggghhh!!”
The guys all busted out laughing again. Tears began to form in Sam’s eyes.
“Sing for us, Kruger!” Andrew shouted.
“Yeah, sing!” Bruce shouted.
“Yeah, we wanna’ hear your beautiful voice!” Jeremy shouted.
Sam gathered up the rest of his belongings and stormed away. The guys still had his binder for his singing class, but he didn’t care. He didn’t want it.
“Where you going?!” Sam heard Jeremy shout. “You’re next concert?!”
“Can we go?!” he heard of the other guys shout.
“Can we go to your ballet recital too?!” another guy shouted.
Sam raced inside the school and into the nearest bathroom. He then ran into a stall and shut the door.
It never fails, Sam thought, squatting on the ground of the stall. It never freaking fails. I can never enjoy the things I love. I’m just not allowed to.
Sam put his hands on his face. Tears were now pouring from his eyes.
What’s wrong with a guy loving to sing? Sam thought, wiping his eyes off with toilet paper. Why do all guys have to love sports? Why can’t I be different? What’s wrong with being different?
Unfortunately, Sam could only cry in the bathroom for another three minutes, as the bell soon rung. Just as Sam expected, Jeremy, Andrew, Eric, and Bruce continued to taunt him for the rest of the day. They began showing several other boys Sam’s binder, which now contained a poorly made stick figure drawing of Sam dancing in a tutu. By the end of day, most of the fourth grade boys knew that Sam was taking a singing class. Not being interested in sports was already enough to give Sam a negative reputation. He couldn’t even imagine how much worse it was going to get from that day forth.
After the final bell rang, Sam quickly raced to the pickup area. Sheila, like always, was already waiting for him.
“Hey Sam,” Sheila said as Sam jumped into the car. “How was your day?”
Sam did not respond, he instead ducked underneath the window so that nobody could see him.
“Sam, what’s wrong?” Sam heard Shelia ask as the car drove forward.
Sam again did not respond. He waited until he was certain that Sheila had driven away from the school before he picked his head back up.
Sam took a deep breath and wiped off his eyes.
“Sheila, I don’t wanna’ be in the singing class anymore.”
A very surprised look appeared on Sheila’s face.
“What?” she asked.
“I don’t wanna’ be in the singing class anymore,” Sam repeated.
“But you love the singing class.”
Sam lay his head on the window. He continued to wipe tears from his eyes.
“What happened, Sam? Why are you crying?”
“Nothing. I just don’t wanna’ be in the singing class.”
“Sam, please tell me what happened.”
“Nothing. I’m fine.”
Sheila sighed and looked forward.
“Don’t you love singing, Sam?” she asked.
Sam paused for a long moment before he spoke.
“I don’t know,” he said.
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know.”
Sam wanted to say: “I love to sing, but I can’t enjoy it,” but didn’t as he knew that Sheila would ask what he meant by that. The last thing he needed was for all the guys to find out that Sam had sold them out. He already had enough of a negative reputation with the school’s male population, the last thing he needed to do was make it even worse.
At least if I’m not part of the singing class, they can’t hold it against me anymore, Sam thought as he continued to wipe tears from his eyes. It won’t get rid of the stigma, but at least I can be honest about saying that I quit it.
Sam didn’t want to give up on singing for good, but he doubted he could ever improve his skills without the help of the class. Could he improve his skills just practicing on his own?
Maybe if I never improve my skills, I’ll just lose interest in it, Sam thought. And then maybe I can find some other interest. Something that guys will actually accept.