It was the age of narcissism, where anyone with a social media account could find more than there fifteen minutes of fame. For some, the endless post of photos and a question like “Do blonds really have more fun?” was their whole life, and for others, it was a life they hoped to have but somehow just never was able to obtain.
My journey into fame and glory started on just another ordinary day in homeroom art class listing to Mrs. Myer talk about her messy divorce from Mr. Myer my fifth-period math teacher and I was taking mental notes, so I could compare it with what he told me later.
“My realtor called me and said there was a lien on my house, and I couldn’t sale till I got it off,” Mrs. Myers had just finished saying when Victoria entered carrying a Happygram.
Victoria made her way over to Mrs. Myers desk I was sure to let her know the Becky had yet another Happygram from her on again off again boyfriend, Matt, who would be saying sorry for whatever he had done over the weekend that made her break up with him. Matt, one of the star athletes of the school, and Becky were very well known for their rocky romance. While our parents huddled around the TV at night for there fill of drama by looking at the latest on Scandal or The Affair we the students of Herman High looked at what was going on with Becky and Matt for our entertainment.
I was trying to understand how a grown, educated woman like Mrs. Myers could have lived in a house for over a year and not know that she had to pay the garbage bill till she tried to sell the house had managed to function at all when I heard her say my name.
“Zach Costa is right there,” she said, pointing to me.
Victoria walked over and handed me one red rose, a card, and a bag of Skittles, one of my favorite junk foods “On behalf of the Student Council we hope this Happygram brightens your day.”
While in high school, I had only two goals, first was to get an education, and the second was to go unnoticed, and up until now, I had been doing an outstanding job. Most of the kids in the school had no idea who I was and the ones that did call me “Rainbow,” a nickname that my ex-best friend Josh gave me in six grade.
Joshua Thompson and I had been friends, best friends, from the first day of Kindergarten. We did everything together up to sixth grade when after a series of unfortunate events, he turned on me. In sixth grade, they took one week and had a sex education class, and it was during this time that my progressive parents set me down and had a more extensive sex talk with me. During this talk, they explained in much more detail what gay and lesbian, and even bi sex meant something the school was not allowed. After our talk, they gave me two magazines, one had naked women and the other naked men and asked me to evaluate each, and in a week I would be asked which one I preferred. A week later, I chose the one with the hot men in it.
“That means you are gay,” my mother said.
“We have a gay in the family,” my parents announced with pride to anyone who would listen as if I had gotten my letter from Hogwarts.
That weekend I told Josh the big news “I’m gay,” I said with pride and explained to him what that meant.
“So you kiss guys,” Josh asked.
“Yes,” I said, kissing him.
Josh and I kissed a lot that night witch later would come back to haunt me because on Monday my parents showed up with cupcakes that I think my teacher thought was for my birthday. But instead, it was for my coming out party as my parents announced that I was gay to my whole class. That very same day at lunch Josh stopped being my friend and started calling me “Rainbow” and that nickname has followed me to this day.
On top of that, I come from a unique family my mother is the director of Planned Parenthood and was also a sex therapist that hand published several books, while my father worked in a nudist resort as a chiropractor. No, you didn’t read that wrong he is a nudist chiropractor, in fact, my father was raised as a nudist and swore that he didn’t wear his first pair of pants until he had to start going to high school. Now, while my father hardly ran around the house naked while my friends were over, but many a neighbor had called to complain about his nude gardening.
“The only pervert is you for looking into the privacy of my backyard,” I had heard my father say on the phone many times, and he did have a point.
Josh used all of that and my nickname to bully me through junior high, so when he stopped in high school, I decided I would just keep my head down and hope I didn’t make Josh mad again, and up until today, it had worked. Now everyone was looking at me some with there mouths hung open in shock that Rainbow was getting a Happygrame
I looked up at Victoria horrified, and I couldn’t hear anything but the sound of my heart beating fast in my ears. “N-No this if for Becky,” I blurted out praying she would just go away and leave me alone.
“See, I told you,” Becky said to her friend Nancy as she grabbed the bag of candy out of my hands.
“No It’s not,” Victoria said, snatching the candy back and handing it to me. “It’s for you, now have a happy day,” she said in an angry tone.
“Who would send Rainbow something,” I heard Nancy ask Becky.
Who indeed would send me something and commit social suicide, I wondered as I could hear the class whispering. I opened the card and found a quote that, according to the internet was from William Shakespeare.
“Love me or hate me; both are in my favor. If you love me, I’ll always be in your heart. If you hate me, I’ll always be on your mind.”
Clearly, I was going to hate this person because not only was everyone now looking at me, but the coward didn’t sign the card, so I had no idea who had sent it. I spent most of the class trying to think who this could be. With only fifteen minutes left in class, I couldn’t wait any longer, so I told Mrs. Myers that I needed to take care of something in the office and that I didn’t think Mr. Myers would let me do in his class, and that was enough for her to give me a pass.
I headed to the student council office so that I could talk to Victoria and see if she could give me a name.
I found her at a desk, and she bearly looked up when I entered “Can I help you?”
“I was just wondering who sent me the Happygram?”
“You got a Happygram,” she asked, surprised.
“Yes, you just gave it to me about thirty minutes ago. I’m Zach Costa.”
“Oh, right. You know you’re a hard guy to track down. I was sure you must be new, but when I looked you up in the system, it said you had been here since freshmen year.”
“Yeah, I keep to myself.”
“Right, I’m trying to study for a big test, so what did you need again?”
“The name of the person who sent me the Happygram?”
“What did the card say?”
“There was no name.”
“Hold on,” she said, annoyed. She got up and went over to a black book and flipped a couple of pages “Anonymous,” she said, walking back over to her desk.”
“Anonymous,” I said to myself wonder who the hell it could be but witch Victoria took as me asking if that was the name.
“No, that’s not the name,” she said exasperated “the person didn’t give a name on the Happygram form, they put anonymous. In other words, we don’t know who sent it to you. Now, I have work to do. Go bother someone ells with your questions.”
As I turned to leave, I saw Josh’s photo on the wall and remembered that he was on the council and then it hit me this must be a prank he was playing on me. Fearing that he might have done something to the candy, I tossed it out, and I was going to do the same for the rose but decided just to put it in my locker for now.
During the next class, I tried to think of what I could’ve done that would have pissed Josh off and have him come after me again, but I honestly couldn’t think of anything. I wasn’t even sure when I saw him last. He had been keeping a low profile after his girlfriend Sophie Wentworth had committed suicide over the winter break.
There had been lots of rumors about why she did it, but the newspaper said that her parents didn’t approve of her lifestyle choice and kicked her out. Mr. and Mrs. Wentworth had recently converted to evangelical Christians believing that the rapture was coming soon and that there daughter choosing (as if she had a choice) to be a lesbian put there spot in heaven in jeopardy.
The fact that one of our schools upper elite had taken there own life was shocking to many students, but the fact that she had been living a secret life as a lesbian shooked them up more. From day one as Freshmen, Joshua and Sophie were like the first couple or royalty of the school. They sent the tone for the school. If Sophie cut her hair, so did many of the other girls and if Joshua had a pair of jeans with holes, so did many of the other guys in school. Whatever Joshua and Sophie did, so did the school. Because of how popular they both were, even now, three months later, the school was still talking about it. In fact, I had suggested in our LGBTQ club that we have an assembly about teen suicide to Doug, in the process of transitioning to Dottie, and we had submitted a letter to the school board.
Maybe that was it, he saw my name and blames me for his girlfriend being gay and is trying to get back at me for it. We hadn’t talked in years, and I had no idea how to approach him and talk to him about this so he would go back to leaving me alone. I wouldn’t be going to my PE class today because they were mowing the lawns and it set off my asthma so I would be in the library and figured that maybe I could find a book that would help me figure out what to do.
When I got into the library, I looked at the card catalog to see what book I could find. After locating one, and I set off to find it, and almost ran right into Joshua.
“Hey, Zach, how are you,” he asked.
What the fuck was going on, how can he act like he hasn’t made it his life’s work to make my life miserable? There was so much I wanted to say to him but before I could he handed me another Happygram.
“On behalf of the student council, I hope you have a happy day.”
My had was shaking as I took the card from him fearing that the final part of the prank was going to happen now. I just wanted to run and not stop, but I could not catch my breath, and the room started to spin.
“What’s wrong,” Joshua asked as he looked around and then pulled me into one of the empty study rooms and closed the door. “You look like your going to pass out, put your head between your legs.”
As my mind started to clear, I realized that my arch enemy pulled me into a small confined space and he was blocking the only exit, and I immediately stood up and backed up against the far wall.
I watched in horror as Joshua opened his backpack and pulled out some gummy bears and approached me slowly and put two of them in my hands “eat this it will help.”
I looked at the gummy bears and figured whatever the joke was it must involve them, “Is that it? Part of the joke is I eat these and what? Shit myself, is that it? Is that what you want to see? Is that what will get you to leave me alone, just tell me, and I’ll do it.” Then without another thought, I ate both the gummy bears, “there, now just tell me what’s going to happen next so I can just get this over with?”
It was then that I saw the sad look in Joshua’s brown eyes as if he was hurt but what I had just said and it caught me off guard. “It’s just an edible. What would ever make you think I wanted to hurt you?”
“Now I know your fucking with me,” I said.
“Right, okay I know that I have done some things, but I promise that all I wanted to do was bring you the Happygram. No one is playing a joke on you, and I don’t want you to shit your pants. I just thought that the gummy bears would help calm you down. Now let’s just sit here till you start to feel better, then I’ll go.”
I’m not sure why but I sat down, and about ten minutes later I was sure what he told me must be true because I suddenly was much calmer and now wanted to eat a hamburger and fries.
“Okay, you are looking much better. I’m sorry I upset you. I’ll go now.”
As he started to leave I tried to get up and noticed there was an issue with my feet not moving, “Hold on,” I yelled louder then I wanted, and Josh jumped
“I don’t think I can move my feet,” I said, finding it hard to keep my head up.
“Really? What kind of cheap weed do your parents let you smoke?”
“They don’t,” I said, trying to focus on each word so it would come out.
“I remember your mother being all for weed and the hemp movement.”
“Yeah, but she is not sure how it will affect a young man, so she thinks I should wait.” It was then that it hit me that he had drugged me. “What the fuck. You drugged me?”
“I didn’t drug you. I thought I was helping you.”
“Right,” I said, wanting to say more but not able to get my brain to cooperate with my mouth.
Over the next twenty minutes, it was clear that I wasn’t capable of moving without help but that I was in no shape to go to any of my classes and before I knew it Josh had me in his car.
“Wait,” I finally managed to yell as he was backing up “I have never cut classes, and I’m going to be in so much trouble.”
“Don’t worry; I’ll talk to your mom.”
When we got home, he explained to my mother what had happened and that he had decided to take me home so I wouldn’t get into trouble. They both helped me up to my room and into bed.
When I woke up, my room was dark except for some glow from what looked like a laptop, and then I noticed that Josh was holding the laptop and I jumped.
“Hey, you’re finally awake. You parents and I were starting to get worried,” he said, getting up and turning on my bedroom light.
“You drugged me,” I said as my eyes adjusted to the bright light.
“We’ve already covered this. Look, I’m sorry about today, and now that I know you’re better, I’ll be going.”
“If the gummy bears weren’t the joke, then it must be the Happygrams? Please, just tell me.”
“Not as far as I know, but is it so hard to believe that a guy finds you attractive?”
“Yes. No one wants to be with the gay rainbow freak. You of all people should know that,” I said as a sad and hurt look flashed across his face almost as if what I had said was a dagger in his heart.
I was so confused by what he had done today and wanted him to be honest with me, so I didn’t need to spend the rest of the week always looking over my shoulder when my father walked by my room.
“I see the lightweight is finally up. I’ll let your mother know,” he said, walking away and mumbling something about kids today.
In the hopes that whatever his evil plan was for me would be stopped, I said, “I was so sad to hear about Sophie’s death.”
“Oh, thanks, but you don’t need to be sorry,” he said, looking down at his feet.
“I would’ve said something before, but I just didn’t think you wanted – well, you know talk to me.”
“Of course, look I stayed because I wanted to make sure you were okay and also just to say – sorry about all the shit I put you through.”
Before I could answer him, my mother came in, and he left. After my mother was done checking me out, we went down to eat, and I was happy to see my father had stopped Josh from leaving.
“Josh, you must stay and have dinner,” my mother said.
Josh looked at me as if to ask if it was okay, and I nodded yes. After everything he had put me through there was still a part of me that wanted my best friend back.