Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Paul and Chris Stories

Part I - The Gundam Wing Story

When I was in the fifth grade, I didn't have many friends. I'd just dropped out of the Boy Scouts, and was practically shunned by my peers for doing so. During this period, I met and began to idolize a pair of best friends named Paul and Chris. They were the class clowns, if nothing else, and I strived to someday be as popular and funny as them. They were into cool things, like coin-collecting and Gundam Wing; a show about giant battling robots that was much cooler than my admittedly childish obsession, Pokemon. I'd caught the tail end of a few Gundam episodes while waiting for a different show to start, and was hazy on the plot and characters. Some would say that I knew nothing about the subject.

But being the naive optimist I was, I joined in on one of their many conversations about Gundam and was essentially verbally eviscerated by the both of them (as bad as fifth graders can). Their mass amounts of knowledge on the subject far surpassed my terrible memory, and they saw right through my sad attempts to bullshit them. I was crushed. I didn't know what to do.

So I did what any kid would. I complained to my mother. Sort of. Feigning a new interest in Gundam, my mom gladly took me to the toy store to pick out any toy that wasn't Pokemon-related. Walking down the "Giant Robot Suit Toy Aisle" (it exists), I slowly stalked my prey. I didn't want the main protagonist, they'd be expecting that. It was an amateur mistake that I knew well enough to avoid. So I chose a model of one of the lesser characters, piloted by the good-guy-you-think-is-bad-at-first badass character I thought I'd like (if I'd actually watched the show).

But like all good plans, mine had a fault. For some reason, I hadn't read the backer card to the toy before I'd thrown it away, and had forgotten the name of the mech I'd bought. So the next day, I arrived to class with the toy stowed away in my backpack, not realizing that I would soon be made a fool of twice by Paul and Chris. And I was. They tore me to pieces again, calling my choice of action figure dumb, and insulting my intelligence because of it. Crushed again, I decided to never try to impress these two again.

Surprisingly, this toy became part of my regular playtime repitoire. I had no knowledge of any of the Gundam canon, so his backstory was mine to control. In my world, he was a cousin to my Transformers figures, a plain sort of robot that kicked ass and took names. Once, he even decapitated two LEGO figures that looked vaguely similar to Paul and Chris.

Part II - The "Weird Al" Story

A few weeks after the Gundam story, I'd finally begun to find my friends niche in my classroom. Paul and Chris were far from my mind, and I had finally earned the respect and admiration from my teacher, Mrs. Holden. A curvy, 30-something black woman, Mrs. Holden would rarely dole out compliments and praise, yet she'd been throwing metaphorical gold stars my way for weeks.

Anyways, show and tell was coming up, and I had the perfect plan. At this age, I was near-obsessed with parody musician "Weird Al" Yankovic, thinking that his work was the funniest thing I'd ever heard. I liked one album in particular, a compilation of food-based songs from some of his previous albums. I planned on taking this CD into class, and playing my favorite song from it. Surely, some of Weird Al's funny would rub off on me, and make Mrs. Holden like me, right?

Nope. Thirty seconds into the song ("Taco Grande," a song parodying "Rico Suave"), I was standing next to the boombox on a stool, not realizing that I hadn't planned on doing anything remotely entertaining while it played. Sweating profusely, I closed my eyes. Someone yelled something. Mrs. Holden stepped over and turned the music off. I opened my eyes, and saw Chris talking to Paul in front of me. They smiled, and Paul walked over.

Apparently, Chris had noticed that Paul was mouthing all of the words to the song, and was so impressed with this that he shouted at Mrs. Holden to restart it, so that he could do it in front of the class. Grinning, Paul told the class to come in close so that they could hear him. Thirty students came rushing forward, and the song was restarted. Paul sang along to the entire song, Mrs. Holden clapping and cheering along the entire way. At the end, the classroom erupted into applause. Everyone shuffled back to their seats, impressed with Paul's "incredible ability."

Having already taken my seat in shame, I'd forgotten that my CD was still in the player, and had to perform a very embarrassing walk/run to the stool while everyone stared at me.

After that school year, I moved away and never saw them again. But if I were to meet the adult version of Paul and Chris someday, I'd like to tell them these stories, and we'd probably laugh at how childish and immature it all was. We might even be good friends. Or they'd still think I was a loser, and I'd smash their faces in with a baseball bat. Either way.

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