The classroom is as quiet as Charlie Chaplin as we take our psychology test. It’s over abnormal disorders, a lesson I zealously took notes on in the hopes of being able to make my social anxiety disappear like a cloud of smoke. Every now and then I stare at the waistband of Aaron Gregson’s Hollister boxers which is currently playing peek-a-boo. The pattern is checkered 3D red and blue. I’m a boxer briefs kind of guy but Tyler’s boxers have made me want to go out to Firewheel Mall and make my mom buy me the same exact pair. Even if it means her having to dip into our rent money.
When I’m through answering every question right on the test (I’m just sure of it) I take the runway length walk from my seat in the back of the class to Ms. Taylor’s desk. Along the way my black shorts begin to slide down and I realize I left my belt at my old house. (Mom and I are currently in the process of moving into our new two bedroom apartment. We took everything with us except for Phillip, my step-dad.) So I pull my shorts back up and walk the rest of the way with my left index finger hooked around one of the belt loops.
I lay my test on Ms. Taylor’s chalk-grey desk. She’s too busy furiously typing away, as if she’s playing whack-a-mole with her keys, to look at me. “Thanks,” she says to her computer screen. It always seems like teachers spend more time checking and answering their emails than teaching. Ms. Taylor commonly stops in the middle of her powerpoints when an important email notification pops up. It’s annoying as Aaron Gregson when he makes fun of my squeaky feminine voice.
I’m too busy thinking about this, and trying to look at Aaron Gregson’s toned calves, to remember to hold my shorts up like I try to do my self-esteem when Aaron calls me Ms. Sasha Fierce. (He calls me this, with an accompany finger snap, because I made the mistake of spending Freshman year dancing to Single Ladies at any and all times.)
My shorts fall down to the rainbow confetti-colored carpet.
The next five seconds drip slower than honey.
I squeal like a scared chihuahua so the entire class looks up from their tests and at me.
As luck would have it Lanie Sowers, our homecoming queen, is perfectly eye level with my crouch. My vomit green boxer briefs have a tighter hold on my junk than a mother holding her crying baby so Lanie’s eyes, which are now as large as quarters, gets an IMAX viewing of it.
I swoosh my shorts back up.
“I’m so sorry,” I spit out to Lanie. I try to ignore the soft orchestra of muffled laughter being played by five or six people that can go straight to Hell. Lanie stares up at me with wide eyes. She opens her mouth but no words walk out of it. She looks as if she is watching 9/11.
“It’s cool dude,” she says, rapidly shrugging her shoulders and shaking her head. She’s obviously lying right now but I lie to myself by saying she isn’t. And while I’m at it I also tell myself that no one but Lanie looked up in time to see me standing in my Fruit of the Loom boxer briefs.
I scurry to my seat in the far right corner. When I sit down the entire class turns around to stare at me. Some have puckered up lips as they try to hold in their laughter. Others, like Aaron Gregson, are liberally letting their chuckles fly out and slap me in the face.
My navy blue plastic chair squeaks as I squirm around in it. They’re all staring at me as if they’re expecting a second act. I reach deep down inside of myself like an oil drill and find the strength to throw out a laugh faker than Joan River’s face. But they’re not satisfied. They’re still staring at me and it’s making my armpits drizzle. I dart my eyes from person to person: Aaron Gregson, whose chiseled acne-covered face is radiant with laughter. Hayden Burnett, who’s languorously chewing his gum like a cow, the usual look of boredom in his puppy dog blue eyes. Ms. Taylor, who’s sitting with her head in her hand and her face as blank as printer paper. I try to shout at each of them with my mortified eyes: “Stop looking at me!”
Ms. Taylor shrugs her shoulders and smirks at me, “That’s why you should always wear a belt. Alright everyone, finish up your tests.” And everyone returns to bowing their heads over their papers as if they’re in prayer.
But Aaron Gregson can’t stop laughing.
He’s trying to swallow his laughter but he keeps choking on it, every now and then a giggle escaping from his chest. Lanie and him keep looking at each other and smiling, exchanging sentences with just their eyes.
I imagine the sentences are something like:
Lanie: I can’t wait to tell everyone about this.
Tyler: Could you see his dick? How big was it?
Lanie: Yeah. All I have to say is: yawn.
Tyler: Jesus I thought him dancing to Single Ladies at the pep rally last year was going to be his ultimate gift to the school.
I stare ahead at Ms. Taylor’s poster of this year’s boys’ varsity soccer team. For six months I’ve thought about it long and hard and have finally come to the conclusion that I want to lick eight out of twelve of the boys’ faces. But now I try to reconsider my veto on Zach Neu as my right foot taps uncontrollably.
I try to tell my amygdala to calm down. That there is no fear or anxiety to process right now (question #32, answer: B). It doesn’t work. My brain is still telling my body to stay in “flight or fight mode” so it feels like the Fourth of July is inside my chest and my fingers are shakier than the San Andreas Fault line.
I thought that by taking this Psych class and learning the mechanisms behind this warm feeling of anxiety inside me I would be able to be my own therapist and make it go away. That then I wouldn’t have a silent panic attack during something as simple as getting a haircut or riding the school bus.
But I see I was wrong.
It’s going to reside inside me forever, like a guest who doesn’t know when to leave.
Just like every person in this room’s hippocampus is going to make sure the memory of when André Wheeler’s pants fell down in the middle of AP Psych class never goes away.
André Wheeler is a nineteen-year-old Texas native currently studying Journalism at New York University. His work has been featured in Chelsea Station and Mr. Beller’s Neighborhood. You can find him on twitter @andre_daren or on tumblr @andrenaquian. He spends his free time reading, dancing to Beyonce, and chasing his dreams.