by David Lubar
An assortment of reactions ran through the class when the announcement was
made. Behind me, I could hear Kenny Harcourt snickering. On my right, I saw
Mary Beth Adderly whisper something to Kara Chen. Kara blushed. On my left
Tyler Horvath looked up at the speaker with no expression. Next to him, Eddie
Moldour was grinning smugly.
I listened as the announcement was repeated. "All girls please report to the
auditorium," Principal Sestwick said.
We knew what that meant. It was time for The Talk. It was no great mystery.
They'd get the girls together and explain stuff about puberty and growing up. It
was also no big deal -- for guys. We had it simple and easy.
"All boys please report to the gym," Principal Sestwick added.
"Great," I said, turning around toward Bobby Mussleman. "Maybe we'll get to
play dodge ball while they talk to the girls."
"That sounds good," Bobby said. "Wouldn't be fair if they made us sit here and
We got up and headed to the gym, while our teacher, Mr. Mercante, made a few
half-hearted attempts to keep us from running, pushing, or talking too loudly. At
the gym doors, we merged with the boys from the other three sixth-grade classes.
I expected to see our gym teacher waiting for us. Instead, Principal Sestwick came
in and went over to a microphone that had been set up at one end of the gym.
"Sit down, boys," he said.
I grabbed a spot on the floor, next to Eddy. "What's up?" I asked.
"No idea," he said.
"In the next few years," the principal began, "you'll begin to notice some
Next to me, Eddy squinted at his hand; then, in a fake scream, he whispered, "I've
got hair on my knuckles. Oh no, save me. I'm changing."
I choked down the laugh that was threatening to explode out of my mouth. It was a
good thing I wasn't drinking milk -- the spray would have shot three or four feet
from my nose. "Cut it out," I managed to say when I'd gotten back in control.
The principal was still talking, even though Eddy and I weren't the only ones who
were horsing around. "Some of this might be frightening or confusing to you," he
said, "but please keep in mind that everything that happens is perfectly natural."
He paused and looked across the crowd, then went on with the talk. "The first signs
might be very small. One day, you'll find yourself reading the newspaper. And not
just sports and comics, but also the news."
"What's he talking about?" I asked Eddy.
"No idea," Eddy said.
"I read the paper," Tyler said.
Someone behind him said, "Who cares?" and smacked him on the head.
"You'll find yourself keeping track of your money," Principal Sestwick said. "You
might even make out a budget. Eventually, you'll even consider opening a
checking account as a first step toward establishing credit."
Principal Sestwick took a deep breath, then went on. "As these changes occur,
you'll even find yourself looking at insurance policies, as well as . . ."
He kept on talking. I was almost too shocked to listen. Around us, I could see kids
staring at the principal with amazement. These things he was talking about . . .
"These are things our parents do," I said aloud as the realization struck me. "He's
saying we're going to do them, too!"
"Not me," Eddie said. "I'm never doing any of that stuff. No way."
A shudder rippled through me. "But our parents --"
"Shut up." Eddie cut me off. "Don't talk about it."
I had to agree with him. Not me, I thought. Never.
A few minutes later, The Talk was over. We all got up, rising like zombies, stiff
and stunned, and dazed. On the way back to class, we ran into the girls. They were
looking mostly pretty giggly. A few of them looked embarrassed, but all in all they
looked a lot better than the boys around me.
Kara caught my eye. She was more mature than most of the girls, and she didn't
seem embarrassed to be coming back from the girl's version of The Talk.
"What did you boys do?" she asked.
"Dodge ball," I said before I even had a chance to think.
"Lucky you," Kara said.
"Yeah. Lucky us."