Today is your first day at Pike Central High School. It represents a much-needed fresh start for you, as all your life you’ve been a nobody. Quiet and lacking self-confidence, you’ve more or less been invisible to your peers, but today you have a chance to change that. You’re at a new school in a new state, and you can be whoever you want to be!
The past is behind you. Believe in yourself, and you can become high school royalty.
Wow, school. The place where knowledge happens. How exciting it is to be in your new stomping grounds. You’ve been told to go to the atrium, where your orientation buddy will be waiting to show you around the school.
Okay, not exactly off to the best start. But luckily, you have now found the real high school.
“Are you Kevin? It is me, Ormul, your orientation buddy!” he says. “The school has chosen me to be your new best friend. Your world is now Ormul’s world. I will show you all the things. I will teach you the nice places to go to think about math. On weekends, we will have sleepovers at my duplex, and we will explore my Legos. It is Kevin and Ormul from here on out. I have waited for this day.”
“Come with me now, please. I will show Kevin all of the things and the people. We are best friends.”
“I understand. No one wants to be friends with Ormul. I hope you have a nice time at school, Kevin.”
All right. Time to show Pike Central what you’re made of.
This is great. Much better than trying to meet new people.
Gosh, it’s really beautiful outside.
Why would anyone ever do anything other than this? So peaceful. School can wait. You’re just going to do this from now on.
Here you are in history class. There are a lot of potential friends sitting around you, but you don’t want to come across as desperate. You want to give off an air of mystery and coolness so that the other students will feel puzzled and intimidated enough to want to be your friend.
“Class, we’ve got a new student joining us today,” your teacher says. “His name is Kevin.”
So far, so good. What do you want to do now? You could just sit quietly and learn. Or, if you’re feeling mischievous, you could act out to impress your classmates.
“Kevin”? Did you really just say that? You get your first chance to introduce yourself to your new peers and all you can do is blurt out your own name? Better hope no one was paying attention.
“Hey, man, I’m Teddy. I saw that thing you just did where you said your own name. That was weird, and it made me uncomfortable. Just thought you should know.”
Yikes. Off to a rough start. But hopefully, if you play your cards right, you can still become popular.
What do you want to do now?
Nice. Though acting out might get you in trouble, it’s a great way to break the tedium of the classroom and earn your peers’ respect. How do you want to act out?
“Today, we will be learning about the Renaissance, a period from the 1300s to the 1600s when everyone was giant and made of marble. The giant marble men and women all lived in Italy, and they spent most of their time sculpting tinier versions of themselves out of bronze in hopes that the tiny bronze men would come to life and become their slaves. But they never did come to life, and the marble men and women realized that they really needed a closet to store them all. So, they invented museums, and to this day, we still use museums as closets for tiny bronze men.”
Mmmm, yeah, you are learning.
“Now, you’ve probably heard the term ‘Renaissance man,’ and this refers to the giant marble men who just four centuries ago held total dominion over the earth, belligerently stampeding across continents in search of new shapes they could sculpt out of bronze. The most famous Renaissance man was, without a doubt, Michelangelo’s David, whose spectacular corpse is now on display in Florence. David was Michelangelo’s son, and throughout the 16th century, the two could constantly be seen strolling nude, hand in hand, shouting in unison about all the things they found beautiful.”
You are getting so many new facts.
“The Renaissance came to an end in August 1603, when bowling ball–sized meteors rained down upon the earth for three consecutive days and shattered most of the giant marble men mid-stride. The ones who survived fled Europe and colonized the land we now know as Oklahoma, where their descendents still live and prosper to this day. But looks like we’re out of time for today, so I’ll see you all tomorrow, when we’ll begin discussing the Age of Enlightenment.”
Your first class at Pike Central has come to an end, and unfortunately you didn’t make any new friends. You’re going to need to try harder if you ever want to become popular.
“This is drinking fountain. Whenever your mouth is hot, you can come here and suck from the cooling spigot.”
“This is lockers. Here is where you can put your shirts and food. Ormul’s locker is B72. The code is 6-33-14. You are my best friend. I invite you to keep your shirts here.”
“Here is intercom. It is the mouth of the wall. When the wall wants to talk, it talks through intercom, its mouth. The mouth will not eat food like our mouths, though—Ormul has tried many times to feed it.”
“Here is Pretty Girls. The boys at Pike Central lust after them constantly, except for Ormul. Ormul does not lust.”
“This is Locker Room Girls. They always say, ‘Ormul, you cannot be in here,’ but if this were so, then why is door unlocked?”
“This is Special Ed Students. They always misbehave, but they cannot help it.”
“This is Jocks. They throw balls and wear matching shirts.”
“This is Theater Kids.”
“And finally, this is Cool Kids. They are the most famous kids in all of Pike Central High School. Come, Ormul will introduce you to them.”
You’re starting to realize that Ormul might be a bit of a social liability. He’s a nice guy and all, but you really want to be popular, and that’ll most likely never happen if people associate you with Ormul. You should probably just politely tell him that you’d prefer to do things on your own.
Poor guy. You’re gonna have to find a way to let him down easy.
“Sorry to interrupt, my great friend Kevin, but here is some money for you.”
Nice. You’re looking really cool.
Yes! You spit up all over the front of your shirt, and now everyone in class is looking at you. They’re not necessarily laughing, per se, but you can tell they all thought it was really funny and cool.
A girl wrote you a note, and it’s getting passed your way!
Oh, no! Your plan has backfired, and it looks like throwing up on yourself has somehow made you less popular.
“Hi Kevin!” Caitlin says. “If it wasn’t clear in the note, the way you smell is ruining everyone’s day. You need to leave forever.”
“Hi Kevin. I agree with Caitlin,” says your teacher. “You smell like a thousand nightmares and you have to go away. I’m your teacher. You must obey me.”
Yes! You kicked the hive at the American flag, and now bees are everywhere. Your classmates are screaming, but you’re pretty sure there’s some laughter mixed in with the shrieks. This is going to make you so popular.
“Kevin, I am so mad right now,” your teacher says. “Not only did you disrespect me and your classmates by unleashing an enraged storm cloud of bugs, but you disrespected Old Glory and the very concept of homework. That’s disgraceful. We’re going to have to expel you, Kevin. Maybe you’ll have better luck trying to be popular somewhere else.”
There they are: the cool kids. If you can join their ranks, you’ll be at the top of the social pecking order. But they won’t let just anyone into their exclusive crew. To prove yourself worthy, you’ve got to play your cards right.
Yes! A gift! But what do you give them?
Great idea. Nobody knows you here, so you’ve got a clean slate. You can be anyone you want to be.
Smart choice. You don’t need to bribe anyone or lie to make friends. Just do something cool and wait for all your popular new friends to start flocking.
What cool thing do you want to do?
“What’s this, some kind of gift?” the ringleader asks.
“What is this, some kind of gift?” the ringleader asks.
Now you’re just standing there awkwardly and the cool kids are staring at you. Better do something.
“We’d rather you didn’t.”
“What are we supposed to do with this?”
“Tony Hawk, huh?” the ringleader says. “That’d be pretty cool if it were true. But I’m not sure I believe you. Prove that you are who you say you are.”
“Whoa, it really is you. Wanna be friends with us?”
You did it! By joining their friend group, you are now officially a popular kid. There is no truer, greater happiness than this.
“Hey, kid,” the ringleader says, just moments after you finish saying all the names of the states. “Don’t think I’ve seen you around here before. I’m Trey, and my friends here are Logan, Gromgol, and Cleff.”
“Hey, kid,” the ringleader says, just moments after you finish roaring like the powerful cinema lion. “Don’t think I’ve seen you around here before. I’m Trey, and my friends here are Logan, Gromgol, and Cleff.”
“Well, Kevin, we just wanted to stop by and let you know that no one gets away with loudly reciting all the glorious U.S. states in public except for us. Got it? That’s our thing. Now get out of here, and don’t let us see your face again.”
“Well, Kevin, we just wanted to stop by and let you know that no one gets away with roaring like the huge mad movie cat in public except for us. Got it? That’s our thing. Now get out of here, and don’t let us see your face again.”
There it is: your ticket to popularity. Go ahead and swallow the angry venomous snake before the cool kids go away.
You did it! You swallowed the cobra! The cool kids saw everything, and now they’ve come over to talk with you.
“Hey, man,” the ringleader says. “We saw you swallow that disgusting snake over there. That took a lot of balls. Do you wanna be our friend?”
Yes! They’re inviting you to join their crew, which means you’re gonna be popular. But before you can respond to them, you start feeling a little…funny. You’re incredibly dizzy and disoriented. You’re beginning to suspect that the cobra is very much still alive and tearing apart your insides with its poisonous fangs.
The venom takes over, and you collapse to the ground. The sky above you gets blurrier and blurrier, and before you get a chance to embrace your newfound popularity, you die. School’s out. Forever.
This is your locker. What do you want to do with it?
“Hey, man, why are you doing that?” asks one of your fellow students as you begin pumping your new locker full of water. It’s a good question—one you hadn’t considered before you began flooding your locker. Maybe you thought doing something reckless and ill-advised would earn the respect of your peers and help you make friends? It’s hard to say.
“Okay, well, don’t do that. That’s not how you make friends.”
Doesn’t look like your locker leads to anywhere else. And now you’re stuck inside of it. Boy, this is embarrassing. There’s no way you’d ever become popular if your new classmates ever found out about this. You should probably just stay in here and patiently wait out the rest of your life.
“Hi there,” your second-period teacher says. “You must be Kevin. Welcome to second period.”