When I started my sophomore year in high school in 1992, I was one of those people who associated with people from a variety of cliques but was never really close with anyone. In ninth grade I had a good friend Kim, but she started dating someone at the start of sophomore year and we didn’t talk as much. The lunchroom in the high school was the stereotypical set-up from a John Hughes movie where people congregated with like people. There wasn’t a table for nerdy girls with a touch of goth who liked to keep up with the school gossip. I could have sat with several acquaintances, but I didn’t quite fit in with any of their social circles. And the noise in the cafeteria was a bit over the top. Hence, I spent most lunch hours in the hallway. There ended up being a bunch of us who started eating, socializing, and doing homework in the hallway sitting on the floor, backs against the walls. It wasn’t always the same people, but there were usually at least five of us who would laugh and talk as we did homework and ate our lunch.
I have always found it interesting to people watch, even when I was younger. Since we were in the hallway, we got to see lots of people amble to their lockers while they gossiped with friends. I got to find out who was dating whom, observed a few almost fistfights, saw teachers yell at each other, all that good stuff you don’t get to see if you’re in the cafeteria during lunch.
Every day the same guy started walking by. He had two other guys with him. You know how some people you know the name of even though you don’t have any classes with them? That was PK. He was some sort of legend around the school. Not a legend in a good way though. He wore black, often a black trenchcoat over the black clothes, and he was weird and unpredictable. The two guys that were always with him weren’t legends. I had no idea what their names were at the time, and the group of us named PK’s two friends The Followers. Because they seemingly followed PK around all the time.
I’d be lying if I didn’t admit PK was intriguing. He was a senior, was one of those guys that looked way too old to be a senior, had the black goth-like attire, and the guy had Followers. So he obviously had some sort of charisma.
After a month of seeing PK and his Followers walk around during lunch, I started getting more curious. One day PK wasn’t there, and it seemed like his Followers were aimlessly walking around without their Leader. I got the attention of one of the Followers and invited him to sit down with us. His name was SA. And then I proceeded to quiz SA on PK. I didn’t find out much. But the one thing that did happen was that SA would either eat with us or stop by every day after that, and we became good friends.
One day PK came by while SA was eating with us and motioned for SA to go with him. SA said no, which I’m sure ticked PK off. How dare his Follower have a mind of his own?
Time started to blur. SA became an almost permanent fixture of our group. PK knew who I was. As in, if he saw me in the hallway between classes, he may nod at me or acknowledge my presence. He didn’t usually acknowledge anyone’s presence, so I suppose I was moving up in the world according to PK.
PK was odd, definitely odd. But he didn’t quite scare me back then. He liked to play mind games. While I’m not a mind game pro, I learned what got under his skin. And I tried to keep from him what got under my skin because I knew he’d try to purposely push my buttons if he knew what would work.
One day I was working on my homework while listening to the lunchtime conversation. I was sitting against the wall. All of a sudden I saw black pants in front of me. I knew PK was standing right in front of me. Who else wore black khakis to school and would stand quietly right in front of someone? PK was trying to irritate me, so I kept doing my homework and not acknowledging him. Soon he was distracting everyone else, and all the chatter stopped as they watched to see how this would play out between PK and me. PK was staring down at me, and everyone else was staring at both of us. He very slowly knelt down until his face was a few inches from mine. At that point I had to look at him. It was completely unnerving because that was as close as I had ever gotten to someone of the male persuasion thus far in my 14 years of life. I was very nervous about what he would do, but he seemed to genuinely smile. I swear he had kind eyes at that moment.
PK: Whatcha doing?
Then we had another long look at each other, his face still just inches from me. And he got up and left. That was it. My friends started making fun of him after he left. I sat there not knowing what to think.
Our interactions continued in the following months during lunch. And then The Day happened. He had his hands in his trenchcoat pockets, and they were up a little so that his coat appeared like it was a cape. He had some Followers in tow. I was starting to stand up since it was almost time for class. I got the impression PK was in a very odd mood, so I was watching him carefully as my friends and I chatted. He came up to me and said in only the way that PK could say something, “Today’s my birthday.” So I responded with Happy Birthday. It turns out he was turning 18. I would have expected he was turning 19 or even 20 by how old he looked. Then he comes extremely close to me and says in a lecherous way, “What are you going to give me for my birthday?” Cue heebie jeebies.
“Nothing. You wish.” And then I walked away. Why was I mean? First of all, he was acting like an ass on purpose to impress his friends. Second of all, I knew it would irritate him. If you use me as some sort of easy target, then you reap what you sow.
As I walked away, cue taunting from PK’s Followers and my friends. The next day was the pivotal moment. Coincidence, or did I tick PK off & what happened was his retribution? I am 99% sure what happened the next day was due to what I said when he asked me what I was going to give him for his birthday.
The next day I was walking down the hall with a friend at lunch. PK is coming toward us, carrying a tennis racquet and dressed in shorts. I'm presuming he got done with PE, but who really knows? I was talking to my friend, and as he approaches PK lifts up the racquet. He looks like he's going to bop me on the head with the racquet, so I try to block him by putting my hand on his racquet. The next thing I know I'm facing the wall with the tennis racquet under my chin and with PK pulling it tighter. Breathing was becoming an issue. My friend tried to get PK off me. Finally a teacher started coming down the hall, and PK released me. He walked away.
So that point I was a tad freaked out. I went to the group we usually hang out with at lunch and told them that PK practically strangled me with a tennis racquet. Then PK appears...again... and tells me next time I won't be so lucky and pulls out a switchblade and flicks it at my hand (you know how you can push a spot on them and the blade pops out). He does it in front of the whole group.
Creepy? Scary? Just write it off? I really didn't know what to do at that point. He wanders off as the bell rings, and I try to act like nothing has happened. By my last class of the day, I heard several versions of the incident being whispered about. Of course, the victim of PK's weapon-wielding wasn't mentioned. Of course, because I was a piddly sophomore and a wallflower. While it is entirely possible that I'm exaggerating the extent to which the whole school knew something happened between PK and some chick, let's just say you could hear people talking about it in the halls. People I didn't even know were talking about it.
I didn't say anything about it to anyone other than my carpool buddy. Her mom picked us up from school, and my mom drove us to school. The next morning my friend was talking about it, and my mom expressed some curiosity about it. So I tried to explain that he was a wacko senior who had a lack of social skills and a knife. Thought nothing of it.
I was summoned out of biology class by the principal. Apparently my mom called him saying that someone threatened her daughter with a weapon at school. He wanted to know my side of the story. After I told them, they brought the whole security squad in and summoned PK out of class, searched him, found the switchblade, and expelled him.
I suppose it was fitting that PK's parents picked him up as my friends and I were eating lunch in the hallway. He gave me the death stare the whole way out of the building.
You ever have a moment where you just realize that you're done? I had been contemplating entering the Running Start program. It was a relatively new program where you could go to community college for your last two years of high school and earn dual high school and college credit. For example, if you needed a history class to graduate, you could take one of a handful of history classes at the community college. As long as the class you picked also qualified toward an AA degree, you would get "credit" for both high school and college at the same time. While I had been interested in the program, I knew that I would lose touch with high school friends if I started. But after the PK incident, I decided I just couldn't deal with high school crap anymore and went to see the school counselor to ask how I could apply. I was approved, and I said sayonara to high school after my sophomore year.
You thought my obsession story had ended? Ha, we still haven't gotten to the good stuff! Part 2 to come.