Doug Funnie Sings the Blues
* or Puberty Sucks *
(a sequel to Pepper Ann - The Confession)
“Doug? What’s wrong?” Judy stood at the kitchen door and watched her brother crying into his arms on the table. She was more used to teasing him than sympathizing with him.
“Hit your nose on the door again?” She tried to laugh and make a joke, but the boy just sobbed.
“Hey, kiddo…I’m sorry. It’s hard on me too. This place sucks big time, and I don’t like it here any more than you do.”
Ever since the move from Bluffington to Hazelnut, both sibs had been struggling with making friends. Judy because she felt out of place anywhere, and Doug because he felt out of place everywhere. Something odd was going on, and the afternoon’s events had been the straw on the camel colored shorts.
“I met….a GIRL!” He sobbed. Judy put her hand on his back; wanting out of habit to slap the back of his head, but she scratched the hair on the back of his neck.
“This IS getting awfully long,” she thought, noticing that since the move, her brother no longer sported his usual short cut.
“Stop that!” He sobbed. He wanted her to be a pill; at least she’d be something…someone familiar in a sea of unfamiliar and hostile faces. The girl hated him, didn’t she? And what wasn’t to hate. He was the biggest doofus in the universe, and either the universe was getting smaller or his doofiness was growing exponentially.
“No can do, Bro! We may be Funnies but this ain’t funny at all.” She laughed at what she thought was a clever play on words, but he just cried all the more.
“You’re okay.” She said…”I’m sorry you’re hurting bro.”
“I suck…I suck….suck….suck…suck.” He cried again. No amount of neck-scratching by his quasi-nemesis sister was going to change his mind.
“No…little brother! You don’t suck…life does,’ she said, trying to help. Nice try, but she didn’t, and he just cried more.
“Suck suck suck!!!!” followed by an uncharacteristic but altogether expected,
* * *
Hazelnut Middle School... the next day...
“Hey, pass me that stapler, dude.” The tall boy shouted over to Doug, who tossed the stapler to him.
“No problemo, dude,” Doug said before putting his head down and regretting the words.
Instead of a raised eyebrow or a silly rebuke, the boy just nodded at him before stapling a poster on the bulletin board next to door. Doug shook his head in amazement, wondering what had just happened. For the umpteenth time, he had made an ass out of himself from what he could recall and yet he didn’t get teased or mocked like back at his old school. Too many times of getting bullied by Roger Klotz. And the same odd feeling occurred as well; the feelings Doug never shared with anyone…even his parents. His face grew red at the memory and he sad back down at his desk and looked out the window, sighing heavily.
* * *
At home, that afternoon...in the kitchen...
“What’s wrong with me?” He risked the usual “everything!” that came from Judy for a set up line like that.
“Oh, shit,…let me count the ways?” She laughed but a recent influx of maturity, however regretted, had made his sister not just sympathetic, but empathetic, sort of like walking a mile in Doug’s vest sweater. She quickly added,
“Oh, crap…you’re not wrong at all…Life…is wrong!” The response she received the afternoon before came quickly and the boy began to cry once again. Something was going on, and it either needed teasing or concern; which one to use wasn’t yet apparent to her. So she just….listened.
“I…Like this girl….you know…she’s got….” He looked up at his sister and felt awkward but went ahead anyway.
“Red hairrrrrrrr..." he sobbed.
Why that would make him cry was yet to be discovered, but he really did like the girl…he thought. Was he upset because she turned him down, or was he upset for the reason she turned him down. Or even worse, was there something else going on?
“Help me here, Dougie old bro? Aren’t there….lots of girls at school?” Judy shook her head as if to tease once again, but went further.
“What’s so special about this one? Is she gorgeous like me?” She tilted her beret and struck a silly pose.
“No…yes….Oh, I don’t know!” He started sobbing again. In all the years she had known her brother, he had never cried this hard or this long. Both her parents were preoccupied with the transition of jobs and home since the move and seemed undisturbed by it. Her mother had smiled and told her that Doug would be okay. His father just nodded politely and went back to reading his paper.
“I don’t know what…she’s already…oh crap….” The sobs interrupted his words and he started shaking.
“Dougie…what the fuck is going on?”
“I…I’m sooooorreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee,” his plaint sounding almost like a European-style ambulance, right down to the modulation…SO ree SO ree SO ree….
“Doug…I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s up."
Several of Judy’s ersatz dancing cats had congregated on the kitchen table and were lapping up the remains of Doug’s Honey Bunches of Oats. A loud purr; the hive of many cats expressing contentment even as the boy cried next to them.
Porkchop (Doug's dog for those who don't know the pets) lifted his head lazily and snorted, eschewing his typical anthropomorphic comment as he drifted back to sleep.
Judy walked over to the sink. Pulling a pitcher off the counter, she proceeded to fill the pitcher with cold water. Shooing the cats off the table, she promptly poured the water on her brother’s head which had just the opposite effect she had sought. He looked up at her once; his shaking now a mixture of nervous tension and shivers from the water. He shook his head no and got up and ran to his bedroom, slamming the door.
“Come on, Doug…let me in.”
“NO…you’ll just laugh at me,” he said, doing his best unintentional imitation of Adam Sandler. She pushed the door and found he hadn’t locked it. Walking over to his bed, she sat down and pulled him close, hugging him for the first time since he had gotten her a Barbie and painted the fingernails and toenails black for a nice Goth look.
“I love you, but if you don’t tell me what’s going on, so help me, I swear I’ll make up a story to tell Phil and Theda! (Doug and Judy’s parents, for those who don’t know the family). Yeah……Hey Theda…Guess what my baby brother is doing …yeah that’s right…he’s pilching my panties out of the laundry. Yep…my brassieres too!”
Yet another lame approach to coerce him to talk until he burst into tears and hugged her back.
“SO ree SO ree So ree…..” The wail died off as if his inner ambulance had pulled down a side street and he just sobbed into her sleeve.
“Holy fucking shit… Are you fucking kidding me????” She jumped off the bed, more out of surprise and glee than anything else. She did have leverage after all… but if that was the secret, what was the problem as far as the girl went…the girl he liked?
“Dougie…what’s the problem…this is the 90’s, bro. We’re cool here. Theda will probably buy you a friggin’ wardrobe. Holy shit, bro… why didn’t you come to me sooner?” He looked up at her like every other time she had made fun of his nose or his sweater and frowned before bursting into tears once again.
“Oh….yeah…” She shook her head at herself before finishing,
“Well things have changed brother dear…or should I say sister dear?”
* * *
About an hour later in Judy's room...
"Now hold still; I’m a little shaky from my meds…. Nice outfit, if I do say so myself...okay…say ChemiEEEZZZZZ!”
* * *
* * *
Hazelnut Middle School Gym...that evening....
"Helllhoooo? Hi, I'm, uh, Dou ... Darla. I,uh, wasn't at my best when we met yesterday." A very nervous girl stood next to Pepper and Nicky. Neither really cared to dance; not uncommon for many teens at lame dances in lame gyms.
"Oh...Hi..." Pepper said awkwardly. The girl in front of her wore a purple jumper over a black tee and black tights. Her short reddish hair was covered by a black beret and she wore sunglasses. The beatnik look helped since Mrs. Garowitz was convinced anyone wearing sunglasses indoors had to be a druggie. She shook nervously as the two girls eyed her up and down before smiling.
"Hi...I'm Pepper Ann...Pepper Ann Pearson. This is my fr...my girlfriend Nicky Little. I remember you... Doug Funnie ...oh fuck..." Pepper Ann put her hand to her mouth as she regretted the name she had just used.
"Sorry...Darla?" The two half-frowned in embarrassment for the boy-girl. Darla stood there for a moment, shaking more than normal before turning to run. Sadly...or fortuitously if you will, the girl turned right into a tall familiar figure.
"Hi..." Milo said as the girl ran right into his chest.
"Do I know you?"
"I...I..." Darla started to tear up, and her voice once again started signaling the return of the ambulance.
"SO ree SO ree SO ree."
"You're Doug Funnie...we have English together, right," the tall boy said, unfazed.
"Yehhhhhessssss," Darla put her head down, her face almost aflame at that point.
"I'm Milo...Milo Kamalani...and your...name is?"
"Duh...Doug..." She lifted her head only long enough to stammer her answer.
"Yeah..." He used his eyes to direct her focus to her clothes..."YOUR name!"
"Dahhh...Darla?" She mewled; more out of fear than anything else.
"You wanna dance? Darla?" Milo said softly.
"DDDDdaaaaance?" She looked up at him and his eyes sparkled; even more so than usual for a character in a kid's story, sort of.
"Yeah...dance...or not...If you want, we can just go sit down and talk."
"Tawwwwwwwwk?" Her lip quivered as his smile pierced through her nervousness.
"Yeah....it's okay you know....how you're dressed? I think you look cute."
"Cute?" The girl's shaking stopped altogether and she sighed and shrugged as the boy took her arm. He led her over to the bleachers and sat her down gently before sitting next to her. A few moments later the two were smiling and moving their hands animatedly...(Yes!)
"Nice couple!" Nicky said with a smile.
"Yep...and they're a nice couple, too," Pepper Ann said before looking around. Mrs. Garowitz was busy lecturing some boys in the far end of the gym about something, so Pepper Ann seized the day, as the old saying goes.
"Nice!" She said before kissing Nicky, who just sighed once and echoed her best girlfriend ever.
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