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Welcome to the Childhood (7)
Published Jul 12, 2011

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Welcome to the Childhood (7: Friends and Fail Me)

((Author’s Note: This series continues to spin around the series “Occasionally Yours” by TSR’s spladoum. Getting dizzy yet? Got a cast member over here that sure is.))

Welcome to the Childhood (7: Friends and Fail Me)

((Author’s Note: This series continues to spin around the series “Occasionally Yours” by TSR’s spladoum. Getting dizzy yet? Got a cast member over here that sure is.))
Valley Elementary School (Monday, May 23 / 9:45 AM)
Miss Crumplebottom has just explained to her first grade class their final assignment for the school year. Beginning next week, each student is to bring a parent to school and assist in a presentation on that parent’s profession.
The students have drawn random numbers to determine what day will be his/her day to present. Leo Sekemoto has drawn the number one, which means he must bring a parent to class next Monday. Jules Simanski has drawn the number five. Friday, the last day of school, is his day.
[Jules:] “This is awesome. No way we can get a Red X on this homework.”
[Leo:] “Yeah, even Miss Crumplebottom can’t go putting her red ink on parents.”
All whispering in the class stops abruptly. Principal Carpenter has entered the classroom to speak to them. [Principal Carpenter:] “First graders, there will be no gym class today… …evidently Coach Clavell had more important things to do than to come to work.” Principal Carpenter suggests that Miss Crumplebottom give the class a recess during the usual gym time. Miss Crumplebottom agrees, but without much enthusiasm. She would’ve preferred to teach an extra grammar lesson (her students seem sadly lacking in this). On the playground, Jules, Leo, and Henry continue to discuss the bring-a-parent-to-school assignment.
[Henry:] “You got Monday, Leo? Dang. I got Wednesday. That’s a whole two more days to wait to get it over with.”
[Leo:] “Could’ve been worse, Henry. You could’ve got Friday, like Jules did.”
The last time Henry had to stand in front of the class, he froze up completely. His speech on Siamese catfish consisted of over a minute of stuttering until Miss Crumplebottom finally took pity on him and let him go back to his seat. [Jules:] “Don’t worry, Henry. This time you won’t be up front by yourself, you’ll have your dad with you.”
[Henry:] “Yeah…”
Jules doesn’t hear the rest of Henry’s response. His attention has just been drawn to Devlin and Angelo Alto, who seem to have a thing for making Holly Porter miserable.
[Devlin:] “So who will you be bringing to class next week, Porter? A ghost?”
[Angelo:] “Naw, she’ll probably just bring the driver of the orphan bus, I bet.”
[Jules:] “Stop being mean to her.”
[Angelo:] “Stop being mean to her or you’ll WHAT, Julie?”
[Jules:] “Or I’ll…”
Jules knows the rest of the sentence is “make you stop.” He knows this because he’s heard Leo say it when he’s mad—at a video game, or at his little sister Maia—and Jules is pretty sure Leo learned to say it from his big brother Sam. But Devlin and Angelo Alto aren’t a video game or a little sister. If Jules says he’ll make them stop… how is he going to stop them, exactly?
[Angelo:] “That’s what I thought.”
[Devlin:] “Looks like clowns aren’t the only thing Julie’s scared of.”
Devlin and Angelo walk away, snickering, leaving Jules to feel like he’s just failed a test. An important one.
[Leo:] “Whoa, Jules. Are you really trying to get in a fight with the Alto brothers?”
[Jules:] “No. I’m trying to get them to stop being mean to Holly.”
[Henry:] “You can’t make the Altos stop being mean, Jules!”
[Jules:] “Why not?”
[Henry:] “Because… because you just can’t!”
[Leo:] “He can if he slaps them hard enough.”
[Henry:] “Leo! Don’t tell him that! There’s TWO of them!”
[Leo:] “And there’s three of us, Henry.”
[Jules:] “Four.”
[Leo & Henry:] “What?”
[Jules:] “There’s four of us.
[Henry:] “Um, sure, Jules.”
[Leo:] “If you say so, Jules.”
Meanwhile, at the Pennylane Institution of Psychiatric Services (PIPS)…
Jesse and Jono Simanski were over an hour late for their group therapy session today, because Jesse does not want to be here. He doesn’t want to talk about meeting Gwen Glover. He doesn’t want to talk about nearly being arrested in Foxgrove. He doesn’t want to talk about losing his job.
So Dr. Evelyn Elfman asks him (as she’s asked every session since Jesse agreed to therapy) about the one and only girl Jesse ever called a ‘girlfriend.’ On the off chance he’ll talk about that.
[Jesse:] “Fine. We’ll talk about Lauren. And then you’ll shut up about it, right, Doc?”
[Eve:] “What caused your relationship with Lauren to end, Jesse?”
[Jesse:] “She broke up with me. Good goddam riddance.”
[Eve:] “Can you explain to me why you feel that way?”
[Jesse:] “She hurt my brother, for one.”
Jono shifts his weight in his chair, gaze sliding away from Jesse.
[Eve:] “Jono? Is that true?”
[Jono:] “She didn’t hurt me, exactly. Lauren had a way of manipulating Jesse to want what she wanted, and make him believe it was what he wanted. I was afraid she’d eventually convince him that we’d all be better off if he left me to the state.”
[Jesse:] “Jono—”
[Jono:] “It’s okay, Jesse. I know you wouldn’t have done that. I’ve known it since the two of you broke up.”
[Eve:] “Jesse, it would help me understand the situation if you would tell me at least some of the specifics of your breakup with Lauren.”
[Jesse:] “There isn’t a ‘situation,’ Doc! How many times do I have to tell you that before you start taking notes?!” [Eve:] “I suppose I’ll start taking notes when you tell me something that requires me to take notes, Jesse.” [Jesse:] “It’s a good thing these sessions are free. This is so freaking pointless.”
Jesse tells the story. If only to never hear about it again.
Lauren Landgraab was the daughter and first-born child of Malcolm and Loretta Landgraab, the wealthiest residents of the Valley. Lauren had one sibling, Lucas, born one year younger and a member of Jesse and Jono Simanski’s graduating class. Lauren and Jesse began dating Lauren’s junior year, which was Jesse’s sophomore year. Neither had dated anyone before dating the other. At the time, Jesse was ranked the best junior varsity athlete in the school, and Lauren was ranked the best varsity athlete. Lauren wasn’t always patient with Jesse’s joking around (and he wasn’t always patient with her impatience), but between their similar athletic and outdoor interests, they got along well. Lauren was extremely competitive. Her influence on Jesse pushed him to be the same. Prior to dating Lauren, Jesse’s primary interest in sports was to have fun. By the end of sophomore year, Jesse was fully motivated to win an athletic scholarship and was signed up for the school’s varsity football program for the summer. Which was why he wasn’t with his family at Pinnacle Campgrounds the night of the meteor strike that killed his parents and unhinged his twin brother. The first two months following the funeral (which Lauren’s parents charitably paid for), Lauren remained quietly supportive while Jesse struggled to adapt to the loss. But Lauren wasn’t happy with the choices Jesse was making, and gradually became less and less likely to keep her opinion to herself. Two weeks into the new school year (one month shy of their one-year anniversary), Lauren confronted Jesse for what would be the last time.
[Lauren:] “Jesse, look at you. What are you doing? You sleep through your classes when you bother to show up at all, you’re blowing off every chance you had at an athletic scholarship, how can you not see where this is going?”
[Jesse:] “I have a job, Lauren, I—”
[Lauren:] “You have a job that will get you nowhere, Jesse. You’re a great athlete, you could really make it someday and you’re throwing it all away.”
[Jesse:] “I don’t care about that stuff anymore, I—”
[Lauren:] “What about me? Do you care about me?”
[Jesse:] “Yes, you know I—”
[Lauren:] “Well, those things matter to me, Jesse. You matter to me. Your future matters to me.”
[Jesse:] “Lauren, you just don’t get it!”
[Lauren:] “I get it perfectly well. Your brother is sick. He’s not getting any better. Face it, Jesse. He needs to be in a hospital where adults can take care of him.”
[Jesse:] “I can take care of him!”
[Lauren:] “You can’t take care of him—you can’t even take care of yourself! You’re just a kid!”
[Jesse:] “I’m not giving my brother to social-sucking services! What the hell is wrong with you, Lauren?! Would you do that to YOUR brother?!”
[Lauren:] “If we were orphans and Lucas was as messed up as Jono? Yes, Jesse, I would. I would let social services take him, because I’d know that sooner or later they’d be taking him anyway. I wouldn’t bet my entire future on certain failure.”
[Jesse:] “No. You’re wrong. You are so wrong. I can handle this, we’ll be fine. We’ll be just fine.”
[Lauren:] “You’re going to fail high school, Jesse. You’re going to fail, and end up in the system along with your brother. I can’t be a part of that. I love you, but I can’t be your girlfriend anymore.”
[Jesse:] “You… you’re breaking up with me?”
[Lauren:] “Yes.”
[Jesse:] “You’re breaking up with me because I won’t ditch my brother for a chance to play pro football?!”
[Lauren:] “No. I’m breaking up with you because you won’t face reality and save yourself.”
[Jesse:] “I don’t want to save myself if I can’t save him, too!”
[Lauren:] “It’s your choice, Jesse. And this is mine. I’m sorry.”
Prior to this day, Jesse had believed he couldn’t possibly feel worse than how he’d been feeling over the last three months. Now this on top of everything else… this was threatening to double him over. His first impulse was to beg until she changed her mind. Then he noticed Jono standing just inside the kitchen. One glimpse of his brother’s face told Jesse he’d heard every word. The despair in Jesse’s guts turned ice cold. [Jesse:] “Not as sorry as I am that you’re still here.”
He was suddenly advancing on her. Lauren took several instinctive steps back. She had expected Jesse to get angry, but not this angry.
[Lauren:] “Jesse, it doesn’t have to be like this. We can still be friends, and if you would just listen to me—”
[Jesse:] “I’m done listening to you, so shut your stupid mouth and GET OUT!”
Lauren had back-stepped into the glass front door hard enough to rattle it before leaving in a hurry. Had she not gone when she did, had she said just one more word, he’d fully intended to—
[Jesse:] “—hit her.”
Jesse blinks back into present-day awareness to find himself standing. He’s also shaking, his heart is pounding, and he seems to be having trouble breathing. He looks at Eve, and although he’s not sure what all he’s just said, there is one thing he does know with ear-ringing clarity: Evelyn Elfman reminds him of Lauren Landgraab, and always has.
He’s running from this office. He doesn’t plan on ever coming back. Valley Elementary School (3:00 PM)
Miss Crumplebottom’s first grade class has just been dismissed for the day. On the way out to await their buses, Devlin Alto sidles up behind Jules.
[Devlin:] “So. Julie. You bringing your mother our ex-toilet cleaner to class, or your father the nutjob?”
[Jules:] “What job did he say my Dad has…?”
[Leo:] “Shut up, Devlin.”
[Angelo:] “What’s your problem, Sekemoto? The whole town says it and you know it.”
[Devlin:] “I hope you do bring your father, Julie. We’ve got some questions about Pinnacle Campgrounds we’d really like to ask him.” Jules doesn’t understand any of this. But his friends seem to understand it, and by the looks on their faces, something really bad is going on here.
[Jules:] “Guys… what’s Pinnacle Campgrounds?”
[Holly:] “. . .”
[Henry:] “Um…”
[Leo:] “Oh, crap.”
Meanwhile, at the Rose Tint Your World beauty salon…
The salon is closed. Peggy Sue Primrose books no appointments on Mondays. Jesse rings the bell for the apartment upstairs.
When Peg finally comes down to answer the door, she doesn’t even try to mask her surprise.
[Peg:] “Jesse Simanski. At my door. Without me having to lure him away from one of Whistler’s keggers. The band will play Whodathunkit for a month.”
[Jesse:] “Are you going to let me in or what?”
There’s no strength in that mumbled question. Peg steps back to allow him to step in, taking a good look at him as he does. Her eyes widen at what she sees. She hasn’t been this clearly reminded of Valley High School junior year since she actually was a junior at Valley High School. [Peg:] “Geezus, Jesse. What’s happened to you?”
[Jesse:] “Peg, please. Could we not talk?”
She nods in silent agreement. In seven years of their friends-with-bedroom-benefits relationship, Peg has never seen Jesse this openly vulnerable. He lets her put her arms around him, lowers his head against hers and returns the embrace. But when it’s time to kiss, he turns his face away, shaking his head.
[Jesse:] “No… I don’t want this… I want Gwen.”
[Peg:] “And I want Spartacus. And if wishes were horses we’d all ride to town. Just let it go, Jesse.”
He’s trying to let it go. He’s failing spectacularly. Then Sam Sekemoto, whom Peg very recently hired as her salon’s tattoo artist, interrupts the failing.
[Sam:] “Simanski! I’ve been waiting all year to kick the crap out of you!”
[Jesse:] “What the hell…?”
Jesse, lost in confusion between reality and fantasy, lets go of Peg. Peg, angry enough for the both of them, turns on Sam.
[Peg:] “Sam, honestly. I sleep with who I want to sleep with. Just because you’ve graduated high school doesn’t mean you’ve earned the privilege to pick and choose for me.”
[Sam:] “He’s a jerk! He’s just using you!”
[Peg:] “The ‘using’ is mutual, kiddo, as if it’s any business of yours! Now knock it off!”
Sam knocks it off, but having returned to reality, Jesse leaves the building. Later that evening, at the Simanski house…
Jules wants to talk to his parents, but now is not a good time. His parents are upset. There’s something wrong with Uncle Jesse, and his parents do not agree on what it is, where he is, or what to do about it. There’s bad in the house, and no Badly to blame it on.
No sink monster either. It’s been quite awhile since Jules saw his Dad worried about that. But maybe if Jules talked to him about what he heard at school today, maybe he’d start worrying about it again. Maybe that thing would get out again. Maybe his Dad would have to go stay at the hospital again. Maybe is a risk Jules isn’t willing to take.
[Jules:] “Dad…”
[Jono:] “Yeah, Jules?”
[Jules:] “Uncle Jesse’s outside on the swings.” Jesse says nothing as Jono takes the swing beside him. They sit there in silence until Jesse finally says what’s on his mind. [Jesse:] “I’m in love with her.”
[Jono:] “I know you are.”
[Jesse:] “But it’s not real, right? I’m just nuts?”
[Jono:] “Love is nuts, Jesse. All that matters is what you think, not what some other fool says you should think. If you believe you’re in love with Gwen, you’re in love with Gwen.”
. . . [Jesse:] “Hurts like hell.” [Jono:] “There’s your proof, brother.” ((Special Thanks to:

* TSR artists: tdyannd (sidewalk chalk/chalk drawings), Living Dead Girl (misc. clutter), DOT (tile ceiling lights), shadow66 (Party Drinks paintings), IN3S (Smiley tee Peg wears), spladoum (authentic HS-numbered football jersey teen Jesse wears), and Cyclonesue (because there’s something on every ‘Hood set by Cyclonesue, even if the camera missed it)

* Around The Sims: Classroom Set

* All cc creators already credited in this series and my previous series

* All cc creators that I’ve failed to credit by name, my humble apologies

* TSR’s spladoum for, among many other things, sharing the character that continues to cause Jesse Simanski no end of conflict

> Readers-to-the-end-credits—Thank you yet another (ex-)repoman truckload. You’re rocking at the bottom of the ‘Hood hill, now… but no worries, nowhere to go but up from here ;) ))

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Bo0GeRBELLAug 20, 2011

I love it!  Better than TV!  I like these characters better! \:rah\:

fabrizioammolloAug 5, 2011

I agree with anyone else: Jules is totally purely and perfectly amiably naive! And we love him for that!!! It really is a pity that his parents are too messed up with their and Jesse's problems to clearly see what he is going through! A lot happened to the Simansky brothers when they were teens, it's great how Eve, and us readers as well, still have to unfold all the events! Fantastic chapter!

mogan44Jul 18, 2011

This is way  better than TV!  What I want to know is why Angelo and Devlin know about what happened at Pinnacle Campground.  That says a lot about their parents 8(  Another great installment, I stopped working just to read it!

YrS92Jul 15, 2011

Awwwww Jules \:wub\: And wow, what a chapter \:rah\: My question has finally been answered, and in such awesomely amazing way \:wub\: Poor Jesse, I wonder how Lauren is doing now, if her ambitious life turned out the way she wanted... And Jesse, he deserves a second chance with his life! Maybe with Gwen too \;\) Great job there my furry friend \:wub\: \:rah\:

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