Once I found out who he'd made his role model, I finally got his style. Before then, I had no idea why the hell he'd set foot in this school looking like his colorblind mother dressed him in a thrift store. But I like it because he somehow manages to pull it off impressively well, and it's what made me notice him. Of course, anyone who doesn't dress in American Eagle, Abercrombie & Fitch, and such stand out here, but we normally don't have many of those people, and the ones we do have are usually Goths or scene kids.
He was different.
The first time I saw him he was dressed in plaid—of the yellow, red, and green sort—trousers, a black and gold band jacket with a striped red and green t-shirt underneath, and dark green shoes that looked like he'd stolen from a bowling alley. His dark blonde hair was messy, falling into his blue eyes and brushing the collar of his jacket. And he didn't walk down the hallway; he glided, twirled, and danced. Everyone he passed stopped what they were doing to stare at him.
I followed him with my eyes, and then when he disappeared around the corner a few seconds later, I wanted to follow him physically, too. In that short moment, he'd been able to capture my attention like no one else ever had. He made me want so much—his obvious confidence, how he didn't seem to care about others' opinions, his poise, his name, him—and he made me realize things by just looking at him. I immediately knew that he was special and that I had to know him, talk to him, be with him; I couldn't let him get away. But I also knew that, to get him, there were certain things that had to change.
Well, not really me. Just what everyone thought of me.
I wasn't the pretty straight boy they all thought me to be. I didn't care about being cool—not that I was that popular; just high enough on the social ladder that people knew who I was and took notice of me when I walked passed them. I couldn't care less about the school football team. And I hated the music I was supposed to love.
No one knew this because I'd never told them otherwise. I'd wanted to fit in—doesn't most people?—since I knew what was said about those who didn't. But seeing him had changed that. He made me see that that was stupid. He made me want to be myself.
So, the next day, I came to school in clothes that I liked—old holey jeans, dirty converses, a plain black t-shirt that was a little tight—but were definitely not the Abercrombie shit that I was supposed to wear, and my hair looked just as it had when I'd woken up. People stared and asked questions, though never to my face. It is he sick? And Does Michael feel okay? all behind my back and to my friends. I found it all hilarious.
Things got even better when my best friend, Alex, tried to hook me up with some girl for the millionth time, even though he should've known it was pointless by then, though he thought it was because he'd never gotten the right girl before. I told him, loud enough for anyone who was close to hear me, that he should try finding me guys to go out with and then maybe his matchmaking would be a bit more successful. Then, I walked away, smiling and ignoring all the gawks, stares and whispers because I was finally free of that constraining cartoon mask of perfection that I'd had to wear.
It felt great.
And even though things no longer happened in a simple, routine motion after that, like they used to, it was well worth it.
Especially when I saw him looking at me with a curious gaze from under his grey fedora as I passed the lockers he was standing next to.