The seventh-hour bell rings. It’s officially Activity Day at American Middle School. While a few kids will spend the next 50 minutes playing “Oregon Trail” in the library or doing a science experiment in Mr. Polley’s room, you (in JNCO jeans and “TOMMY” T-shirt and Vans kicks) follow the music seeping through the halls to the cafetorium. As you get closer to the pounding bass you can make out the lyrics.
“Destination unknown as we pull in for some gas . ”
It’s “How Bizarre” by OMC. You hate that song but remind yourself why you’re here: You have exactly 48 minutes to ask Lauren Williams to dance with you.
You find your posse, and a potent cloud of Tommy cologne, over by Aaron, the high school DJ who is flirting with some seventh-grade girls. They request “Barbie Girl” by Aqua. This is turning out to be a pretty sucky dance, and you haven’t even spotted Lauren yet. “Mmmbop badu ba dop ba du bop.” Hanson. Could things get any worse?
The music fades to nothing for a second – you know that means a slow song is about to start. Sure enough, it’s “All My Life” by K-Ci & JoJo. Perfect. But before you set out to find Lauren, a hyper girl wearing green eye shadow and flailing a caramel-apple pop asks you if you’ll dance with Sarah Woodruff.
“Sure, why not?” you say, voice cracking on “sure.” Sarah’s friends push her toward you and they all dissolve in a chorus of giggles and “Awws” as you put your hands on her waist.
Next comes “Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems” by Notorious B.I.G. featuring Puff Daddy and Ma$e, “Show Me Love” by Robyn and “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It” by Will Smith. You and your friend Alex survey the room. Two guys animatedly discuss skateboard tricks. In the corner another group plays hacky sack. By the vending machine, girls check the status of their Nano Pets and write on each others’ hands with Gelly Roll pens. No one is really dancing, save for a few outgoing personalities who everyone else stares at in awe, until “Macarena” by Los Del Rio comes on, which inspires a mass scream.
“You’re my sunshine after the rain / You’re the cure against my fear and my pain.” It’s “Because of You” by 98