"For All We Know,We May Never Meet Again
Before You Go Make This Moment Sweet Again"
-For All We Know, Ruben Studdard version
Monday. Monday. Monday.
That had been the word that was on the mind of all five teenagers towards the end of detention on that Saturday in March. They'd discussed it from a number of different angles (after having first spontaneously addressed it as Brian Johnson's question in terms of the harsh, cruel most realistic outcome). They'd thought about how each one of them would act in every scenario. And then… just as time was running out—just before Bender had to go back to the closet he was banished to, and just before detention was almost over—something had been said that seemed like the best (the only) positive and favorable solution they were going to come up with before they were out of time and left to wait out the rest of the weekend in total and complete suspense.
After they'd had a laugh about Allison's admission of how she landed in detention, the conversation had gotten serious again, although much less serious than it had been before. They'd talked about their parents some more, and discussed different ways that Monday could play out, other than the most obvious solution.
One thing was clear from the very beginning. They all knew it; but no one was coming right out and saying it, although Bender had gotten closest: Claire was the obvious weak link. She was the one everyone was most certain would let them down on Monday and pretend like nothing had ever happened between them. Allison had called Andy out on being weak and doing what other people told him to do, but it was obvious after his Larry Lester confession that he was practically disgusted with that fact about himself. With the weight of saying out loud what he'd done lifted off his shoulders, his internal desire to change was almost visible. He'd clearly learned his lesson: if anyone had something to prove to the Club and to themselves on Monday—if anyone saw Monday as a challenge to overcome—it was Andrew Clark. Because of his anger at his dad, and his wholehearted desire to overcome his bully-jock image, it was clear that he was going to try his hardest.
But Claire was a different story. She wasn't a loner like Allison, or a tough guy like Bender. She didn't have the same moral compass that seemed to be guiding Brian when he said "I wouldn't, and I will not," or when he talked about him and Allison being better people than the others. Sure, Claire had claimed that Brian was so committed to his decision because his friends looked up to Claire and her friends, but she wasn't as confident as she sounded. She knew Brian hadn't been thinking like that, and deep down she knew, as soon as he said it, that Brian had been right about being a better person than her. It wasn't that Claire cared so much about her being popular or thought she was better than anyone; it was in fact, if anything, the opposite. Claire was more insecure than any of them. She hadn't earned her princess status; it had just been handed to her because of her looks and her parents' money. And the truth was, Claire didn't know who she was without it.
The truth was, if Claire had any kind of real self-esteem; if she had any kind of true identity (intelligent with a bright future like Brian, talented athlete like Andy, deep and skilled artistically like Allison, or even strong, witty, funny, and (she had to admit) oddly charming like Bender—then the stupid social order wouldn't have mattered at all to her. She would have given it up in a minute for these people who'd truly accepted her and opened up to her. She couldn't remember ever bonding with the people she'd called her "friends" since grade school the way she'd bonded with these kids in one day.
But, unfortunately, Claire wasn't any of those things. The way she truly saw herself was that she was an average student; had no real talents or athletic ability; wasn't funny or charming or anything truly special at all. She was terrified that if she stood up to peer pressure, she'd lose her "I'm-popular-because-I'm-pretty-and-have-rich-parents" status, and losing her cover would reveal how much of a nothing she really was. She needed her popularity status. It was all she had, the way she saw it.
It killed her to think she could hurt Allison and Brian by ignoring them and not continuing to be friends with them, and the thought of igniting that angry side of John by being nothing more than the stuck-up princess he thought she was made her want to burst into tears. But she couldn't help it. She knew she wouldn't be able to take the pressure. The other members of this little detention group just wouldn't understand that they would be alright without her—they still had everything going for them, even Bender, though he was too angry and stubborn to see all he truly had to offer the world—but she was the one who had nothing going for her and everything to lose.
But none of them would know about what Claire really thought of herself until a long time after. At that time, all any of them knew was that she was in fact the weakest of them, and the one that would be most likely to cave to pressure. She was almost guaranteed to. And if she caved, then it would be that much easier for Andrew to cave to, no matter how hard he might try to fight it.
As they sat around on the floor, in a semi-circle, Allison had been the one to finally point out, "It doesn't matter what anyone says right now. It's all easy to say. But we can't know what any of us will actually do… on Monday."
Bender snorted. "I think Claire has made it perfectly clear what she intends to do." Brian wiped his face and said, "Maybe she'll surprise you. Us. She… she could have a change of heart."
Claire turned beet red and kept her head down as Bender laughed sarcastically and said, "I wouldn't hold my breath, there, Big Bri."
Silence fell over the group. Until finally Andy said, more to himself than anyone else really, "It would suck if it has to end like this." This time, the silence spoke everyone's agreement for them.
"Well, maybe it doesn't have to. M-maybe we…I don't know, it's kind of a weird time, like I said, but… and, it would be sad… though, maybe we could do this one last time. Like, just in case."
Bender looked at him with wide eyes. "Do this? Detention?"
"Well, n-no, not.. I mean, that's …. I was trying to say… what if we get together one more time? Like tomorrow? Just in case…. you know, statistics and probability, and…just in case Monday is the worst case scenario." Brian clarified.
Finally understanding what the Brain was getting at, the other four began to look around at each other.
"What did you have in mind?" Andy asked curiously. "Well, we could get breakfast tomorrow morning or something. I-I have church, but a-after that I'm free." Brian said hopefully.
"You want us to do breakfast?Like, a planned outing?In public? Like we really are friends?" Bender pretended to be incredulous.
" Well, I just thought…you know, if it doesn't go beyond this when we get back here on Monday, we could, you know, end on a happy note and talk about happy things one last time. Memories and all of that. Somewhere…. Somewhere none of our friends would go…."
Andrew cleared his throat. "That might not be such a bad idea." He said, "Because I'd hate to think the last and only memory you guys have of me is me telling you about what I did to Larry, and crying about letting my father get to me." He half smiled.
Claire finally lifted her head up. "I guess… I guess that would work. I'm in." Brian actually smiled at her.
"Me, too." said Andy. And this left the three to look at Allison and Bender.
"And," added Brian, "at least this way, i-it might help….you know, with getting through the weekend. If we all show up tomorrow…it-it kind of…maybe indicates our intentions? Like, after we've had t-time to process things tonight? If we still…still all show up tomorrow it might be a g-good sign for Monday."
Allison blew on her hair and lifted her eyes up to the sky, trying to clear her eyes. But she didn't have to speak.
Bender sighed, and for once his voice was almost soft. "I think she means, what if some or most of us don't actually show up tomorrow? Wherever this breakfast is supposed to occur."
And just like that the room was silent again. No one wanted to think about that. So Brian figured it was his time to step up. "They will. Everyone will. I just know it. Tomorrow at 11?"
Andy, Claire, and even Allison smiled and nodded. And then they all looked at Bender. Obviously, this touchy feely stuff wasn't his thing. But all he did was try to hide a smirk, pretend to grimace, and say, "So early?"
And they knew he was in.
When they left detention, it was as if all the nervousness about the next day and about Monday returned. But they were each determined to hide it. Claire gave Bender one of her earrings, and kissed him…just in case it was the last time they'd ever speak. And Allison took a patch from Andy's letterman jacket…just in case even tomorrow didn't happen and Detention Day turned out to be a dream she had to hold on to.
Brian, not only a devoted student and good son, but usually a humble Christian servant as well, found it hard to focus in church the next morning. He went back and forth between excitement to see his new friends at least one more time, and pure terror that they wouldn't show up. He had tried to sound really confident the day before, not sure if anyone was buying it, but really wanting to believe that the group would come through for him. Now church was almost over and he had less than an hour before they were supposed to meet. And he had no idea what to expect.
Would they show up? And what if they did? What if yesterday had been a fluke and they had nothing else to talk about?
Brian really hoped that none of this would be the case. He really need to believe that they could be friends. Stay friends. Sure, Brian had his group that he hung out with at school—the smart kids from his advanced classes. And, sure they sat together at lunch because it only made sense for them to do so. But if Brian was being completely honest, he didn't know if calling them his "friends" was truly appropriate. They weren't the sort of people who did things like "hang out" after school, or go to the movies together. He wouldn't just go to any of their houses just to play video games or enjoy each other's company. No, if they ever hung out outside of school it was for studying or working on a project together. He certainly could never have had a heart to heart talk with them like he'd had with the other kids in detention yesterday. And he'd definitely never have told them the reason he was in detention.
Even a smart kid like Brian couldn't figure out what it was that had allowed the five of them to bond so quickly, and in such a major way. He knew it wasn't just because they were in such confined spaces for such a long time. They could have just as easily ignored each other. And the truth be told, if it hadn't been for John Bender having to fill every silence—having to constantly hear the sound of his own voice—they probably would have ignored each other.
But somehow they'd actually ended up having conversations. They'd all, for some reason, gone together with Bender to his locker, when it certainly didn't take five people. He'd protected them and they'd protected him. They'd…done drugs together (except Allison), and somehow, in what seemed like a long time in terms of a detention, but really wasn't in terms of forming a friendship, they'd ended up talking to each other like they'd known each other for years. It was strange, it was inexplicable, and…it was almost as if it were… meant to be.
After church, Brian said goodbye to his parents and decided to walk to the quaint family-style restaurant they'd selected for their breakfast. They'd chosen the place because it was too low-end for Claire's friends, didn't serve the kind of hearty food that Andy's friends would eat, on the opposite side of town from where most of Brian's friends lived, and too boring and cheesy for any of John's friends. It wasn't that they were all ashamed; it's just that they'd decided they wanted a private happy memory in case going public on Monday didn't happen. If they were going to go public, they certainly didn't want it to happen on Sunday.
Brian was the first one to arrive. Figured. He checked his watch: 10:45. He figured he'd use the time to think of conversation topics just in case there were any awkward silences. He was just thinking maybe he'd start a conversation with Allison about music (he'd noticed her looking at what appeared to be a cool album cover during detention), when he heard a familiar squeak. Allison Reynolds was walking towards him. He smiled.
"Hi, cool shirt." He said, not knowing what else to say. Allison "hmmphed" in return. They stood in silence for a few minutes and then Brian asked, "Should we go in and get a table?" To Brian's right, a car door slammed from the side of the building and he heard Andy's voice say, "Not such a good idea. If Bender shows and we're not out here, he'll totally bail. He won't come in looking for us."
Brian blushed at not having thought of that and gave Andrew an awkward wave. But Andrew Clark wasn't even looking at him. He was looking at Allison. She was looking back at him, stomping her foot and then standing on her toes. "Hi," Andy said, smiling. Allison had pulled her hair back in a ponytail, and was wearing a black T-shirt with blue jeans. She hadn't completely kept the look Claire had given her, but she definitely didn't seem to be hidden behind tons of goop on her face and 60 pounds of clothes. But Brian didn't think Andy would have noticed even if Allison were wearing a trash bag. He'd think it was the fashion statement of the year, if he did notice.
"Hi," Allison managed to say. "Am I late?" Andy asked Brian, still not taking his eyes off Allison. "N-no you're right…right on time." Brian said.
It took another five minutes for Bender to show up. "You're late." Andrew said matter-of-factly. "Relax, Sporto, the world didn't end, did it? Klepto…" He nodded, acknowledging Allison's presence.
Andy just scoffed. "Well, now that's Bender's here, should we go inside, or wait for Claire?" Brian asked. Where was she? Was their weakest link going to be strong enough to make it through even today?
"I hate to break it to you, Big Bri, but it's never a good sign when someone is later than I am. I don't think Queenie is comin'." Noticing the look on Brian's face Bender quickly added, "Besides, I'm hungry enough to eat one of you. Let's fuckin' do this if we're doing it." And so they headed inside.
As they sat there waiting for the waitress to take their orders, Andy engaged Allison in quiet conversation not meant for Bender and Brian, and Bender tried to joke around enough to keep Brian (who kept eyeing the door looking for Claire) occupied. They were in the middle of getting their order taken when the door opened and Claire came rushing in, face flushed. Brian smiled and raised his hand so she could find them.
"Sorry! I know I'm, like, totally super late, but it wasn't my fault—"
"—Oh, did the maid forget to wake you, Queenie?" Bender interjected. "Shut up, Bender!" Andy and Claire said at the same time. "You are such a pest." Claire said, trying to sound aggravated, but smiling at Bender. He gave her that mischievous smirk of his and Claire could swear she was about to have a heart attack right then and there. Bender noticed her reaction to him and thought to himself: Maybe it wasn't just a heat of the moment, bad boy infatuation thing. Maybe I did make an impression on her.
But he was someone who had trained himself well. He knew better than to let himself go there. Not now. Not until I know how Monday is going to go,he thought.So he shook his head to clear his thoughts and put back on his obnoxious persona. "And what will Her Royal Highness be having this morning?" He asked her, nodding in the direction of the waitress. Claire ordered a salad and water. "You're worse than Brian and his food groups." Bender quipped.
After the waitress left the group fell into conversation about nothing much at all. Bender was dying to know what Claire's father had to say about her kissing him and giving him her earring.
"Oh, it's totally not a big deal at all." She said. "He was shocked, but he wouldn't dare say anything. He's too busy trying to get me to like him so he can, like, try to turn me against my mother or something, so he doesn't even act like a dad." Claire left out the part about him asking her if she wanted him to buy her another pair of earrings.
"Boy, I wonder what people will say if they notice Bender with a diamond earring in his ear. What if someone puts two and two together?" Andy said, smiling.
"Well, that'd be one way to take whatever this is, public. Claire definitely couldn't ignore me then." Bender smirked. And this made Claire think back to yesterday, remembering his words: "Sweets? You couldn't ignore me if you tried."In all honesty, Bender had been 100% correct. He just wasn't the kind of person that was easy to ignore. Not at all. He commanded everyone's attention. Especially hers. Luckily, before she could start blushing, Allison spoke.
"I've been thinking about that. About Monday. And…I think maybe we're planning for it all wrong."
"What do you mean?" Andy asked. All eyes were on Allison.
"Well, you guys know I don't have any friends. And you probably also know that…at least partially, it's by design. I mean, I don't particularly care for the kids at that school. And if I hadn't gotten to know you guys, I probably wouldn't care for you, either, any more than you would care for me. And it's not because I think I'm better, or because anyone at that school is a bad person. It's just the way it's designed. The…high school social environment comes with…preconceived notions and just… forms the way you think about people and what you think about them. It's like a curse. And maybe, as long as the place you meet someone is in high school, you're just doomed or destined to think about them in terms of preconceived notions."
"You got a point, Klepto?" Bender pushed.
"Well, maybe we can change how we end up, you know, as a group, if we keep high school totally out of the equation? Not worry about Monday at all?"
Andrew looked worried. "What are you saying? He asked.
"Well, what if we don't have to worry about Monday because we agree that…well, nothing happens on Monday? What if we agree not to be friends at school at all? Not because we're ashamed of each other, but to avoid all that social hierarchy, gossipy crap? We keep in touch outside of school, and when we're there at school, we keep our outside lives out of it. It's like, so we wouldn't get infected? With the high school poison? They, you guys' friends, can't turn us against each other if our friendship has nothing to do with high school."
"So basically, you're saying, we, like, stay friends and all that, but just, like, not at school?" Claire asked.
Allison nodded. "It's like when you have a job. You keep your home life at home and focus on work when you're at work."
"So we basically ignore each other as if we don't exist, at school, and then we're best friends if we pass each other on the street?" Bender seemed to disapprove, as if this was some stuck-up comment coming from Claire.
"We could get together every other week, or once a week. And hang out. Like we did at detention."
Andy and Bender didn't look convinced. But Brian seemed on board. "It might work. That way Claire would have nothing to worry about, and we-we could get to know each other in the real world. Be real friends. Maybe even past high school."
"It sounds kind of phony." Bender said seriously.
"Well, we wouldn't have to completely ignore each other in school. We could acknowledge each other if we want. But we just would…save all our friendly stuff for outside of school. That's all. We wouldn't feel any obligation to, say, h-have to…eat lunch together, or do projects and stuff. We'd save our time together for after school." Brian encouraged.
"I'm in." whispered Claire, knowing what Bender would think. He rolled his eyes. "Of course you are." He said sarcastically.
Andy looked at Bender. Bender shrugged. "If you're in, Tights, I'm in."
Now it was Andy's turn to roll his eyes, but he said, "Sounds good to me."
"We could meet, maybe one morning a week before school, or on Saturday mornings for breakfast, like we're doing now only it's Sunday." Brian piped up.
"I like it. And that way, when we do meet, we'll have tons to tell each other." Claire said. Andy nodded.
And that was how The Breakfast Club truly became a breakfast club.
And even though the pressure was mostly off, there was still a little curiosity about how Monday would go, and if they had all really learned something on Saturday.