Be the Disgruntled Cool Kid

Fuck that. You are Dave Mother Fucking Strider, and you do not get disgruntled. Because if you are disgruntled that means you've let someone get under your skin. And if you've let someone under your skin that means you've lost your cool. And Striders do not lose their cool.

"Alright, Dave, let's try that again," John says cheerfully. You want to knock that goofy smile off his face, but you do as he says, turning to the keys to play "Hot Cross Buns". Again. Your fingers trip over each other, and you stumble through the song with a knitted brow and gritted teeth. This shouldn't be hard. You got which keys are which. You played a couple scales. You even played this retarded song perfectly with your right hand. But when you put both hands together, you might as well have been doing brain surgery. Why aren't you getting this? This should be simpler than 2+2 and that other basic arithmetic bullshit. There shouldn't be anything you can't master in minutes.

You finally get through the song, and John praises your efforts. "Good job, Dave! You got through it! That was good for your first couple tries."

"Whatever," you reply, attempting to keep your voice even.

"No, Dave, seriously, that was good! You are being way too hard on yourself." John gives you a pat on your shoulder, and all you can do is stare at him unresponsively. How is he so god damn cheerful? You feel like you want to cut the piano in half with a ninja sword.

"Why don't you try it again but slower?" John urges.

You honestly don't know if you have one more time in you before you completely lose it. But when you see him looking at you with the shiny, innocent eyes of a newborn fawn, you can't really say no. It would be like dropkicking that fawn into a ravenous wolf den. You just don't do it.

You start playing the evil song one more time, thinking the words in your head in hopes that it will help. Hot. Cross. Buns. Hot. Cross. Damn it. Buns. One-a-fuck. Penny. Two-a. Fuck. Fuck fuck.


Oops. You said that aloud. That was supposed to stay well within the confines of your well-fortified mind. But obviously these piano lessons are going all Helm's Deep on your ass and blowing up any calm façade you had in place. You peek over at John from behind your shades to see his lips are upturned slightly.

"Maybe we'll stick with getting you to play with one hand at a time for now," John says.

You feel a knot forming in your stomach. Is this dude making fun of you?

You feel a massive burn forming on the tip of your tongue, but you completely forget to lay it on him when John places a hand on your shoulder. This time it isn't a quick pat. He leaves it there, and the knot in your stomach explodes into a fluttering sensation. Why won't he move his hand? And why are his eyes so blue? Even with your shades on, you can tell they are really fucking blue.

John suddenly smiles widely and instructs you to scoot over on the bench. You raise an eyebrow at him, but you do as he asks. He gets up out of his chair and takes a seat in the space you made. You feel your heart thump against your chest as his leg touches yours for a few moments. His arm presses lightly against yours when he puts his fingers on the keys to plunk out a melody that you sort of recognize.

"So I know this song is kind of silly. And asking you to do this with me is pretty dorky, but it'll at least be more fun than you playing 'Hot Cross Buns' over and over. You are good enough playing notes with your right hand that I think we can pull it off. This is called 'Heart and Soul.' You heard it before?"

You can only nod. You feel like something is lodged in your throat.

"Great!" He grins at you, and your stomach explodes with that fluttering feeling again. "I'll play the melody, and you repeat after me as best as you can." He plays the melody again, and you play it back to him a few times until he is satisfied you have it down. "Awesome. Now start playing whenever you feel ready, and I'll accompany you. It'll be a duet. Don't worry about making mistakes. Just take your time, and I'll match whatever pace you're comfortable with."

John is right. This is extremely dorky. You want to make a snarky comment, but just looking at him keeps making you lose your ability to spit some sharp-witted verse back at his glowing enthusiasm. You straighten up and place your hands on the keys to prepare yourself. You press down on the first couple of keys, and to your surprise, John jumps right in with the harmony. You keep on with your part, and like he said, he matches your tempo.

You both play through the song a few times before you decide to end it. That song could go on forever if you wanted.

"That was great, Dave! You didn't hesitate the entire time." Your heart and stomach do the weird fluttery thing again, and Jesus, why won't it stop? This isn't right. Something's wrong with you. With John, too. No, it can't be you. It's John. And these piano lessons. You try to compose yourself, but your mind won't stop racing. You need to get out of here.

"Yo, Professor Egderp," you start, but he cuts you off quickly.

"I'm not a professor; I'm just a grad student." He gives you a small smile. "And as clever as 'Egderp' is you can just call me John."

"Okay, John," you say slowly. You feel weird calling him John. "This piano lesson thing? Not feelin' it. Just not my style." You feel your volume rising and your words quickening, but you can't really stop yourself once you get started. "I just wanna be a DJ; we don't need to know this shit anyways. You don't need scales or chords or fucking 'Hot Cross Buns' or whatever. There is nothing that your classically-trained, lame ass can teach me."

John doesn't say anything after you finish. You could have kept the rant going, but maybe you felt a little bad after looking at his stunned face. Only a little. You take his silence as your cue to leave. You gather your stuff and make for the door as quickly as possible. As you reach for the door handle, you pause at the sound of John's voice.

"Dave, wait." His voice is quiet and tentative. For a second, you worry if you were too harsh on him. You squeeze the door handle as you wait for him to continue, but you don't turn to face him. "I know it can be frustrating at first, but you really seem to get the concepts. The actual playing part can take some getting used to, but I think you can do it with some practice." He sounds a little surer now. Of himself. Of what he's saying. Of you.

What the fuck do you do? You can either apologize and go right back to fumbling around with 'Hot Cross Buns' and being showered in support and enthusiasm and having the fluttery thing happen over and over. Or you could swagger it off and walk right through that door and say screw it to piano lessons and anything this Egderp has to say.

If you were anyone else, you might show embarrassment of how you acted. You might turn around, sit back down, and apologize for being a total ass. But you squash any feelings of remorse you have and own your actions.

You weren't even serious about these piano lessons anyways. You were just required to take music lessons for some instrument for your major. You could have done something generically cool like guitar, but you decided to take it to the next level by taking piano lessons. Ironically of course. It was supposed to become a new level of cool only attainable by a Strider well-versed in the execution of such a magnitude of cool.

So you turning that door handle and hurrying away from the classroom in the middle of your lesson is not you showing weakness. No sir. It's just that even ironically speaking, you taking piano lessons is still not cool enough. As a Strider, you are just too cool for that shit. You are as cool as a cucumber. Chiller than an ice cube. Frostier than if Jack Frost himself made love to your window pane in the middle of an Alaskan snowstorm. You have better things to do than sit around with that bucktoothed dweeb of a teacher pestering you to curve your fingers more and practice your scales.

You pull the doors of Sheridan Hall open and cringe as wind instantly blows in your face. You throw your hood over your head, cross your arms over your chest, and start skulking down the path towards the Student Center. You want to get out of the cold as soon as possible. You hate the cold, and you are pretty sure it hates you back.

Upon reaching the Student Center, you let out a deep breath you seemed to have been holding in. You feel your muscles relax as you start to warm up. You head over to the coffee shop and order a black coffee which you proceed to dump sugar and creamer into. What can you say, you like this shit sweet. Black coffee is for middle-aged business men who are in mediocre marriages and have two bratty little kids and a house in the suburbs that looks like every other house in the neighborhood and the lawn is perfectly mowed by some dude they hired and…

You're getting sidetracked. Your mind is all over the place right now. You just need to chill for a moment. You find yourself a table in the corner of the shop and take it as your own. You sit down and sip the delicious, sugary nectar you just created, feeling the warmth spread through your body. Aw yeah, you could live off this stuff.

You feel your phone buzz, and you fish around in your pocket until you find it. You have several notifications, but you'll check most of them later. It's the burden of being so awesome. You have all these plebeians trying to get your attention when you obviously have too much important shit to do. However, you have messages from someone on Pesterchum. You'll make an exception and make room in your busy schedule. You can't leave a chum hanging

- gardenGnostic [GG] began pestering turntechGodhead [TG] -

GG: dave! :)

GG: happy first day of classes!

GG: you didnt skip did you? because youre too cool for school?

GG: you better have gone to class cool kid! its bad to skip!

GG: especiallyyyyyyy on the first day

You roll your eyes. Classic Harley, grilling you like she birthed you. She's still online, so you decide to set her straight. She has much to learn when it comes to the Strider art of cool.

TG: harley please i obviously went to class

TG: being too cool for school is so lame that even irony couldnt save it

TG: but everyone would expect that attitude from me

TG: because i exude dopeness

TG: so obviously i have to go

TG: i mean the whole reason i went to this lame ass school was because it was ironic

TG: my beats are ill enough i can easily get gigs left and right

TG: no real need for this higher education bullshit

TG: but getting my music degree thats pure gold right there

TG: so it would make no sense to ironically undo my initial irony by not doing this whole school thing

TG: i mean i can appreciate a double irony as much as the next dude

TG: but bro is actually helping me pay for this shit

TG: so it would be shitty of me to waste his hard earned dough

TG: you follow?

GG: ummmm…not really no

GG: sorry :(

GG: the irony stuff is still a little too much for me

TG: its cool dont sweat it

TG: not everyone can get on my lvl

GG: sooooo did your brother suggest the whole going to college ironically by chance?

TG: yeah he did actually

TG: at first i didnt want to agree with him

TG: but when i thought of telling people about how i ruled the college scene it didnt seem so bad

GG: uh huhhh…

GG: are you sure your brother didnt just trick you into thinking college was ironic and cool so you would consider going?

GG: because thats what it sounds like to me

TG: whoa no that is not how the dude operates trust me

TG: he would never want me to take this seriously he hated school

TG: thats why he never went to college

GG: seems like a lot of money just to help your little brother be ironic

TG: but it is like an ultimate irony

TG: a total fuck you to the system

TG: and bro has some money saved up thanks to that weird entrepreneur thing he has goin on

TG: and im not gonna freeload forever

TG: ill pay him back once i get enough money

TG: but believe me we both know its totally worth it in the end

GG: whateeeeever you say cool kid

GG: well i gotta go. i have a lot of homework to do :(

TG: already? shit harley these MUT profs are cruel slave drivers

TG: this is abuse

TG: should i call someone?

TG: like the military

TG: or obama

GG: hehehe calm down silly

GG: thanks for your concern though 3

TG: anytime

GG: byeeeee talk to you soon!

- gardenGnostic [GG] ceased pestering turntechGodhead [TG] -

You put your phone down and relax into your seat. You thank some deity out there that she didn't press you further on how your classes went. You don't think she would approve of how you acted during your lesson. Actually, you know she wouldn't approve. She would've given you a verbal beatdown until she knew for sure you went to grovel at Egderp's feet for his forgiveness and another chance. But Striders don't grovel. You are just going to forget this ever happened. You'll drop the class, and next term you'll take guitar or oboe or something. Anything as long as it isn't piano.