ST. PAUL, MN–Hardly anybody at Highland Junior High School has heard the name Chandler DeMauricio, let alone know who the name belongs to. It’s partially by design, as Chandler prefers to slide by under the radar, but he also feels marginalized by his social status. He has been in school with most of them since kindergarten. Especially given how small the school is, only forty students per grade, it is quite astonishing that no more than three of his classmates even know Chandler.
That all changed on Thursday. Chandler missed the first half of the school day thanks to an appointment with his orthodontist. After two years, he got his braces off, and Chandler figured that might be enough to finally get recognition on campus. Once everyone gets a gander at his new grill, things are going to change, Chandler thought. He dreamt about his classmates’ reactions to seeing him smile on the drive back to school.
Chandler’s daydreaming was soon interrupted by an unforeseen detour. His face lit up as he noticed his mother turn into the McDonald’s drive-thru lane. “Mom, are you effing serious?” Chandler questioned aloud. His mom confirmed his suspicions, explaining that she’d forgotten to pack him a lunch and would let him have McDonald’s just this one time. Chandler fully got the hookup — double cheeseburger, no onions, six-piece chicken McNuggets with BBQ dipping sauce, large french fries, and a Coke. “I love you,” Chandler said as his mom passed him the bag. It was the first time he’d said that since his parents divorced two years ago.
As Chandler entered school, he knew he had the golden ticket. Lunchtime was already several minutes underway, so he went directly to the tables, where his classmates were already eating. Confidently, Chandler plopped his down right next to the popular kids. Their initially disgusted expressions soon gave way to jealousy. “Who’s that kid?” Chandler ignored the curious mutterings as he unpacked his incredible lunch haul.
The most popular kid, Taron McGrady, finally mustered up the courage to do what everyone else wanted to do. “Hey, cool lunch. Can I have a fry?” Taron boldly asked. Chandler then stuffed eight fries in his mouth at once. He chewed slowly, milking his time as everyone awaited his response. “What’s my name?” Chandler questioned. Taron froze. Chandler chuckled smugly. “You may not know me, but I know you, Taron. Enough to say no. No, you don’t get one of my fries. And don’t even breathe in the direction of my McNuggets. I’m the most popular kid in sixth grade today. Cower.” The table went silent with shock as Chandler shifted his attention to Kim, the hottest girl in class. “Would you like a french fry, Kim” She nodded, and Chandler lifted a crispy one to her lips. She devoured it in seconds, unable to draw out the savory goodness. He had a hold on her now.
Chandler and Kim are going steady.