Who Says I Don't Have A Life?

"You never study for tests?" I gave my friend a wide-eyed look. "No wonder you get C's! But you're so smart! Why don't you apply yourself, for God's sake?"

T.J. shrugs. He crosses his eyes at me and gives me a silly grin.

"I have other things to do." He answers matter-of-factly.

"Oh, yeah? Like what? Watching Seinfeld on TV?"

"Precisely. Oh, among many other little things, of course…"

I sit back in my chair, exasperated. My friend, T.J. Laurelston, is on the short side, has green eyes, curly dishwater-blonde hair, glasses, and freckles. Many freckles. He is cynical of politicians and loves to read big, fat fantasy and science fiction novels. He swears a lot, but not in the presence of permanently bad-humored individuals, like our English teacher, Ms. Sherri. We've known each other since we were little.

What I don't get is how an intelligent guy with such amazing potential gets below-average grades in his classes.

T.J. raises his eyebrows at me. "My turn now. So how do you manage to get A's in all your classes, even honors?"

I scoff at him. "Well, let's see, I spend a good amount of time on my homework, because I actually care about quality. I study for tests ahead of time, and put work before Seinfeld. I do extra work on the weekends. I also --"

I go off into a tangent for a while, but soon stop. T.J. is laughing disbelievingly, shaking his head.


"Did you just imply that I don't care about quality?" He laughs again, and then looks straight at me. "I don't think you know what quality means."

I raise my eyebrows, feeling offended.

"What do you mean?"

"I'm calling you a person with no life."


"Exactly. About how many hours a week do you put in actually doing stuff you like? Like, um --" He waves his hands, searching for the words. "Hobbies? Activities that stimulate your mind?"

I scowl.

"I wouldn't call watching TV a mind-stimulating activity."

T.J. dismisses my rebuttal. He senses my reluctance. "Come on, Rachel. Just answer the question."

I chew my lip, looking out the window, away from him. I take my sweet time answering.

"Oh, uh…like…"

T.J. waits patiently.

I give up. "One?"

This is apparently too much for T.J., who slaps his knee with the palm of his hand in satisfaction. "Ha!

I grimace at him. "Shut up, idiot."

T.J. stops laughing and becomes serious. "The thing is, Rach, I believe the overall quality of life is more important than anything else. That includes school."

I stare at him. All of a sudden, he dares to go philosophical on me.

"Is this something you picked up in your psych class?"

T.J. shakes his head. "That's not the point."

"What are you trying to prove?" I feel hurt, and I'm lashing back. "That I should waste precious time watching Seinfel -- "

"Rachel, Rachel, Rachel. Calm down, my dear. All I'm trying to say is -- "

"I am not your 'dear.'"

"Come on. Just hear me out. Please."

I sigh. A few moments pass. Finally, I grudgingly say, "Whatever. Go on."

T.J. talks animatedly, and as he speaks, I look closely at him. He seems to have an aura around him, something I've never noticed before. His eyes sparkle with determination, and I can tell the kid is serious.

"I probably should spend more time on school, if I want to get into a good college senior year. But the reason I don't spend more time on homework is because I'm doing other things, things that are important to me. I write stories and send them out to magazines. I make movies after school. I run track. I also, as you know, spend time watching Seinfeld."

I roll my eyes, and we giggle. He goes on.

"My dad is an artist. He didn't focus on math and science in school, and he's happy. This is the right life for him."

He also talks about Peter Jackson and how although he didn't get good grades in school because he was busy making home movies all the time, he went on to make Lord of the Rings a major blockbuster. At that point, it hits me.

When T.J. stops, we stare at each other across the kitchen table. Finally I jump up, pushing the unfinished science homework we've been toiling over to the edge of the table.

"Wanna make chocolate chip cookies?"

We smile at each other.