Have you ever experienced the joy of being followed by your own, personal stalker-entourage? If not, then congratulations, unlike me, you probably have a life. However, if you answered "yes" to this question then in all likelihood you are either A) Me (and I sincerely hope not) or B) Lydia. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Right now you're probably scratching your head and going "Huh? What odd and mystical world have we landed in where stalkers count as part of an entourage?" Well, I hate to break it to you, buddy, but now you're in my world. And in my world, anything is possible. I suggest you brace yourself.

It all started that fateful Tuesday morning when the teachers declared a school picnic would happen upon that very day, with an extended lunch period, provided food, and games to play. No, that's not right. They actually told us about it the week before, but that's not important. Now, just for the fun of it, I will write their declaration as if I were from medieval times: Hear ye, hear ye! We, your most esteemed educators, have hereby declared there to be a celebration of most jovial proportions five days hence. You bringeth forth a blanket to sit upon, and we shall provide thee with the most delectable victuals." Now, naturally they did not say it in this form, but didn't that sound so much better than "There's going to be a picnic outside on Tuesday. You don't need to pack your lunch,"?

So, soon Tuesday had descended upon us, and at about 11:30 we were released to get the food. Hamburgers, hotdogs, brats (the meat, not the annoying, disproportionate dolls), baked beans, pasta salad, potato salad (that really good mustard kind)… It's not an experience I would want to repeat. Yes, the food was good, but I personally believe a group of hungry high-schoolers could easily be compared to a pack of hungry wolves. Yeah, not fun. Not fun at all.

I was in line with my friend, Lydia, and miraculously we survived with all of our body parts still intact and our mouths watering at the beautiful burgers awaiting us on our plates. After a small mix-up with whether or not we were allowed outside (And we were right. We were allowed in the small park beside the school. Take that teachers who doubted that we could go outside when others said we could.) we finally were able to set up the blanket I had brought in our preferred spot: under the willow tree, by the pond. It really was a beautiful spot… That is, until the bug mobile decided to show up.

We were surrounded. Ants bombarded us from every side, yellow jackets attacked from above, and then there were those bugs that no one knows the name of. The only thing we could do was retreat. Lydia and I, being the self-sacrificing people that we are, gave our shoes and socks to the invading army as a peace offering between our two parties. Not because it was hot, and we had had enough with the daily restraints of shoes, or anything like that. We would never be so smart, or crazy I mean, as to do something like that for our own comfort. Nope. Not us.

Anyway, after our retreat from the horrors of insects, we took back our now nearly empty plates and roamed. There was much laughing, much talking, and much yelling of "Embrace the barefootness!" to random people at our school that we still don't know. Eventually we found ourselves talking about yodeling. Don't ask me how it came up. I really don't have an answer for you.

All I know is that Lydia said, "I know a yodeling song."

Then I said, "What? How do you know a yodeling song?"

Lydia replied, "Camp," and started yodeling. I have to say, it was one of the funniest things I had ever heard uttered from someone's mouth. She even knew the motions to go with it. I will forever remember the words "Once an Austrian went yodeling…"

Sometime during the hilarity of yodeling, two other girls, Abigail and Samantha, joined us. And after the laughing wore off and the song was long over, either Lydia or I (I really don't know who. We're so much alike, sometimes it's hard for even us to tell each other apart) said "Embrace the barefoot yodeling!" This grew grins from whichever one of us didn't say it. Soon that one statement became like our motto. Well, that and "Be spunderful!" but we'll get to that later.

Lydia and I walked away, still talking and laughing. (Yes, even nerds can multitask. We're creatures too, you know.) Probably about a minute or two later we reached this nice, white gazebo. And there our day was changed forever. The event that happened next is life-changing. I can hardly put it into words, it was so mind-boggling: we met our stalker entourage. But just what is a stalker entourage, you may ask? Well, my dear Watson, I do believe the best way to explain this to you is for you to keep reading.

In a rare moment of silence, we looked over to see the girls who had been with us at Lydia's spontaneous, barefoot yodeling display. In explanation, one said, "We're stalking you for like, um, practice."

We took this without question, and Lydia replied, "Well then, carry on."

"Yes," I chimed in. "Carry on."

After that we simply accepted them as part of our little group. However, whether they would have regretted giving up any possible social lives they could have cultivated in their future high school careers, I did not know. But by then, it was too late. They had been accepted into a club filled to the nonexistent, but still very important, hypothetical brim with nerds and weirdies (one of my absolute favorite made-up words).

Next our little group walked around a while before settling down on the top of a steep hill, the one place you could see everything that was going on in the park. Once we'd finally gotten to the top (Let me tell you, it is not fun hiking up a steep hill in an ankle-length denim skirt.), a topic of epic proportions came up: the tragic romance (that our boredom-induced minds thought up) between two teens named Josh and Jen. We came up with two possible scenarios. The first is that they met at the county fair…

Josh was bored. He was stuck at the fair. Not because he was enough of a loser or anything to actually like these things, naturally, but because his younger sister had pestered their mother long enough to make her crack. So, off Josh went to drive his dorky little sister, Emma, to the county fair.

Lost in his thoughts with his hands in his pockets, Josh kicked a can laying on the ground and looked up to see a cotton candy booth. Shrugging, he said, "Eh. Why not?" He stepped up next to the only other customer, a girl who appeared to be about his age. He handed the worker some money, and then reached out to take the offered stick of sugary puff, completely disregarding the girl.

But that was before their hands met on the paper stick. They looked up into each others' eyes and- and…

That's when the fireworks started, literally.

They spent the rest of the night gazing into each others' eyes, neither having to say anything at all. Even Josh's pesky little sister couldn't ruin that night for them.

All night only one thing was said: "Will you marry me?" Jen nodded as a wide smile grew across her face. And to Josh, everything just felt right with Jen's head nestled up against his chest as they watched the fireworks…

I'm tearing up. Really I am.


But that was scenario one. The second one went something like this…

Jen had been working at Aeropostle for two months when the store hired a new employee. And put her in charge of training him. Great, she thought to herself, as if I don't have enough to deal with, he's already late!

Right then, the bells on the store door rang and she looked up to see a boy about her age entering. He had dark glasses on, so she couldn't see his eyes, but she assumed he was the new employee. Josh. She'd met him once, briefly, when he was coming out of his interview, "What's up?" he told her in passing.

Jen rolled her eyes. In her opinion, that was the most overused phrase of the century. "You're late."

Josh shrugged. "I'm not worried. I'm sure you had everything under control."

"And just why do you think this?" she asked.

Again, he shrugged in the most irritating manner. "You have this whole under control thing going on. The neat ponytail. The sweater-thing over the polo. The black pants. You're either going to be a CEO or a human dictator. Either way, you'll have everything under control."

Jen rolled her eyes again. "Whatever. Just help me fold these shirts." Secretly, it hurt to be labeled that way be a complete stranger, but she wasn't going to let him know that. "And take those stupid glasses off." He shrugged again and did so, but Jen was already working.

A few minutes later she looked over to see him wadding up a shirt and throwing it into the pile. She reached over and put her hand on his to stop him. He looked up and their eyes met. It was as if the angels had started singing the "Hallelujah Chorus" in her head.

After a few moments, Jen stuttered, "I, um, uh… You were, uh, folding it, um wr-wrong. Hey, would you, uh-"

"Like to go out Saturday night? I'll pick you up around seven," Josh said. She thought he was even smiling a little, but she couldn't tell.

"Um, yeah. Yeah, that sounds great," she replied, wildly attempting to keep her cool.

"Cool. Now, how do you fold this?"

Jen quickly showed him, and they got back to their work. Later on, after Jen had taught Josh the basics of the inner workings of an Aeropostle store, she caught herself thinking, Maybe a new employee won't be so bad after all…

We are practically literary geniuses, I know. Both versions drew many laughs and grins from our little group.

Afterwards, we ran back down the hill and walked around for a while, ending up back near the gazebo where we were asked, "Hey, will you guys be cheerleaders for the football game?"

Lydia responded by saying, "Yeah, I don't think that's a good idea. The best cheer we know is this: Run! Run, you pathetic weaklings!"

"Oh, come on, it'll be fun!"

Yeah, we ran away as fast as we could, as soon as she turned away. And we ran to the only place we could think of: the site that the bugs were using earlier as a battlefield. We returned with high hopes that the bugs had gotten the hint and taken a hike, er, flight or crawl, or whatever it is bugs do. Unfortunately, it was not meant to be: the army was still there on my blanket. We tried to shake them off, but we were outnumbered by far. But this time we did not flee. This time we stood our ground… We just stood our ground several feet away from the blanket.

And then, in the words of the most awesome and wondrous Grinch, Lydia "got an idea. An awful idea. The Grinch (Well, Lydia) got a wonderful, awful idea." Except that it wasn't awful at all. It was really quite wonderful. So I guess that quote doesn't actually belong here. But then again, what's a good piece of writing without a Dr. Seuss quote?

Right, you're probably wondering what her idea was. And let me tell you, it really is going to be the next big thing in the fashion world: accessories made out of willow branches. I, being naturally the most awesome one around (and the only one who could figure out how to tear off willow branches), was proclaimed the willow queen and had a crown of willow and a cattail scepter. Lydia was the equivalent to my lady-in-waiting. As to what Abigail and Samantha were… Well, here's where we had a problem. They were already our stalkers, but they also now acted as my entourage to make me seem more important. And what did that make them? My stalker entourage! (See? I told you, you would get it eventually!)

Naturally, as my stalker entourage, they also had to wear willow in their hair, so I stuck one branch into Samantha's pony-tail and twisted a branch around Abigail's head as a sort of wreath. Lydia, too, had a wreath. Of course to go along with our new looks we had to think of a new phrase too. Everyone knows they just go hand in hand, making up new styles and words do. Ask anyone (once I've pre-approved them, of course).

Our new phrase was "Be spunderful!" Spunderful meaning "spontaneously wonderful". After we had been properly willow-fied, we marched around showing off our spunderful outfits yelling out "Be spunderful!". Yet somehow, both members of my stalker entourage "mysteriously" lost their willow accessories somewhere along the way. Nice going, guys. I wonder how they possibly could have managed that. (Sarcasm intended.)

Our outfits and outbursts (And outtakes. You get it? Outfits, outbursts, and out- Oh, never mind) drew many interesting comments. Chief among them were "Awesome outfits," (Oh, you know. I try.) "Why do you look like hippies?" (I took that as a compliment), and then my personal favorite: the classic glance at, look away, and then feel the compulsive need to take another look.

It was glorious.

Within those few minutes, I accomplished what I feel is the most important thing to do when attending a new school with new people: quickly establish yourself as the weird kid. That way, no matter what you do in the future you'll never be the subject of much gossip. For instance, if person A said, "Did you hear that Braden, like, totally broke out in song and dance during English class? Mrs. Leonard just stared at her the whole time," then person B would probably just respond with, "Eh. She always was weird. Did you hear that Josh finally proposed to Jen?"

And so on and so forth. But now I'm safe from high school. Maybe I should write a book on it: "Braden's Ten Step Program to Surviving High School". Although I would need to come up with another nine steps…

Anyway, unfortunately soon came those five dreaded words. Those five words that inspire fear into the very souls of youth across America. The five words that have been plaguing children since prehistory: It's time to come inside. I'm shuddering just thinking about them.

Slowly, Lydia and I trudged back to the battlefield of bugs, my stalker entourage close behind, and we finally succeeded in obtaining back my picnic blanket from the enemy. Well, mostly at least. I suspect at least one of those horrid creepers came back to class with me, hanging onto the blanket with one of those eerie, claw-like things that I hear so-called "normal" people call legs.

The worst part about going back inside was the fact that school is one of those places that actually require shoes. Crazy, I know. I'm all for embracing a barefoot revolution, but currently I'm stuck wearing those awful devices.

And so I descended into a day of daydreaming. Oh, wait. I was supposed to write learning, wasn't I? Oops, my bad. Let's try that again.

And so I descended into a day of learning, my few wild, barefooted hours left behind me, with only the hope for another extended lunch period keeping me going.

"But why does this matter?" you may ask. I, being the spunderful person that I naturally am, am so happy that you asked. I suggest you prepare yourself for a sentimental and heart-wrenching story of a young girl being nervous about starting high school. I will try to make this as painless as possible.

You see, last year I was actually in seventh grade. Apparently the school thought it was a good idea for me to start ninth grade a year early. My mom assumed I would agree and told the principal that I would probably say yes to this proposal. I thought about it for two days and decided I did not want to skip a grade and move ahead of my friends. (This translates as I got all panicky when I realized there was no going back, and I'd have to give up a year a freedom and be forced into the dreaded "real world" a year earlier than planned.) So, I told my mom I didn't want to skip a grade. She called the school, only to learn…

That the school had already given my eighth grade spot away without ever getting my decision, only my mom's opinion of what I'd want. You gotta love public schools.

Have you ever had the feeling that your life is being controlled by someone else and that you have no control over your own life? Well, this was one of those times. It's really not a fun feeling. But I was stuck in high school. Within a few days I was resigned to it, even if I didn't like it. I was convinced I'd forever be the outsider in my class and have none to very few friends, much like the year before. (Not to mention I'd be one of the shortest in my class.) But the picnic changed all that. I suddenly knew I had friends I could rely on and laugh about everything with. And I was finally ready for high school, even if I was still quite short.

(See? I told you it wouldn't be too painful to sit through!)

And alas now I must leave you, my faithful followers, as I have been before instructed not to write too much, with only two things to remember. Always embrace the barefoot yodeling, and above all else, be a spunderful person despite what others may think.

Well? How'd you like it? I wrote this as a memoir for my English class, and yes, it really did happen. I plan to publish the Josh and Jen stories (and hopefully more of them) here on fictionpress, so if you liked them please review on their story pages! And please review here too! Thanks!