"This is your lunch, OK? Now, I put a dollar in there so you can buy some milk. You can ask one of the big kids where to do that." Sheila says, trying desperately not to act worried.
"You remember your phone number? I wrote it down for you, just in case. Put it in your pocket, I don't want you to lose it. OK? You ready?" adds Fred.
It makes sense that they'd be worried. After all, it's not everyday that your kid goes to school for the first time. This is completely normal. Reggie would even say it was cute, if he was starting first grade instead of, well, eleventh.
Reggie on the other hand, is thrilled. He's never gotten to socialize with so many of his peers, let alone go to an actual high school. He has no idea what to expect, but this is bound to be good. He has never had any real friends before!
But, as it turns out, the other students aren't as excited at the idea of being his friend. He's been walking around the cafeteria for the past ten minutes and so far not one person let him sit with them. Reggie sighs as he makes his way to the boys' washroom. This is not how he had expected his first day to go at all.
He's already crying when the sound of the door slamming open startles him. Two boys enter, talking loudly about a conversation that took place earlier that day.
"And then," says the taller one, imitating the boy's poor Southern accent, "he asked me what my leather jacket was made of. So I said, 'Your dad's foreskin.' Get it? Because his-" he stops abruptly. "Is someone crying?"
Shit. Reggie thought he was being quiet. He covers his mouth with his hand, but it's too late. The boy is already knocking on the door.
"Hey, is everything okay?"
Reggie sighs and steps out of the stall, and immediately bursts into sobs. The shorter boy hugs him and pats his shoulder. "There, there."
Once Reggie calms down, the boys introduce themselves. "I'm Bernie, Bernie Taupin," says the taller one. "And this is my friend Ray. He's almost too heterosexual to function." The last part makes Reggie laugh a little. "I'm Reginald Dwight, but all my friends call me Reggie. Well, no one but my parents calls me that at the moment, but you guys can!" he says enthusiastically.
"Nice to meet you, Reggie. Is that your natural hairline?" asks Ray. "Cute." Reggie nods, self-conciously touching his head that's already balding at the age of 16.
The ringing of the school bell makes Reggie panic again. "Do either of you know where Room G-14 is?"
Ray says "I think it's in the back building, isn't it?" and winks at Bernie. Bernie hesitates for a second, but then nods. "Yeah, man. We can walk you there, if you like." Reggie eagerly accepts.
He doesn't suspect that they may not actually be going to class until Ray and Bernie sit down on the grass. "We're not going to health class, are we?"
Bernie laughs. "No, we're not. Come sit down with us, Reggie." He does, and they start watching the gym class.
"In the name of all that is holy, will you look at Roger Taylor's gym clothes?" says Ray. "Ugh. It's way too early for me to see Plastic ass."
"It's noon," Reggie says. "What's a Plastic?"
"They're teen royalty. If North Shore was Us Weekly, they would always be on the cover." says Ray.
"That one there, that's Roger Taylor. He is one of the dumbest people you will ever meet." Bernie adds. It's clear that he doesn't find them as amusing as his friend does. "And the tall one? That's Brian May. He's so rich because his dad owns Pret-A-Manger. He knows everybody's business."
"That's why his hair is so big. It's full of secrets." says Ray.
"And evil takes a human form in Freddie Mercury. Don't be fooled, because he may seem like your typical selfish, back-stabbing, slut-faced ho-bag. But in reality, he is so much more than that. He's the queen bee. The star. Those other two are just his little workers."
Reggie nods, though he understands very little of what his new friends just said. "I take it they're not very well liked around here."
Bernie laughs bitterly. "Oh Reggie," he says, but doesn't finish the sentence. Instead, he takes a piece of paper out of his bag and starts scribbling something. "Here," he says, handing him the paper. "This map is gonna be your guide to the cafeteria. Who you sit with is crucial. You got your freshmen, ROTC guys, preps, JV jocks, Asian nerds, cool Asians, varsity jocks, unfriendly black hotties, girls who eat their feelings, girls who don't eat anything, desperate wannabes, burnouts, sexually active choir geeks, the greatest people you will ever meet, and the worst. Beware of The Plastics."
Keeping Bernie's advice isn't very easy, because, for some reason, Freddie invites him to their table the next day. "Why don't I know you?" he asks. Reggie naively holds his hand out. "I'm Reggie. I just moved here from Africa."
Freddie blinks. "What?"
"I used to be home-schooled." Freddie looks like he thinks Reggie's joking now. "So you've never been to a real school before? Shut up. Shut up! You're like, really hot."
Reggie could feel the heat rising to his cheeks. "Uh... Thanks?"
"So you agree? So you think you're really hot?"
"What? I don't know?" This conversation was getting more and more confusing.
"If you're from Africa, why are you white?" wonders Roger, earning a smack from Brian. "You can't just ask people why they're white, Roger! Oh my god!"
"I love your name," Freddie says, changing the subject. "It's like, so adorable. What do you think about Elton?"
Reggie has no idea what the conversation is about at this point. "Who's Elton?"
Freddie laughs. "Oh, he's killing me. We have got to keep him, Bri," he says to his friend. "Elton as a name, silly!"
"Are you asking me if I want to change my name to Elton?"
Freddie shrugs. "Sure." Reggie doesn't answer, which Freddie takes as acceptance. He sighs. "Okay, we don't do this often, so this is kind of a big deal, but we want to invite you to have lunch with us for the rest of the week, darling." he says, and his sidekicks nod.
"Coolsies! See you tomorrow then."
"On wednesdays we wear wife beaters!" says Roger before he leaves.
Ray is ecstatic when Reggie (or Elton, as he's now called) tells him what happened. "You have to do it! Sit with them and tell us everything Freddie says!"
"I don't know if that's a good idea," protests Elton. "Yeah, I'm with Reggie on this one. He already ruined my life once. Do I really want to push my luck?" says Bernie. Ray sighs. "Come on, Bernie! This is your chance to get back at Freddie. Don't you want revenge?"
Bernie considers. He really does want revenge.
"Freddie seems nice," Elton tries.
"Oh, Freddie Mercury is not nice! He's a whore!" Bernie yells.
"Why do you hate him?"
Bernie doesn't answer.
"He outed Bernie as-" Ray tries to explain, but Bernie cuts him off. "Shut up Ray! Reggie, would you please just do this? For me?"
Elton wants to say no, but Bernie's eyes are like, really pretty. So he finds himself saying: "Do you have a wife beater?