CHAPTER FIVE - The Geek
After lunch, the three girls went to different classes. Luann had art, which was in a “temporary” portable building that had been there since 1980. It was beyond the shop buildings and Luann had to hustle to make it on time.
Every day this semester, when Luann hurried past wood shop, Gunther waited at the door, wearing his goggles and apron. He’d wave and say “Hi, Luann,” and Luann would puff, “Hey, Gunth,” and chug on. She found this oddly flattering, like when Gunther stared at her in History class. She couldn’t stop herself from glancing at him to see if he was staring. She hated it when he caught her doing this because he probably thought she was checking HIM out.
But today Gunther wasn’t at the wood shop door. As Luann strode past, she thought about sticking her head inside but she didn’t have time. She ran on to her art class, glancing back at the empty doorway.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * *
He looked deep in thought.
In a corner, back near the drill press, Gunther sat on a stool, sanding a piece of oak for a spice rack he was making for his mom. He wasn’t wearing his goggles or apron, so his wiry hair and thick glasses were coated with sanding dust. So were his plaid shirt and black dress pants.
“Hey, G-man!” It was Knute, Gunther’s unlikely pal. Unlikely because, while Gunther was cautious and withdrawn, Knute was brassy, flashy and full of reckless gung-ho. His long straight hair hung out from beneath a backwards ball cap. He wore purple sunglasses, oversized skater clothes and a full tool belt, weighed down by an arsenal of screwdrivers, pliers, hammers, measuring devices and pouches of nails. Knute never used any of this stuff, he just thought it gave him a cool, construction guy look.
“Your lady went by!” said Knute, thumbing toward the door.
“How come ya didn’t salutate her?”
Gunther didn’t look up from his sanding. “Salutate isn’t a word, Knute. There’s no verb form of “salutation. There’s “salute,” but that has a slightly diff-”
“Gunth! What’re you mumbling about, dude? I’m talkin’ about Luann! Your woman!” Knute knew all about Gunther’s long history of unspoken love for Luann.
“Luann isn’t ‘my woman.’”
“Not if you sit back here like some kind of Queasymodo.”
“Gunth, you’ve said ‘hi’ to Luann every day at that door. Why not today?”
Gunther looked up from his sanding. His glasses were opaque with wood dust. “You just answered your own question, Knute. I didn’t do it today because I’ve done it exactly 85 times this semester. That’s a nice round number to stop at.”
Knute spread his arms. “Hey, so’s 90. So’s 100.”
“And I’ll be no farther along than I was at one,” said Gunther, vigorously sanding the piece of oak.
“Oh, so this is about giving up because, hey, what’s the use?”
Gunther looked up again. He wiped a finger across one lens, revealing an eye which glared at Knute.
“It’s about facing reality, Knute. Accepting what IS.”
Knute snorted. “What IS is, you’re quitting. Wimping out. And I gotta tell ya, if you’re gonna fold every time you hit the wall, then we’re not friends anymore. I don’t hang with losers.”
Gunther looked at Knute’s ridiculous tool belt, pointlessly oversized pants and inside-out tee shirt. Talk about losers.
Gunther set down the piece of wood. “Knute, let’s consider this situation for a moment. Luann is an attractive, desirable girl. I’m a nice enough person, fairly bright, well-mannered... but I’m a GEEK! Girls don’t notice geeks. If I looked like... like Aaron Hill, I might have a chance with Luann. But after 85 times of rushing to that door only to be barely acknowledged and then virtually ignored any other time I see her, I think it’s time to accept that Luann is just not interested in me! So, yes, I’m done.” He picked up the piece of wood and began sanding again. “I guess you’ll have to find another friend.”
Knute threw his head back and laughed.
Gunther looked up. “What’s so funny?”
“YOU, dude! Showin’ some badass attitude! Yeow!”
“I’m not showing any attitude, I’m simply stating--”
“No, man, that’s good! I’ve never heard you so forceful. But what’s really funny is how wrong you are.”
Gunther scowled. “What do you mean, ‘wrong?’”
Knute pulled a stool over and sat down, his tools bonking on the metal legs.
“Gunth, remember when Julia Roberts married Lyle Lovitt, a guy who’s uglier than both of us put together? I thought, man, what’s up with this? She could have any guy, why’d she pick him? Then, one day, I had a dentist appointment and I’m sittin’ in the waiting room all bored an’ everything and I pick up a copy of Cosmo --”
“Knute, I need to get this spice rack done. Is there going to be a point anytime soon?”
“--and there was an article called ‘The Secret Truth That Men Don’t Know.’ Knute grinned. “Guess what the Secret Truth is.”
Gunther adjusted his glasses. “Well, I don’t see how it can be a ‘secret’ if it’s in a nationally distributed magaz-”
“Women don’t care about a man’s looks! Isn’t that great? Chicks do NOT care how we look!” Knute raised his fists into the air. “We are home free, my man!”
Gunther stared at Knute through his one clear lens. “Women don’t care about looks?”
“Not the way guys do. Guys are all visual and stupafacial and stuff.”
“Superficial,” said Gunther as he thought about what Knute had said. There seemed to be some validity here; it certainly explained why attractive girls often hooked up with dangerous looking guys.
But this only explained what girls didn’t look for.
“So what do girls care about? What attracts them to a guy?”
“Beats me,” shrugged Knute.
“What did the article say?”
“I dunno. I got called in to the dentist. Three cavities, man. That was the worst dentist appointment I’ve ever--”
“Knute! You’re not helping here. We need to figure out exactly what it is that girls find attractive when they look at a guy.”
Knute stood and hitched up his tool belt. “My guess? Personality. It’s all that ‘inner self’ stuff. Girls are deep, man.”
“But that’s after they get to know you. What attracts them in the first place? If it’s not a handsome face, what is it?”
“A cool car.”
“Oh that’s real deep.”
“Hey, I don’t know. I don’t have a girlfriend, either, man. I’m just tryin’ to help you get out of your corner here and get some business goin’ with Luann.”
Gunther put down his piece of wood. “A survey. That’s what we need, a carefully plotted survey.” He stood up and began rummaging in his backpack. He was excited. This was science.
“Survey? What, go around askin’ girls, ‘Excuse me, am I a stud?’”
Gunther shook his head. “No, it can’t be an interview survey, the answers wouldn’t be honest. It has to be a field survey. We need to surreptitiously observe girls as they appraise guys.” He produced a pad and pen and began making notes.
“Ok, there are two words there I don’t get: ‘syrup-tissuely’ and ‘we.’ Especially ‘we.’ That means more than one person and I’m lookin’ around here and I’m seein’ you and me, but since I’m not involved, I’m wonderin’ who the other person is.”
Gunther focused on his note pad. “I can’t do this myself, Knute. I need you to help gather data. All you have to do is make random observations of various female-to-male appraisals and then chart each male’s intrinsic attributes adjacent to the corresponding female valuation. See?” Gunther held up a page of scribbled notations.
Knute shook his head. “Gunth, I have NO idea what you just said, but it sounds like work and I’m not--”
“You’ll be looking at girls.”
Copyright 2022 GEC Inc.