Sunday, June 8, 2014

Put On Your Crown: Life-Changing Moments On The Path To Queendom

This book is one that, while it is autobiographical, it is also, a testament to really look at and be grateful for the moments that matter in life. One too many times in life we miss out on what matters. Somehow sleepwalking through these moments. Thinking they're supposed to be on a certain path. To look or be a certain way. Instead of being TRUE. This book is an empowerment from someone all young girls (or boys) can learn from. A TRUE story of someone who's been THERE! She stayed TRUE to who she was and refused to succumb to stereotypes in the entertainment business. Living proof of possibility. From musician, actress, author and talk show host, here is the story of the one & only, Queen Latifah.

Dana Owens at 17

First thing to remember is climbing a mountain. The journey is getting there. It's a struggle. But a monument once you get there! We all have talents and passions that can lead us into a vocation of some kind. "Take what you know and try to find a way to make a living at it." When she started at this business, Queen seen the strong qualities in others. Knowing and using those strong qualities, she took them up on those qualities and placed them in her crew where they would do the most good. For example, she hired someone serious & punctual to be her business manager after watching him for 2 years. It was his ethics and character. At the time, she was 17 and working in the club circuit. She may not have known much, but it was the smartest decision she ever made.

When she was a kid, Dana Elaine Owens, was fascinated by the human body, medicine and anything that has to do w/ nature. One of her favorite reality shows is TLC's Trauma: Life In The ER. Due to NO REAL such thing as GENUINE job security, DON'T let a job define who you are. Like I always tell others: I am more that just my name & titles. Reinvention isn't changing who you are, it's letting the other parts of you shine. Dana's dad, Lancelot Owens, was determined that his daughter would never cower in a corner. He was always fair. If Dana's brother, Winki, who was going to a dojo to learn some moves in a martial arts course, Dana was going to learn too! Their dad was a cop & Vietnam vet. He wanted both of his kids to develop a sense of character. The confidence to stand up for herself in Newark, New Jersey.

Dana's dad was always about equal opportunity. Her parents gave her the foundation, but she was always fortunate to have her brother by her side. They seen her talents and her gifts. They seen her talents before the world did. A student in her mother's art class, Shakim, knew what Dana was capable of. He has seen her hold her own. He had seen what she could do. He would tell her like it is. (If she sucked - he told her!) Never allowing her to have a BIG head or one to over compensate. If at first you don't succeed, try something else. For Queen's career, some things weren't always a hit. Whether it was an album or a movie coming out - Understandable. They can't all be winners. Queen does her work, works well with co-workers, does what she's supposed to do. It's doing the best with what you've gotMake you life the masterpiece you want it to be! As human beings, we have so many facets to us. We are all more than our titles given to us by the world.
Dana & Lancelot

WAKE UP and REALIZE: IMPERFECTION IS PERFECT! For the most part, Dana has been fortunate that others haven't altered her image beyond recognition. For example, she's had to fight to keep the scar when she was 3 years old playing tag w/ her brother. She tripped and fell, hitting her forehead on the corner of the bathroom door frame on the way down. Not long after that, she was running into her aunt's house when she tripped and landed face-first on the stairs in the exact same spot as before. She had to have 3 stitches. The point is that it's part of who she is. It's reminiscent of her brother and of her childhood.

Although she was athletic & big-boned, she was still running around getting scraped up. But inside, Dana was all girl and felt that way. When her cousin showed Dana her uncle's book of Muslim names and she came across "Latifah", Dana decided that had to be her new name. It meant "delicate, sensitive & kind". That was exactly how she felt inside. In 4TH grade, Dana changed schools and was drawn to whatever sport boys were playing. Although she played at home w/ her dad & brother, the school kids let her know her place. But she came back and let her place be known.

You are given a fresh start in life. Define yourself before others do it for you. Queen Latifah points out a GREAT example of this: Oscar-winning actress Gabourey Sidibe. But as everyone knows, Not everyone is going to be your best.

These moments came for Queen early on in her adolescence when she began developing faster than most girls her age. An example of someone Queen Latifah identifies w/ that's known today would be President Obama's daughter, Malia. To help her daughter throughout this awkward phase, Dana's mom began teaching her how to walk w/ a book on her head like the models. After doing what the boys do, it could be her mom's way to influence being a lady by holding herself upright. These small moments had a large impact. It was a giant boost that carried her. It gave her the confidence to stand prideful and elegant. It was because of her strut & walk. It was partly because why she was popular in school and hang w/ that crew. On some level, it helped her become a performer. When it came time to release her first album, she had already created her own style. She dubbed herself "Queen" because that's how she felt. She pulled off the African look she created for herself at the age of 17.

Of course, it came the pressure to be what in today's society as a "skinny bitch", other than a regular girl while working on Living Single. The decision for herself to lose weight came in 2002. She was at her heaviest playing Matron "Mama" Morton in Chicago. The weight fit for the character, inspired by her grandmother, Nana Owens. Nana was 94 when she died. Dana was in Toronto filming the movie when it happened. Dana was devastated. When she did the number "When You're Good To Mama", it was Nana that Dana could relate to w/ the part. She/Nana gave that character it's soul.

Although she wanted to exercise and lose weight, she didn't deem it as grueling. She found a way to make it work and be fun. She initially lost 25 LBS. She felt better as well as reconnecting w/ her athletic self. Exercise has since become consistent. When she was filming Just Wright in New York, she made it a point to have a big pink bicycle on-set and kept it moving. Exercising and taking pride in it every chance she gets. She has made it become a priority. Other than watching her foods,the Jenny Craig program helped ALOT. Worshiping your body throughout it's entirety. It's the only one you've got. Seeing herself in the moment at the mirror was the first time Dana truly felt comfortable in her own skin. She felt like a lady.

Dana/Queen talks about the financial hardships she's had to acquire after achieving a certain amount of money. They truly thought they were making the right moves. Dana & Shakim decided a year before to set up their own record company. Yes, they could have had "the works" and everything paid for by the company. But once taken out, it's got to be put back in. You end up in debt and owing others like a slave. Growing up, they never wanted to be like that. They wanted to be free-thinkers and not have a committee's permission to do so. They already had a small distribution deal w/ a record label, but they wanted to take it to the next level. They didn't just want to work. They wanted ownership. You could achieve a high level of respect & success when you own what you create.

After hearing the horror stories of others signing and working without receiving, they wanted to build their own business and create an independent label w/ amazing artists they had found. After expenses are withdrawn, w/ minimal success, you can reap ALOT of benefits. But Queen & Shakim didn't factor in the tremendous overhead and start-up costs. Always putting money in before some can be taken out. They couldn't help themselves. They had too many people on payroll. It was hard to separate emotion from business. They threw 100s of 1000s of dollars into the label. They took over Whitney Houston's old space and called it Millennium Records. It wasn't a bad investment. It was covering costs without seeing revenue.

Yes, Dana and Shakim each had families they were looking out for. They looked for investors but never got paid. After a certain amount of time w/ no revenue or payback from anyone, they were almost to the point of bankruptcy. GENUINE HONEST MISTAKES!! The accountant was dulling out money and Queen wasn't watching to keep tabs on any of it. Then BAM! Came the dreaded call. She called her mom and she called her mom and she calmed her daughter down. Then she called her accountant who helped her with a game plan to payback the I.R.S. in a way that was maintained. They had to create a new system for this to avoid future mistakes.

After watching a TV program that talked about NEVER letting others sign your checks, Queen closed her account and opened a new one with a zero balance. She now signs EVERYTHING. After things are prepared, they are then sent to Queen to sign. (It is worth the time & effort.) She catches errors others wouldn't. A little effort is becoming BIG savings.) That wasn't the only change Queen made. Shakim and Queen had to take a long, hard look to figure out what their priorities were and where they were going. Shakim stated that running the record label and the management company were too much. So they made some adjustments. They had to find their focus and drop the others. It really made her feel bad. But they were making decisions out of emotion - rather than logic. NO ONE was benefiting either way. After reconstructing their business, it has worked out better in the end.

After learning the lesson the first time, Queen literally did her homework. She went to the bookstore, as she often does, did her research. One title caught her eye: Suze Orman's The 9 Steps To Financial Freedom. She began reading it RIGHT THEN & THERE! Several points in the book spoke to her. She eventually bought the book, took it home, made copied notes and took them to her accountant. She was determined to reach a level of financial sophistication.

Other than affluence, Queen care more about financial stability wealth can bring. She wants to travel, support causes & more. (For example, education for inner-city kids.) Accumulating personal wealth and taking control of your financial future. Not stuff. She had a steep learning curve. Queen has both book smarts w/ a semester in college and street smarts.Their mom taught Dana and her brother something adults in their communities NEVER learned - how to write a check. Every week, they would set aside some of their allowance and put it in the bank. She continued the saver mentality through her teens. Their dad had his own way of teaching them financial independence at a young age.

Dana remembers her first paycheck. She was 15 and found a job at Burger King while still in school.  She really wanted that job. Free food and earning your pay. (She did everything from cleaning toilets to working the register.) She made $88.46 that first week.  Two years later, the circumstances couldn't be more different. She wasn't even signed to a label yet and her first record, 'Princess Of The Posse' was on the radio. She got her first big check and spent it frivolously. Money went down the drain. When Queen was 19, she became more responsible. After just releasing her first album on Tommy Boy RecordsAll Hail The Queen, they were having quite the ride.

Afterwards, EVERYTHING got to be too much. They seen an accountant at a big, reputable firm to manage their expenses. They thought everything was on the up. One day they went to his office to find NO MONEY left in the account. They were FURIOUS!! Another BIG lesson they had to learn. They are and still remain on top of it ALL. This isn't about greed. It's about having your things in line. If a bill isn't paid - then you don't go out spending what you don't have! (Of course, it's different if you have kids.) FIND A WAY TO BE FRUGAL. DOWNSIZE! and make due. (An example for me was the "reality" show on WE TV 'Downsized') Own your values outright without much unneeded debt. Dana's mother drummed into her daughter the importance of financial freedom.

Both of Dana's parents worked. Her dad is a cop. Her mom is a secretary for as far back as she can remember. Thursday must have been payday due to a Chinese dinner and sometimes a movie. Sometimes a nice drive to enjoy houses w/ peace & quiet or a picnic, fishing or camping. It was free w/ happy childhood memories to boot.

After her parents separated, their mom could no longer afford the amenities to live where they did. So they moved to the projects. Her mom went back to college to get a teaching degree. She was a maid & waitress at Holiday Inn. She worked as a janitor as a loading dock of the Post Office, loading boxes until she injured her back. She earned enough to send to send her kids to Catholic school. A year later, she saved enough for a small house - Far from the projects. She did for her children and splurged when she could. The lesson is to just be grateful for what you have. Gratitude is one thing Dana carries. Education is something else that carries w/ her. (I/JEREMY AM THE EXACT SAME WAY!!) Even something as small as an autograph for her/Queen Latifah, may be something BIG for others. Something small for someone else. A little compassion goes a long way. Everyone has peaks & valleys in life. But valleys don't last forever.

Queen talks about an experience she shared that finalized moving from the Projects and a life they were leaving behind  FOR GOOD! An opportunity to start fresh. Their mother shielded them from ALOT where they were living. Dana was only 8. Although temporary, their mom stressed the point that where you live doesn't define who you are. Their mother was DETERMINED for her children NOT to have that "stuck" mentality. When summer came, it was an opportunity to see life outside of their surroundings. she took them to museums, encouraged her children to read & worked 3 jobs to send them to private Catholic school, where it was safe w/ high academic standards. Even though their mom was scrubbing toilets to make ends meet, people assumed she had a silver spoon in her mouth.

Dana & her brother were promised to be moved out of their situation within the year. (It didn't take a year.) Dana & her brother were fascinated by the complex they lived in, Hyatt Court. They wanted to know what was going on - all around.  With difficult surroundings, Rita Bray Owens wasn't dropping her surroundings to fit in. She was ALWAYS a lady. She always encouraged her kids to persevere. "Become part of the solution. Not part of the problem." As a single mom, Rita worked around the clock to put herself through college to become an art teacher and give her children a better life. She did & made the best with what she had. Being an art teacher, Rita kept her children educated within the Arts. Keeping her children artfully inclined to see a bigger world than their surroundings. Encouraging her children to be creative.

Queen and her mom, Rita
Rita took the time to know her children as people and as individuals. She would talk to her children, not at them. Rita Owens had that gift as a mom. (One that my own mother as well as her's had.) That "mom gift" that made you "the town mom." The one all of the neighbor kids went to! A beautiful & powerful gift. Rita is still the most precious person in her daughter's life. Although she does help run many of her daughter's businesses, Rita is the inspiration for many of Queen's strong but feminine roles. (For example: Queen's character in 'The Secret Life Of Bees'.) If Queen wants honesty and NOT what she wants to hear, she will go to her mom. From her mother to her aunts & grandmother, they were women who KNEW it took a village.

Dana w/ her parents
Rita then relays some of her own upbringing. Where and what she came from and how she was able to instill that family pride & love onto her own children. "A generational pattern that was encouraging, nurturing & loving that starts w/ you." Rita went straight from being Sgt. Bray's daughter to the wife of Lancelot Owens. Lancelot was a dashing young solider in Honor Guard. They met at a little service club in Arlington, VA. Rita had acceptances from Howard University and Spellman College. She gave it all up to be w/ Lancelot. The role of wife and mother had overtaken her life. It wasn't until after her divorce, 10 years later that she found herself, who Rita Really was. Rita Owens may be Queen Latifah's mother, but she is still her own person. Rita was devoted to become a teacher. To give a child that spark and make them feel they were seen when NO ONE ELSE did.

Dana was visiting w/ some friends on a trip to Jamaica along w/ Shakim. Their friends were REAL adventurous. When they took turns jumping off of a cliff like it was nothing, Dana just had to follow. At first, Shakim was going to join her but at the cliff, he backed out. He begged Dana not to do it. A long time ago, Shakim promised Mrs.Owens that he would never let anything happen to her daughter. Something about the sight & surroundings urged Dana to do it! She wanted to soak up the FULL Jamaican experience. She tried to get herself psyched to do it, but it was the terrified REALITY of the situation that hit her. One ting led to another and then there was no backing out now. She jumped feet first, toes pointed down towards the water, her body stiff and braced for the impact. She hit the water hard and every captivity was flushed out. It was invigorating. She felt like she could do anything. She swam to the other side where others were waiting while accomplishing more. After landing in one piece the second time, the thrill had worn off. At the thought of what she'd been through, Dana climbed out of the sea and back to the bar. Never to do that again. But she was proud of what she had done.

Fear in life can be crippling. It can literally stop you from enjoying the greatest joys in life. It can literally kill the REAL you. Having/feeling that RUSH from outside of your comfort zone. That is why you should feel the fear and go for it. It can make you feel ALIVE! Queen's movie 'Last Holiday' described EXACTLY what she was talking about. After making the film, she learned how to ski. Around the time of filming, she learned how to snowboard. As a kid, she used to be fascinated by the ski jumping on ABC's Wide World Of Sports. Making her dream of doing the same thing. Over-thinking a fear is just another mental block. Testing the limits of your fear is a great & powerful tool. She was lucky to have her dad and brother, who never doubted her ability, to join in their adventures.  Their dad taught Dana & Winki how to shoot whether it was a firing range or in the woods w/ tin cans. Dana got to be pretty good at it. When you throw your heart & soul into something without over-analyzing it, you can excel.

Another exhilarating & exciting adventure for Dana is riding a motorcycle. The feel, freedom & excitement it provides. Riding a bike on a tight schedule with her mom and brother living in separate apartments. Riding a bike was a way of keeping the family close. These were some of the happiest times in her life. Although scary, there is also the moral courage to walk away when something's NOT right. Making bad choices due to fear of what others think. Dana was very young when she'd sneak off to New York City w/ her brother or a group of friends. She was barely in her teens and experimenting w/ drugs and sex. But standing alone was what took one level onto full blown addiction. Dana would try it, NOT like it and STOP IT RIGHT THERE.She didn't want to lose herself due to the pressure of popularity. Walking away and KNOWING when to quit. A sign of TRULY being your own person.

Dana's fear of failure was another thing to overcome. While Dana was over-competitive, you can't ace everything. Rejection didn't break Dana. It made her more determined to succeed. Learning it young, it will prevent a Hell of ALOT of heartache and trouble later. No matter how bad a situation, you live and you learn. She truly did better the next time. It allowed her to host the American Music Awards and 2 talk shows. Thinking on your feet and controlling the flow of the conversation. In her sophomore year, when she switched to Irvington High School where her mother taught, Dana set the bar higher for herself. Entering a BIG talent show although not knowing anyone. Dana didn't know a soul, but she wanted to be a part of it. The more she continued to persevere on-stage, the more she sang and the more comfortable she became. She seen a spark in everyone. Her fears melted away and got an amazing response from the crowd.

That moment brought Queen Latifah closer to her music career. She began performing w/ others in school, with friends who shared her passion. Once discovering hip-hop, there was no turning back. Making the HBO film 'Life Support' was life affirming for her. Revisiting the past and what she seen. She really attached herself to the character of the REAL person she portrayed. Although she was lucky, it made Dana realize a life the could've been different. She could've been what she seen growing up. But, everyday her mom teaches her what it means to have the heart of a lioness.

After hearing the words that her brother had an accident on his motorcycle, Dana heard the words but didn't comprehend what was said. Upon hearing that, it had been an ordinary day. After a grueling touring schedule throughout Europe for her 2ND album, Dana had some relax time w/ family & friends. She was thrilled to be at home catching up. Just being a regular home girl. After just finishing helping a friend move into a new place, they had just collapsed on the floor and cracked open a beer when she got the 9-1-1 page from her brother's friend, Ramsey. Dana wondered how bad it was? Her heart sank and she could feel blood rushing from her head. She was dizzy & confused. She couldn't think nor could she move. She dropped the phone letting REALITY sink in. The more she did. The more unreal it became. The rest of the story unfolded like a nightmare. The next thing Dana remembers is Shakim bundling her into his car. They flew down the highway towards the hospital where her brother was being taken. When they hit a RED light, Dana screamed for them to gun it. She had to get to the hospital. She had to see her brother.

Dana & her brother, Lancelot
Out of nowhere, a storm had arrived. Dana had that KNOWN HORRIBLE gut feeling to brace herself. She wasn't prepared but she KNEW. Dana & Winki had this connection - a bond. He may have been 2 years older than her and he was her hero. It was the type of spiritual kinship that only the tightest of siblings can share. Something had told Dana that their ties had been severed. As they dove into darkness w/ the rain, they could barely see the road upfront. Dana didn't care. As they pulled up to the emergency entrance, Dana recognized the motorcycle in the back of a tow truck. It was bought for Winki's birthday. It was mangled & smashed. Dana began begging & pleading for her brother to be safe. The car was still in motion when Dana opened the door & jumped out. As soon as she got inside, she seen her brother's crew. They couldn't speak, but it was ALL written on their faces. Rita was already in the waiting room and her eyes were wet from crying. Dana collapsed in her mom's arms, crying hoping & praying. Rita was eerily calm. She told her daughter in a soft & calm voice exactly what had happened. Then it became an anxious waiting game. Then came the news they were dreading. Winki was gone.

At first, there was stunned silence. Dana was in COMPLETE DISBELIEF. She was out of her mind. She couldn't see due to crying. She was screaming & yelling, but the doctors kept their cool. Although you can try to be preventive, death is non-negotiable. It was Dana's worst moment that was life-stopping in every sense. She literally stopped living. A part of her shut down. 18 years later and it NEVER goes away. A part of you puts you RIGHT IN THAT MOMENT. After a loss, life is NEVER the same afterward.

Dana was numb, angry & guilty. She had every kind of negative emotion and blame. She had lost her rock & protector. She was emotionally shut-off. There was NO point. After she won a Grammy, it made her smile, but only for a second. she had lost it within herself. Dana didn't see what her condition was doing to her mother. She had lost one child and wasn't going to lose another. Somehow Dana had to get back on the bike and try again - literally. Riding a bike itself gives Dana a lasting connection to her brother. Seeing Dana on the bike gives her family relief to see that spark. Dana began to work again. It wasn't so much about work, but more of an outlet of expression. She started writing songs for her album Black Reign, including a tribute to Winki. Although still hurt, the Queen inside of Dana was alive again.

Dana/Queen Latifah's character in Last Holiday matched exactly how she felt in that moment. Her character inspired her to live better. Therapy truly helped. If you daze at the ground, your crown will fall. She literally vanished & disappeared. Not to be found until she was ready. Dana was done .It was the beginning of her career and she was pushing herself and took on too much that she HAD to run away. She ran and had a beer at her brother's grave-site, with Winki. Just to be gone and get away. Of course, it put out panic from outsiders. After the release, Dana had to regroup and put back the pieces. There comes a point when others ask & ask and you just HAVE to say NO! Then comes the fear of disappointment. There comes a day when you say it like you mean it. The more you don't speak up, the more you lose yourself. For example: a mom giving in to her child rather than saying NO! Giving in soon becomes expected! When you don't help, it soon becomes a guilt trip. You have to have your guard up. You can't completely trust everyone that crosses your path. It's ALOT harder when your young & school age. The key to it in teenage society is to TRULY stand out and BE YOUR OWN PERSONBe with GENUINE & REAL friends without the give & take.

There soon comes that mentality when their around you: What do you want? Just take what you want and go. Dana wrote a song on her album, Persona, describing all of this. Dana describes being one of those girls. When she was 5 yrs old, she was molested by the 15-yr-old who was babysitting her at the time. He was NOT a regular sitter. A shy kid her dad took under his wing. It was only a week, but it lasts forever. A few years later came another incident. Dana was out playing and was touched. It honestly did some damage. Keeping it locked inside of her for 20 years. After her brother's death, Dana couldn't carry it anymore. A few years ago, Dana took a handle on it and spoke to a therapist who truly helped her. The older she got the more she protected herself. She continued to fight back. From the sexual abuse carries early curiosity. It ruined her trust in men.

There were times when Dana began to have a few drinks a night to unwind. But over time, one drink led to another. When working hard, it leads to party hard. Dana was losing control of Dana. Shakim noticed her drinking and began to take notice. He was worried. Their conversation began for them to check in with them. A REAL heart-to-heart. Making changes when needed.

TAKING A BREAK FROM THE WORLD!! One of the purest joys Dana will NEVER forget: receiving a star on The Hollywood Walk Of Fame in 2006. One of her best moments in her life. She delighted in the gratitude w/ family, friends and fans. SAVOR THE MEANINGFUL moments. Queen Latifah was the FIRST hip-hop artist to receive such a HIGH honor. A part of history cemented that NEVER leaves.

People do a double take when they seen Queen Latifah in places like Walmart and Waffle House. They are also respectful and friendly. Dana/Queen Latifah is just a down home girl who has made something of herself with GRATITUDE.

Have pridegratitude and just do your thing and put on your crown.

As of the 1999-2001 year, Dana/Queen Latifah was the host of her own fun & enjoyable daytime talk show host, The Queen Latifah Show. It was recently renewed and picked up again within 2014.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Carter Finally Gets It

This next story/book is about a boy named Will Carter. He is socially awkward. He has A.D.D. He has a stuttering problem. He CAN NOT talk to girls. He's about to begin the MOST CHALLENGING aspect a teen can face: beginning high school. Throughout this book, you will see Will would do ANYTHING for acceptance. Here is the story of how Carter Finally Gets It. It was originally written by Brent Crawford.

First off, Will Carter initially goes by his "nickname/last name" Carter. He is starting his freshman year in high school. It would be trying to make a GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION, but can't really speak to make one. He loves the Merrian Pool like no other place in the world. At the pool, he's kind of a big deal because he came in 2ND at the all-city swim meet and he'll be a junior lifeguard next year. He's at the pool so much he's like an employee. Last year, the city of Merrian introduced a new swimsuit for female lifeguards. Since then, teenage boys from all over the area are showing up at the pool like it's church. Religious attendance and absolute devotion and all the boys want saved.  A sister to a friend of his is the only female he can speak to without stuttering. He loves to gawk at this girl, but for some reason he can be himself around this girl. Her name is Pam. To Will, Pam is the hottest girl he's ever seen.

One thing is that Will has been able to accomplish was to ride a mile & 1/2 to the pool by himself since he was 9. The city may own the pool, but the female lifeguards rule it! There are 2 things can't stand/handle: pain & humiliation. Although he's been dying to pull a prank off the diving board, Carter has been too scared due to backfired humiliation. But now that someone has challenged him, he has made it a MUST. He realized if he did this, it would make him a LEGEND. Once Carter reaches the top, he can hear people chanting his name. EVERYONE is now watching & waiting. At the age of 14, Carter did a grainer on the HIGH dive. He tries to back up hitting the air brakes. He's already in motion in the air and tense. His body LANDS into the water. Perfectly level. Flat in the water like what seemed like a belly flop. He is hurt and can't move. Carter has had the wind knocked out of him. He gets out the pool sobbing. He is choking on the water. Pam is there in lifeguard action. He takes a break from his pain to FEEL Pam. Carter limps towards the exit gate. He will try this whole experience again - next summer. Carter TRULY is on the football team. He honestly liked the "costume" outfit. That wore off fast. He was always a lineman because he was a heavy kid. With 5 inches of a growth spurt, he went from "stock boy" to "tall guy". He wants to be the type of football player that is SEEN. Carter decides to work out 3 hrs a day/7 days a week until he's GINORMOUS. Work out and practice football.

Traditionally, you're supposed to start slow when you begin to work out so you don't burn yourself out quickly. Will wants to be jacked! So he tries to do it all in one day. He starts to bench press w/ 150 LBS. The weights were HEAVIER than he thought. With a friend's vocal encouragement, Will did really well on the lower part. But the slowest part will take work. The weights crash into him, knocking the wind out of him. It breaks the ice and everyone is laughing. Others around thought Will was messing around when he was trying to take it seriously.

The next morning Will was paralyzed and couldn't move. He is SO SORE w/ no one around to help him. His dad must've heard Will when he was screaming. He gives Will 6 Advil and tells him to stretch it out. Will lays off the exercising and goes to the pool. On his first day at the pool, a friend picks Will up in his NEW car (not really new - not even close). All of their friendly gang all have to squeeze into a little Honda CRX. Only one day at the gym and it's NOTICEABLE in public. The girls are also taking notice. After observing the pool, a girl calls Will over and informs him a girl is interested in him. It REALLY wasn't the girl he had in question. Fearing his friends will laugh at him. He wishes he could be into this other girl, but he just isn't. Because Carter showed attention to this girl, she thinks he/Carter is into her. This girl, Abby, may have lost some weight - except in her chest. After really checking out this girl, she was different than expected. Carter did find a way to impress her.

Prior to school starting, Carter is going to his first high school party. He's PRETTY CONFIDENT he is/will lose his virginity. He dresses for the occasion trying to be debonair & stand out. Once Carter's sister, Lynn, finds out her brother's plans and sees what he's up to, she KNOWS something's up about a girl. Lynn tells her brother NOT to play games w/ this girl. Take HER into consideration. Lynn tried to giver her brother pointers to act cool to the ladies and be a PROPER gentleman instead of a horn dog. Carter soon bikes his way to the party. All of his nerves are slowly catching up with him on his bike on the way there. While it might've been cool,  he almost caused a wreck.

Carter is given a ride to the party by the same ones he wrecked into. A school associate, Amber Lee and her dad give him a lift. Carter's arrival at the party couldn't have come at a better time. After being ragged on for his arrival, Abby steps out of the house (where the party is). Carter's heart skips a beat. He thought she looked good! The drawback of his stuttering kicks in. Her definition and look are the cause. But, Carter really plays it cool. His stuttering almost kills it, but his best friends steps in and saves him. He/Carter really grows to like her. But NOW, he can't seem to shut up! He's a jabber jaw. But he's COMPLETELY cool as a cucumber. He begins making Abby laugh and he likes it!

Abby goes to check on other friends and he checks on his. In a guy's manner, without knowing/realizing it, Carter runs into and converses with his main rival every summer in the all-city championships. His name is Andre. It brings up Carter's long-standing disdain for this kid after Andre pushes Carter's button, one that everyone has, when he touches Abby. Abby soon gets Carter out of a situation before one would have arisen. Carter expresses his disdain, but is GRATEFULLY taken in a joking manner. But he mentally goes back to his sister's advice to find out more about her. She's NOT quiet for a minute - until bigger high school seniors arrive that are the COMPLETE MENACE TO SOCIETAL PACKAGE. Carter goes to leave after their arrival. He walks over to the curb just in time to see them piling into an old pickup truck and carelessly throw his bike in the back and drive off. Carter starts to cry and he has to walk it off. He starts to see it differently and and more positively, but then wonder how to return to the party? While his pride is strong, his hormones for Abby are way stronger.

After he returns to the party, Abby is sitting w/ a friend, Kathy. Carter starts to head to his friends at the party, but heads toward Abby instead. Without knowing/realizing it, Carter was somewhat cold to Kathy. Abby wonders Carter's whereabouts. Abby soon escorts Carter out of the party. They head to a big tree at the side of the yard. Feeling his moment in the air is coming. Courage is slowly coming to this 14-yr-old, so he starts w/ small talk. He is rambling. Although nervous, he tries to play it cool. he almost chickens out. He finally makes his move. What starts out w/ a peck evolves into more. Carter experiences his FIRST REAL kiss. After some more small talk, they resume their session. When it's over, Carter continues playing it cool and responds to call her.

High school may have started w/ a bang, but it still had a few glitches for Carter. Drama class was fun and football was beginning to show some bruises. Carter was skilled enough to become both kicker and 2ND string right guard in football. He has a REAL love for high school. The students are given PURE FREEDOM at lunch. Carter enrolled in drama class as a secondary option in case football doesn't pan out. (Carter's not being negative about the sport; He's just being realistic) In drama, Carter loves & is encouraged to be free of his inhibitions. He loves being around  the older  and more mature seniors. That transition from junior high to high school. Carter loves the high school atmosphere. Everyone in high school that was anybody had a nickname. (Something I know personally and can attest to!) Carter's Full name is Will Paul Carter. But he's been called Carter for awhile. But he's been trying to make his own nickname for himself. He protests other nicknames others bestow upon him. Due to running track this summer, he settles on Race Car. One thing/comment drowned out one nickname and restored the old & lame one.
My own personal testimonial of living w/ a name

The first freshman football game is underway. Andre scored a touchdown and Carter got to kick the extra point! He is/feels real important to the game. He feels the helmet is awesome for gawking. Carter is distracted by the cheerleaders. Carter is the man to finish this game w/ cheerleaders chanting his name. It all rely's on Carter's singular kick to the goal. It embarrassingly hits the back of a band kid's head. When the drill team comes out, Carter's focus is lost and the coach has to redeem it to finish the game. Even though the coach's yelling made him feel shitty, Carter won the game by 2 points.

Carter had done as Lynn instructed and asked Abby on a a Wednesday to a Friday movie. The more Carter is hearing about Terry, the more he dislikes him. Terry must have to go to see a behavioral specialist. He's enrolled in remedial classes. The school itself has its own set of assorted classes. The classes for learning disabilities and ones for the smartest kids. Carter's mom COMPLETELY took him out of these classes and put him into regular classes. The class was more for the kids who are disruptive and cause trouble. Terry's troubles began originally in 7TH grade. Carter dusts off his sister's old bike for his date. Carter had enough lawn-mowing/college money to comp for both his and Abby's tickets. He's usually when going w/ friends stays for the "double feature". You pay for one movie, then stick around and stay for the second.

Carter races through town to not be seen on his sister's bike and realizes he's too early on the date. He passes through Taco Bell and orders a small burrito. He locks up the bike on the outside of the theater. Abby is under the marquee in a black dress. He wanted to see an obvious action film w/ Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson and she wanted to see ANYTHING BUT a Drew Barrymore film. But he breaks her concentration w/ a kiss. Abby chooses an independent film and buys her own ticket. She doesn't like candy so - NO SNACKS. Carter tries to silently pass gas and tries to be gentlemanly about it. Abby can sense something. After silently getting the job done, Carter feels much better. Afterwards he goes into the theater, joins Abby and the movie begins.

Carter is HOLDING BACK tears on this date due to the film. He covers it w/ laughter while everyone else wonders why? He & Abby squeeze hands. Abby breaks contact and Carter touches her inner thigh. He begins trying to move it away. He moves his hands to rid of the fart smell around him. The smell initially hits Abby. Abby is LITERALLY puking everywhere. She is covered in it. No wonder she didn't want snacks. She was over full from what she endured earlier. The movie is over. They HAD to get out of there! They were BOTH COMPLETELY embarrassed at the date! Turns out, it wasn't Carter's gas killing the date, it was the guy over next to Abby that did it! Carter gives her a kiss on the cheek when it's over. When the date is over, Carter wants the memory of this one gone before they talk again.

High school is NOTHING like Carter thought it would be! He thought the socialization would be somewhat like kindergarten. After the varsity football team lost their third game in a row even though some didn't have a hand in their loss, EVERYONE was punished for it at practice. After the original kicker was the one who cost them the last game, Coach replaced him w/ . . . .Carter? Everyone is now looking at him/Carter. Coach thought that if  the kicker couldn't Carter could. So Carter was named new Varsity Kicker for the team. Will Carter, Varsity Kicker! He really wasn't ready . . . . but Carter made himself ready.

As far as pressure goes, for Carter it's like attempting to make the final winning score for the Super Bowl. Carter feels like he's a 14-yr-old in a game w/ 20-yr-old's.  He kicks the ball only to hit another player's back. Coach wasn't even mad. At least Carter kicked it straight unlike other players. Coach set it up for Carter to try again. Carter kicked it again and made the same exact hit. He looks at that w/ some accomplishment, but figures it's the end of his football career. Carter made the decision to not be tardy and stop socializing in the halls. He tries to straighten up and fly right. Walking in the hall, Carter runs right into Scary Terry. He dares him to do/try something. Carter tries NOT to get others involved into a situation that Scary Terry is provoking. One minute the hallways are clear/empty, now the whole school audience is here for this fight. Carter's friends were right by his side. Terry is soon doing all the work and fighting himself. A teacher burst through stopping Terry before REALLY hurting himself. He's firing himself up, but Carter is calming down. Terry threatens vengeance. Carter insists that Terry bring it on!  The teacher is trying to save him from making things worse for himself. Carter begins to feel sorry for him for a minute because Terry is yelling nonsense and crying. But Carter's friend, E.J., provokes him and he gets his face punched in. The teacher tries to lunge at Terry but it's too late. Carter swings as hard as he can. Terry's face scrunches up. Carter brings Terry down buckling. NO ONE IS CHEERING. Terry is like a bear that's been tranquilized. E.J. has blood gushing from his braces while Carter is in the principal's office.

Terry's face is swollen and he's openly crying as he's walked out of school by cops in handcuffs. Carter was suspended for 3 days. His school record is now tarnished by this fight.  He realizes that he was suspended from school & football which elated Carter. E.J. didn't get suspended. In a way, Carter liked the exit he received from football.

After school the next day, Carter ventures out and sees what the "teen scene" has been up to since he's been at football. He feels so free. Thanks to his antics in football, Carter feels somewhat like a "bad-ass who's making his own rules". He's not really doing anything but basking in his glory. Carter soon accepts a ride from Nick Brock in his truck. The same Nick Brock that Carter had beat up and fought a few days ago and was still sore from it.  Carter thinks Nick has vengeance at the end of this drive/ride. They are just cruising down the street in his bad-ass old truck. They soon pull into a pawnshop somewhere down the street. Carter doesn't know where this is going and is unsure of Nick's agenda.

After Brock comes back to the truck, he has something in tow: Carter's bike. Brock does the right thing returning Carter's fixed bike and offers him a ride home (which was far.) In the ride home, Brock gives Carter info he wasn't privy to that involved his sister. Info Carter could use against her w/ the upper hand. When Carter got home, his sister began treating him weirdly to her brother in front of Nick. Trying to make him leave to talk to Brock privately. After he/Brock leaves, Carter's sister is ORDERING him to update her on the entire situation. It was different. Carter reveals the lie he told Brock about his sister in the car. She now wants "the details" concerning Brock all giggly and mouth wide open. Carter now has to fix his mess w/ Brock and the lie concerning his sister. ALL THE LIES & THREATS BETWEEN brother and sister come out. They sign an agreement between siblings. If the agreement is broken, ALL HELL WILL BREAK LOOSE!

Carter details that his first day of suspension is like a dream. It's a beautiful fall day. He tells his dad he's excited to have his bike back that he doesn't need a ride to school. In reality, Carter enjoys the day of suspension that time flies by and school is already out. Carter rides like the wind to get to the movie theater just as Abby is literally arriving. He almost wrecks into a fire hydrant. He saves himself by swerving into the grass. Abby hears Carter and turns to see the near collision. He tries to play it cool. Abby climbs on his axle pegs. wraps her arms around his neck and they "bike/carpool" the rest of the way.

They get to the theater, but don't watch the movie. It's more of an EXTREME make-out session. But Carter tries to stretch the limits. Unsure of sports and what bases are what. Going from under the shirt to under the skirt. After the forgotten film, plans soon end of going home due to school in the morning. Abby comes off as though she's somewhat embarrassed of the night's actions. He wants to check on her and see if her COMPLETE state of being is okay. But he stays at the theater catching a second showing of what he missed.

William Shakespeare
Carter's suspension days fly by and he's back in school. Same old, same old. In English, they're beginning Shakespeare. He isn't paying one bit of attention and is busted by the teacher. He tries to wing it when she is asking him a question. Although guessing and pulling something out of his ass, he was lucky to get away w/ his given answer. Carter is petrified to go to his locker w/ some semblance of PTSD thanks to Scary Terry. Carter is trying to pull himself together from the physical stress he's experiencing at his locker. He gets a little push and he gets it. It's Abby coming up and asks if Carter if he's okay? He is playing it cool to her although he's a nervous freight. With her by his side, Carter makes it to his locker.

He apologizes for his behavior on their date. She was really great and enjoyed what occurred/happened.  Abby reassures him w/ a kiss on the cheek. After forgetting her lateness to gym class, Carter unknowingly spills out the L word. He mentally kills himself. There was NO going back from that. Although in shock, Abby responds the same and kisses him back. Carter then mentally worries about these ramifications socially. He tries to play it off and keep what he and Abby have. So NOTHING is ruined. Once again, Carter's mouth got him in trouble. He was roped into going w/ his friend Amber Lee. At first, he thought the whole thing was hypothetical. NOW, he feels backed into a corner. Carter has love and last night w/ Abby, but also this love for Amber Lee since the 6TH grade. Thanks to this emotional love triangle, Carter can barely pay attention in class.

When Carter is in the football locker room, he's asked & states the facts of his date w/ Abby. Pretty soon, he begins to embellish facts. When he gets out onto the field, Carter can feel being talked about. On the field, Carter is slipping in his actions. He's not giving any attention or focus. He could see trouble brewing for the band girls. A fight seems to break out. Abby seems to be crying which hurts Carter. Pretty soon, Carter is being hunted down by the girls. They're PISSED! Abby is crying and everyone what Carter has done?

Carter makes Coach wish he hadn't asked the question. Coach just wants Carter's self-inflicted drama gone before the game. Carter made his bed. Now he has to lay in it.  He is then berated by the girls into confrontation. But Coach soon breaks it up due to a game coming up and practice being more important right now.

Carter feels the rumor mill heating up when people begin calling his home. He begins blurting the truth out during dinner. The entire dinner table is in shock. ALL of the secrets and more between brother & sister ALL come out with a broken & breached contract between siblings. Meanwhile the phone won't quit ringing. After Carter finally answers the phone, it puts him in tears. He begins to shake & cry while falling into his dad's arms. Things are still coming out in bits/pieces. Becoming a nervous breakdown, Carter wants to be back prior to high school w/ his mom protecting him. Carter kept a low profile w/ his nose out of trouble. At school the next day comes facing the aftermath of the previous drama.

Homecoming is soon approaching. Carter KNOWS he won't have a date. He decided to invest in an adult video. It was at least 20-yrs-old and a copy of a VHS copy. Carter had just finished his "nightly research session" when a friend called to talk about shooting hoops at the community center. They also figured to catch a movie while everyone else was at the dance. After talking on the phone and busting chops w/ his friend, the phone rings 30 seconds later. Thinking it was him again, he gave another remark. But instead of a friend, it was a girl's voice. At first, Carter thought it was some girl calling for Lynn. Turns out, she was calling for him. Then Carter tried to smoothly play it cool. He doesn't know who she is, but the voice is coming off super sexy to him. He keeps thinking of people, but cannot identify the voice. Turns out, it was Amber. She was asking him to the dance after finding out Carter & Abby were just friends. He was curious of why she wanted to go with him? But she instructed him to pick her up at a certain time.

After the phone call, Carter calls his friend, EJ, who appears to have been crying. EJ informs Carter that his parents instructed him NOT to hang out w/ Carter anymore. Carter informs him of his date to the dance w/ Amber somewhat bragging. But he tells him the info he got from Lynn and then has to go get ready for his date. After Carter notices some fuzz on his face, he goes to try to shave it off. In that process, trying to be cool about shaving it himself, Carter CUTS himself deeply. He has to go to the hospital and informs his parents. With the amount of blood loss dripping down his face, neck & chest, Carter looks like a character from the Saw movies. Carter goes downstairs to his dad for help. His dad dabs a wet cloth on his sons chin. Carter winds up fainting and doesn't awake until the morning. He thinks after that experience, he'll NEVER shave again and be fuzzy.

Nick Brock asked Carter's sister, Lynn, to homecoming. She is all giggly & excited. Carter wants to borrow Nick's truck if he's not using it and to kind of "block" Nick's actions w/ his sister without the truck. It's finally Saturday night and Carter's cuts are barely visible. He is wearing his church suit and looks sharp. Carter's dad escorts him to Amber's house where the 2 dad's meet. Carter is glad to have his dad there and present due to extreme nerves. When Amber steps outside, Carter thinks she looks just awful. He was to go to the dance w/ the best looking girl, but she looks like she just completed a horrific makeover show. After an awkward silence, Carter jumps into the backseat. He CAN'T EVEN look at his date. They drive to the dance in complete silence. Carter is completely going into stress mode over this date. He's blinking ALOT. It feels like 100* in temperature.

After arriving at the dance, Amber jumps out and heads to the bathroom. Carter NEEDED to take a LONG, HARD breath. He thinks he will soon become a man. He begins to enjoy himself at the dance until Abby shows up. Carter senses things could get ugly between both girls. He hears word that Abby is there w/ someone else. Carter's mouth falls open wide. He soon feels different seeing Abby accompanied by someone else. From across the gym, Amber is dancing w/ Rusty Dollingsworth. She is also in a Victoria's Secret type of dress. After their date, Rusty declares Amber his date. Amber soon gets into Rusty's vehicle and they drive away. Carter was used by Amber on their date for her to be w/ another. He was ditched and deserted.

Carter starts walking home but his feet are killing him. He wore his church shoes that were made for sitting or standing, NOT walking. He HAS to pull over at a gas station to take them off. He feels like his feet are going to bleed. An old BMW pulls up and Lynn steps out wondering what is her brother doing? Word had spread what had happened between Carter & Amber. Lynn and her date offer Carter a ride home. After Carter got home and is walking to the steps, he is limping to the door. His pride hurts worse than feet. Nick, Lynn's date, stops him for a minute. He talks to Carter privately. He walks up to him since Carter's feet are too sore to walk back. He informed Carter of the forgotten adult video stuck in the VCR. Immediately, Carter feels like such a dumb-ass. He shamefully confesses. Brock is given the background story leading to the video. Nick said that what Carter paid was a good deal considering the video itself. Brock covers for Carter by hiding the video and informing him of doing so. They somewhat bond over the video. Brock & Carter. Even though Brock is dating Lynn, he gives Carter some advice about women. After the night is over, first Carter goes to throw the adult away from hiding and into the trash.

Carter now feels everyone pity's him due to not getting hassled for it. He tries to go back to his daily routined schedule. Dragging his ass to football practice every day. Carter's move during practice comes w/ POWER! He is giving it EVERYTHING HE HAS during practice. Coach is loving it. Carter would give play time to Andre, but not since Andre moved on Abby publicly. Now Carter is out for blood. Coach eventually has to stop and blow the whistle. From this practice, Carter was made a starter. Everyone thought that Carter was somehow a new guy on the team. He doesn't want to blow this newfound energy.

EJ and Carter hang out at the arcade on a Saturday night. Even though he knows it's pathetic, there are always females at the arcade. So there they were. EJ wonders why Carter  really likes girls underneath it all, but comes off as though he doesn't? He/EJ volunteers to be Carter's wing-man and help him out. They walk around toward the group of girls w/ great purpose. Even though EJ in control, Carter is completely nervous. He may not be is a great some things, but Carter is great wing-man. Carter's is IN SHOCK seeing the language EJ is using towards these girls. EJ almost had the girls in tears w/ what he was saying. Then EJ wonders where he went wrong with the vulgarity in his language? "SERIOUSLY?" EJ completely misconstrued Lynn's advice in the WRONG direction. NOT AT ALL what she meant. The rest of Carter's friends were absent. But with time, it's a story will surely become a CLASSIC! If Carter wants to meet a girl, NOW he knows not to have EJ around anymore.

While all of Carter's situations w/ girls, math and staying focused are on the forefront, football has become a BIG help. The more his problems & confusion are on the rise, the easier football becomes. Picture It: Carter is using football as a life strategy and a life skill to mentally fight & succeed beating up & overcoming the shortcomings that hold him back.  A scorned and sexually deprived young man is a lethal weapon. Football is great for the mental wounds, but after the final game of the season, the physical wounds can start to heal. Carter & his friends haven't been together in awhile. They are getting together practicing the old tradition dubbed as "bros before ho's". A few girls are getting ready for a big party that night. Safe to say that Carter and his friends KNOW they could NEVER get w/ these girls, so there's NOTHING to get in the way of anything. Pam's OLDER boyfriend has brought the gang a bunch of beer. Carter takes one to look cool, but it was NASTY! He goes into the bathroom and goes to dump it out. He acknowledges a sock on the door, but ignores it. The sock was a message to say Pam was in the shower. Carter loses all mental function and drops the beer, which is now ALL OVER  the bathroom. He is in a state of shock & can't move after seeing Pam. With Carter motionless, she tries to gently, but firmly try to push him out the door. Just as she is about to shut it, Carter regains a hint of sense and blurts out  that he loves her.  He feels like he's going to pass out  and needs some air to collect himself. He knows he'll never be the same after this experience.

After Carter arrives back at the party, everyone is jumping around the yard. They ALL PILE into a friend's car. NINE(9) guys are smashed into a car fit for 2. Carter can't breathe and tries to meditate. He envisions himself back in the bathroom w/ Pam which makes him develop a hard-on. After arriving at their destination - a REAL high school party - everyone gets out of the car and Carter can breathe again. The party is total chaos. It was stated: NO FRESHMAN ALLOWED. The house of the party is soon being TRASHED! Carter is almost in for a beating if it hadn't been for Lynn. She actually stuck up for her brother. When they say NO FRESHMAN ALLOWED!, they mean it! Carter does get messed with but not much.

At this point, all of Carter's friends are drunk. These parties truly aren't that fun. The location of the party was an empty house that had a For Sale sign on the floor. Carter wondered if he was breaking the law or considered stealing the house for the party? EJ was being carried from the dining room kicking & screaming. Just then red & blue lights filled the living room. COPS!

The party changes into a fire drill. People are pushing/shoving to get out.  Carter pushes EJ out of the kitchen window dives after him. Then Carter hears a cop yelling at him not to move. Carter thought he was NOT going down for this! So he runs through the backyard. He jumps a fence and looks for EJ. Next thing you know, EJ is filled w/ terror. His arms are flailing and screaming due to a dog nipping at his heels. Everyone stops and laughs at this situation. EJ jumps headfirst over the fence and slides 10ft on his stomach. Everyone cheers! They all shut it as the dog takes flight.  Everyone sees what's coming .  .  . except for EJ, who's laughing about this recent experience. After the dog bit him, EJ is screaming for help. Everyone has left & gone. Carter stays due to not leaving his best friend. In a DEEP voice, Carter commands the dog to stop. He listens! The it all happens again when the dog goes after Carter. He makes the same HARD leap. On top of the dog, they were also still running from the law. Carter is tackled by a 200LB cop yelling for him "DO NOT MOVE!" He is then cuffed and deemed a suspect. Carter expresses that he couldn't breathe. The cop cuffs him in tie back handcuffs. When the cop asks for information, Carter panicingly gives EJ's. Carter really does point at his own house. Officers leave Carter to go after the other kids. EJ pops out from a bush and SLAP Carter in the face. EJ thought Carter gave his name. EJ contends w/ the idea that he & Carter just bail. Carter is still in cuffs. EJ is now laughing drunk. Carter is getting more furious. EJ bails and leaves Carter. Carter soon joins him. His evidence is there of the dog attacking Carter. They argue a bit. Yelling accidentally becomes something physical. A poorly conceived fight. They are both crying. EJ is a mean drunk and Carter is holding his own in this fight. The night Carter had planned went into COMPLETE WRONG direction. After this fight, EJ got the upper hand. They cut off the handcuffs. After the normalities return, Carter confesses to his friend that he seen Pam naked. Their friendship was back on track.

Football is over and winter is  on the way. Time for other sporting events to begin. Due to height only, Carter thinks to join basketball. He's leaning more towards wrestling, but it doesn't sound fun so swimming it is! The wrestling coach took a mild offense to this. BOTH Abby & EJ have begun treating Carter differently than before. Carter sees Amber Lee differently as well. She didn't have that attraction she once had anymore. EJ is occupied w/ football tryouts and a "sudden" new girlfriend. Her name is Sarah. Apparently she has a name that precedes her reputation - which is not real stellar. Outside and overlooking that fact, Carter is trying to be happy and there for EJ. Andre "claims" to have been w/ Sarah in 7TH grade. He asks EJ, after slapping his neck in friendly brotherhood, "How's that girl w/ the reputation?" Even though she dumped Bag in October, Andre still rags on EJ for dating her. EJ laughs it off, but he still gets pissed. He still sees her. It now worries Carter that due to a girlfriend, that EJ will lose his virginity before him. Carter looks at what life will be like in his 20s one day. But he wants to stick to what his age uses for now.

Carter spends a night alone while his buddies are on their dates. they are dating junior high girls. As he is browsing Blockbuster to fill up his night, a small child comes upon him when Abby & Andre walk-in. Carter tries to hide and be unrecognized. He peeks over to see Andre wearing his Letterman's jacket picking a movie. He is eventually recognized and somewhat busted. Andre is there w/ someone who isn't his girlfriend. Carter sees an opportunity to seize an eye for an eye. He knows what could happen and what could if he revealed what he seen. So he's stuck between a rock and a hard place.

A party is in the works for later that night. Carter doesn't really want to go to a high school party, but he figured/heard they'll be girls from another school in attendance there that don't know of his reputation. The location of the party seems like a "very rich side of town of Goose Lake. Carter goes to the recycling and gets a few beer bottles. He takes them and COMPLETELY cleans them out. He refills them w/ Mountain Dew to give off the "impression" that he is drinking. All before going to meet his friends and the party. Carter is on a mission to meet a "Hooker", giving off the impression that she's the girl he's with. EJ strolls in after being in the bushes w/ Sarah Ruiz. He somehow looks different. Giving off the "male lost virginity bravado". He/EJ becomes overconfident & cocky. EJ then wants Carter to give him a swig of his "alcohol". He is shocked to find out Carter's Mountain Dew secret. Within his lie, EJ leads on that he didn't use a condom and that FREAKED OUT Carter. He in then hands over one of his. EJ's girl walks in w/ the unknown girl. He doesn't even say hello. She has NOW become all over him. (Possible daddy issues) She asks Carter if he knows her cousin Amy, who goes to a religious private school. Giving Carter the "private school girl illusion", as well as "if her cousin's that way, she must be too!" EJ becomes pissed that Carter uses one of his pick-up lines which instigates a fight. Pam comes in and drunkenly converses w/ Carter. She was the best pretend girlfriend ever. They come out of the bushes and are seen by Abby. Carter intends they are all just friends. Bag asks if Carter was picking up one of the "Hookers"? Carter contends that he has NO GAME. Being advised he should use the massage technique on Abby. Abby "wants to have her Carter back." The sharp sting of her right hand awakens Carter from his dream - twice. She thought that Carter KNEW of her being cheated on. She thought that Carter was like all the other guys. The sound of cops burst out the party. COPS have blocked the exit and it's CHAOS! Carter sees a pattern forming w/ these high school parties.

 Carter and his friends run for 30 minutes before coming upon a road. They split the rest of the flat Mountain Dew. But Carter's consumed it pretty much himself. They think they're being followed by cops, but they aren't. Nick's truck rumbles over a hill and smashes down some small trees. The truck drivers over the road and crashes into the ditches of the opposite side. Nick is punching the steering wheel when Carter & EJ run up. Carter wonders about Nick's safety. Nick asks if Carter has his learner's permit. He tells the truth that he doesn't. Lynn comes in and STOPS her brother from driving intoxicated. She comes in, opens the passenger door and falls out of the truck and into the ditch. She's out cold! Carter is WIRED on Mountain Dew. He wonders why everyone else is ready to pass out and go to bed when he isn't? The drunk guys load Lynn into the back w/ them. EJ & Carter push Brock over into the middle seat. Carter puts on his seat beat and turns the key. Next thing you know: WRECK!!

Carter has got to get them out of this ditch. After some trying, he pushes on the gas petal. The engine roars - Nothing. He pushes the petal harder. The vehicle is only rocking a rocking. Carter smashes the petal all the way to the ground. The engine screams. The truck begins to shove itself backward. Now they're moving! Free of the ditch and flying in reverse. Soon after they're off, the tires screech and the truck slides to a stop. Carter shifts to a different gear. They peel out and EJ is giggling like a girl. Different things are going through his head. Carter takes his foot off the skinny petal and presses on the fat one - HARD! The tires screech and the truck skids to the right. While pressing on the petal, they're still hauling ass sideways. There is so much smoke from the tires when they finally stop. They pull Brock off the dashboard and put the car back in reverse. After a minute or 2 of fly driving, they get to Abby, but they fly right by her.

They slam to a stop, but she keeps walking. Carter peels out and almost runs her over as they fly by her again. They eventually stop about 50ft in front of her. He tries to call her attention again. Nothing. They fly by her again. Without stopping, Carter slams the stick into P and jumps out. He offers her a ride home. (Consider it: you can hate me. But do you want a ride?) The other passengers had previously ditched him. Except EJ, Lynn & Brock, she eventually gets into the vehicle. They head to Abby's house. Keeping the speed down at 60 M.P.H. On a thrilling ride to Abby's, once she gets home, she quickly jumps out. Rudely exiting and leaving. Carter peels and they're on their way.

EJ soon confirms a COP. They wonder if it was the was the same one from the party? Soon flooring it to Carter's house. He tries to bust a R into his driveway, but merges into his neighbors yard instead. Smashing the mailbox into pieces. Trying to slam on the brakes but winds up hitting the gas. Flying right over a rock wall Carter's dad built. Soon Carter's dad comes flying out the back door w/ a flashlight and a golf club. He meant business. Carter's friends offer his dad a hello. Lynn is in the back asleep. She's covered in dirt and has a bloody nose. After almost showing concern, a police car comes by w/ flashing lights. Carter's dad what has happened to his son? He wasn't like this a month ago.

Carter confessed he didn't like girls anymore. That gives his dad the wrong impression. Carter begins to think about it. This conversation had gone in the weirdest direction. He began to question it? Either way, Carter's parents are there for their son. His dad then brings up questioning the adult video situation. Somewhat becoming comedy. About 4 1/2 hrs later, it's 9:00A, Carter is rudely woken up by the fence getting fixed outside by his dad and Brock. Returning everything to it's rightful location. Brock apologizes for last night. Driving the truck was AWESOME! There was ALOT going on. Carter tells him about the night's events.

Carter dives into the school's indoor pool on the first day of practice. Come to find that the Coach demands an 800 meter warm-up. The first hundred are a breeze. The second becomes a little sloppy. His shoulders feel on fire and lungs are bleeding. After 200 meters, Carter's starting to sink. He ran out of steam. He grabs the lane line. That upsets Coach. Carter is upset for being put on a lane w/ Andre. Andre is criticizing him and passes him up. But Carter finally finishes the warm-up. Well, 600 ft., but it's something. He's warmed up!

Carter's keeping up the best he can but it's still not enough. Cheating like crazy, but it's still no help. Andre isn't doing so well either, but better than Carter. Carter is DAMN WELL DETERMINED to finish this challenge. At dinner that night, Carter's arms and body are dead & worn. Although crashing early that night, his mind was full which made for a hard night of sleep for Carter. His night of EXHAUSTION led to a morning of NEEDED sleep. But he isn't about to let this knock him from beating Andre. Carter's Advil breakfast does the trick as long as he stays perfectly still. He feels pretty good. The locker room smells of Ben Gay Ointment stench. After science class, although dreading it, Carter has to return to swim practice.

As he walks to the diving board, Carter is then hit by a stench of peppermint. The closer he gets to Andre, the wider his sinuses open. He thinks he found Ben Gay stench. Some keep their distance, but others didn't show up at all due to the work from last time. Andre & Carter's friendship is on the rocks w/ Andre now being a sworn enemy. Carter hides his madness and contempt. From now on, Carter is ALL BUSINESS at the pool. He is DAMN WELL DETERMINED to beat Andre. Carter is now FOCUSED. Right down to his dietary plan. He participates in everything Coach will allow. His body & heart are taking a toll. State championships are coming up and practices are getting harder. In an attempt to shave his legs prior to practice, Carter is unsure of where blood loss is coming from. But he has ALOT of blood loss that makes him somewhat not ALL there!

Carter is covered in a poison ivy looking rash w/ bloody cuts and more up & down. Carter's bloody cuts collide w/ the chlorine and sizzle. Abby heads in w/ a herd of the audience acting like she's forced to be there. Carter is on NERVOUS edge. The start bell chirps and he is off like a shot.  Carter is trying but determined although his muscles aren't. Andre comes in 4TH while Carter succeeds at winning. He is now as fast as his competitor. Carter shaved off some of his time. All of the drill team is clapping and cheering for him. He can see Abby smiling for him out of the corner of his eye.

The following Monday, gossip spreads that Andre had mono. He had to go to the hospital after the race. Carter had beaten Andre and is now going to State! Other than shaving himself, the seniors shave his head. Friday night before the state championships, Carter is relaxing at the movies w/ his friends. He is wearing a new ball-cap his mom bought him to cover his shaved head. They try to sneak into a Keanu Reeves film. Thing is that they bust their friends in the group coming out of a film dubbed as a "chick flick" romantic comedy starring  Kate Hudson. They get ragged on for a bit but try to lie their way out of it. (Sure they did.) After inviting their friends to the Keanu movie to join them, they heard of a party somewhere. Carter refused the party due to a swim meet the next day. (Thinking ahead and being smart.) After hearing some info that would be his excuse, Carter found his exit and his way out of the party. He wasn't going to let social standing control him.

After entering the party, making the social rounds and, not knowing anyone, Carter doesn't have his Mountain Dew filled beer. He used the swim meet the next day to get out of drinking. After making the lap around the party, he doesn't see Abby. He scours the house but no Abby. He is talking to a girl who is apparently a friend of Abby's who is wasted! She's pissed at him for his treatment of her friend, Abby. She reeked of alcohol and cigarettes. (Something Carter dubbed as "slut perfume".) He appearance is bringing out his stutter due to freaking him out. Then all of a sudden this girl is smashing her face against his kissing him. Blocking out obvious, Carter's hormones are kicking in. Although drunk; she wants to "do it" w/ Carter in an available space. EJ has witnessed what Carter has been roped into. She keeps smoking cigarettes and giving Carter a bad taste. It's becoming a turn-off. It is practically freezing outside. What can only be described as a "shed" is where this will all take place. Carter's heart is racing as she flicks her cigarette.

Carter is trying to appear relaxed while she is spreading out a big blue tarp. But Carter's body tells a different story. His shaking is due to nerves. She is permitting to undress and her shirt is caught. Carter completely screws up by calling her the wrong name. She starts to charge at him but hits her face on the metal door. She knocks herself out. A weed whacker doesn't do any favors makes her bleed. He/Carter just can't leave her so he tries to move her using moves strengthened in football. Carter starts to see the damage & laugh but loses his balance. They fall to the ground. He lands on her. He manages to get her back on her shoulders, but he smashes his head in the process. Now he's bleeding. He stumbles across the yard. Carter is bleeding.

Someone opens the door to scream and they're letting out a bloody scream. Carter makes his way into the house. He tries to be gentle but drops her on the kitchen floor. Her blood soaked face comes up for everyone to see. Carter begins to tell the truth of what happened to those watching. Everyone thinks Carter was evil by what they seen. They threatened to have Carter put in jail. A couple of drill team girls help clean up this girl, Chopper. Carter begins to help stop his own bleeding. After Carter wakes up, Carter tells her the truth of what happened. She/Chopper was touched that Carter cared for her the way he did. She thought Carter was a gentleman. The mood of the room lifted and she asked to be taken home.

Spring tryouts are now on the rise. The sports to choose from are: baseball, track & field, tennis & golf. Carter played T-Ball when he was younger, but never baseball itself. The REAL reason he wants to play is to get a Merrian High Baseball Hat because they're so cool. You can't buy one, you have to be a member of the team. It's not so much about playing the game. It's about the game. (Girls won't even look at a game, but they'll definitely look at a player.) The state swimming championships were on Saturday. The first day baseball tryouts were on Monday. (Carter's never actually watched an entire baseball game before. His ADD won't allow it.) Although he's afraid he will be hit in the face, baseball may actually be his thing. He loves the gear, but you don't actually get all of that until you're on the team.

Although he's had his friends' assistance in learning the game, Carter is more focused on looking cool and hopes the skills to play the game will follow suit. Carter has to show the coaches he's worthy of a hat, that he has a cannon for a shoulder & wheels for feet. That he is at least a mold-able player. Carter seems to throw his whole body into his pitch, but they didn't go anywhere. By the following Wednesday, he makes a couple of foul balls, but it's progress. After tryouts, of course, come the cuts. While looking out the window - waiting, Carter is remembering what was. The anticipation is making Carter nervous. He was cut. He's dying to cry about it, but you know he couldn't do it in public. It hurts when you're told you're not good enough. In your social circle, it will create a chain reaction. He feels back at Square One.

Of course, the school asks questions and Carter has to reply. One teacher gives him an alternative to make it at something else. She informs of his qualities in her classroom. Something similar to Mr. Shue in Glee. He/Carter has genuine raw talent. He sees an avenue in what she's saying. This could really work. He auditions to be a gangster in Guys And Dolls. This makes Carter better about himself and what has happened. When one door closes, another one opens. When Carter gets home, Lynn rages on him that it would be socially unacceptable.

With his mom's insistence, Carter protests that the play is NOT what his sister is making it out to be! His mom isn't helping and makes Carter think that she is right. He soon races to the video store to check the facts. He rents it while trying to cover it up w/ a "tough" Keanu Reeves film. He feels like he's renting a dirty movie while trying to impress the salesgirl. A high price total causes for him to spill the tea. She knew who he was because of his connection to Abby. Carter says he might try out for the musical of it in school. She informs him that the drama crowd needs guys. Carter says he would be in detention and would help his reputation.

Carter races home and checks out the DVD in the basement player. Doing his research, he tries to figure out what role he could play. After hearing his friends arrived, Carter quickly tries to shut it off but it fails. He beats the clock before they enter by slamming the machine shut. After his friends question him, he passes off the incident like it's an adult film. His friends have come to invite him to a party somewhere. Somehow Frank Sinatra begins singing from the TV. They all just watch in silence. NOBODY interrupts Frank. Carter passes it off that movie was his mom's. After their reactions to what they seen, Carter sees that his sister is completely right about his friends knowing he's in a play.

The drama is full of energy and is electrified. Carter isn't sure he can go through w/ it. The room is a nervous energy. Carter takes defense being the best offense. He signs up using made up names. While everyone else seems freaked out, Carter is numb. He doesn't stutter saying someone else's lines. He sang through half of it and was told to dance through the other. While everyone else seems to be getting it, Carter is completely clueless.

 Three guys to a group and they're supposed to remember their techniques on their own. Of course, Carter's group is called first. While everyone else is sticking to a previous routine, Carter is just jumping around in place. He's not following direction. (But how could he? He doesn't know what he's doing.) He finally snaps and the teacher responds. She is really beginning to annoy Carter at this point. Carter got himself ready to be in the moment. He tries by using motions he seen on MTV. It may not be anything, but it's something. So he goes for it!

Everyone is staring in disbelief. It was a total bomb. Carter feels heat upon himself in the room. He can sense someone there. It was Abby! She demanded to know what part Carter was auditioning for? He literally picks a character out randomly. He obviously doesn't make the play. He talks to her about why he's there. Gossip abounds. Carter begins to see the errors in his mistakes w/ girls. During these auditions, it seems NO ONE knows the TRUE AUTHENTICITY of the story. The auditions themselves are like a reality TV train wreck. (You can't help but look.) Abby is really good. She is almost rejected for not coming in at last call. Carter volunteers to help and read w/ her.

The teacher wonders why Carter doesn't audition for a part more suited for him? Things were chaotic outside the doors. Plus Carter just wanted Abby to get the singing part. In response, Abby was all snide and didn't want to read with someone not in the theater. (She was completely ungrateful for the help someone in her position.) She then gives Carter a mean look and gets offstage. He doesn't even wait for her exit. She comes at him like she was going to hit him. He then fires off the first line he's got by offering to take her out for dinner? (Angry aggression becomes a dinner invitation.) Her jaw drops and she turns red. Carter initially KNOWS the story in the play so he doesn't even need a script to know his lines. (It is sort of at a point where if Carter even looks at her, she's pissed!)

He responds to her w/ a dinner invite. Some of the lines are wrong but the "feeling" is definitely right. It feels good to yell at Abby and have her reciprocate. The piano starts and she just picks up right away. She wasn't just singing. She was also yelling at Carter through song. He misses his part to sing due to staring at her. She looked worried so Carter sang & talked in conversation. They realize what they're doing and burst out laughing but continue. The script called for him to kiss her. He did! He gives her one! She reciprocates and gives it back! She was into it due to Carter being the guy he was auditioning for. It was a slow, long & steady one. It was a book of love - if there ever was one. Then she did as the script called for and COMPLETELY BITCH-SLAPPED him. Carter begins to leave w/ Abby following suit. Leaving the audition staff in an awkward silence.

Carter starts to be annoying to Abby again by signing up for the light crew. He then thinks she's back to hating him again. He races for the sign-up sheet without his boys knowing it. He gets to the sign-in sheet and it's all very dramatic. Carter feels and can see that he is receiving a fair amount of attention for an unknown reason. It's been going on for 2 days. Another kid who is the Merrian High star wonders and asks Carter why he isn't already the lead? Carter gives him some advice to help his situation. He asks for directions to the light-up crew. The kid identifies him as Lynn's brother. He knows that because Lynn was the last person to make him cry. The drama teacher finally breaks up these teen dramas themselves by re-assuring that there were NO PROMISED PARTS! But she states that Abby gave the best audition. Carter is genuinely happy for her! The other mean girls blame Carter for it. In the end, Carter is surprisingly rejected from light crew due to the teacher informing him he will be in the play. The teacher was done & exhausted from the catty, mean girl bullshit. Carter got the "Brando" lead in the play.

Carter is beginning to panic at the news. He got the part due to the chemistry between him & Abby. Carter feels like everyone in the group is against him. So he buries himself within the script. (Like a pro actor that can't be bothered.) Carter's character, Sky Masterson, is cool as a cucumber, but Carter is a mess. It increases w/ his upcoming scenes w/ Abby. It takes awhile for Carter, but he remembers this from the previous day. Carter is finding his place and belonging within theater. He has pride but can't show it in front of his friends. It's practically bursting. Others notice and begin calling him his character name, Sky! Outside of his friends' presence, Carter is beaming w/ pride! He really identifies w/ his character in the play.

A month into it, Abby hasn't changed. But Carter's making new friends. With his new friend, Jeremy, Carter is truly understanding this play. His free time is completely being occupied by this play. He wants to prove everyone wrong. Carter's ADD is making it hard to KEEP focus. Abby gives Carter revenge through her character. After the teacher calls CUT, Abby lets him have it again. Carter is experiencing something he's NEVER gotten elsewhere - RESPECT! After Lynn spills the tea of Carter's play to her boyfriend, Nick, they have a new bonding experience to share. Carter goes to drama to find Abby making out w/ Jeremy. Carter gives Abby to Jeremy within that case. Something he can live with. Carter begins to boil onstage watching these 2 while performing and they're in the audience. Throwing Carter completely off his job. It aggravates the teacher when Carter's spacey. He needs to clear his head, take time off to rejuvenate and get out of his own way. Soon comes Opening Night.

Carter is completely nervous opening night. Emotional nerves soon become physical. Abby helps Carter apply his eye makeup due to his nervousness. Although physically fighting off nerves, Carter loves his look. He is READY! He is going to be great. He's in character. He then hears a familiar voice. It was EJ in disbelief. Looking out in the school on a Thursday night were ALL of Carter's friends showing their support. They tried to confront him on similar rumors. (Of course, comes the taunting by your friendly pack.) But Carter doesn't care anymore. He has PRIDE in what he's doing. He is a NEW person. Way different than who he was before.

As he steps out onstage and the show begins, Carter felt free just to be himself w/o others commentary. He has TRULY has an epiphany. Although nervous, He KNOWS he'll be okay. The show was a success. As they step onto the curtain call, Carter takes his hand into Abby's. She smiles in response. They kicked ass that night. After Abby tries to let go, she looks at him w/ tears in her eyes. She gives a smile. Carter releases on the grip. She then surprisingly jumps into his arms. Jeremy then comes up their togetherness - making Carter feel like a third wheel. Carter's physical nerves took over the rest of the night. If you don't keep an eye on the moment, you could miss it.

After the dust settled from that night, Carter & Abby stay and remain together. Carter then questions her relationship w/ Jeremy? (He thought they were together and dating, Abby & Jeremy.) He is her new best friend - who is also gay. That set a green-light for Carter & Abby's relationship. They perceive to go to a party on Grey Goose Lake. Carter learned that this year that life's a climb, but the view is great! Anything could happen within this party . . . . Anything is possible.