Solving for X

image from Education for All series by Guilherme Bergamini


Solving for X

Leslie Pietrzyk

For a while there, my friend Jase told me to call him Old Spice. What kind of stupid nickname is that, I asked, isn’t that like some ancient perfume or something?

Just call me it, he’d said, then mumbling so I wouldn’t hear but I did—please. Fine, I said. Time for class, Old Spice. That’s back when we were in seventh grade, when we first met. We turned into friends because boys didn’t like him, and girls didn’t like me. Easy.

Later, he requested plenty more nicknames. Jase is the one that stuck, Jase not Jason, and whatever names maybe come after, Jase is probably how I’ll think of him for the rest of my life. My friend Jase. My crazy friend Jase. We’re in ninth grade now.

Some of the others: Potsie, Petey, J-Man, J-Bird, Secret Spice, Goldbug, HahaMan, Hooboy, Hoo. I forget the rest.

I wanted to say that first time that’s not how this works, deciding your own nickname. Other people are supposed to. Like, it’s their sign of affection. Right then, thinking that, my whole huge heart pretty much snapped, so it’s easy now to call him whoever he wants to be, whoever he thinks he is. In my head he’s Jase, though neither his mom or dad call him that, out of spite, he says, and the teachers forget, out of stupidity, he says. It’s only me. Like only I know for real who he is.

For all his interest in names, he’s never once called me anything except Stephanie. Not even Steph. Or Steffie, which I secretly love so fucking, fucking much.