At first, I thought something had happened to Alicia.
BRAD: Kevin, you need to get here--now!
I could hear her crying in the background. Not unusual, but I still didn't waste time getting to Slice--where Brad, Alicia, and the other boys were waiting for me.
BRAD: Anthony couldn't come?
ME: I just left him. We were doing a crash course in why you shouldn't date your father. What's going on?
AJ: There's a shitshow going on inside.
ME: Beg your pardon?
AARON: Kevin, this guy set up--
VOICE: Allow me.
I turned around to see--who else?--Tommy, looking quite smug.
ME: Organized another circle jerk, Tommy?
TOMMY: Not quite. Didn't you see the banner?
Hanging above Slice was a banner that read "The Anti-School for Boys Party." Underneath was a photo of Alicia with a mustache drawn on her face.
No wonder she was crying--it wasn't even initially a flattering photo.
ME: This party's over.
TOMMY: What are you going to do?
AJ: We're going to go crack some heads.
ME: No, we're not. We're just going to--
TOMMY: I don't think you're going to do anything. No clever moves here, Kev. Inside that place is a large group of people--all of whom dislike you very strongly. They don't think you're cute. They don't think you're funny.
ME: They don't like to read or construct proper sentences?
TOMMY: Laugh all you want, but I know that underneath that smiling exterior, you're terrified of the idea that I can fill an entire club with people who hate your guts.
ME: So what? You think I'm just going to let you have this little assfest?
TOMMY: I don't see what choice you have. I believe this is called checkmate.
AJ: Nooooo, Checkmate is the club in Boston that--
AARON: Shut up, AJ.
I had to admit it. The idea of going into Slice and facing all those Broccoli haters...
I didn't think I could do it.
Then I looked over and saw Alicia, weeping and ruining her make-up, and I knew I had to do something. I couldn't back down after I'd spent all this time building up my proteges.
ME: I'm going in.
Brad immediately tried to talk me out of it.
BRAD: You can't do this! I would have brought a video camera!
Okay, maybe "talk me out of it" was a bit--
AARON: Kevin, can't you call for some help?
AJ: Yeah! Get the Bitch Brigade in there to shake things up!
ME: No, this is something I have to do by myself.
ME: By myself--and with Alicia.
The poor girl practically leaped off the curb.
ALICIA: Kevin, I'm not going in there. Did you not see--
ME: Alicia, we have to do this.
ALICIA: No, we don't! You made me swear off gay clubs, remember?
ME: Leave it to me to break my own rules then.
TOMMY: This could scar the girl, Kevin.
ALICIA: Kevin, no!
It was time for a battle speech.
ME: Alicia--and Aaron, and AJ--there are going to be situations that are just like this one. Scary, uncomfortable, times when you feel vulnerable and unsure of yourself. I won't always be able to be there when those times come around, but that doesn't mean you can run. It means you have to believe that even though I'm not there in person, I'm still there, because I believe in you guys. When you stand up for yourself, when you face people like Tommy here, when you walk into a room and everybody tries to push you out with their eyes, you look right back at them and you say with yours--'if you want me out of here, you're going to have to grow, come out, and say it.' It doesn't matter where you are or what you're up against, I'm right there with you, and so is everyone else who cares about you. Do you understand?
AJ: Not really.
ME: Angels in the Outfield?
AJ: Amazing movie.
ME: Remember how the angel wasn't really there, but they made Tony Danza think it was by having everybody in the stadium flap their wings?
ME: While me and Alicia are in there, I need you guys to be flapping your wings.
AJ: Got it.
BRAD: I'm thinking there was head damage involved in your childhood, AJ.
The time had come.
Alicia and I walked into Slice, hands interlocked, ready to face whatever was inside.
It turned out to be...
ME: Uh...I'm confused.
Tommy came in right behind us, looking crestfallen.
TOMMY: A lot more people wanted to come, but it's a Sunday, so--
ME: So apparently, they hate me, but they all have to work tomorrow.
TOMMY: Pretty much.
ME: And all you could get were these seven?
TOMMY: Some of them are just here because they're club rats.
TOMMY: But when I told them about you they agreed that you sound like a jerk.
ME: Well, that just breaks my heart.
Tommy went off to get a drink--and hopefully a ladder, to take down the banner.
ALICIA: So what do we do now?
ME: Now, we dance.
I ran back to the door to tell the others to come in, and what did I see?
BRAD: Anthony brought some ammunition.
Anthony and a small group of people all wearing "Protege" t-shirts--flapping their wings.
ME: God, I feel like Tony Danza.
BRAD: I wouldn't say you're that big a failure.
You know what? Neither would I.