….. by TeeJay
Whoa! This one starts off a little tumultuous, at least where Adam and Joan are concerned. One minute Joan and Luke are walking along the school hallway, talking about this year’s semi-formal, then next Adam is forcefully pushed into the wall of lockers by bully Steve Ramsey, who hits him square in the face and then in the stomach. Ouch!
Joan jumps all over Ramsey, yelling at him to leave Adam alone. Adam can’t do much more than double over in pain and cough. Ramsey’s really on a rampage, screaming at Joan, “You think I won’t hit you too?” For once, Price’s appearance is both timely and appreciated, he demands to see Ramsey and Adam in his office. Now.
Joan is all worried, touching Adam’s shoulder, asking if he’s okay. He just picks himself up and writhes away from Joan’s touch, clearly not wanting her compassion. Still shocked, Joan follows them to the admittance desk. Adam never speaks a word through any of it, even when Helen fussed over his split lip, with Joan lingering nearby.
Joan soon learns from Goth-God that she’s supposed to go to the semi-formal with Ramsey. And this time she really wants to say no to an assignment. No, wait, a suggestion. But of course Joan can’t say no. So she asks Ramsey to the dance. And he says yes.
The next time Joan sees Adam, he’s sitting alone in the cafeteria, having a sandwich. She sits down opposite him—and it’s the first time we hear them talk to each other ever since she smashed his sculpture. And their dialogue starts off with real meaningful words like her asking him, “Hey, what are you eating? Is that like your brain on drugs?” (What she means is the sandwich with eggs and ketchup on it that he’s munching on.) “It’s a fried egg sandwich,” he explains. “My dad’s specialty.” Those are the first words he says to her after not talking to her for weeks? Wow. Talk about an ice-breaker, Adam…
She babbles on, Joan-style, telling him that he missed the first interesting Chem lab ever: “We used orange juice to turn on a light bulb.” He realizes she’s just trying to find a way for them to reconnect, so he quietly says, “Look, I don’t wanna talk about it, okay?” Talk about what, Adam? Joan smashing your art or you being beaten up by Ramsey or Joan taking Ramsey to the dance? We’re not going to find out, because Ramsey demands Joan’s attention, so she just whispers a quiet “Okay” to Adam and leaves. And he just doesn’t know what make of that, you can just see the confusion and disappointment in his eyes.
What’s even more interesting, though, is that Joan defends Adam to Ramsey. He calls him a stoner boy who needs a bodyguard. She tells him, “He’s not a stoner, he’s a really nice guy.” She asks Ramsey why he beat Adam up in the first place. Turns out Ramsey didn’t like his attitude, acting like some big artist when he’s really only a kid in high school. But Joan tells him that, yes, she has a problem with him just beating up whoever bugs him. “It’s fine if you’re pissed off at the world, but to take it out on the one person who would never hit you back is pathetic.” You go, Joan!
Once the ball gets rolling, Joan indeed goes to the dance with Ramsey. Obviously he’s never had a girl pay any attention to him before, except to cross the street to avoid him. Joan has to help him tie his tie. And she tries the whole program on him, getting him to dance and everything. And poor Adam is sitting at a table by himself, sketching something with a pencil on a sketchpad. Helen takes pity on him and walks up, asking him if he came on his own. (And, Adam? Please, that tie? So not working, dude!) He unsurely eyes the dancefloor where Friedman and Glynis are doing things that are supposed to be dancing together but look like something rather wild and uncoordinated. And he asks Helen if she’s seen Joan yet. As they both turn around again, they see Joan clinging to Ramsey’s shoulder, walking in. Adam turns to go, he surely has no business thinking that he might have had a chance to capture Joan’s attention at all.
Helen calls his name before he can walk away, giving him wonderful motherly advice. “Girls are just stupid in high school, okay? If you would just hang on a few more years, I guarantee you, eventually the smart girls will figure out that guys like you are way more interesting than guys like Ramsey.” He smiles a sweet smile at her. Those words might have just made up for an otherwise pretty ruined night.
And thank God Adam didn’t see Joan slow-dancing with Ramsey. That might just have broken his heart. Especially the giggling that goes on when Ramsey attempts to dip Joan and she ends up on the floor. Thinking Ramsey has done something untoward with Joan, Price and Helen rush in. Price gets huffy and condescending with at Ramsey, reaching for a bulge in his jacket that turns out to be a bottle of whiskey that Joan convinced him not to open. Price assumes the worst of course, telling him that bringing alcohol onto the school premises is grounds for expulsion. Angry, Ramsey leaves, and Joan can’t just watch him; she runs after him, even though Helen tells her not to. And despite Ramsey yelling at her to leave him alone, Joan gets in his truck with him and they drive off, right before Adam’s eyes.
Helen’s now really scared, thinking that Ramsey might do something to hurt her little girl, so she calls Will, who comes driving in with the cavalry, sirens and all. Adam tells them that Joan ran after Ramsey and they drove off. “There’s this place that he hangs out at sometimes, I think I can get you there,” Adam offers.
Meanwhile, Ramsey is freaking out, yelling at Joan how he can’t get expelled, how his step-dad would kick him out and his real dad wouldn’t take him in and that he’s done. He loads a handgun and points it wildly at Joan before he points it at some junk and old bottles, taking pot-shots. Joan is madly, desperately trying to persuade him not to do anything stupid. Joan is just about to succeed when Will and Adam get there, and now Ramsey really freaks. He points the gun at Will, but after some desperate talk he manages to make Ramsey give up the gun. Things turn out okay for all of them, except maybe Ramsey.
The next day in school, Joan finds Adam by his locker. She walks up to him, pleading for understanding. Or forgiveness. She thanks him for showing up with her dad, but he doesn’t look at her and says dejectedly, “They just needed to know where to go.” How much more disappointment can he take from her? But Joan realizes that she really needs to say something that means something. “Adam, I know I keep doing these incredibly stupid and hurtful things to you. But you have to believe me when I say that hurting you is the last thing I wanna do.” He keeps his head down, not moving throughout her whole speech. Then he turns around, looks her in the eye and says, “I’m sure you have your reasons,” before walking away. Joan just can’t win with him, can she? Will they ever get back to good?