The Worst Lab Partner Ever

No, I thought. Anybody but John!
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"Ok, everyone," my teacher called out. "It's time to switch lab partners. I've posted the new partner sheets on the wall. Come find your name."

Everyone shuffled around the room to see who they would be paired with for the next six weeks. When I saw the name next to mine, I wanted to scream.

No! I thought to myself. Anyone but John*!

This was the guy who, on the first day of school, actually said to me, "Hey, cutie. I lost my number. Can I have yours?" I had rolled my eyes and walked away, but that didn't deter him. If he saw me in the hallways, he'd come up and tell me about the wild parties he'd been to. I guess he thought I'd be impressed by his "bad boy" reputation. I wasn't. Whenever he approached me, I'd try my best to dart away as quickly as possible.

But now I was going to be stuck with him every day for six whole weeks.

That evening over dinner I told my parents about my bad luck.

"You'll never guess who my computer applications teacher stuck me with for a lab partner," I said as I poured dressing on my salad.

"Who?" Mom asked.

"That guy John—the one who used that corny pick-up line on me last fall," I said.

"Oh, yes," Dad said with a chuckle. "Mr. Smooth!"

"Very funny," I said. "Seriously—how will I get through this? John is so annoying."

"This will be good practice," Dad said as he salted his steak.

"Practice for what?" I asked.

"The real world is full of people who are a challenge to work with.

The sooner you learn how to get along, the better off you'll be."

"And how, exactly, do I do that?" I asked skeptically.

"Just be friendly," Mom suggested. "Get to know him. Maybe deep down he's not so bad. His flirting and bragging could just be a big act."

Boy, if John's acting, he deserves an Academy Award! I thought. Despite my misgivings, I decided to follow Mom's advice and try to get to know John a little better. But as soon as he opened his mouth, I realized this wasn't going to be easy.

"You should come out with me this weekend," John said. "There's gonna be a kick-butt party at Swanson's place."

"That's OK," I said. "I don't party."

"What do you mean you don't party?" he asked incredulously.

It was awkward to tell him about my faith when he spent every Sunday morning sleeping off a hangover. But I was proud of my relationship with Christ and didn't want to hide it.

"I spend a lot of time at church," I said. "Going to services and youth group stuff."

I expected John to laugh or call me a "goody-two-shoes." Surprisingly, he didn't.

"That's cool," John said. He then went on to ask me what I did at youth group—and he seemed interested in hearing my answer.

Over the next few weeks as John and I worked together, it was just like Dad had said. There were days when John got on my last nerve because he wouldn't stop yapping about the beer fests he'd been to. When he was in "party mode," it was hard to make him focus on our schoolwork. But then other days he seemed to let his guard down, and when he did that, he was much more tolerable—even kind of sweet.

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