Jok sat down heavily on a large rock. He slouched, scratching his large, sloping forehead. Something was wrong and he had to think about it. Jok didn’t think very often, because (even for a Cro-Magnon) he found it painful and difficult. Still, he had to think. Something was wrong, he couldn’t figure out what. Certainly he was unhappy, but why? It had started when he was trying to come up with more ways to play Fubal (a game he invented, which involved kicking a tapir across a field), but having so few friends made it difficult.
Ah, so few friends, that was the problem. He sighed and scratched his thick skull, looking for fleas. The problem was that nobody liked him. Sure, he was large and strong, but nobody cared about that. All anyone in his tribe cared about was intelligence, the one thing he didn’t have.
After a while, Sheer walked by. Sheer was also an outcast, and it wasn’t hard to see why. She didn’t like to eat and was unattractively slender, she refused to work and had ended up with abnormally long fingernails, and she was constantly trying to get new clothes. Sheer sat down on the rock next to Jok’s and began to groom him.
“What wrong Jok?” Sheer said after a moment.
“Me sad,” Jok said.
She grunted. Most of their language was grunts. This grunt meant “I share your feelings and would like to explore them further.”
“Wish me was Noord,” Jok said.
Sheer grunted again, meaning “Of course you do.”
Noord was the most beloved son of Jok’s tribe. He was constantly surrounded by males who wished to be his friend and females who wanted to be his Primary Mate. Noord was very smart. It was Noord who had discovered that fire burned hair, who invented hitting things with sticks, and had realized that new babies came from old people.
“It not fair!,” Jok exclaimed. “Me strong. Me big. Me kick tapir good. Why people not like me?”
“Me know,” Sheer said. “Have same problem. But what we do?”
Jok sat and thought. Sheer sat and thought too. They took turns grooming each other, finding more fleas (an important source of vitamins and minerals).
“Maybe we show people we better. We higher than Noord,” Sheer said.
Jok made a “How?” grunt.
“Hit him. Me like that.”
“And make jokes,” Sheer continued. “Say he so small he look funny. Trip him when he walk by. Break things he has. Then people think he not so high. People think you high.”
Jok smiled. He was starting to like Sheer, even if she did look funny.
“Maybe you do it too. Make females think they all be thin and have new clothes. Maybe they be like you. Stop eating. Make self vomit. They all be Sheer. You be Sheer leader.”
Sheer’s eyes brightened.
“This good idea,” she said. “It need name. Making people think you high need a name.”
“We call it High School.”