(excerpt from Week One, Day One writing assignment, Is Life Like This?)
In second grade I went to a different school where I almost never talked to anybody. My teacher was Mrs. X.
Mrs. X was sloppy and unkempt, both in her appearance and in the way she ran class. I remember not having a whole lot of respect for her, even though I knew I should because she was in charge.
Mrs. X was afraid of Brent, the class bully. One day he chased her in a circle, behind the rolling blackboard and around the partition that we hung our coats behind. I was ashamed of her, but also felt kind of sorry for her. She didn’t command respect from any of the kids, evidently. Not from good mute kids like me. Not from bad loud kids like Brent.
Aaron was another boy in my class. He was big and dirty. His clothes were even more outdated than my own. He often wore plaid green polyester pants and a brownish shirt with very long collar points. He smelled bad sometimes, and was a bit overweight. His desk was a pigsty and he could not spell to save himself.
I liked Aaron a lot.
One day Mrs. X was going around the room, verbally quizzing the students on spelling words. When she got to Aaron she gave him the word cookie. He hesitated. Aaron was as terrified of spelling as I was of speaking. Eventually he began, deliberating for an excruciatingly long time over every letter.
C… O… O… K… Y.
Being an avid speller and lover of underdogs, I was on the edge of my seat with each correct letter that came out of his mouth. When he said “Y” I practically fell out of my chair.
Aaron sat at the desk right in front of me, so instead of landing on the floor I landed on Aaron. I grabbed both of his shoulders and said (shouted, really), “You did it! You got it right!”
Mrs. X, after recovering from the shock of hearing my voice out loud for the very first time for anything other than a correctly spelled word, disagreed. “I’m sorry, but that is incorrect,” she said.
I guess I was too caught up in the moment because I forgot to be shy and so I said without missing a beat that it was absolutely a correct variation of the spelling of cookie, and she should look it up in the dictionary. So of course she did, because she was not going to be shown up by a seven year old know-it-all. Only she was shown up, because one of the other kids who had a dictionary and was also looking it up beat her to it, and started reading aloud the entry for cookie, alternate ending: -y.
Aaron stared at me with his mouth kind of open, like he had no idea what was going on. He was probably freaking out, what with me grabbing him like that and all.
Mrs. X was also staring at me, because at that moment in her mind, I was as bad as Brent.