Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Monday, May 20, 2013

Spoon River Middle School: 4

Claire Bell

Punishment Essay
Mr. O’Dull

Found in folder

 In my experience, Claire, you said, class clowns are not girls.  And then you looked at me over the tops of your glasses.
I guess that was supposed to make me shut up—most of the things you say to me are supposed to make me shut up, did you know that, Mr. O’Dull?  And you look over the tops of your glasses when you want to look right through people.  Especially me.
But it didn’t make me want to shut up, not the words, not the glasses.  It made me mad.  First of all, yeah, I’m a girl, and if I like to laugh, I don’t see how that makes me a Class Clown.  And if you think I’m a clown, well, what’s wrong with wanting to be funny?  Comedians make lots of money.  And besides, everybody wants to be funny—even you do, making those stupid jokes all the time.  Which kids laugh at just because you’re the teacher.  If anyone else said them, no one in the whole world would laugh at them.  Except you maybe.
And second of all (okay, maybe it’s third or fourth by now), I don’t really like it—in fact, I hate it—when anybody tells me I shouldn’t be something, or I should do something.
I mean, let’s just go over what it was that made you so mad you assigned me this stupid thousand-word essay.  And why I’m so mad that I’m writing it like this?
Almost every day you’re late to this class . . . do you know that?  Of course you do.  I mean, you can hear the tardy bell as well as anyone else.  And so every day we sit here a couple of minutes and wait for you, and because there’s no one here—no teacher here—well, things can get a little bit out of hand.  Now and then.
And that’s where I come in.  I perform a public service.  I keep the kids entertained and laughing.  Otherwise, you know, they could be throwing stuff and putting out each other’s eyes.  And then you’d get sued when all the parents came in here upset because all their kids are blind.  So I’m saving you money, too, by clowning around, as you put it.
Now, normally, our lookout is Craig Burns, whose wheelchair is back by the door so he can get in and out of here with as little hassle as possible.  I bet you didn’t know that Craig Burns, who never says anything in class, actually says one sentence just about every single day: Here he comes!  His voice doesn’t sound like it used to, before the fire.  He croaks a little, like Andee St. Cloud’s dad, who’s a big smoker.  Did you ever hear him?
So most of the time when you finally get here—and we can smell the cigarette smoke on you, Mr. O’Dull, so we know where you’ve been, smoking down in the boiler room with the custodians when you know it’s against school rules for anyone, including teachers, to smoke anywhere in the whole entire building—well, things are at least a little bit settled down.  So if you think it’s bad when you finally come in here, you have no idea what it would’ve been like without me.  ’Cause what I usually do, you see, as I said, is entertain everyone.
Every school night I write out what I’m going to do—like a little script.  Most nights it takes me about an hour.  And I always do it first, before any homework, because I want my mind to be fresh, you know?  I don’t want to be all tired and bored, because when I’m like that, I write some of my worst, unfunny stuff that probably even you wouldn’t laugh at.  Now, sometimes I write out parts for other kids to play, but usually it’s just me.  When you’re hurrying down the hall, late to class again, haven’t you ever heard clapping from the room?  Well, what do you think they’re clapping for?  For you?!?
Now, today, with Craig Burns absent, I forgot—just plain forgot—to ask someone else to look out.  I was so excited about what I’d written—and it was a little longer than usual—that I wanted to get started right away so I could get the whole thing done before you showed up.  I should’ve been more careful, I know.
So when you walked in, I didn’t even see you at first.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t have gone on writing on the board my “vocabulary list” for the week, just the way you write yours every Monday.  I’d planned to have it all erased when you got here—I knew I could do it in the time between when Craig said Here he comes and when you actually walked in the room.  But I didn’t.
Now, you insisted that I write those words again, right here in this essay, so you could show them to . . . well, to whoever you’re going to show. So just remember, you made me do this.  So here are my five vocab words for the week—all of them, as I’m sure you can tell, are fake words, words I just made up, trying to be funny.  So, here goes . . .
1. skullcracker : a teacher so boring that kids fall asleep so fast their heads crack into their desktops
2. deathbreath: a teacher whose personal air can kill
3. deskflipper: a teacher so big that when he sits on the edge of your desk, it’s in danger of flying clear across the room
4. chartfart: a teacher who spends half the period checking attendance with a seating chart
5. whitebite: that smear of chalk dust on a teacher’s butt                 
I know . . . not all of these are funny, but you try coming up with stuff 185 days a year.  And speaking of 185 days.  Do you know that if you’re two minutes late every day—which you are (sometimes more)— that’s 370 minutes a school year.  That’s six hours and ten minutes of class we’re not having because you need one more suck on your cigarette.
I bet you something: I bet you won’t show this to anyone.
In my experience, Mr. O’Dull, people don’t show other people things that really embarrass them.  Like this essay.  (By the way, I just counted: Before this sentence I had 1066 words, not counting the title, my name, or any other junk.  So I wrote even more than you assigned.  Do I get extra credit?)
Do you know what happened in 1066?  William the Conqueror.  Battle of Hastings.  All that history junk.  You can look it up.

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