...this is hilarious. Srsly. I am laughing my fuckin' ass off over here.
In honor of the lazy children's product of the year being a date rape drug, I give you the second installment of my Nano!
School was... pretty much exactly what I suspected it would be. Generalized chaos in the main hall, as all the freshmen were separated into a variety of groups and sent off to various locations, and then wandered back in because they had no idea where room 517 was. Oly peeled off pretty immediately, because she does actually have friends1, leaving me to swagger up to the main table by myself.
The main table was staffed by two older teen boys who looked nearly as bored as I was2. “Name,” one of them said, boredom taking the question out of the word.
“Zack Galloway,” I responded, mimicking his tone easily, and putting an innocent look on my face so that he wouldn't suspect I was, actually, mocking him3.
He narrowed his eyes at me suspiciously, but dug through the stack of paper until he found my name. “Room 312,” he came back with, suspicion fleeing in the face of supreme boredom.
I didn't bother thanking him, because either he volunteered for this job4, or had been assigned it for punishment5. And anyway, there's not really ever a reason for social niceties, unless you're somewhere where being rude can actually get you killed. In that case, I'll be polite as the Queen of England6. I was leaning towards it being punishment, because they weren't giving directions to any of the freshmen, which just screamed “We like to fuck with their heads”. I, however, wasn't an idiot like most of my classmates, so I crossed over to where there was a nice, huge-ass map of the school – with numbers, for rooms! Would you look at that. It's like magic.
Room 312 was, interestingly enough, in the 300 hallway. Better known to us newbies as the main hallway7. But, of course, it was at the far end from the cafeteria – these had better not be our homeroom assignments, I thought darkly. Although, wait. Homeroom is generally at the beginning of the day, so would its relative location to the cafeteria even matter8?
It appeared that I was the first to appear. And was the only one for a good ten minutes9. I was beginning to suspect that the teenager had been craftier than I had thought, when finally somebody else showed up. It was a boy, probably a fellow freshman, with shaggy dark hair, glasses, and wearing one of those stupid caps that are so popular these days – the ones that look a little like newsboy caps, but are completely lame? All the emo bands wear them. His t-shirt, advertising a Christian rock group, and artsy messenger bag with patches held on by safety pins didn't help my first impression of him at all.
“Hi, I'm, uh, Damon,” he said, fidgeting nervously with the strap of his bag.
I gave him a highly sarcastic look over the top of my book. “Congratulations.”
He looked like he couldn't decide whether to be pissed off or embarrassed, so he settled for sitting across the classroom from me. Thank God. Emo boys tend to smell weird.
By the time the bell rang, signaling the start of our wondrous day, four others had joined us10 – all of them sitting on the other side of the room from me. Good, my death glare was still working. I had wondered, since everyone I have contact with over the summer is immune.
The door banged open dramatically, and I immediately said, “Eight points.” I took two off the over all score because there wasn't an equal dramatic echo to accompany it, which detracts from the effect just a bit. Oly generally gets sixes, though, so this was a very good score11.
I got strange looks from Emoth Girl and Twitchy McTwitcherson, but Damon and the skater completely ignored me. I debated the wisdom of calling them harlots while an authority figure was in the room, and ultimately decided against it. Dad said he would take away my library card for a month if I got detention on the first day. So that meant I either had to play nice, or go for full-on suspension12.
The teacher/random authority figure quickly called off our names. Or, well, called my name, Damon somebody, and then three other names that I'm guessing were those of the others, since they answered to them13. Then he smacked the paper he'd been reading off of onto the teacher's desk at the front of the room, and promptly sat atop both the desk and the paper. “Right, I'm Kevin Greene. I'm one of the English teachers in the special alternative schooling program that Liberty High14 has.” Here, he paused to smirk. Which really endeared him to me, I must say. “The program that you've all been selected for.”
He had to have done this before, given the evil look of pleasure on his face as chaos descended upon the room. Four teenagers can make a lot more noise than anybody really gives them credit for, when they're whining and complaining like the world's about to end15. If I could whistle, I'd give off a sharp, piercing whistle to get them all to shut up. But, I can't whistle, so I settled for hollering, “SHUT UP!” as loud as I could16. They did, mostly out of shock, which meant they'd start talking again in about five seconds. I took advantage of the gap. “Now, by 'selected for', do you mean in a creepy super-secret government agency way, or-”
Kevin Greene was pouting at the fact that I took away his fun by using logic. “No, I mean the automated system flagged your names because of your chronic low grades and behavioral problems.”
“So what's the deal with this program, then?” I asked, somewhat out of curiosity, but mostly to keep the others quiet. That's one thing I'll say about Auggie – he may be a serial killer in training, but at least he's quiet about it.
“Basically, all of your main classes will be within the program. You work on your classes at your own pace, and you don't have any assigned homework.”
I knew there had to be a catch, but I didn't really care. “I'm in,” I said as soon as he mentioned the no-homework bit. Because while I am a lazy son of a bitch17, I did actually feel like graduating high school within the normal four years, and with a grade point average above one. Which just wouldn't happen if I had to do homework.
“Glad to hear it,” Greene said sarcastically. “Because all of you are in, whether you want to be or not. Your parents all signed your fate away weeks ago.”
Vague noises of denial sounded from the other side of the room, which didn't look very pleased, but I wasn't surprised. Dad was always doing stuff like this – he says it keeps me on my toes. And this had to be better than the time he had me taken to one of those wilderness rehab programs18.
“Everyone up, I'll show you where the program's located. And then...” he grinned the grin of evil again, “Then, we'll work out your schedules.
Schedules. A more ominous word has never been created within the English, or any other, language. Well, other than the word 'ominous'. That's pretty ominous.
But anyway. The program19 turned out to be entirely in the basement of the school. I could sense that this wasn't going to end well – but people always say that I watch too much TV, so things could be perfectly fine. There were, Kevin explained20, around seventy students within the program, and ten teachers, plus a separate dean and counselor. They offered the full range of courses that the school as a whole did for the four core subjects (English, science, math, and social studies), plus Spanish and art. Other electives, such as music, other foreign languages, and gym, would be taken within the normal school.
“Now, your transcript for English is going to read English 9, English 10, et cetera et cetera. But you'll actually be able to choose your own syllabus for every class, so you're not stuck reading the same things as the rest of the school,” Kevin commentated, dropping a packet in front of each of us. We were all sitting in a lopsided semi-circle in the middle of the compound, as I decided to call the basement. Earlier, he'd handed out sheets with our names, and then subjects with numbers after them. Our “qualifying” numbers, he called them, based off of standardized testing and interviews with our middle school teachers. They told us which classes we'd be allowed into, which is always nice21.
The packet turned out to be course descriptions. And some of them were actually... interesting. Not something I'd been expecting. Most of the English classes were a quarter long, some where a semester. It was noted that, in order to graduate, we'd have to complete the research class and the speech class, but otherwise we were entirely free.
The Female Archetype: Women's Literature Across Cultures, I read. Yeah, fuck that. Even most girls I knew didn't enjoy women's literature. Heroes & Heroines looked promising, as did Mythology and Science Fiction. Or Rebels in Literature, but most rebels were kind of idiots.
It took a while, but eventually I had all the classes I wanted to start off with. I'd decided to go with Science Fiction for English; math I was pretty much stuck with the Basic Algebra course unless I wanted to retake Pre-Algebra, which I really, really didn't; Biology for science, because there's no way in hell I'm taking Earth Science when it's not a requirement to graduate; Modern History 1940-1998 for social studies, because all I really know about modern history I learned from a Billy Joel song22; and Spanish I23. Now, though, I was stuck. I had tested out of the basic keyboarding class24, I was so not an art person, I didn't feel like doubling up in any of the subjects, and I still had two class periods to fill in25. Fuck it, I thought, I'll take a damn gym class. I need the credit to graduate, anyway. Plus it would take up one of those pesky class periods.
I flipped to the back of the packet, where they kept all of the non-academic classes, and quickly zeroed in on the perfect gym class: Fencing. Fuck yes. I made a quick mark on my paper, and then made another note, as I was feeling ambitious at the moment and decided to just go for the other class I wanted. Trying to teach yourself Arabic couldn't be that difficult, could it?
Well, okay, yes, it probably could – and would – be. But I never let that stop me before. I gathered my papers, stood, and strode purposefully for the office Kevin had disappeared into a half hour earlier, with instructions to come and tell him the classes we wanted, so that he may pray to the computer gods to program everything correctly and spit out a schedule for us26.
If I was expecting him to tear my proposed schedule to shreds, I would have been sorely disappointed. He plugged in the classes, kicked back until my schedule was printed out, and then shooed me back into the atrium to wait for the idiots – I mean, my fellow students – to finish.
Turned out that, despite all of my careful preparation the night before, I was woefully unprepared. Because I had completely finished my book by the time the idiots had finished selecting classes, and I hadn't thought to bring another book. Oh well. At least if things got too boring again, I had my cell phone to play Tetris on27.
The rest of the abbreviated school day was spent making us memorize the layout of the basement, showing us how to get to the gym and various other rooms we'd be using in the school proper, and showing us the shortcuts to get to the cafeteria. And, as an afterthought, showing us where the school library was. Then Kevin ran out of things to talk about, and was distracted by a shiny objects, so he just dragged us all into a computer lab and lets us mess around for the rest of the day28.
1They're completely idiotic psychopaths, yes, but still her friends.
2Without the flavoring of apprehension, though.
3I am a smartass, but not an idiot. Both of them had about a foot and a hundred pounds on me, so together they made four or five of me.
6Who doesn't actually need to be very polite, now that I think about it, because she's the fucking queen. What are they going to do if she's rude, blow up Parliament?
7The main office is located directly in the middle of the school, which just makes me draw all the more parallels to a castle keep.
9Which, hey, at least I got to pick the perfect seat, and stretch out and get comfy. And read about twenty pages of my book of the day.
10Of them, one was a girl dressed in the emo-goth fashion, one was a typical sk8r boi (please kill me for ever even thinking that), one was a twitchy little geek, and one was a guy who appeared perfectly normal... except for the twitching eye and spasming fingers.
11Yes, I grade the flinging open of doors. Don't hate, appreciate.
12With most parents, this would just piss them off; thankfully, my father appreciates loopholes and commends his children for exploiting any and all they come across.
13This may seem overly literal to you, but I have learned the hard way not to take anything for granted. Well, okay, I haven't learned 'the hard way', I've just generally followed that principle most of my life.
14Liberty High School was built after the terrorist attacks, obviously. No more historical and scientific figures or directions for school naming now, no sirree. It's all about liberty and freedom and other lofty ideals.
15If the world were about to end, I would not whine or complain. I'd be looting.
16Pretty damn loud.
17It's true, my mother is rather a bitch.
18I've never done drugs, and my behavior – while against school rules – isn't violent; Dad just thought it would be funny.
19Its official title was the Liberty Alternative Education Plan, but no one but the brochures call it that.
20After telling us to call him Kevin, as all the teachers within the program were called by their first names.
21And vaguely condescending.
22You know the one.
23I actually probably knew enough Spanish to make it into the second year course, but this meant I'd have one class I wouldn't even have to think about, but would still get a year's worth of credit for.
24As well I should, since I can type eighty words a minute if I know the keyboard.
25The program followed the normal school schedule, with eight class periods. However, one of our class periods would be spent in a sort of combination of study hall, counseling, and career exploration, leaving us seven periods to take classes.
26He'd actually used that exact phrasing; I was beginning to suspect that he was a little unhinged.
27My father wasn't generally a fan of kids having cell phones, so mine was explicitly for emergency use and gaming only.
28Mostly, this meant everyone but me huddled together at a computer, finding proxy servers to use so they could access MySpace through the school's blocking system, while I sent off a number of insulting emails to celebrities.