In the morning, I was careful not to wake up Charlie as I brushed my teeth and said my personal affirmations in the bathroom mirror. He did look adorable, his head resting softly on the ivory tank of the toilet he had trapped his foot into. I delicately left his usual breakfast of a piece of bread (which he called “raw toast”) and an onion beside him on the bathroom sink and ran outside to pee in the bushes. Since I'm so terrible at balancing, not to mention balancing while squatting, it came to a point where I had to choose between falling backwards and getting my bare butt dirty, or leaning forward and getting pee on my pants. But it didn't matter because I managed to do both. And then guess what? That’s right. You guessed it. More anxiety. As I squirmed through the driver’s side window of the General Lee, I wondered how I could possibly be pretty enough to make it in this new town.
The car was pretty cool. It smelt of stale beer and government waste, and we all know why. I did wonder how many fishing trips and hunting expeditions, government protests and pow wows the car had been to. If I were to take an educated guess, probably a hundred and seventy-four. But I never was good at guessing jellybeans in a jar. And I never was good at not pigeon holing either.
Finding the school wasn’t difficult. It was off of a road, like most places in town. It was not obvious that it was a high school. The big digital sign flashing “Spoons High School” was my clue and it was after passing that sign four times that I realized I was probably at the right place.
There was only one car in the lot. A shiny new Volvo! My heart lifted for a moment. Maybe there were like minded people here. But that didn’t last long.
A few stragglers were loitering in the parking lot, and one of them was smoking. They looked like ruffians and it was tense for a brief moment like when Mom and I walked by black people at home. I wondered if they would beat me up for being pretty.
One of them said under their breath, “Nice ride”, and I just knew they wanted to rape me.
Then the other guy looked over at my car, laughed and said, “Good one”. I was further irritated that they had been talking about my car and not me. This high school was going to suck.
Back in Arizona, I was used to security, and as I approached the front door a rather fat man with a boil on his nose, sported a T-shirt. I assumed he probably had big, puffy nipples with sticks of white hair stranded around them. He wore a plastic star shaped badge with the word “security” drawled across it with a Sharpie pen.
“Um, where is the metal detector?”, I asked politely, even though I secretly despised him.
“Well, back in Arizona we have metal detectors …”
“Yeah, we ain’t got that here. Guns don’t kill people.” He had a frightening lisp, “People kill people”
Shaken, I stumbled in through the door. Looking back, I know I was far too concerned about whether I was pretty enough. So it goes.
As I looked ahead at the sterile white hallway, feeling a little embarrassed at having thought the word “sterile”, I tried to salvage my thundering nerves. No one is going to bite me. No one is going to bite me. No one is going to bite me. An open door revealed what seemed to be an English class, with the word “foreshadowing” underlined twice.
There it was, the front office looming ahead of me like the death panels I had been reading about in the news. I shivered at the thought. Fortunately all my grandmothers had already died peacefully. Anyway, behind a single desk, a rather fat woman with a boil on her nose looked over her glasses at me. Her massive T-shirt, half hidden by the counter, announced, “God hates…”, but I couldn’t see the rest.
“What’s your name?”, she barked.
I smiled, although I secretly despised her. “Stella, Stella Chastity.”
“Oh, the colonel’s daughter. Welcome to…”
“Excuse me,” I snapped, “Can I just have my schedule?”
I just knew it. She had probably been gossiping about me all week. Wretched woman. Just like the rest of this town, talking about me. How many people would I have to tell that I'm just not as pretty as they must think I am?
I stormed out, schedule in hand, tightly gripped in my fist, and stamped my feet and waved my hair at her to make a point. On the way out, I wondered what the rest of her shirt said. There were so many options.