My So-Called Life
The Substitute

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Wing Chun: D | Grade It Now!
The Substitute

The next day (I assume, because everyone's wearing different outfits), the English students watch nervously as Mr. Colcord reads their Lit submissions. He makes faces ranging from derisive to disappointed and finally declares, "How shall I describe them? Good question. Boring. The word 'boring' comes to mind. Fake. False. Synthetic. Bogus. What do these words have in common?" The students look shell-shocked. Mr. Colcord snaps, "You!" and indicates Jordan, who looks up, terrified. "Me?" he stalls. Mr. Colcord lets him off the hook: "Yes, I know what you're going to say -- that they're synonyms [yeah, that's exactly what Jordan was going to say] meaning 'not genuine'....But how else would you classify them?" Jordan mumbles, "I don't know," and Mr. Colcord yells, "Yes! You! Do! D'you think I'm an idiot? If I tell you that the class's work was safe, banal, homogenized, cutesy, appalling -- all of which is true, by the way -- what sort of words am I using? Tell me, don't give me that blank look." Mr. Colcord circles Jordan's desk as Jordan withdraws further into himself and glares back. Mr. Colcord needles him, "You know this, you know this! Not verbs, not nouns, but --" "Adjectives," Jordan spits. "Adjectives! Woo!" exclaims Mr. Colcord, throwing up his hands, and adding, "Don't you dare play dumb with me again. Now as for the rest of you. Um, how should I phrase this?" "I don't believe this guy," Brian mutters. Mr. Colcord is on a roll: "This is the most godawful crap I've ever read in my life." And with either refreshing brio or psychotic rage, he tosses the sheaf of magazine submissions out the classroom window. But you know...they probably were crap. No offense to any sophomores here, but...for the most part, that shit is painful to read. Most of it was probably faux-suicide poetry. Tedious. Self-indulgent. But I'm just guessing. I know it's fictional. Really, I do. Anyway, the students watch in horror as their work flutters down to the ground.

At Chase Place, Danielle "Whatever" Chase, in her Girl Scout uniform (I think -- it's a white blouse and green skirt; hey, I only know from Brownies and Girl Guides), opens the door for Brian. She asks him whether he wants to buy some Girl Scout cookies. Brian declines, and Danielle presses that he can owe her the money. Graham tells Danielle to leave Brian alone, and Brian wanders in, staring at Graham, who has Danielle's sash in his hands. "What?" Graham asks. "You've never seen someone sew on a merit badge before?" Tee hee! Brian looks like he doesn't know where to look until Patty wanders out, briefly greets him, and calls Angela. Danielle keeps harassing him about the cookies until Patty chides her. While they wait for Angela to make an appearance, Patty asks Brian what's in his hand, and he tells her it's "this thing Angela wrote" that he found. Patty takes the paper from him and exclaims, "Her oak tree poem! I loved that one! Why does it have a footprint on it? And where are the others? Weren't we going to print them up?" Now it's Brian's time to shine -- tattle time: "Angela didn't tell you? He threw them out the window." Graham asks to whom Brian is referring, and Brian pouts, "This new substitute who's, like, mentally ill. Seriously." Angela alights on the landing of the stairs and -- somehow managing to infuse an eye-roll into the very tone of her voice -- corrects Brian: "He's not mentally ill." Brian indicates the poem and asks Angela whether she wants it. Patty gets on a rant, saying that Mr. Colcord's defenestrating the papers is "terrible" and that the students all "worked very hard" on those submissions, blah blah blah outragecakes. Angela rolls her eyes -- with her actual eyes this time -- and says she doesn't like the poem very much. Graham says that isn't the point, and Patty backs Graham up by saying that Mr. Colcord is her teacher and should treat their assignments with some respect. Angela glares at Brian and he gives her a "What?" look. Graham and Patty drone on a little while longer about Angela standing up for herself, and Angela snots, "Thanks, Brian." Brian shifts his weight from one foot to the other.

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My So-Called Life




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