My So-Called Life
The Substitute

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The Substitute

When they're alone, Jordan and Mr. Colcord sit side by side. Mr. Colcord firmly asks, "What's that word?" Jordan regards his fingernails and fidgets. Graham wanders toward the doorway from the hall as Mr. Colcord presses Jordan, "What's the sound? Okay, finish the chapter and the next ten poems tonight." Jordan whimpers, "Are you crazy?" and Mr. Colcord replies (wait for it...), "Yeah, good question." He gives Jordan a little primer on the haiku (seventeen syllables, whatever, we all know what a haiku is) and dismisses him. Jordan stomps out, past Graham, who haltingly tells Mr. Colcord who he is and that he intends to print the Lit. Mr. Colcord wearily gets up and listens impatiently. Graham asks for the Lit submissions, mumbling something about having to have them all in by the morning, and Mr. Colcord lifts up the desk in which he was just sitting, slams it back down on the floor, and snaps, "You know that kid who just left here? That extremely smart kid? ["Are we still talking about Jordan, here? 'Extremely hot,' maybe, but smart? I don't see it." -- Ed.] It seems nobody ever bothered to notice that he never quite learned how to read." Graham looks scared. Mr. Colcord adds (rather unnecessarily) that it pisses him off. He busts out a toothpick -- just one, you know, to calm his nerves -- and offers one to the shell-shocked Graham, who takes it, and stares. Take a picture, it'll last longer. Or just try to find a Cheers rerun.

At home, Patty sits on the bedroom floor sifting through the Lit submissions, and bossily tells Graham that they have to figure out which one is Angela's. Graham says nothing, but grouchily pads past her to the bathroom. Patty asks him whether Brian was right about Mr. Colcord: "Was he really mentally ill?" Graham offers, "He didn't give me any Kool-Aid to drink, or anything like that. Actually, he's a pretty cool guy." Patty informs Graham that substitutes aren't "cool," and Graham insists that Mr. Colcord is, and Patty suggests that maybe he isn't a substitute: "Maybe he's a narc." "Maybe you're a narc," Graham cracks, stretching across the bed and reaching down beside Patty for a handful of Lit submissions. Patty declares that they need a sample of Angela's handwriting ("What are we, the KGB?" Graham asks), and opines that the submissions are "weird." She offers up a eulogy for the lost oak tree poem, and hopes aloud that Angela's isn't "the one where they kill the dog." Heh. Graham chuckles briefly, then reads the first bit of the submission in his hand and mutters, "Uh. Mayday." Patty delightedly asks if it's Angela's, then snatches it out of Graham's hand. As she reads, her face falls. "'My juicy sweetness'?" Graham quotes. "It's the end of the world," Patty breathes. Yeah, for Camille, maybe. Whoops! Did I say that out loud? Patty decisively slams the paper down on the bed and declares that she won't print it. Graham, thinking she's exaggerating, picks it back up and laughingly reminds her about "freedom of expression." "Screw it!" Patty replies tartly. "I'll call the substitute person and explain -- I mean, come on! That doesn't belong in the Lit!" "In the cold cement basement of love," Graham intones. They stare at each other a moment, and Graham asks, "You don't think --" "No! We don't even have a basement!" Patty replies. Heh. She tries to grab it from him, but Graham pulls it away too quickly and snaps, "Hey, get your own!" Hee!

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My So-Called Life

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