My So-Called Life
The Substitute

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The Substitute

The next day, Mr. Colcord is sprawled on his desk in a bizarre and not at all comfortable-looking position -- on his left side, with his left leg dangling off the edge of the desk, and his right bent at the knee, with his right foot flat on the desk. The fuck? Whatever, he's a hippie or something. Patty clicks down the hall and into the doorway, catching Mr. Colcord as he plays his toothpick in and out of his mouth. Is that some kind of come-on? Patty introduces herself, and he sits up and remarks, "I met your husband the other day." Patty confirms that briefly, and then tries to get on with talking about the Lit, but Mr. Colcord interrupts her to say, "He's a lucky man." And if there were a studio audience, here's where they'd interject, "Whoooooooo!" Patty is caught off-guard by the hoary old compliment, and sort of giggles and thanks him and then proceeds, as much "all business" as you can be right after tittering like a schoolgirl: "My husband and I read the stuff that the kids wrote --" "Hope it didn't give him a heart attack," Mr. Colcord cracks. Patty regards him, and Mr. Colcord explains that Graham seemed "a little fragile."

Patty gets shirty: "Actually, it isn't my husband who had the problem." Way to play right into his hands, babe. Didn't you learn anything from your visit with the IRS? Mr. Colcord smiles knowingly. Patty says, "I just think...there's this one piece in particular [producing the non-haiku and handing it to him] that I just don't feel comfortable printing." Mr. Colcord sniffs, "Oh! You're afraid that Angela wrote it." Patty protests (or lies, if you prefer), "This has nothing to do with whether Angela wrote it." "So, this is just censorship for censorship's sake," Mr. Colcord asks, staring her down. "What?" Patty snips, her professional smile still plastered on her face. Mr. Colcord snaps, "Hand them over. I'll type them myself, and I'll have them Xeroxed." Patty descends on him with her furious WASP wrath: "These are children! We are adults! This is not censorship! This is guiding adolescents who need...guidance!" Mr. Colcord calmly replies, "That is a very reasonable opinion, and very clearly stated. Unfortunately, it's manure." Fighting the urge to scratch his eyes out, Patty squints, "Excuse me?" "It's horse manure. I sense you're angry. Are you angry?" "Yes!" Patty hisses. "Yes! I sensed that!" Mr. Colcord chuckles. Dude, don't patronize Patty. That's Angela's job. Patty enunciates, "Why is it manure?" Mr. Colcord declares, "Good question. It is manure because this journal should be about giving these students a voice, not about having their thoughts edited. If these kids aren't afraid to put their hearts on a page, why should we be afraid of them?" With grudging respect, Patty comments, "You should really teach full-time." Mr. Colcord says, "We have a difference of opinion. Fine. Do you think you should be in a position to decide because you have a printing press and I don't?" Patty asks, "Do you expect me to answer that question?" Mr. Colcord says he does, and Patty takes a deep breath and admits, "No, I don't." Mr. Colcord hands the submissions back to her, and makes to leave. Patty stops him before he gets to the door: "So. Did Angela write it?" Mr. Colcord smirks, and leaves without answering. Patty tries not to freak out. And succeeds. For now.

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My So-Called Life

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