Embarrassmonth: When A Girl Called Me Ugly
The class was as quiet as if a vacuum came and sucked all their air out. And barely half of their eyes were even on me. I knew this speech topic was boring. Oh well, too late.
“So you take the baseball card and put it, um, well, into this plastic sleeve,” I said, trying to hold onto it as it wobbled. “Or at least you try.” I chuckled, trying to take the edge off. Too bad no one else laughed with me so my face turned a deep shade of red, I could feel it. Then I somehow slowed the wobble enough to get the card in. Unfortunately that wasn’t the end of it. “Okay! Then you put it into the case, like so … ”
I grit my teeth and prayed hard for my hand to hold steady. It took a couple long shaky moments, but it worked.
It was seventh grade and we were giving demonstrative speeches in Mr. Scott’s class. And not only were my hands shaking, so was my voice. I was baffled. This never happened before. Maybe it was the lame topic I chose. I had already given an informative speech about the life and career of my favorite Chicago Cub, right fielder Andre Dawson, so demonstrating how to take care of a baseball card seemed like the logical next step. But sweat covered my flush face and I wanted to pull the rip cord on this thing. Thankfully I had reached the end.
“Well, thank you for your attention today,” I stammered. “Today I have given a speech on how to properly take care of and protect the value of a baseball card.”
I held the baseball card up one last time for the class to see, just as Mr. Scott instructed. Unfortunately there was that wobble again. A couple people clapped and I hung my head and headed for my desk, but Mr. Scott spoke up.
“Hey Matthew, not so fast. First, time for questions. Class, anyone got any questions for Matthew?”
I wandered halfway back to the front and rolled my hands together while I cautiously scanned the room. I traded cards with a few of my classmates after school so I hoped they would ask a question or two. But no one said a word.
“All right. Well, thank you, Matthew. Everyone give him a hand,” Mr. Scott said
They clapped as I scuffed to my seat. Felt like a punch to the gut. I wanted to bury my head on my desk but that would be too big a sign of defeat. Then I heard a voice. Like a hissing snake.
“Hey! You! Blondie!” she said, kicking my chair. I turned around and saw it was Christy, the meanest girl in class. Her head was covered with a black hood even thought that broke all sorts of rules. It was small potatoes compared to the trouble she normally got into.
“Your hands. They were shaking. It was weird,” she said.
Good to know it wasn’t noticeable.
She kept going and added gestures. “Yea, like this,” she said. “Why? You scared?”
“I don’t know,” I said. I turned my back to her, wishing she’d shut up. Another student was giving a speech, too, so I didn’t want to cause a disruption.
About 15 seconds passed. Then Christy kicked my chair again. I turned around.
“Hey. You’re ugly,” she sneered, then sinking back in her chair. She completely covered herself with her hood. And I sat back, wondering if my freckles were to blame, or maybe it was my hair. And how a girl could end up so mean.