A Slap to a Sycophant

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An offer was going around the room, the voice of the advertiser loud and clear. “Anyone? Anyone?” She was met by silence from the audience, most of who were in a stupor from the heat of the day. The advertiser held up the object: a stack of worksheets. “Does anyone want to pass out papers?” The only sound came from the droning air-conditioner, injecting monotony into everyone’s minds.

In the corner of my mind, however, a small voice still managed to make itself heard. “It’s coming. Just watch, it’s coming.”

Sure enough, from the side of the room rang out the overeager voice of Ursula. “I’ll do it!” I looked over at her and watched her get out of her seat dramatically, toss her head, and thrust out her chest, as if she were some sort of superhero. “I’ll do it Ms. Gibson!”

Ms. Gibson looked at her for a moment, then said, “Thank you Ursula,” and proceeded to hand her the papers. Ursula walked up, back bent forward from the speed she was using to get there. Suddenly, in her overeagerness, she tripped, and she fell to the ground, brown nose in the dirt and grime of the floor, the simpering expression wiped completely away… No, actually, that didn’t happen, but visions of it went through my head.
When Ursula had completed her task, she sat back down, a complacent smile on her face. “Kiss up,” coughed a brave someone, and Ursula’s smile just turned even smugger.
Argh! I couldn’t stand that girl. Ever since the beginning of the year, she had always been simpering and ingratiating herself with all her teachers. Behind their backs, however, she was far from the perfect little angel. She was rude to her peers, and was always trying to subtly show up others (to everyone’s delight, she always failed), but automatically assuming an innocent façade if anyone retaliated. She was volatile, pleasant one moment, but losing her temper and becoming an ice queen within seconds if things were not going her way. In the classroom, she was always offering to help, even with the most mundane and frivolous tasks-always. No one liked passing out papers that much. And she always did it with an I-have-a-heart-of-gold smile. My classmates and I often dreamt of telling her to stop gluing her lips to the teachers’ asses...oh, wait, sorry, behinds...but of course, no one ever did. At least, none of the students did.

It was a week later, and this time, we were in different desks. Ursula had gotten the desk that had years of students’ creativity recorded upon it, whether through ink or etchings. It was a time-honored tradition to make your mark upon that desk. Even Ms. Gibson had pointed out this practice with a positive light. She was, after all, a history teacher. Ursula however, had something quite different to say. “Ms. Gibson!” she said in that saccharine voice. Ms. Gibson apparently had not heard, and continued with her paperwork, which was obviously not amusing her. “Ms. Gibson?” said Ursula again, voice dripping with nauseatingly sweet honey. Ms. Gibson was still for a moment, as if she wanted to close her eyes and heave an exasperated sigh.

“Yes?” Her voice held a dangerous note.

Ursula didn’t notice a thing. “Ms. Gibson, how could anyone vandalize school property?” Ursula’s voice sounded falsely concerned with a shot of the usual syrup.

“Whatever do you mean, Ursula?” Ms. Gibson’s voice had gone from tense to tight.

“I mean, people have written all over this desk! I would never do that! How could they?”

“To make their mark.” Ms. Gibson’s voice had gone up an octave.

“Well, some people need to have more respect.” Ursula’s message was obvious: Some people need to take a leaf out of my book.

Ms. Gibson was about to return to her paperwork when she slowly put down the pen. “Yes, Ursula, I suppose some people do need to have some more respect. I guess people need to be more like you, don’t they?”

Ursula absolutely glowed, and opened her mouth to answer, but Ms. Gibson continued, her voice venomously calm. “They need to be more like you and try to be little sycophants who care about trivial things because then the person of authority will hold them in high esteem.”

Ursula looked confused now, and her mouth still hung open. Ms. Gibson went on. “I guess they just need you to be their idol, right? Well, in case anyone ever asks you, why don’t you just tell them your secret?” She paused for dramatic effect. “Just tell them to glue their lips nonstop to their teachers’ a**es!”

Ursula looked utterly scandalized. “Well! I never!” she whispered. She got up with her usual dramatic flair and positively flounced out the classroom.

In my head, I was applauding Ms. Gibson as hard as I could. Yes! Bam! Sycophant got slapped in the face! Teacher's Pet is roadkill! I looked over at my history teacher with newfound respect.

She had merely gone back to work, still obviously vexed by the paperwork, but now there was a new expression mingled in: one of triumph and relief.





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