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If the truth be known, I was more conniving than all three of my brothers put together. Or at least I thought I was more conniving. While sitting in the back of one of my county’s squad cars, wasn't so sure. My problems started three months ago, on the first day of my freshman year. As I walked into school that morning, I felt nothing but disgust and hatred for all things adolescent. The hallways were lined with all the usual cliques. The cheerleading squad with nothing but boys and nail polish filling their poor excuses for brains, and the football players with nothing but the next weekend’s pep-rally and girls filling their poor excuses for brains. Then there was the cross-country team, the decathlon team, the skaters, and the standard group of misfits. All of them had one thing in common, and one thing different from me: They spent all day, every day, trying to fit in. They let both spoken and unspoken “rules” dictate how to live their lives. What to wear, who to like, and, most importantly, how to act. I had always refused to obey these superficial rules, but that first day I decided to take it to the extreme.
All incoming freshman are given a “Freshman Handbook.” It was my goal to break every rule in the code of conduct section by January. Starting with the simple ones like chewing gum in class, and slowly progressing to the harder ones, like skipping class. The idea came to me that morning, and I was determined to see it through to the end.
“Rikki? Rikki? Rikki!” I was so busy making plans I didn’t hear my math teacher calling me. All of my detestable classmates sat and snickered at me.
“Yes, Mr. Wiley?” I asked, as innocently as I could manage without laughing.
“Please spit out your gum.” Yep, my plan was already in motion, and it was only the second day of school!
The next month continued with me breaking all the minor rules, and even moving on to skipping class every now and again. At first my goal was to keep from getting caught, but after a while that changed. I eventually came to love getting caught doing something forbidden. The adrenaline rush that came along with turning around to see a teacher glaring down at me was addicting. The best part of my little game was talking my way out of trouble. I never got detention and hardly ever had to see the principal. It didn’t take long to figure out that if I argued effectively enough, I could “convince” anyone of my innocence.
By the day before Christmas break, I had broken every rule save one: fighting. The last rule to break was to get into a fight. Now, I don’t mean a little argument between friends; I mean a full blown, nose-breaking, tooth-shattering fist fight. I’d been trying to check this off my list for weeks, but so far I’d been unsuccessful. It turns out even though the kids in my school are obsessed with being socially accepted, they weren’t very willing to move past childish insults. There was only one person I could think of who might be willing to fight me. His name was Cameron. Captain of the football team, major bully, and the most loathsome human-being I’d ever met. I absolutely despised him, which sort of made my work easier.
“Hey Cameron!” I came to the conclusion that the lunchroom would be the best place to break the final rule. “Did you know that one out of every three guys named Cameron has brain damage? I just thought you might like to know. That way you won’t have to feel bad about the way you are anymore” I’ll skip all the gory details, but let’s just say breaking that last rule in the code of conduct section of the Freshman Handbook maybe wasn’t the best plan. A teacher was injured, Cameron was badly wounded, and ultimately, I was arrested and charged with assault. Then again, I had the ultimate challenge ahead of me. I was about to attempt to talk my way out of the worst trouble I’d been in yet. Now that was an adrenaline rush!
The ride to the police station lasted well over 30 minutes and by the time I got there my wrists had been severely chafed by the handcuffs. The up side to the long ride was I had plenty of time to think things through. I knew what I had done was wrong, but wasn't’t about to admit that to anyone.
“Name please,” asked the officer behind the counter.
“Rikki Gilbert, 407 N Oak Drive, my parents are Cathy and Derek Gilbert and my phone number is 555-7726.” The officer was looking at me with an extremely confused look so I thought I should explain, “my brother, Jeremiah, has been here quite a few times so I know the drill.” The officer nodded her head, but still looked confused. I was lead through the back hallway, down a short flight of stairs and into a dark, little hole, also known as my cell. Lucky for me not much crime happens in my town so I was by myself and my trial was set for the following afternoon. My parents came to visit me, but refused to bail me out. He said I needed to “learn a lesson” and it would “do me good to have some time to think.” I was to tired and sore from my brawl to argue, and really didn‘t care to go home anyway. Besides, I needed a story to tell my brothers later. A story better than any of theirs ever were.
The next day in the courtroom I felt the oh so familiar rush of excitement as I rose to give my statement. During the night I’d decided that in this case my best option would be to tell the honest to goodness truth. The true reason I fought with Cameron and hurt that teacher was a much better story than anything I could make up.
“Your honor,” I began slowly, with a gleam in my eyes, “I know what I did yesterday was wrong. I brought pain and injury to two people. However, I am not at all sorry. I, Rikki Gilbert, needed to make a point. I feel alienated from the world of today. All the rules and expectations I’m to follow at school are overwhelming and ridiculous. How could a young girl such as myself be expected to sit back and endure all the hardships that come with going to school and even living my day-to-day life?” Next came my favorite part. The section of my speech when I got choked up and let a tear or two slip down my reddened cheeks. “Your honor, and people of the jury, I come before you today to ask of you one simple favor. My only solitary plea is that you may find it in your forgiving hearts the ability to grant a struggling, unaccepted, emotionally exhausted, teenage girl a bit of mercy. I was only acting, yesterday, the way any normal human being would when they are pushed to their breaking point.” I slipped back into my chair seemingly defeated, rested my head in my hands and began to “sob.” After a few seconds I lifted my head to see what sort of an influence I’d made on my audience. If the looks on the faces of the jury, and even on the judge, meant anything, it was that they had fallen for my scam. I was home free. There was one thought, and one though only broadcasting it’s way through my conscienceness. What sort of trouble I could get myself into, and ultimately talk myself out of, next?