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Mogaly and the Principles Office

Tucson Middle School could easily be described as ghetto. It was a small school, only 200 hundred students at most, and it rented the school grounds from Parks and Recreation who were adjoined to the property. Its walls were painted an ugly color- a mixture between orange and puke- and it had large black lettering posted on the South side of the school facing the street that proudly announced the school name. Or would have if the c and m hadn't fallen off of academy and middle, only to be duct taped back on later by some eager volunteer. It was at this school that I spent all my middle school years and accrued many memories that I'll look back on fondly. For the most part, anyway. One memory in particular sticks out that I will not look back on with any fondness, and that was the incident where Josh got me sent to the principles office.

But let me start at the beginning. It was the middle of the school year when sports and fine arts were in full swing and it seemed like everything important was just around the corner. Josh and I both were in the drama/choir class and the time had come to choose the yearly school musical. We had spent the whole period brainstorming and the teacher told us to keep thinking and let her know if we had any great ideas. That is how I found my self in math thinking about various musical plays instead of the Pythagorean Theorem. I had been mulling over different musical scenarios in my head until an idea a was born that would grow up to be a demon child. I turned to Josh and a couple of my friends sitting nearby and said, "I know what musical we should do. Jungle book! And Josh can be Mogaly. He totally looks like him!" Everybody started laughing. The resemblance was there in an odd sort of way. Josh put his head down in mock offense and jokingly started making little cry noises. I continued, "I could totally see Josh running around and singing in that little orange loin cloth," I said snickering. The little cry noises got louder. A weird feeling started to creep up on me. "C'mon Josh, its not funny. Stop it!" The bell rang suddenly and Josh lifted his head. He had tears streaming down his face. He picked up his binder and stepped smoothly out of his desk, putting his body weight behind a throw that sent his binder halfway across the room. Papers floated down out of it in a graceful line as if the whole thing had been rehearsed for a movie scene in an emotional high school flick. My jaw dropped to my desk where it brushed little pencil eraser flecks onto the speckled blue and white floor. Is he serious? He must be joking! Did Mrs. Creenan see that? Oh my God, I think he's serious. My thoughts raced in circles like a dog chasing its tail. The bell had rung a few minutes ago and I was still sitting frozen there. I didn't want to be here, I just wanted to disappear behind the cloud of my fear and shame. In my next class I pulled out a pen and paper, scrawled a hurried, but sincere apology note and ran it to Mrs. Ursiny's class where I knew Josh would be. I tried to judge his reaction see if he was pulling my leg. An image of my brothers and sisters telling me the faucet would spew fire if I turned it on came floating into my brain. I had believed them then, even though they had smiles twitching on the edges of their lips. But he took it with a solemn expression, not the barest hint of a smile, and said nothing. He wasn't joking. I walked back to my class dejectedly, and sat down in my chair feeling like it was the mouth of a beast about to swallow me up.

My friend Rachel came into the class and announced that I was needed in the principles office. This was totally taboo. I was the A student. I was the good kid that never got in trouble. And now I was in the spotlight like a star singer on stage, except, like a nightmare, I was naked and had a terrible singing voice. I walked out as nonchalantly as I could, like it was no big deal, but inside my heart was being crushed by a boa constrictor named fear. It slithered down the hall behind me and followed me into the principles office where it wrapped itself around my waist like a belt that was too tight. Mr. Allardice, our principle, sat behind his desk looking serious and arrogant at the same time. Or maybe just seriously arrogant. "A matter has been called to my attention..." he prefaced, sounding like he was giving the solemn beginning of a funeral commemoration, and then continued to relate more or less what happened with Josh in the class room. "That is racial profiling and I am highly disappointed that an honor student, a member of National Junior Honor Society, and a representative of this school would drop so low. I am seriously considering expelling you."

I was shocked. I couldn't breathe or talk. I just nodded tersely and he told me he was going to call my mother. It took everything I had not to start crying while walking out of that office. I set my jaw hard and bit back my tears. I told myself I would not cry at school. I had 20 minutes left till the final bell and I spent it awkwardly seated at the front of the classroom feeling everyone's eyes drilling holes in the back of my head as if they could somehow get in there and find out what happened. I was biting down on my teeth for so long I was sure I cracked the dentine on them, although my dentist assures me they are fine. The bell rang. I was released from prison! All I had to do was make it through the hallway and across the parking lot. I can do this I pep-talked myself, sounding sarcastic and pessimistic even in my head. I put one foot in front of the other, eyes focused on the parking lot like a was walking the plank. Almost there. Jordan walked up and asked me if I was OK. I looked at him with a cold expression and kept walking. I opened the car door and collapsed into the seat. My mom looked over with a worried expression and I let the tide of emotions break forth from behind the dam I was keeping them behind before she could even ask what happened. Till this day I don't even know how she understood me since I was choked up, sobbing and talking at speeds worthy of a tape recorder on fast-forward. My sob story took the whole car ride home and the time it took to walk into the house and flop onto the couch like a five-year-old having a temper tantrum. When I finished I knew I had more to worry about.

My mom had on one of her determined mother expressions, the kind I wouldn't want to mess with even if I was armed with a knife. She was raised in Texas as the daughter of a mechanic who had wanted a son, and she didn't take crap from nobody. "I'm calling the principle," she said. And she did. And as the expression goes she gave him the business. By the end of the conversation he was on the phone with me apologizing profusely and telling me I wasn't going to be expelled. I was both grateful beyond reason and mortified. I could tell the next day at school would be interesting, and that it was. I found out that Josh had been messing with me and was truly pissed. All that drama for nothing! What a d****e. I also found my principle a bit change by the whole ordeal. He wouldn't look me in the eye. The way he acted around me made me think of puppy who just got caught peeing on the bedroom carpet. It made for some awkward administration visits and I was decidedly less late that year. But I learned two things from my first and only visit to the principles office. One, Josh has uncanny ability to cry on command, and two, be careful about teasing people. Even if your friends and you're just messing around. In that situation I was joking, and Josh was too apparently, but what if he hadn't been? I would have felt horrible. I would have made someone feel insecure for the sake of a couple laughs. I've never wanted to be that kind of person and that experience is something I won't forget.





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