What, No Knife?

February 15, 2010
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I’m in detention.

It’s a common occurrence, really.

Being a senior, and therefore a seasoned veteran of detentions, I’ve pretty much got the entire system figured out. Fridays are the worst days to have a detention. Mrs. Harris, Spanish teacher and Commandant of Convicts, is always crabby and snide by the time Friday rolls around, having had to deal with teenagers and all of their baggage for an entire week. Mondays, in turn, are always the best day to have a detention.

Today’s Friday.

“Hola, clase,” Mrs. Harris walks into the room, looking like she’s just stepped out of a 1970’s Volkswagen van. “Sietate y silencio.”

Sit down and be quiet.
Right, because my first instinct is to cause a ruckus, being a criminal and all.
I look down at the Styrofoam container that contains my lunch. It’s sitting menacingly in front of me on the desk.
At our high school, we have what we student’s call “nooners” instead of traditional, after school detentions. Instead of getting to eat lunch with everybody else, you get to sit in the Spanish room (which is a shorter walk than to the cafeteria,) do homework, and have your lunch delivered to you.
It’s absolutely horrible, right? Don’t ask me why they decided that “nooner” was a better form of punishment than a regular detention. It’s, like, a lazy person’s dream.
Except for when it comes to the food.
The white lid of the container squeaks as I open it, and I pray that it’s anything but a bean…
It’s a bean burrito.

The boy sitting a diagonally from me heaves a sigh when he opens his container, and I know exactly how he feels. Bean burritos, made school-lunch-style, are probably the worst food imaginable, right up there with Salisbury steak and lima beans.

I pick up my plastic fork and, wielding it like a serial killer would a knife, take a stab at the rock-hard turd that’s staring up at me from the desktop.

All four tines snap off and bounce back toward my face, and the burrito lays there untouched, unfazed, and looking very smug.
I don’t deserve this. Honestly, just because I talk during class all the time doesn’t mean I should be subjected to such agony.
I see another kid trying to cut his burrito with his fork, and immediately I can see where that’s going. Sure enough, he fails, and gives in entirely, closing his container and sitting back with his arms crossed.
They don’t even give us knives. In the lunchroom, everyone’s pro-blade. If you’re in detention? Oh heeeeell no.
Like we’d stage a mutiny or something, brandishing our plastic utensils like stereotypical convicts would and taking Señora Harris hostage until we were provided with something actually edible for lunch.
Not that that’s a bad plan, actually. That’d be pretty freaking sweet, if you ask me. It sounds like something I’d come up with.
But really, all I want to do is eat my lunch. Is that too much to ask for?
I use my hands and nibble at the “salad” that’s also in the container, and attempt to eat the applesauce with my tine-less fork, before giving in like those around me and closing the lid on el burrito del infierno.
I sit there for the last five minutes of detention and stare at the ceiling, counting tiles and trying to find patterns in the swirling stucco that covers it.
Is it just me, or does time move slower when you’re paying attention to it?
I realize I’m staring upward like a turkey in the rain. I stop staring upward.
Finally, Mrs. Harris squeaks her chair around to face the zombies that were detainees at one time, and says, “Pueden salir, rapidamente.”
You can go. Quickly.
I do a little victory dance on the inside, and start out the door.
“¿Señora?” I ask. I have to ask. I know the odds of me being in detention next week are probably two to one, and I just have to know. “What’s for lunch on Monday?”
“El bistec Salisbury.”
Salisbury steak.

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