By Danica Cornell
Here’s a question: What’s your favorite thing to do in your spare time? Is it shooting pool? Going to a ball game? Writing? Those who know me best would probably tell you that learning is hands-down my all-time favorite pastime—with writing coming in a very close second.
Looking back, my thirst for knowledge started quite early. As such, I figured out that in order to avoid getting beaten up on the playground, I had best conceal my geek-like tendencies from the other kids. Thankfully, this plan worked out quite well—that is, until Christy came along.
Much to my chagrin, this mammoth-sized third grader saw right though me, promptly informing our classmates that I was in fact, The Teacher’s Pet. As you might imagine, it was at this point when I began to experience a long-held and long-feared universal kid-truth: There’s nothing quite like facing the stomach-churning glares of the less intellectually endowed, to make a Teacher’s Pet hand over her lunch—especially if those glares come from a girl who happens to be a lot meaner than you.
Not to mention, a lot bigger.
There’s no point in denying it. Christy’s acid tongue and sheer girth terrified me! And it was because of this fear that it took me an entire year before I decided I’d finally had enough. An entire year! That’s like a hundred lifetimes to a kid! Nevertheless, by the time I turned nine, I’d grown fed up with going unfed at lunch. I was determined to man-up and face my nemesis head-on.
And so it went. The exact time and location where my archenemy and I would face-off was set without debate or delay—along with a few ground rules: No biting, scratching, or hair-pulling. And above all else, neither of us could rat the other one out. Amazingly, in about half the time it took to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, we’d gotten it all settled: In 24 hours, the colossal showdown would take place. (Now that I think about it, it’s a little ironic we weren’t able to resolve the lunch-issue in a similar manner!)
As it turned out, it didn’t take all that long for the tough-talking, lunch-stealing, Christy, to hobble away with more than a little blood gushing from her nose! I distinctly remember listening to her uncontrolled wailing in the distance and wondering why I’d allowed myself to endure an entire year of hunger-inducing harassment. As my new reality began to sink in, it occurred to me that in confronting the evil Christy, I had acted as bravely as any of my favorite comic book superheroes!
Minus the cape, of course.
What I didn’t realize is that when it comes to navigating through the fog of war, even the most accomplished of superheroes can eventually find themselves facing the consequences of being on the wrong end of a fist. My rapidly swelling and blackening eye was proof positive; I was no exception to this rule!
But from my perspective, none of that mattered. As far as I was concerned, my David vs. Goliath moment had been well worth a bit of physical discomfort. After all, tucked away in the far corner of the school’s playground, I had bravely stood up and fought for what I believed in. Cocooned within a sense of intention and purpose, I was now surrounded by a swarm of children—most of whom congratulated me and agreed Christy had had it coming for a good long while. It was a magical feeling. I was brimming with a newfound sense of hope and justice, basking in the glory of my hard-won elementary school kid status—
For all of about 15 seconds.
That’s when the teacher I’d nick named, Mrs. Piranha, appeared. Of all the adults in the school, it was she who could strike fear into the hearts of even the most seasoned of trouble makers. Parting the sea of kids with a level of efficiency I’ve not seen since, she grabbed me by the elbow in a way that suggested The End Was Near. Now parading me in front of God and everyone, The Piranha and I made our way across the playground and into the aging, brick building that housed The Principal’s Office.
Maybe being a Goliath-defeating superhero wasn’t so great after all…
In hindsight, the whole thing was really quite a spectacle, but it was probably the best outcome I could’ve ever hoped for. Sure, I got in trouble. But I’d also earned the respect of my peers – something which served me well throughout the rest of my elementary school career. But perhaps even more noteworthy was that I finally got to tell my side of the story. The principal actually cared about the fact that for the last year I’d been feeling as though my life had been spiraling out of control. He understood my need to seek justice and take back my power. And through it all, through my discussion with that empathetic man, I could feel myself changing. Growing. Evolving.
In the end, my punishment really wasn’t all that bad. I was made to endure a highly uncomfortable phone call home to my mom, plus I apologized to Christy in front of the whole class—all while sobbing, mind you. Interestingly, Christy’s reciprocal apology was equally heartfelt! And while were never really friends, we did manage to reach some kind of equilibrium in our relationship—a kind of mutual understanding, I suppose.
I have no idea whatever happened to Christy, but I am grateful for the valuable lessons she taught me: Whether a superhero or super geek, I have the right to be me. I have the right to be happy. And I definitely have the right to eat my lunch in peace. Now that I think about it, maybe being a geek isn’t so bad after all!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Danica Cornell is the author of the forthcoming DARK STAR Sci-fi/Fantasy Series, soon to be published by Cool Geek Books. To learn more about Danica’s work, her love of dogs, and her support of UNICEF, please visit her website at www.danicacornell.com.
CONNECT WITH DANICA:
Danica’s Website: http://www.danicacornell.com
Danica Cornell is a proud member of RAVE REVIEWS BOOK CLUB.