Tag Archives: Bullying

Pop Fly Redemption

La Mancha is the posh section of Letongaloosa  where the streets are winding and the house numbers are hand painted on Spanish tile.  The La Mancha girls softball team—the Amazons—and the team’s star, catcher, Madison “Madie” Sommerset,  suffered an ignominious defeat in the final game of the 2014 regional tournament.  After trailing the whole game, the Amazons allowed the Fairfield Fusions to  tie the game in the bottom of the final inning.
With the score tied, and two out, a  scrawny Fusion  batter hit a high fly that Madie called for.  Madie was wearing extra thick make-up in anticipation of  posing for victory photos.   Madie tried to tear off her catcher’s mask but her thick make-up had bonded with the lining of her catcher’s mask . She couldn’t get it off.  Madie muffed the play and the fusion runner crossed the plate for the winning run.  There was no joy in La Manchaville , Mighty Madie had flubbed up.
Things were tough for Madie during the off season. Students called her “Muffles” behind her back, and a few called her Muffles to her face. She developed an allergy to cosmetics and had to go to school barefaced. Worse, Madie developed a pimple on her nose. Students called her Bruja  which is “witch” in Spanish. Someone left a big red apple on her desk to remind her that she wasn’t a big shot “Snow White,” any more.
When it came to academics Madie had been an indifferent student. She worked hard enough in school to stay eligible for athletics and extracurricular activities, but she often failed to turn in her assignments.  She just never even tried to get good grades, much less make the dean’s list.
That was acceptable, even to her parents, when she was a star athlete.  But when Mr. and Mrs. Sommerset found that people at the country club treated them with pity rather than the usual deference, they confronted Madie and found out that she was, academically, a nonperson. They demanded that she make the honor roll and that she excel at some other extracurricular activity than sports.
At  Letongaloosa High School, forensics was to the brainy kids what athletics was to the athletic kids: a ticket to popularity and recognition.  Madie had always distained non sport activities.   But now, Madie signed up for forensics and focused on poetry recitation.  She memorized and practiced reciting “Casey at the Bat.” Partly because she looked the part, and partly because she loved the poem, the judges liked Madie’s recitations.

She won the local and district forensics poetry competitions and went on to regionals. Competition was very tough at the regional tournament but Madie managed to win or place second in poetry recitation and found herself in the final round facing an opponent from Fusion High School.  Madie’s  opponent was listed on the forensics tote board in the hall as Sally Teasley.  The tournament was held on a Saturday in a neutral high school building. The tournament judges were from out of town  They didn’t know the competitors other than by their names, and didn’t know what high school the contestants represented.
That afternoon Madie walked into the large classroom designated for the poetry competition. She wrote her name on the board under the sign “Poetry Recitation Finalists,” and sat down.  A moment later her opponent entered the room and signed in. Madie drew a sudden breath. Her recitation opponent was her old softball nemesis, Sally Teasley, A.K.A. “Scrawny Arms” from Fusion High School.
The judges were sitting in student desks eight rows back. They conferred, then one of them announced:  “We’ll begin this session with Sally Teasley reciting  “ The Highwayman,” by Alfred Noyes.  Sally went to the lectern and began this session with Sally Teasley reciting  “ The Highwayman,” by Alfred Noyes.  Sally went to the lectern and began reciting:

“The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees…” Then she paused and turned pale.  The room was silent. Sally stood frozen at the lectern. Then Madie’s quiet voice came from behind her: “The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed among…” Sally brightened, picked up the refrain, and finished her recitation beautifully.  After Madie had recited “Casey at the Bat,” the two girls walked out of the room arm in arm.

-30-

Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

 

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Bib Overalls ©

 

Fashion designer Amanda Pershing stepped out of a limousine and walked to the door of an exclusive New York City restaurant.  A doorman ushered her inside. The maitre‘d bowed her to a table for two.   A tall thirty-something man wearing a $7,000 Seville Row suit and $1,200 Croc Italian oxfords stood as they approached.

“Good evening Ms. Pershing.  I’m Laurence Carpenter.   Monsieur Mershonbom sends his deepest apologies.  His jet was diverted to Boston on a flight from Paris.  I’m vice president for marketing.  Please sit down.”

****

A rough hand shook Mandi’s shoulder.  It was cold and dark outside.

“Wake up, girl.  Git dressed. Then git out there an’ slop the hogs. Throw some hay down for the cows and milk ‘em   After thet ya kin  gather the eggs and make breakfast.”

Mandi sat up shivering. “Them are Jimmie’s chores, Pa.  Ain’t he gonna ‘hep me?”

“Jimmies gonna rest in awhile.  He gotta ball  game t’night.”

“I’ll miss the school bus.”

“Jimmie’ll tell  ‘em yer sick.  Ain’t nobody gonna miss yew no how.”

“Please, Pa, Miz Flowers said a pr’fessor from the U is comin’ to talk to our art class.  She’s gonna intra’duce me.”

“Don’ back sass me girl!  Now git out there and slop them hogs.”  Pa whacked Mandi hard with his open hand.

The school bus and Jimmie were long gone by the time Mandi finished cleaning up after breakfast.  Ma was over in Hopeville helping Ginger Anne with her new baby.  Pa was out in the barn working on the tractor.

“I think there’s a chance you could get a scholarship after Professor Ackermann sees your work,” Miss Flowers had told Mandi the week before.   “So whatever you do, don’t miss class next Wednesday.”

It was Wednesday and Mandi sat at the kitchen table, with her face in her arms, weeping.  Her art class came right after lunch and the Pershing place was seven muddy miles from Letongaloosa.  Then she raised her head.

“I’ll walk,” she said and stood up.

Pa came in from the barn.

“Where ya think yer goin”?

“I’m gonna walk ta’ school, Pa.”

“An’ whose gonna fix my lunch, Missy?”

“Please, Pa.”

“You wanna walk ta school? Well git, then.”

Mandi smiled and started up the stairs.

“No ‘mam,” said Pa.  “If yer goin ta go,’ yer gonna go  jist like ya look.”

“I gotta change, Pa. The Pr’fessor’s comin.”

“P’fessor be damned.  Ya’ll go as ya are or stay home,” said Pa, and stomped out.

“Look! Here comes the Prom Queen,” said Marilee Tompkins.

Students in the art class turned toward the door.  Mandi was ten minutes late.  She had stopped to wash the mud from her knee high rubber boots in the girls’ bathroom. Then she had pulled the legs of her pin striped bib overalls down over the boots. Her plaid men’s long sleeved shirt was open at the neck.  Mandi blushed and took her seat.

Professor Ackerman resumed talking about “Art in the Market Place.”

****
“Ms. Pershing, I took the liberty of ordering a bottle of Romanee Conti,” said Laurence Carpenter.  “I hope you approve.  The filet d’Rusindorf they serve here is superb. I thought we’d have that.”

“Please call me Mandi,” she said.  “The filet d’Rusindorf will be fine.  What Romanee Conti did you order?”

“The 1978.”

“Wonderful. That will be a treat.  Thank you.”

Over dinner they discussed the weather, the Knicks,  French cooking, the cost of chalets on the Costa del Sol, and skiing in Bariloche.  After they had had dessert and the table was cleared Carpenter got out a  mini laptop. He opened the lid and turned the screen so they could both see it.

“Monsieur Mershonbom loves everything you’ve designed for him.  He’s sure that your work will be the talk of the fashion world this season.”  Carpenter touched a key on the computer and the screen lit up.

“He’s absolutely ecstatic about this line of high fashion bib overalls.  He says the haut couture boutiques will go wild for them.  Then he’ll sell millions of down market knock offs in malls and department stores.  The rubber boot accessories are pure gold.   Where did you ever come up with such a marvelous fashion concept?”

“It’s a long story,” said Mandi.

-30-Dr. Larry day is a retired J-School professor turned humor writer. His book, Day Dreaming: Tales From the Fourth Dementia is available for purchase via his website: http://www.daydreaming.co

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