"Alright class, you have your partners. Today's lesson is…dans le restaurant. Order your 'repas', ask for aide, even flirt a little with your garçon, or serveuse, but it must be in French. And, begin."
Is Miss Stern from the Stone Ages, or something? No one pairs people up anymore. If you're a cool teacher, you let your students pair themselves up, and if you're a really cool teacher, you don't pair your students up at all. You don't even assign them anything remotely resembling work. You just let them sit about in class and file their nails or read books or do whatever they want. Miss Stern obviously doesn't want high marks on her Teacher's Evaluation test at the end of this term…
But, while I'm here and already in this sad, sorry predicament, I might as well try and make the best of it (notice I said try…).
"So…do you want to be the waiter, or the customer?" I asked, in a low whisper. Miss Stern couldn't hear us anyway. She's too busy dithering around with all the stuff on her desk. I wouldn't be at all surprised if a botanical garden was growing up there. How does one work amongst such a mess?
"You can be the waitress…" Ryan said, leaning back in his chair and crossing his arms. I mimicked him, glad that he was at least cooperating. From his remarks on the first day of this class, I got the distinct feeling that he didn't like me. At least, now, he was being tolerable.
"I mean, that's what you're good at, right? Serving people all that weird food you eat?"
Chin, meet floor. Floor, chin. Did he just…and I was…that…
"What did you just say?" I said, about to stand up and give him a piece of my mind. I didn't care if he was taller than me, I knew I was smarter. I could tear him apart with my words.
"Whatever it was, he better have said it in French…" Miss Stern said, sing-songing her way over to us. What an insane annoying woman…even if I did tell her what Ryan said, I'm sure she wouldn't believe me. All he'd have to do is bat those pretty green/brown eyes at her and she'd be reduced to a puddle on the floor. There is no such thing as justice anymore…
I waited until she moved from our table to reply. "Vous êtes le singe de douche raciste stupide…" I said, smiling when he clearly didn't understand most of the words. Ryan never was the brightest crayon in the box. "You are a stupid, racist douche monkey…"
"Well…" he began, searching his tiny mind for something to say back. I could imagine the wheels in his head coming to a complete halt. "Well…Votre famille sent mauvais."
'Your family smells bad?' That's the best he could think of? And here, I thought I had found a formidable opponent. Raising my hand, I asked Miss Stern if I could use the restroom. Once she let me go, I began pacing the halls, in route to the lavatory but passing by a few familiar classrooms just to burn time.
No matter how ill-conceived or stupid Ryan's remarks were, they were not the first of their kind, and I suspected that they wouldn't be the last. Given my heritage, I was not surprised by the remarks. Whether it was a superstition that someone heard about or even something on the news, it always came back to me. I had a few close friends, and most people got a long with me, but to some I'd always be the scapegoat; the weird Indian girl whom everyone could take a stab at with no real consequences.
"Hello? Earth to Priya?"
"Yes?" I said, snapping out of my reverie, before I was aware of whom I was speaking to.
"You look a little dazed…" Jake said, a lock of brown hair falling in his eye.
"Yeah, like you were a zombie…" Ratner chimed in, walking faster to catch up with Jake and myself. The pair of them seemed to come out of absolutely nowhere and were walking on either side of me.
"I'm fine; I was just...headed to the lavatory." I replied, painting on my cheesiest grin. "What are you two doing out here?"
"We were in Carlson's class, and saw you walk by. So, we decided to take a break..." Ratner said. I shook my head. These boys could gte away with practically anything.
"Oh..." I replied, a bit too despondently for their liking, I guess.
"Alright, what'd he say?" they asked in unison. Obviously my cover as a super sophisticate who allows insults to roll off her back, was a bit more transparent than I thought. Better luck next time.
After I explained the whole French assignment and Ryan's bigotry, the guys rolled their eyes and gave me one of those weird hugs that big brothers give their little sisters when they're about to go one their first date. Not that I'd know. By the time I explained the whole thing, Jake had somehow swiped my favorite pen from my pocket. How did he always manage to steal my things without me noticing?
"You know Ryan's an idiot, Priya…" Jake said, consolingly.
"Right. He can't even spell 'mauvais'; I' surprised he even knows what it means." Ratner finished. Being the genius that he is, I'm not at all surprised that he'd decide to remark on Ryan's lack of spelling and grammatical skills. "Just don't let it get you down, okay. We'll talk to him."
"You don't have to…" I told them. But they had already taken off down the hallway, leaving me alone next to the girl's bathroom, which I no longer needed as a distraction. I turned back around, and began walking back in the direction of Insane Miss Stern's French class. Hopefully, the assignment will be over, and she will have gone back to torturing us with more normal means of schoolwork.
I was washing my hands in the ladies room (I actually had to go this time…I promise) when something unusual happened.
"You've really got to stop using our bathrooms…" I said, not taking my eyes off my hands and the water running over them. It was only the two of us in the bathroom, and in all honesty, if I acted shocked and surprised and scared that he was there, it'd only make him do it more. Boys…
"Why?" Lex asked, running the water in the sink next to mine.
"Because, the school provides separate bathrooms for girls and boys. You can't just walk into our bathroom because you want to." I said, I wasn't mad at him, and he knew that. But, I mean, come on…he was in the girls' bathroom. That's just a little unnerving, no matter where you are.
"I'm getting in touch with my feminine, emotional side." Lex said, dramatically. "And the boys bathroom was all out of soap. Don't get your knickers in a twist, I just came in to use the loo."
Knickers. Loo. I could never get over Lex's use of British slang. It was always something I wanted to pick up, but never found the time to pursue.
"You're mad." I replied. Okay, I lied. Sometimes I call people mad, but on this side of the pond, people just think it means you're upset.
Lex began drying his hands off and smirking at me. I don't trust that smirk. That smirk tells me that something's going on that I should be afraid of. "Well, I may be mad, but I know of someone who is mad about you."
"What are you talking about?" I asked, ready to leave the bathroom. I hated having conversations in here, but I especially hated having conversations in the ladies room with people who are not…ladies.
"Follow me, my dear…" he said, taking me by the arm and dragging me outside. The courtyard was swarming with kids, and I'm sure no one noticed when Lex savagely pushed me into a bush and followed shortly after.
"What is wrong with you?" I whispered harshly, as Lex began to crawl over me, heading toward the other end of the garden, along the wall. Reluctantly, I followed him, hoping he wasn't going to show me a dead bird or something. Sensitive or not, Lex was still a boy. And boys are still strange, unknowable beings.
"Look…" he said, parting a few branches in the very last bush and looking through. I trudged through the dirt next to him and tried to look through the hole that he made as well. Standing a few feet away from us was Jake, Ratner and ugh…Ryan, standing around and talking.
"Why are we spying on them?" I asked Lex, but not taking my eyes off of the guys.
"Because, Ryan is about to reveal to his mates that he loves you."
"What?! That's insane, Ryan hate me!" I told him.
"Don't you listen to old people? Little boys only pick on the little girls that they like. It's a fact." Lex explained, trying to sound intelligent. Not that he isn't but he was seriously sniffing something when this crazy notion came into his head. I mean, honestly, me? And Ryan? What would the children look like?
Oh God, I did not just think about having Ryan's babies. Yuck.
"Overlooking his hot Irish hair and freckles, there is absolutely nothing endearing about him…he's a stupid racist douche monkey."
"did you just think that up?" Lex asked me.
"No, I called him that in French class today, and it's been in my head ever since. Pretty good insult, yeah?"
"Did you call him that in French?"
"Oui." I replied, to which Lex gave me a congratulatory nod. Yes, go me. "So, what makes you think he likes me? I mean, aside form the loads of drugs you're obviously on."
Lex took a deep breath before answering. "It just fits, is all. You two hate each other now. But in no time, he'll realize what a special person you are, and you'll melt his heart with your kind words and soft demeanor. It's fate."
Why is everyone trying to convince me that I'm clearly meant to melt Ryan's heart and we're going to fall in love and live happily ever after? That only happens in movies, and in really cliché stories that you can only read on the Internet. Not real life.
"Moving on, you still haven't given me any solid evidence of his 'affections' for me. We're just sitting in a bush, watching him talk. I can't even hear what he's saying. He could be talking about football, for all I know…"
"Do I detect a bit of a romance going on here? Is there something you'd like to tell me, Priya…?" Lex asked slyly, raising his eyebrows at me. Part of me wanted to snatch them off of his face right then and there.
"Eww, Eww, Eww! You do not detect anything!" I shouted, shuddering. Hoping that he didn't hear me, I reverted back to my mature, teenage self. "I do not like him. He may be unfairly hot, but he will never be anything but a huge jerk."
"Who is unfairly hot?"
I looked up tentatively, hoping that it would Jake, or Ratner that overheard me. But he voice above me was too rough and too condescending to be either of them. I knew before I saw him.
"You wouldn't happen to be talking about me, now would you?" Ryan asked, as I tried to stand up out of the bush and dust myself off.
"Of course not? What idiot would ever think of you as hot?" I asked him walking by as if he were a slug. Or a beetle. Or a piece of garbage. Or a slug in a….well, you get it. Plus, I would never admit to Ryan that he was remotely decent looking. That'd be torture.
"Look, Priya, if you like me, that's fine. You don't have to lie to yourself. I'd even venture to say that you're pretty okay looking yourself…" Ryan said, the slightest hint of sincerity in his voice. Wait! Why is that making me happy?! Stop being happy! This is just some stupid bigot moron that means nothing to you! Do not give in!
"Really?" I asked, trying sound as skeptical as possible.
"Really. If you could just manage to keep the paper bag over your head all day, you'd be perfect." he said, grinning wickedly.
Instead of letting my jaw fall slack (like the last time he insulted me), I merely reared my foot back and swung it back as far I could toward the apex of his stupid, twiggy legs. My aim was slightly off; I think my kick landed somewhere closer to the inside of his upper thigh, but for now, I surmised that would have to do. Either way, it left him as a simpering mess in the courtyard. Score one for me.
"Go die in a ditch in China." I said, before turning away and leaving Ryan crying to his friends. I couldn't help but overhear Jake tell Ryan something, his tone chiding.
"I told you not to mess with her…"
This was inspired by a ridiculously long conversation on yahoo groups between myself and a ton of other people. It's titled "Pleasantries", because that was the name of the thread (as started by kte-wonderful); and author said hi to everyone in the group and asked how the weather was where we were living. And so it began. Another author wrote was telling us about her woes with a certain young man who is very rude to her, and we all decided that they are the perfect example of a Love/Hate relationship that will soon make it's turn for the better. So, now we're writing stories about it, and this is mine. A oneshot, unfortunately, because I have other works that have yet to be finished. Thanks for the inspiration, Priya! By the way, I used a ton of your quotes from the conversation in here!
Thank you for reading!