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Entry 3 -- Assholes in Social Studies
Ninth grade social studies was a team affair for four teachers who split us up in to four classes. We might as well have stood against the wall or the big windows and counted off by fours, but they just split us up. That meant that Joshua who was a walking encyclopedia got sent to a different room and Lenny was in yet another room. I got stuck finding a table with the girl from Honors English who had run off to make girl talk after biology lecture. She was back now. She was a small black girl, and I mean tiny. She was too stiff to be a gymnast though some of the tiny girls are really good that way. She had hair in braids that were made in to wiggles that ran along her brown scalp. She obviously could take pretty notes with nice diagrams. She didn't like rowdy tenth graders. She sat arcoss from me with a good seat to see the teacher. I had my seat slightly turned to see the teacher who was a young man with a big mop of sandy colored hair.
There were three other kids at our table, a boy with earphones that he did not bother removing and a girl who wore a pink shirt that was second cousin to a tank top. Beneath the shirt a bra restrained her breasts so tightly that the two round globes became a huge blob of a stiff shelf. She also had big round hips and a face made rosey with makeup and hair that was bleached blond. She snapped her bubble gum and laughed at an inside joke with a girl who had long very natural looking blond hair with blond streaks. Blond streaks had long salon fingernails painted a dark shade of pink. Girls have names for every color in the universe. I learned about colors when I painted my room this summer. I wondered what streaks called her nail color.
Just then the little girl from Honors English shot me a dirty look. I remembered streaks from middle school and the boy she was with, was a kid whose dad had come here to expand his all ready expanding fortune. The boy ran track and who knew what he did this year. The joke was funny enough to make the whole threesome laugh and to make the girl from Honors English scowl.
The teacher asked for our attention and the class got started. This was the economics section of ninth grade social studies. We'd have it for one marking period and then play musical rooms with Ms. Dobson who would teach us American Government and civics. Streaks yawned on queue. The girl with lots of makeup and big breasts suppressed a laugh. The boy who was still listening to his earphones reddened and smiled. The girl from Honors English scowled.
The teacher turned down the lights and asked someone to get the blinds. I got them. One of them failed to close all the way making a big streak of light half way across the front of the room. The teacher turned on the data projector and began to lecture with his Power Point.
He read the PowerPoint which was hard to follow because the big swath of light coming through the window made it difficult to read. The teacher soldiered on. The threesome from middle school passed notes and giggled. The girl from Honors English put her elbows on the table and craned her neck to see the Power Point and then took notes.
I drifted in and out of the lecture. It was about the origins of money which was dry and theoretical stuff. Money was a unit of exchange. All societies had to have a way to trade in goods and services. All societies produced goods and services. Didn't I know this all ready. My dad has a printing business called R & O Printing and All Color Sign. Any one who works or who has parents who works knows this. Why are we wasting forty-five minutes on this garbage?
Suddenly the lights came up. The teacher tugged on his suspenders. "All right," he said. "How would we pay for things if we did not have money?" Streaks raised her hand. "We'd use a credit card," she said and her friends laughed.
"Does every one agree?" asked the teacher.
The girl from Honors English shot up her hand. "No," she said. She rose to speak. She was a nervy thing. "Credit cards are just plastic money. You'd have to barter."
"What's barter?" asked the teacher. He had to be faking it. I knew what barter was because dad sometimes bartered services instead of getting money for them.
"Trading. I babysit your kid and you give me food," was the girl's example.
"Very good," said the teacher. There were grunts and streaks whispered something to makeup.
"Now what is the problem with barter?" asked the teacher.
I realized I knew something about economics after all. I raised my hand and tried not to look at my table mates.
"Yes..." and the teacher had trouble with my first name. He pronounced it Osheen which is not what any one calls me. It's Oisin, pronounced Oysin.
"Well there's nothing wrong with barter," I said. "People in business still do it. My dad does, but you can't always get people who have things you want to trade and not everyone likes to trade instead of pay money and it makes taxes complicated."
I could see earphones imitating my answer by mouthing the words. The teacher apparently looked the other way. This one was a real time-server. The girl from Honors English was smiling.
"So what is money?" asked the teacher.
A girl with glasses answered that it was a uniform and efficient method for exchanging goods and services. The teacher then asked if money could be made from shells, bone, coins, paper etc... This was really getting dumb. I was glad when the bell rang.
Out in the hall the girl from Honors English stuck to me. "I really liked your answer," she told me.
"Thanks," I said.
"We need a new table," she said. "We're going to be stuck with those assholes for the next five weeks."
I glanced behind me. Girls can say things boys can't say because boys fight. Earphones had heard what Honors English had just said.
"What did she call me?" he asked.
"Go fuck yourself," I responded.
Honors English stood in front of me. Earphones did not hit girls.
"Go fuck each other," he snarled and skulked away. I was soaked in sweat. I wondered how soon things would come to blows this year and all the explaining I'd have to do. I usually get the crap beaten out of me when I fight, and no one has sympathy for a kid who loses fights. That's just the way things are.
The girl from Honors English walked beside me back to the math and science classrooms. We both had geometry together right before lunch. It was all accelerated ninth graders and no assholes. Also we'd get to see Lenny, the King of math perform. They could charge admission for that as far as I was concerned. You have to learn to appreciate true talent, and hate all assholes.