This chapter describes Gym Class, a class that, in Melinda’s mind should be illegal, because it is so humiliating. Both Heather from Ohio and Melinda’s former friend, Nicole, are in this class. Heather is so embarrassed to change in front of others that she wears her gym clothes under her regular clothes, while Nicole is so unembarrassed that she strips everything off even underwear and bra. Melinda figures that must be a jock thing: Nicole is the best player in field hockey, the sport they are playing in gym at the moment. She is beloved by the gym teachers, because she has Potential and she plays with abandon. Melinda knows the class would be so much easier, if Nicole would just speak to her.
Melinda really hates gym class, but the class itself would be bearable if she didn’t resent Nicole so much. Nicole is athletic, loved by the teachers, and nice to everyone. Melinda decides she would be so much easier to hate if she were only a bitch.
Melinda ends up in the bathroom with her former friend, Rachel, who now insists that people call her Rachelle and who hangs out with the foreign language students. Melinda tries to be cool and get her to acknowledge her, but Rachel just speaks in grunts. Melinda feels like grabbing her by the neck and screaming at her to stop treating her like dirt. She feels betrayed, because Rachel never even tried to find out the truth about what happened that summer. She thinks, “What kind of friend is that?” Rachel has also started a trend among the foreign exchange students to “smoke” candy cigarettes, since they can’t smoke real ones in school. She takes one out in the bathroom and pretends to blow smoke in Melinda’s face. Melinda observes that she needs a new friend - that she needs a friend, period. She doesn’t want a true friend. She just wants a disposable one so she doesn’t look so stupid.
Melinda’s despair is even more evident in this scene. Rachel barely acknowledges her presence and symbolically blows her off with the pretend smoke rings. It makes Melinda want a disposable friend, too, just like she has become.
Melinda rides home on Heather’s bus and listens to her new friend talk about joining clubs. The teen wants to join five clubs, one for each day of the week, but she knows that she needs to join the ones which have the “right people.” She tries to get Melinda to commit to joining with her, but Melinda thinks they’re all stupid. Heather gives her a pep talk about not making the ninth grade mistake of hanging back. She needs to become involved like all the popular people do. Then, she begins writing down their “plan” and listing their “goals.” Melinda muses that she used to be like Heather and she can’t believe she’s changed that much in just two months. Now her goal is just “to go home and take a nap.”
The title of this chapter is significant in that once again Melinda has a name for something she finds ridiculous, demeaning, or beyond what she has become. This time, Heather from Ohio is explaining how determined she is to become one of the popular students. She is like Melinda in that she is also outcast until she proves herself. Being new to the school puts her at a disadvantage that she wants to overcome. She is unaware of the events of the summer that have made Melinda Outcast and doesn’t understand that Melinda is in escape mode - she wants to avoid everyone and everything she can. Sleep is her sanctuary just like Mr. Freeman’s class.