Melinda’s second commentary on a teacher concerns her English teacher whom she christens Hairwoman, because her hair is black from her part to her ears and then neon orange to the frizzy ends. Melinda explains that Hairwoman takes twenty minutes to take attendance, because she won’t look at the students. The rest of the period is spent with her standing at the board, her back to the class, discussing the required reading and their journals. Once again, she is scheduled for American History for the ninth time in nine years. She sarcastically observes that they never get past The Industrial Revolution and that they only made it to World War I once. “Who knew there had been a war with the whole world?” Her social studies teacher is Mr. Neck who remembers how he had to order her to sit in the auditorium and now warns her, “I got my eyes on you.”
Melinda takes this opportunity to describe two of her teachers, Hairwoman and Mr. Neck. She doesn’t call them by their actual names, perhaps to reflect how little she respects them or perhaps because she is too wounded to allow herself to feel any kind of admiration for anyone. It’s easier to point out their shortcomings than to identify with them in any way.
In this section of First Marking Period, Melinda finally finds her locker and then heads for the cafeteria. She observes that you never bring a lunch the first day of high school, because you never know what the acceptable fashion will be. She doesn’t know how to order anything, so she just allows the “drones” to fill a tray with the day’s general menu and looks for a place to sit down. She sees those girls who used to be her friends, but they just look away. She is behind a basketball player who finds the rest of his team. One of his friends throws some mashed potatoes and gravy at him, but they hit Melinda instead. She thinks she will be forever known as the “girl who got nailed by mashed potatoes the first day.” The whole cafeteria explodes in laughter and Melinda dumps her tray and bolts for the door.
As she runs for the door, Melinda is stopped by Mr. Neck who has cafeteria duty. He refuses to allow her to leave and Melinda decides it’s easier to just stay silent, because nobody wants to hear what you have to say. He notes in his book that he thought she was trouble the first time he saw her. He has taught for 24 years and believes he can tell what’s going on in a kid’s head just by looking in his eyes. She earns another demerit.
The first day continues to be a nightmare for Melinda. She is forced into the “spotlight” when all she wants is to somehow get through the agony of being Outcast without attracting too much attention. The humiliation of being snubbed by her friends, being hit with mashed potatoes and gravy, and being given yet another demerit from Mr. Neck makes the “spotlight” unbearable. It is interesting to note, however, that in spite of the fact that she knows how her friends feel about her, she is still anxious, actually determined in some ways, to fit in.
Celis, Christine. "TheBestNotes on Speak".
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