Sunday, April 16, 2006

Detention Journal, part five

I’m starting to fall right into their trap. They want this drab room to demoralize me . . . and it’s working. There’s a special kind of horribleness to it.

Part of it’s the lighting. In the regular classrooms, they have these same ugly fluorescent lights. They give off that weird, unnatural light, and they have this way of making this strange buzz that you can hear whenever things get really quiet. And things are supposed to be quiet in here, so it’s hard to miss that buzzzzzzzzzzz all day.

But at least in the other classrooms we also have windows so we can be reminded of the sun. And that reminds us of life. It’s the kind of light that first encouraged things to quiver to life in the primordial soup, after all.

But forget about it here. In here, they try to wipe out all hints of life-giving sunlight. They’ve actually painted over the glass! So not only are we denied the distraction of seeing the outside world, but we can’t even sense the sun. It could be nighttime out there. There might not even be an outside world anymore. We could be floating in space for all I know. I don’t have any evidence that the rest of the world is still there.

Some philosophies would say that it’s not there, because I’m not observing it anymore. Right now, those philosophies are very convincing. And not at all comforting.

You know, I’ve never played hooky before, and I end up here because I’ve been so damn good all my life. When I got home after the attendance office figured out our whole school-ditching scheme, I was ready for them. I know how to act contrite and play the good girl, but my parents must have been studying my book of tactics. So they go, “You want us to believe you’re an adult, so that’s the way we’re going to treat you. You make your decisions, you deal with the results.”

That’s why they didn’t even try to keep me out of detention. But otherwise they didn’t punish me at all. Instead, they just let me know that they now trust me just a little bit less. “If you want to regain our trust, you have to earn it,” my dad said. “We’re not going to punish you like a little kid.” Mom agreed. “You’re smart enough to understand that actions have consequences,” she said.

What do I do with that? I couldn’t even go off and feel angry and superior after all that. So I ended up just sitting in the dark in my room, listening to Fiona Apple sounding about as morose and hollow as I did. I think it was the creepiest, most subtle punishment I’ve ever had.

What’s worse, in my guilt I offered to cook dinner tomorrow night, so now there’s that joy to look forward to. Do you know how hard it is to feed former Midwesterners who no longer eat meat but still have a craving for all the horrible foods they grew up on? Fresh, light, and healthy foods are an insult to them. How much can you really do when your essential ingredients are potatoes, cheese, and cream of mushroom soup?

Whoa! News flash! It seems like I’ve made an ass out of “u” and “me”! Remember my new best friend, with the beads in her hair and the attitude and the humming? When we went to lunch, I got a chance to get a close look at her, and . . . she’s a guy! A total freak of a guy, sure, but definitely not female by nature. I have no idea where he got his personal sense of style, but I really think I can be forgiven for making a mistake.

Still, I don’t think things will ever be same between us. He led me on, and now he’s taken away my friend. All the humming games in the world can’t make up for it. But I still hope he’ll try.