Thursday, April 27, 2006

Detention Journal, part six

Did anyone realize that they take detention hall kids to lunch earlier than everybody else? So we don’t mix with the others, I guess.

It’s creepy being in the lunchroom when it’s empty. And the lunch-line ladies, who maybe never really noticed you before, are probably going, “Oh, look who’s in trouble now. She never looked like a delinquent, but I guess you never know.”

But apart from the unsettling feelings and the public shame—and much more important—who’s hungry for lunch at eleven o’clock? God, it makes the afternoon so much longer!

When they took us to lunch, the two burnout guys who’ve been trying to huff correction fluid all morning brought back a little plastic cup with a snap lid. Today was taco salad day, so it was one of the throwaway cups they give us with salsa in it. One of the guys washed his out in the water fountain when the teacher wasn’t looking. Then I saw him poking holes in the top with a pen once we got back in the room. It’s hard to see them very well from where I’m sitting, but it looks like they’ve made a major advance in their brain cell–killing pastime. Just pour the fluid in the cup, snap on the lid, and breathe in through the lid.

Wow. It’s moments like these when I’m particularly proud that my species is so adept at making tools. I felt the same way when this boy at summer camp a couple of years ago made a bong out of an apple. That’s the guy you want to have around if you’re ever stranded in the woods. He can’t find any fresh water or edible berries, but he can probably forage for the most psychoactive mushrooms in the forest.

And now those guys are back there look sleepy and pleased. You’d think the teacher would notice what’s going on with them. It’s hard not to. But I’m getting used to how naïve people are when they want to be. I mean, even if she did know that they were sucking up chemical fumes only about thirty yards away from her, what would she do? They’re already in detention. The school could suspend them, but then they’ll just go home and do the same thing. Or something worse. If they even wait long enough to get home.

Before today, I never even knew this detention hall was here. I mean, now that I see where it is, I realize it was here all along. I walked right by this spot on my way into the main building almost every day for nearly three years. But I never had a reason to walk through here, except one time my freshman year when I was trying to find a Coke machine and ended up in one of the hallways outside. Now every time I walk by this place, I’m going to know that behind these walls are some bored, bored people. And I’ll feel a little bit better about my day, no matter how crappy it is. At least I’ll be free to move around at will. At this moment, I can’t imagine wanting anything as much as I want that.

Hey, do you think that was part of the point of this punishment? Hmm. But look how effective. They’ve scared a straight student even straighter, all the while exposing her to outcasts, outsiders, and flagrant drug users. And what about them? I don’t think this is the first time in here for some of them. So how well does the system work? What’s the starting age for recidivism? (Yeah, that’s right. I said recidivism. Look it up.)

This afternoon is going to last FOREVER. And here I thought a fat Russian novel might distract me from isolation in the gulag. Yeah. Why didn’t I just bring some French existensialist writings along too? Almost as cheery. Today I am the most doomed girl in the history of doomed girls. See you on the Russian steppes.