The persecution of Sharon lasted one full year. A year is an eternity in Junior High, by the way. This occurred the year that Sharon made the unfortunate decision of moving to our town and attending Patrick Henry, Jr. High.

Sharon’s dad is a drunk, like my mom, but Sharon also has the added bonus of having a psycho mother. She moved in with her dad that year because her mother had told everyone that she was dying of cancer even though she wasn’t. Her mother kept the curtains shut all the time and made Sharon come straight home after school and wait on her. Finally some doctor told everyone, especially Sharon’s father, that her mother wasn’t even sick and this made Sharon’s dad mad and he offered for Sharon to come live with him. They live in an apartment, which I think is neat. We live in a house and I always wanted to live in an apartment in the City, which is not what kids are supposed to want. Kids are supposed to want big houses like ours, with big rolling lawns and sprinklers to run through. Or better yet, a pool like we have. But my house always seemed boring to me even though other kids thought it was great because of the pool and all.

Apartment in the City, where I’d rather live



Sam and I had been hanging out with Judy one month when she told us she was from outer space. Sam had suspected this for weeks, but I just told him he was nuts, even though Judy was different from anyone I’d ever met. Sam insisted it was not a metaphor and that she really was from outer space and now she was telling us just that, as if she’d been reading Sam’s mind, which, Sam now says, confirms it because aliens communicate telepathically. I still maintained that he was nuts, though I almost began to believe it. Judy has this way of making the wildest things seem possible.

We’d been hanging out with Judy for two months when she said she was actually dead and doing penance by roaming the earth in material poverty and spiritual wealth, partly to teach and partly just for kicks. Sam asked her what she was doing penance for. Her face got all-serious and she looked at Sam with this super sad look and whispered,

“For being too serious.”

She held Sam’s gaze for a minute until Sam looked sort of frightened, then she gave this huge grin (and I mean huge, because she has a very large mouth) tossed her head backward and laughed this crazy, loud, happy laugh.

Sam wondered later if she were on drugs, but I just thought she remembered what it felt like to be a kid, better even than we did because we were rushing so fast to be adults. Then Sam got all quiet and sad and said,

“I AM A KID!” really strongly and loud and I said,

“Yeah, I know, me too.” And I saw his eyes well up and so did mine, so we both looked past each other and cried for a minute, though I don’t think either of us knew exactly why.



me and Sam as happy kids

It was late November and the persecution of Sharon was in full swing at Patrick Henry Junior High. Michelle Taylor had taken over from Denise Maura as the Queen Bee of plots schemes and advanced persecution tactics. She had organized some of the less popular kids, who were just dying to be more popular, into a tiny band of roving maniacs. Their job was to spit in Sharon’s hair whenever they got the chance, or to knock the books out of her arms, or to trip her, or just to yell disgusting things at her as she walked down the hall.

It amazes me, the amount of time kids have for these activities. Sam says their brains are empty so just about anything can entertain them, especially violence. He says the dumber you are the more you like violent movies and all that sort of stuff.

Sharon handled this all pretty well, considering. But, at the end of the day, after six hours of random torture, she would meet me on the bus to go home and when she saw me she would burst into tears.



This is what I yelled at the top of my lungs on the #79 bus on the way home after school after hearing Sharon’s sobs one time too many, the day I became an activist. As soon as I finished my impassioned speech I was deluged by an onslaught of spit balls, apple cores and crumpled pieces of binder paper and who knows what else.

Along with the literal trash came the verbal trash from their big fat ugly mouths. I sat back down. “Amazing,” I said to Sharon, “they can’t quite form sentences, but the monkeys can form complex sounds.”

She laughed and sulked about the slight I had just paid the monkey population. My mom says people who use vulgarities (as in curse words) are just inarticulate and struggling for a way to express themselves. I agree that stupid people tend to swear more than smart people, but sometimes and expletive (that’s another word for it) can be rather effective, if used sparingly and properly placed. Like one time my aunt got really mad at my dad at the dinner table over politics or something and she used the “F” word and since we’ve never ever heard her swear ever our whole lives it really shut my dad up, which is super hard to do. But if you use curse words all the time they lose their effect and become boring and just make you sound stupider than you probably really are. Anyway, I’ve found out that sometimes words can be a good defense against stupid violent people. It confuses them if they’re not sure what you said or if you’ve insulted them and you can usually make a break for it at least, or at least feel superior while they’re bullying you. Sam says the only thing a bully understands is violence, but I find that if you ask them what it is that’s wrong with them that makes them act so stupid and mean, like if their father beats them or if their mom’s a drunk, or something, they usually get real quiet and leave you alone. Sometimes they even run away.

Maybe it was because of spending more and more time with Judy, but I was getting nervier and nervier by the day. That night after dinner I called up Michelle Taylor and asked her what her problem was. She said she had to eat dinner and she’d get back to me afterwards. She didn’t of course, so I called her back and her brother answered and told me she had gone to bed. At eight o’clock at night? Hmmmm…. I thought, “Little Miss Popularity is a big fat wimp!”

phone, on which I call Michelle Taylor to ask her what her problem is