Episode 2 – Called on the Carpet
The school bus stops at my building…I hear Chloe squeal: “My god! Look at him! Hunter we love you!”
I leap up the bus steps, spread my arms, and do my best Pee Wee imitation: “Hi there, ladies and germs!”
Kids groan. “Sit down! Spare us! So fucking gay!”
I scan the faces…see the full range of love and hate. In the back, Max and Scott are leading the opposition. “Can you believe this shit?” And, of course, a bunch of jock wannabes are following along.
Suddenly, Chloe jumps up beside me. “Shame on you! None of you have half the guts Hunter has!”
Hoots and hollers force her back down. “Bullshit! He’s sick! Looks like a fucking clown!”
My heart sinks. I love Chloe, but it doesn’t look good to have a girl protecting me.
The screams and cat calls become deafening, so the bus driver pulls over…jumps up. Refuses to go further unless we calm down…tells me to take a seat and keep quiet. We start again. I raise my hands and flip everyone the bird…pandemonium…I don’t give two shits.
The driver stops again…everybody points to me: “It’s the kid in the clown suit!”
He ambles back and takes my name. Shakes his head. “Kid, you’re making my job really difficult.” Returns to his seat and calls the school. Obviously, I’m in for it. Know I’ll probably end up in Headmaster Perkins’ office. Fuck! What a way to start the week, but deep down, I’m thrilled…feel like a celebrity destined for American Idol, Glee, or something…I’m in our glee club, and not half bad.
As I step off the bus, someone pushes me from behind and I end up on the ground with scraped up knees…brand new pants down the drain. Fuck! Look up to see Max grinning from ear to ear. “Careful, dude. That last step’s a lulu.”
Chloe and I go to homeroom, and Mrs.Hyde immediately comes up to me. “Goodness, Hunter, what an outfit!. Mr. Perkins’ assistant called…wants you to report immediately.”
“Okay,” I say…a total downer. How do I get in trouble without meaning to? Didn’t expect my clothes to cause a furor…assumed nobody would really pay attention…shuffle down the hall totally bummed.
Mrs. Simmons looks up as I walk in. “They’re waiting for you, Hunter,” she says…a really nice lady.
I wonder who “they” is…walk through the door and find myself face-to-face with Mr. Perkins and Mr. Nutt, second-in-command. Perkins is tall, distinguished…a decent guy, but Nutt-job is one of the most grotesque individuals on the planet. Looks like a shrivelled potato…fat, hairless and ancient with a bulb nose and yellow teeth…a nasty gnome.
“Come in, Mr. Hooker,” Perkins says. “Quite an outfit.”
Nutt chimes in: “Extreme I’d say.”
“I assume you know why you’re here?”
“Yes sir, the noise on the bus.” Figure I’ll keep it simple.
“Right. The driver said you taunted everyone.”
“Not exactly, sir.” Nutt’s face hardens…know he’s pissed I’m contradicting the headmaster, but I press on: “Honestly, I felt like I looked good, and was kind of showing off.”
Perkins seems understanding. “All right, Hunter, but you’re aware of the dress code, aren’t you? It’s clearly spelled out in the Student Handbook.”
I squirm. “I haven’t really studied it.”
“Allow me fill you in. Recommended dress includes conservative slacks, a dress shirt and blue school sweater. What gives you the idea your outfit meets the guidelines.”
I turn and show him the school crest sewn on my back pocket. “I followed the rules in spirit,” I say hopefully, “a lot of blue, the sweater, and a crest .”
Mr. Nutt interrupts. “It’s an outrage, Hooker. We have a dress code so visitors recognize The Griffin School for what it is, a serious institution of higher learning…not Broadway. Material trappings are not what distinguishes students. It’s what’s up here,” taps his noggin.
“I’m sorry,” I say. “It’s just that conformity seems old-fashioned.”
Nutt-job bristles. “Standards of dress and behavior are essential at a school, especially when many students are children of privilege. If we didn’t have standards, students would try to outdo each other right and left.”
I nod, thinking that Nutt-job is notorious for sucking up to the wealthiest students. His office is constantly filled with favorites, and it’s rumored one or two visit his apartment for “special privileges.”
Mr. Perkins cuts in. “Mr. Hooker, when you leave us, I want you to go to the school store, buy a set of dark sweats, and return to class. If you show up looking like a peacock again, you’ll be suspended. Understood?”
“The Headmaster is being lenient,” Nutt says in his best suck-up voice. “I recommended a more serious punishment. Consider this a first and last warning.”
Sadly, I do as I’m told and return to class, looking and feeling like a douche bag…everything remains reasonably calm until I get to History class.
To be continued….Read next episode!