Brat Girl Blues — Part 4
A mini-memoir story [24/52*]
Back in choral music, after the showdown in pre-algebra, Millie would sometimes look over and smile at me before Brat Girl started sniffing out her next fix of my wounded-wildebeest-like self-respect.
In addition to being handy at a restaurant when it came time to calculate the tip, I was a pretty decent artist with a pencil. When drawing something I’d make sure I held it angled enough so that Millie could see it. When your game is weak, you have to play to your strengths, even borderline pathetic ones. On one particular occasion she asked to see a drawing I was working on. As I eagerly handed my notebook over to her, Brat Girl snatched it. It was the first time I saw Millie give her best friend a scowl.
Millie snatched at the notebook, but Brat Girl turned away from her and, with a pen, signed the drawing ‘Myrtle.’ She then handed it back a row to be passed around. She proudly announced with a smile “Myrtle drew it!” She had a strange way of saying something that would normally be complementary, but twisting it so that it felt instead as if she was exposing something of me, something personal, to the world and laughing at it.
It made the rounds, a pencil drawing of Sir Lancelot on horseback with a castle in the background, drawn by a nerd named Myrtle. To my further humiliation it made its way into the hands of Ms. Pelleway, the choral music teacher, who really wasn’t much aware I was even in her class. She doted on the popular kids and I was most certainly not one of them. I was a faceless nameless.
Ms. Pelleway held the drawing up and asked, loudly, “Who is Myrtle? Which one of you is Myrtle?” That drew some laughter. Ah, fuck me. Nameless, no more. Worse, I seemed to be collecting extra names.
“Myrtle!” Brat Girl was ecstatic to answer, finger pointed at me. There was more scattered laughter.
“Myrtle?” Ms. Pelleway asked, looking confused.
“My name’s not Myrtle,” I said quietly, red-faced, too humiliated to look up from my feet and wishing for a big hole to open underneath me.
“Then why is this signed Myrtle? Is it yours or not?” she asked, impatiently. I looked over at Brat Girl, who was grinning widely, and in that moment I hated her. Before, it had been a thing between us. There was a certain charm to that, but this, to me, was irredeemably cruel. Millie looked down at her hands the moment I shifted my eyes to her.
At my humiliated silence Ms. Pelleway rolled her eyes and told me to go to the principal and let him know I had been removed from her classroom since I’d rather draw than do my vocal exercises. I looked back to Brat Girl to see if there was even the tiniest hint of remorse but she was still grinning as if on the verge of laughter.
“Are you happy now? Feel good about yourself?” I asked her as I got up to leave. She stopped smiling. I didn’t care whether she had an apology or just more venom for me. I left the room.
I found myself once again seated outside Mr. Lee’s office. When I was finally called in to tell him what I’d done, I told him I had been kicked out of class for telling Ms. Pelleway that my name was not Myrtle.
“Get out,” he said flatly.