Interdum stultus bene loquitur*
As we can see, side proposition has constructed a very detailed argument, I begin, my carefully-penned outlines trembling in my hands, shaking legs supporting an unwavering voice. Unfortunately for them, detail doesn’t mean durability.
It’s okay. It’s okay. Just breathe.
–and see, even Einstein failed his math classes, so why should such strict academic streaming be implemented?
Oh. Oh, no. That’s wrong, that’s all wrong, he didn’t actually fail math that’s a myth I know I know please stop looking at me like that Isaac IknowIwaswrongIwaswrongIwas–
You did great up there!
You guys really held your own. I’m so proud of you!
Kim! Kim, you won best speaker of the round! Against last year’s champions!
No no no you got it all wrong I was terrible and they did so much better YOU did so much better We did so great, guys! I can’t believe it! and I messed it up why did the judge pick me I got it wrong I got it wrong I was so nervous and disorganizedandIcouldn’tanswerthequestion–
Miraculously steady hands graciously hide the adrenaline coursing through my veins as I hold my speech; getting elected means so much to me. I want to do everything I can to help. I take a deep breath and begin; it seems like only moments later that I’m halfway done. Unblinking eyes scrutinize; I tremble again beneath my skin.
… But then, I continue in a self-mocking tone I know so well, hidden behind a playful smirk, I realized that delivering my speech in an Indian accent would probably get me elected for tech support member-at-large and not Vice President, so I scrapped that then and there.
Oh. Oh, no. No one’s laughing. Noone’slaughingnoone’slaughingthatwassupposedtobe FUNNY it was a JOKE why do I have to be white it would have been funny if I wasn’t white or maybe they think I’m racistordumborlameorI’mjustnotgoodenough
Election results come and go. I work the store and count the money – even the coins – and mop the floors and take the cash boxes. I head the entertainment committee. I write scripts, edit dialogue, direct our actors the best I can. And I watch ExComm leave their meeting at 3:50 every Monday from Mrs. Kearney’s math room. Elections are on Tuesday this week, for the last time. I’ve run every year.
I’m not sure if I’ll run again.
I spot a classmate from across campus who I’m supposed to talk to about a project. Okay, just remember what you were going to ask, Hey David, when did you want to meet up Hey David, when did you want to meet up hey david when did you hey david hey david hey–Hey, David! He looks up. Uh, when did you want to meet up?
I fight a pained expression. That sounded so strained what if he forgets I’m asking about the project what if he thinks I’m weird or that I have a crush on him or CALM DOWN THIS IS A CHEMISTRY PROJECT but what if I say something stupid or he doesn’t like me or he’s busy or I’m annoying of course I’m annoying I’m always annoying I bet he hates me
Sure! How about tomorrow after school in the library?
How does he sound so CASUAL Alright, that sounds good. See you then!
I fidget at the table and look down at my hands, which are currently wringing themselves until my fingers pop out of their joints. I always wring my hands. I’m going to hurt myself someday. I’m sorry for always being so awkward, I admit, a rare moment of transparency, a tiny and doubtless unheard cry for help. I’m just really bad at talking to people sometimes.
What? What do you mean, Kim?
I give my friends a small smile. Well, you know–I just get really nervous and start freaking out. Even for small things. Even… even now, I guess.
There’s a pregnant pause. Will they listen do they understand do they know how scary it is am I normal will they laugh at me will they help me
Kim, what are you talking about? You’re a great speaker! You’re in Debate and Drama and you speak in front of people all the time!
Yeah, you’re fine! Don’t worry!
You’re right. I guess I’m just being silly.
*Sometimes a fool speaks well