When we last convened, I was explaining the black-and-blue markings that covered my dorsal side from cervical spine to coccyx. Hope you all paid attention back in high school biology.
The artist who made my back her canvas, Spastic Foot, had just set up camp behind my belongings. Even though she had an entire bleacher section from which to choose her seat, she chose the five-foot section of the second row overlooking my stuff. I took my time walking back around the field house. I looked over every other competitor and their display, competitors sitting down on the floor with their projects, not stalking innocent bags, backpacks, and hoodies in the empty bleachers. I even made a side trip to the bathroom. Just in case Spastic Foot needed further stewing in her own juices.
I nonchalantly navigated my way back to that middle section. And sat down a few feet away from my seat-savers. Heh, heh. Some call me the master of passive aggression. Some call me the gangster of love. Some call me Maurice. Oops! I'm confusing myself with Steve Miller. That joker. Anyway...I had the whole front bleacher, so I saw no need to submit to more backjabbing. The air gushing out in Spastic Foot's sigh could have powered the whole eastern seaboard for forty-eight hours. And it was a renewable resource!
Part of our group returned at that moment, and sat down to my left, away from the pointy patellas of Spastic Foot. We chatted aimlessly while my stalker fumed. Other people began to fill up the section. The participants were released from their projects. A tiny little thing joined Spastic Foot on her perch. "Let's go over there."
"No. I want to stay here."
"Why? Everyone else is over there."
"I just do."
Spastic Foot grew tired of no acknowledgment. She slid off her bleacher. Mind you, she did not simply stand up and go down the two steps adjacent to her seat. She flopped her legs over my bottom bleacher and slid down over the hoodie belonging to Genius. Much to her disappointment, I'm sure, it did not move an inch. She flounced down the walkway, paused, and flounced back. She stepped on the hoodie to return to her crow's nest. It slid to the floor, with one arm clinging to the bleacher. Spastic Foot plopped her butt down in a huff.
"Would you please pick up my son's jacket that you knocked off?"
"I didn't do that."
"I just watched you step on it as you climbed up. You knocked it off."
"No I didn't."
Her thin friend joined in. "You did. Just pick it up."
Spastic Foot grabbed the hoodie and flung it down. Half of it fell on the bleacher, and half behind, where they had their feet. I didn't care. My point had been made. I turned back to talk to my teacher buddy. A male acquaintance of Spastic Foot showed up. "Whose stuff is this?" He started to pick up the backpack.
"That's my son's backpack."
Spastic Foot had to get involved. "Why is it there?"
"Because he will be sitting there. I'm saving the seat." Such a foreign concept. I wonder if I can patent that idea.
Spastic Foot and friends hobnobbed in the manner of middle schoolers. Two wanted to move, but Spastic Foot did not. She had put down roots like a Forty-Niner defending her claim. The boy left. Spastic foot stood up and turned around, then knocked the backpack off the bleacher onto her foot space. Indeed. That girl had a true spastic foot. How you knock a backpack toward you is a skill I have not mastered. She had her feet all over it.
"Now you're stepping on my son's backpack, which has electronics in it. Please put that back." Let the record show that a backpack belonging to Genius is not lightweight. It took some wrangling to get it off the bleacher, and some hefting to put it back. Of course, Spastic Foot denied any wrongdoing.
"I'm not stepping on it."
"Please put it back before something is broken."
Again, her thin friend interceded. "Stop being like that. Put it back!"
Spastic Foot flopped the backpack onto the bleacher. Much like Mattie Ross of near Dardanelle in Yell County did not like the way Quincy was chopping up LaBoeuf's turkey, I did not like the way Spastic Foot flung the backpack. "What school are you from?"
"Why do you want to know?"
"What school are you from?"
"We're from REDACTED." The thin friend filled me in.
"Thank you." I picked up my program. I'm not a member in good standing with Mystery, Inc. for nothing. I had the school name. I had the program. And I had spied the science fair certificate of Spastic Foot's male schoolmate on the floor at their feet. So I had his name. Plenty of evidence should I need to mention the incident to my principal, who could call her principal, and give the name of the kid sitting next to her who would no doubt finger her in a sting operation, because 1) he did not seem all that fond of her, and 2) he had encouraged her to straighten up and fly right. Good to know.
Genius and one of our teachers appeared. I moved my bag and the hoodie. Genius put his backpack between them. You know. Because a 17-year-old boy and his former 6th grade teacher cannot sit next to each other on a bleacher. I found it hilarious that Teacher took up all of Spastic Foot's legroom. Funny how she reigned in that foot. Teacher's back went unmolested.
Spastic Foot, though, was having a cow. Thin Friend told her to calm down. "She's looking for your name."
I would have looked for her name, but I am terribly unobservant, and had not listened all the times she was yelled at by her crew. I was merely verifying the certificate dude's name with the school. Because believe it or not, kids have been known to give false information to adults.
Spastic Foot ranted and raved, and I think I heard mention of, "Well, I might just have to kill her, and that wouldn't be good." Schools don't take this kind of letting-off-steam lightly these days. Spastic Foot could be in a world of hurt should I pursue justice. Her fair-mates migrated to friendlier climes. She was left sitting alone, cramped, behind Teacher and Genius. Who rubbed salt in her imaginary wounds by swinging his backpack behind him to lean upon, further cramping her style. And her newly-trained spastic foot.
I am not seeking revenge. It's an unfair fight. In a battle of wits, I am armed to the teeth, and that poor girl is without a weapon. I am a professional middle-school-girl slayer. They get all wound up. Like a snapping turtle, they won't let go until they hear thunder. Maybe. They refuse to admit defeat, even when smacked in the face and hit over the head with the facts. (Let the record show that Val has never literally smacked or hit a middle-school girl.)
There is hope for Spastic Foot. She picked up the hoodie and backpack, if snottily, and only after being prodded by her peers. She could have refused altogether. She has a civilized support network to advise her of proper protocol in the real world. Because life is not one big middle school. There will be consequences for uncouth actions. But the one lesson I think Spastic Foot learned at the science fair was:
Never mistake a teacher as just some science fair kid's parent.