Boston Public
Chapter Six

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Key Grip: B | Grade It Now!
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During which Fyvush Finkel intones, "She beats those kids for pleasure!"

Guber's office. Anthony Heald. Mrs. Walsh. She says, "I didn't even see you slip in, Scott." Yeah, no kidding, you Nazi. Anthony Heald says, "Marlene, I'm going to have to ask you to stop with the corporal punishment," and lists the casualties fallen at her hands. She blames it on getting used to the new paddle, but Vice-Stop-With-The-Corporal-Punishment stands firm. She tries to make some argument, based on technical legality and her years of experience, but it's bogus. Corporal punishment is only still allowed in some places only because no one's bothered to take the time to outlaw it, in turn because no one can imagine a public high-school teacher thinking they can get away with it. "You will not take your paddle to anyone, is that clear?" says Anthony Heald, and Mrs. Walsh seems miffed.

The hallway. Susan with the Do Me shirt protests, "It's freedom of speech!" Oh, so is everything at this stupid school. Dr. Steven says, "No it's not, it's sexual, it's vulgar, you will go home and change." Susan argues that some kid named Ronnie has a t-shirt that says "Sit On It." Steven says, "Ronnie is from 1974, and loves The Fonz." No, wait, he says, "Ronnie's shirt has enough ambiguity to pass muster, yours doesn't, go home and change it." Note that he said "change it" rather than "change into a different shirt." This will become important later, when she comes back in the same shirt. As they wander off down the hall, Lauren wonders how Susan's parents let her wear something like that, and Steven says, "They probably don't. She likely changes after leaving the house." The fiend! How diabolical! Lauren says, "Kids are growing up way too fast, I'm sorry." Steven agrees. Oh, give me a break. She wears a crass shirt and all of a sudden she's growing up too fast? If she were a grown-up, she'd know how to pick out an appropriate shirt. What she means is, "These kids are getting laid way more often than I am, and it bugs me."

Meanwhile, Webster hustles down the stairwell into their path. "She made me stand in the corner," he says. Steven begs his pardon. "Like I'm a six-year-old. She made me stand in the corner. She humiliated me. She's been on me the whole semester." Blah blah blah am I failing the tests, blah blah blah are you reading the assignments, blah blah blah bicker-cakes. Steven cuts in and tells them to talk it out first, and then come to him if they can't resolve the conflict on their own. The beginning of their meeting of the minds is not promising: "My intent was not to humiliate you," Lauren proffers. "Oh, that's crap and you know it," rebuts Webster. "Don't talk to me like that," Lauren says, in a well-reasoned counter-argument. "He said for us to talk," coos Webster, appealing to her higher faculties. "Not like that he didn't," she says, making a fine legal distinction. "Oh, so now there's rules on what I can say? I'm supposed to have a conversation with you, but there's rules on how I can talk? Is that how it is?" Um, yes, Webster, that is how it is, not just in school, but in civilized society as a whole, am I right? You can break those rules, and be rude, offensive, and insulting, but nobody will like you. For some reason, though, Lauren is persuaded by the avalanche of illogic, and gives the guy carte blanche to say whatever he wants. He spits in her face. "That's all I got to say," he says, and walks away. He really spits, too. That is his actual saliva dripping down Lauren's face, and she wipes it off, horrified. Anthony Heald walks by, thinking, "This is a lot like that dream I always have." Just kidding.

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Boston Public

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