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Authors: Alan Lawrence Sitomer

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A Catastrophe of Nerdish Proportions

BOOK: A Catastrophe of Nerdish Proportions
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Dedicated to the Nerd Girls who fill my world with love: SBS, QBS, TRS & YY (plus the Ga-Ga'z)

Is it even possible to express the deep levels of dorkasaurus gratitude I have for the inimitable Wendy Lefkon and the incomparable Al Zuckerman? I love you guys! You're the best.

Copyright © 2012 Alan Lawrence Sitomer

All rights reserved. Published by Disney • Hyperion Books, an imprint of Disney Book Group. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the publisher.

For information address Disney • Hyperion Books, 114 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10011.

ISBN 978-1-4231-7808-8

Visit
www.disneyhyperionbooks.com

Also by Alan Lawrence Sitomer

The Hoopster

The Hoopster: A Teacher's Guide

Hip-Hop High School

Hip-Hop Poetry and the Classics

Homeboyz

The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez

Nerd Girls: The Rise of the Dorkasaurus

T
hree things I love: chocolate, laughing, friends.

Three things I hate: girls who think they're better than me because they're prettier than I am, public speaking, jokes about my body.

Now all I had to do was translate that into Spanish for Mrs. Rolanda before the end of the period. No problemo, right? I mean, kicking butt on simple classroom assignments is just what nerds like me do. Put a tennis racket in my hand and I'm a pickled squid; give me a pencil and sit me at a desk and I turn into Michael Jordan.

Plus, not to toot my own horn, but note the proper usage of a semicolon in the sentence above. Uh, hello, that's like nerd to the power of nerd (
Nerd
Nerd
) stuff right there. Sure, I might lie about my official weight, but when it comes to booky-school stuff, things click.

Unfortunately, however, right at the moment I was preparing to nail my translation assignment
en español
, my pencil tip broke. So I did what any normal kid would do: I walked up to the front of the room to use the electric sharpener.

But I'm not just any kid; I'm a squeaker. That means when I journey across a classroom filled with students silently working at their desks, my thighs rub together and sing songs like “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

I cruised up the aisle between my quiet, lost-in-study classmates, my pants yodeling the whole time. Three kids raised their eyes.

Note to self: never wear corduroys again.

“Escribe, por favor,”
Mrs. Rolanda crisply instructed in her perfect accent. Our dark-haired Latin American teacher always tried to speak to us in Spanish to better develop our ear for the language.

The kids who'd looked up smiled, looked back down, and returned to their assignment.

Second note to self: make time next summer to learn to walk as if you had a cantaloupe between your knees. Really, I don't know why it hadn't dawned on me to master this ability sooner.

I jammed my yellow pencil into the black hole of the electric sharpener and gazed at the multicolored Flags of the World poster hanging on the white classroom wall. While the lead of my number two buzzed its way to razorlike sharpness, my thoughts drifted to how all my life people have found me worth smiling at. Folks find me funny. Not as in
Har-har, watch me, I'm being humorous right now
funny, but rather
I just tried to do THIS, but instead I accidentally just did THAT, and
har-har, the rest of the world is now laughing at me
funny. For example…

Once, while solving an equation at the front board for pre-algebra, I tripped over my feet, fell to the ground, and nearly poked out my eye with the dry-erase marker. When I popped up, I had rug burns on my ear and a huge line of squiggly blue ink running sideways across my cheek.

Everyone in the room laughed. Even the teacher.

Not very professional of her to chortle at a student's misfortune, if I do say so myself.

Another time, I used a bathroom stall that had run out of toilet paper and “adapted” by using a sheet of notebook paper to finish my business.

It jammed the toilet.

Now, whenever I see any of the custodians, they giggle at me with a
There goes the girl who wipes herself with homework
look on their faces.

Do I need to go on? I mean, I know I was born with a body shaped like a lopsided mango, but still, now that cloud computing can store my entire digital life in the invisible filing cabinet of cyberspace, you'd think someone could actually invent a stupid pair of pants that fit. A little rubbing sound is one thing; having my jeans be considered for an instrument in the eighth-grade orchestra is entirely another.

Pah-thetic.

Worst of all, though, I know Kiki Masters is going to write all about my musical
pantalones
in the Slam Book I just spied on her desk. Knowing Kiki, she's probably already filled eight pages' worth of stuff about me in that thing.

Can I just say how much I hate Slam Books? What evil person invented these beasts, anyway? Really, who takes a blank notebook, fills it with insults, and then passes it around school so that a lot more people can write nasty, hurtful things about the other kids they go to class with? And it's all done anonymously. No one ever signs their name in a Slam Book; you just flame people, then pass it along.

So lame.

However, when I saw the Slam Book on Kiki's desk a moment ago as I made my way to the pencil sharpener, I didn't get angry. Or riled up. Or excited to participate in some stupid middle-school ritual. Nope, not at all. Instead, my stomach did a backflip off the high dive, then fell like a stone to the floor. I could just imagine all the ugly things being written about me.

Har-har, everyone's a comedian.

Okay, no, I am no teen magazine cover girl. But I'm not a need-two-school-desks-tied-together-to-sit-down plumparoo, either. I'm sort of in that kind of
flabby/somewhat round/really believes in the power of chocolate cupcakes to ease emotional pain
zone of body types. Yet still, the way people call me names, you'd think I was a beached walrus.

Of course, the main name-caller is Kiki. She and I have a “history” together. As the leader of the ThreePees (the Pretty, Popular, Perfect girls; thus the name ThreePees), Kiki has been torturing me for years. However, earlier this school year, I finally stood up to her and fought back. Basically, Kiki and her two pet ding-dongs, Brittany-Brattany and Sofes O'Reilly, ThreePees number two and three, had tried to make the spleen of the new girl, Allergy Alice Applebee, explode by overexposing her to stuff she was highly allergic to. Their plan was to publicly humiliate her in the center of the lunch area, where every kid in the eighth grade could see some sort of internal-organ explosion happen live.

But I saved Alice. Saved her big-time. That's what lit the fuse of friendship between me and her and Barbara “Beanpole” Tanner, a closeness that has now grown into full-on NFF status.

I guess every nerdcloud's got a silver lining, right?

None of us dorkasauruses are fashion models. And no, not a one of us is a little pink princess, either. We're just quirky, do-well-in-school, socially awkward, sit-in-the-back-of-the-cafeteria-during-lunchtime, get-laughed-at-by-other-kids eighth graders at Grover Park Middle School, in Grover Park, California.

Imaginative name for our school, huh? Kind of like naming a new dog Puppy.

I took a deep breath and tried to sigh out my anxiety, but on the inside, my tummy nervously gurgled. Lord knows what other kinds of nasty stuff Kiki's Slam Book was saying. Not just about me, but about my two bestest comrades as well.

That's what life is like for us. Despite all of the anti-bully stuff the school tries to preach, there's still a social ladder, and nerds are at the bottom. One notch above sludge. Of course the cool kids never even pass us those Slam Books to write in, anyway. We're the kids who get written about, not the writers.

It hurts. A lot.

With my pencil sharpened and my jaw tense, me and my melodious pants squeaked back to my desk. In Spanish class, I had the good fortune (NOT!) to be assigned to sit at the desk right behind Kiki. As I walked by, even though it was half covered by her English-Spanish dictionary, I saw it again: slam book. Just then I saw her write something in it and trade a smirky glance across the room with her perpetual partner-in-crime Brittany-Brattany.

I'm sure they were laughing at me. They were always making rude comments and snickering at me. That's when I made the decision.

I would steal their Slam Book.

I had to. Not just for me but for all the kids who were having cruel and mean and insensitive things written about them. I thought about Brace Face Stace, a girl with so much metal in her mouth she could have wired a chicken coop. I thought about Wandering Eye-leen, a girl who always had her head turned to the left when she talked to you, and you could never tell if she was paying attention to what you were saying or gazing at a bluebird in a tree twenty yards over your shoulder. I thought about Four-and-a-half-finger Freddy, a kid who had sliced off half of his index finger playing with a circular saw in his father's garage when he was eight years old. Oh, the can't-quite-pick-every-booger-in-his-nose jokes that he's had to endure.

Yep, I would steal that Slam Book. I would steal it and then I would throw it away.

But how?
I needed a plan.

“Silencio, por favor,”
Mrs. Rolanda snapped at a couple of boys in the back row who had dared to whisper. Mrs. Rolanda ran a tight ship. Not only did she speak to all of her students in Spanish, but she required us to respond in Spanish as well (because how else were we going to learn the language, right?). And every night we had five new vocabulary words to learn. Plus, just recently, she had started making us carry a Spanish slang book so that we could learn some of the common phrases people who spoke the language often used.

Things like
¿Qué pasa?
which means “What's up?” or
¡No manches!
which means “Get outta here!” Stuff like that.

Even though I was supposed to be translating my sentences, all I could think about was how to get that Slam Book from Kiki. I know some people think I'm comfortable with who I am and how I look, because I'm sort of loud and opinionated—okay, even obnoxious—but on the inside, I'm, well…this is hard to admit, but I'm insecure. Like I'm always worried that people are talking about me behind my back or are making jokes about my appearance and stuff like that. I say I don't care, but really I do. And I pretend it doesn't bother me, but really it does. My mom says I should just let it go and forget about girls like Kiki Masters, but when I saw Kiki make yet another entry in that Slam Book, I just felt like I had to do something about it.

After all, if you don't stand up for yourself in this world, who is going to stand up for you? My mom taught me that, too.

Wow, though, I thought. Kiki had some guts to be writing in a Slam Book so out in the open in the middle of class like that. I mean, between Mrs. Rolanda's general strictness and our school's zero-tolerance policy toward student-on-student harassment, if she had gotten caught with that notebook, she would have been in big trouble. Yet still she scribbled her insults, wrote down her rumors, and marked down all her hurtful, nasty lies, as if they were actually some kind of homework assignment or something.

Hmm…how to do this?
Getting that thing from Kiki without the teacher seeing me, and without causing a ruckus, would take scheming. It would take grace. It would take a carefully calculated plan involving some sort of well-executed maneuver, like I was an elite member of SEAL Team Six going into enemy territory in the dark of night.

I leaned forward and snatched the Slam Book.

After ripping it off Kiki's desk, I hastily hid the notebook under a few sheets of paper on my own desk and quickly pretended to be hard at work before Mrs. Rolanda even raised her eyes from the papers she was grading.

Screw grace. Who had the patience?

BOOK: A Catastrophe of Nerdish Proportions
4.4Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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