Michael Moore: Why I Became Anti-War
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“Well, I guess it’s you and me,” she said gently so that I wouldn’t collapse into my pants.
“Sure,” I responded. “Yeah. For real. It’ll be fun.”
And that was that. I had the catch of the room. The girl who in high school would be elected our homecoming queen was going to be my “date” at our “etiquette” dinner.
By the next afternoon, though, tragedy struck.
“Michael,” Mrs. Beachum called out to me in the hallway after lunch. “Can I have a moment with you?”
She led me to a corner so that no one could hear us.
“I just want you to know that you’re probably the only boy in the class to whom I could ask this favor.”
She had the most encouraging eyes. Her hair made it seem as if she were the fourth Supreme. Her lips . . . Well, I didn’t know much about lips at thirteen, but what I did know, now standing closer to her than I ever had before, confirmed to me that there were no more inviting lips than those that Mrs. Beachum carried with her.
The lips parted, and she began to speak.
“I’ve already talked to your date, to Kathy Root, and she said it was OK with her if it’s OK with you.”
Yes, go on. Please. Don’t let the twitch on the left side of my face distract you.
“There are thirteen boys and fourteen girls in the class. So all the girls have a date except Lydia.”
“Lydia” was Lydia Scanlon. “Lydia the Moron” was the name most of the boys in class called her. Lydia was the class cipher. No one sat by her, and even fewer knew anything about her. She never spoke, even when called on, and she hadn’t been called on since fifth grade. There is always that student or two whom the teachers have to decide whether to fish or cut bait - there are only so many minutes in the school day, and if they won’t talk, you have to move on and teach the others. Five years of working on her to participate were apparently enough, and so most of us didn’t even know she was still in our class, although she was there every single day, in the last seat in the row farthest from our reality.
Lydia’s Catholic schoolgirl uniform was ill fitting, most likely the result of having been worn by two or three other girls in the family before her. Her hygiene was said to be worse than a boy’s, and her hair was cut . . . well, at least she had access to a mirror while she was cutting it.
It was no surprise that not one boy had made a beeline to her to ask her to be his date.
“I need you to ask Lydia to be your date for the dinner,” Mrs. Beachum said.
“Huh?” was all I could mutter. There was an instant lump in my throat because she was asking me TO GIVE UP THE BRONZE-LEGGED FUTURE-HOMECOMINGQUEEN BEAUTY AS MY DATE! I had won the Gold Medal, and now I was being asked to give it back! Just like Jim Thorpe! You cannot do this!
Without saying any of the above, Mrs. Beachum could read it on my face.
“Look, honey, I know you wanted to go with Kathy – but I know you know that no one will ask Lydia, and there’s just sumpin’ not right ’bout that. She’s a nice girl. Just a little slow. Some people fast, some people slow. All God’s children. All. ’Specially Lydia. You know that, don’t you?”