The First Meeting

“I now call to order the first meeting of the Anti-Bullying Council,” Beth said, banging her gavel on the table in the library.  She had a gavel, because of course she had to have a gavel.

“Thought there’d be more people here,” Carrie said, looking around.  “Did you put up flyers or anything?”

Beth shook her head.  “No, why would I do that?  I’m the President.  I don’t have time for that.”

“Did anybody?”

David and Vince shook their heads.  “I wouldn’t worry too much about it.  It’s our first meeting.  The group will grow as people see the good work we’re doing.”

“Right.  Anyway, on with today’s agenda.  We need to first find a way to fund ourselves.  We aren’t made of money.  We aren’t Republicans, after all,” Beth said as she snorted.  She was met with blank stares and shrugged.  “What?  Aren’t blatantly partisan, left-wing comments the same thing as jokes?  No?  Hmm, Jon Stewart misled me.”

“As a club, we should have funding from the school,” Carrie said.  “Being a new club, we won’t necessarily have a budget, but we should be able to put in a provisional request for any specific events, and possibly get a short-term budget approved.  We’ve officially registered with the school, right?”

Beth winced and shook her head.  “Ooh, I didn’t know we were supposed to do that.  Sorry.”

Carrie shrugged.  “It’s okay.  I’ll take care of it.”

“You sure?”

“Yeah, I’m pretty good with this kind of thing.  Leave it to me.”

“Good, thank you,” Beth said.  “Or I could go out and raise my skirt for the money.”

“I think we might need more than $5,” David said.  Beth stared daggers at him.

“What are you implying?”

“Nothing.  It was a joke.”

“Are you saying that I’m not worth as much as a skinny bitch?”

“Look, let’s just move on,” Carrie said.  “David, that’s not cool.  You should be aware of your male privilege and the impact that social norms have on women’s self-image.  Now apologize to Beth.”

“I’m sorry,” David said

“You really should be more of a feminist.  You know women need help defending themselves from the patriarchy.”

“Sorry again.”

“So, now that that’s all out of the way, what are we going to do?” Beth asked.

“What do you mean?  I thought you were the President,” Carrie said.

“I am.  But I’m looking for ideas.  How do we stop bullying and let everyone know that there’s a new sheriff in town?”

They all stared around the room blankly.  Eventually, Carrie spoke up.  “Maybe an awareness campaign?”

“I think people already know what bullying is,” Vince said.

“No, but let people know about the club.  Let them know that they have someone they can come to if they’ve been victimized.”

“Yes.  Perfect!  Let everyone know about us,” Beth said.

“Exactly.  Once people know they have someone they can come to, we can decide on a case by case basis how to proceed. I’ll have to talk to Principal Schwartz anyway when I fill out the club forms.  I’ll see about hanging posters, and maybe getting a provisional budget for that.”

“Great.  Good first meeting.  We’ll meet back here in a week, after Carrie has had a chance to take care of all the paperwork.”

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Anti-Bullying Campaign Part 4

Intro:  https://stantonsislandblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/anti-bullying-campaign-pt-1/

Previous:  https://stantonsislandblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/08/anti-bullying-campaign-part-3/

 

“Hey, nice job with the whole getting Tony suspended thing,” Lucy said, patting Beth on the shoulder as she and her group of friends sat down next to her, David and Vince in the cafeteria.

“Thanks,” Beth said, looking over the large group.  “Are you all sitting here?”

“Yeah.  It’s really nice that somebody is finally addressing the bullying problem in this school,” Carrie said, setting her tray down.  “It’s good to see people taking a stand for what they believe in.  Good job.”

“Well, we had to do something.  We couldn’t just let Tony keep picking on Vince like that.”

“Totally,” said Sarah Conway.  She laughed.  “I bet he’s at home crying himself to sleep right now.”

The rest of the group laughed.  “Probably while stuffing his fat, greasy face with hot pockets or something.”

“Well, you know he isn’t showering,” Lucy said.  Everybody laughed.

“You guys know his dad is going to beat the crap out of him, right?” Jacob said.

They all stared at Jacob.  “What?”

“Yeah, Tony’s dad is an abusive alcoholic who’s raising him alone since his mom died.  His dad didn’t even want him.  When he was born, his dad tried to deny it was his, but then the baby came out with its middle fingers up, and he kind of knew he was fucked, so he agreed to raise the kid after his mother died when he was five.”

After a moment of silence, Sarah started to laugh, and the rest of the group followed suit.  “Good.  He deserves it.”

“Yeah, don’t try to excuse his behavior,” Lucy said.

Jacob shrugged.  “I’m not trying to excuse it.  I’m just explaining it.”

“Well, stop it. Tony got what he deserved.  Don’t try to humanize or normalize his behavior.  He’s a bully.”

“No, I agree,” Jacob said, sarcastically.  “We should definitely get in the habit of dehumanizing anybody we label as something we don’t like.  I can’t think of anything that’s ever gone wrong with that strategy.”

“Shut up,” Sarah said.  “Besides, what do you care?  You’re like the least caring person I’ve ever met.”

Jacob shrugged.  “I don’t.  Tony’s dad can literally beat him to death and it wouldn’t make a bit of difference to me.”

“Then why do you keep bringing it up if you don’t care?”

“Because it seems like you should, purporting to stand up for the weak and for fairness, as you do.  Anyway, I got to get back to Tyson.”

Jacob got up to leave, and Carrie turned to Beth.  “So, what’s next?”

“Huh?”

“Well, I assume you aren’t just going to stop with Tony?  What’s the next step in your crusade to rid the school of bullying scum?”

Beth smiled.  “Oh, don’t worry.  I have some ideas.”

Anti-Bullying Campaign Part 3

Beginning: https://stantonsislandblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/anti-bullying-campaign-pt-1/

Previous: https://stantonsislandblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/06/anti-bullying-campaign-part-2/

 

“So, what are we going to do?” David Starger asked nervously, still unsure about Beth’s anti-bullying crusade but going along with it because he was a spineless little cunt.

“This is our opportunity to show everyone how seriously bullying is taken.  We are going to march into Principal Schwartz’s office and demand he suspend Tony,” Beth said.

“Don’t you think that’s excessive?  A suspension?  All he did was call Vince a homo.”

“But he does it all the time,” Vince said, probably in a whiny little nasally voice or something equally repugnant.  “And it’s not just me.  He does crap like this to everybody.”

“Yeah, I guess.  Come to think of it, he is kind of a dick to me, as well.  You know what?  Fuck him,” David said, no longer caring about the excessive nature of their retribution since it was directed at someone he realized he hated.  Beth pounded on the door to the principal’s office, and entered when beckoned by a voice from within.

“Beth and…entourage.  What can I do for you?” Principal Schwartz asked.

“We want Tony Saccarro suspended immediately,” Beth said.

“Suspended?  What did it do?”

“He…wait, did you just say it?”

Principal Schwartz shrugged and nodded his head.  “Yeah, it’s a new thing I’m trying.  I call kids ‘it’ until they turn eighteen.  I could say it’s something about choice or gender identity, but the fact is I just don’t consider anyone under the age of eighteen to actually be human.  Anyway, what did it do now?”

“He was bullying Vince.”

Principal Schwartz turned to Vince and smiled.  “Alright, Vince, do you want to tell me exactly what happened?”

“What?” Beth screeched.  “You can’t question him like that.  He’s the victim.”

“Yes, and if I’m going to take any action, I need to know what happened.  Especially if I’m going to punish someone based solely on his word.”

“But you’re re-victimizing him.  Can’t you just take his word for it?  Everyone knows Vince did it.”

“For me to punish a student, especially as severely as what you’re asking me to do, I need to document the evidence of malfeasance.  Interestingly enough, ‘everyone knows it’ isn’t considered concrete evidence.  Since there doesn’t seem to be any physical evidence or any other witnesses, the only evidence that Tony did anything wrong is Vince’s word, which makes it kind of important.  So, Vince…”

Vince took a deep breath.  “I mean, he basically just called me a homo.”

“Is that all there is to the story?”

“Pretty much.”

Principal Schwartz took a deep breath.  “I don’t see what straight guys have against gays.  Isn’t it just less competition for us?  And from what I’ve seen, most of these guys take pretty good care of themselves.  Do we really want to compete with that?”

“Um, Principal Schwartz…”

“Oh, right.  Well, thank you for your report.”

“So, are you going to suspend him?” Beth asked.

“Well, we do have a zero tolerance policy for ‘hate speech’, and I think this qualifies.  Of course, a suspension is a little much, given the relatively weak nature of the speech, and before I can take any action I’ll have to have a talk with him.  Get his side of the story and give him a chance to defend himself, and of course I’ll need to hold off on drawing any conclusions or making any decisions until after that conversation.”

“Right…”

Principal Schwartz laughed.  “Nah, I’m just messing with you.  It’s 2018, and this is a hot-button issue.  I don’t need to go through any of that ‘due process’ fairness crap.  He’ll be suspended for a week, effective immediately.”

 

Next: https://stantonsislandblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/12/anti-bullying-campaign-part-4/

Anti-Bullying Campaign Part 2

Part 1:  https://stantonsislandblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/anti-bullying-campaign-pt-1/

 

“Stop bullying,” Beth yelled, holding a flier and yelling at people who walk by, because that’s what fat annoying people who suck do.  “Join our anti-bullying cause!  Be part of the solution, not the problem!  Some other generic slogan!”

“What’s that fat chick yelling about?” Tyson said, walking up to Rock and Jacob.

“Hey, don’t call me fat, you fatphobic piece of shit,” Beth said, as if fatphobia were a thing that existed in any significant way.  She swung her head, flicking her hair behind her shoulder in a way that would have been cute if she were a hundred pounds lighter.  Actually, even then it would have been annoying, but you know, less annoying.  Marginally less annoying.  It’s a stupid gesture, is what I’m saying, regardless of who is doing it.  “Besides, I’m not fat, I’m fluffy.”

“Right.  Unless we’re calling moist mounds of sweaty bread dough fluffy, you aren’t fluffy.”

“Bullying.  Bullying!” Beth shouted, waving her finger in front of her like a quivering, epileptic seagull or something.  “You’re just prejudiced against fat people.  You’re ignorant. You know, all prejudice, like fatphobia or racism, is based on ignorance.”

“Right.  That’s why the South is so racist, because there aren’t any black people.  It’s also probably the reason why there are so few fat people down there.”

“Maybe they’re all fat because of the fatphobia down there.  Did you ever think of that?” Beth responded snarkily, though clearly Tyson never had thought of that, because Tyson believed in science and other things that make sense.  “Besides, why are you hanging with those two turds anyway?  Aren’t you all into science and other nerd stuff?  They must pick on you all the time.”

“What are you talking about?  We don’t pick on Tyson.  We’re friends,” Jacob said.

“Guys, let’s, uh, head somewhere that isn’t here,” Tyson said.  He, Rock and Jacob moved over to somewhere that wasn’t there, and Tyson began to speak.  “Man, why does this crap always happen here?”

Jacob shrugged.  “What do you mean?”

“It seems like every week it’s some other cause or melodrama or whatever.  It’s annoying as shit.  When I walk down the street, my goal isn’t to hear about your political views or religious beliefs.  It’s to be left the hell alone.  Same applies to school hallways, and yet it’s always something.”

“It’s high school, dude.  That’s what people do,” Jacob said.  “It’s attractive people with fully developed bodies engaging in important adventures with world-changing consequences while forging relationships that will surely last the rest of their lives and not be forgotten about in six months.”

“Yeah, but dude, is it, though?” Rock asked.

“What do you mean?”

“Well, is high school really like this?  With so much constant action?  It seems to me that most of high school is relatively mundane, with students just going to class and shit.  Rarely does anything as exciting as what we see on a daily basis happen.  Most kids just to do their crap, and maybe if you’re lucky and popular enough, you’ll get to awkwardly rub your genitals against someone else’s.  This seems less like high school and more like what some old dude writing about high school thinks of high school.”

“That applies to most of life though,” Tyson said.  “I don’t think it’s so much a misconception as it is that all of life is boring and pointless.  But nobody wants to read or write about how someone got up, did some stuff they didn’t want to do, found something to help kill the time between now and when they die, and then went back to sleep.  So they make  up unrealistic stuff to make things seem more interesting.”

“Maybe.  Maybe this is all just a canvas for some dude to tell his stupid jokes on,” Jacob posited.

“Do you guys really think of me as a friend, by the way?” Tyson asked.

“What?  Of course, dude.  We hang out all the time.  What would you call us?”

Tyson shrugged.  “I don’t know.  Acquaintances, I guess.  Maybe pals, though guinea pigs seems most accurate.  Anyway, I want to talk to the two of you.”

“Cool.  What do you want?  Please tell me you have some secondary plot line, because I don’t know how well we fit into this whole anti-bullying thing Beth seems to have going on, and I have a feeling that may drag on for a while.”

 

Next: https://stantonsislandblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/08/anti-bullying-campaign-part-3/

Anti-Bullying Campaign Pt. 1

“Dude, did you do the reading over break?” Jacob asked, taking his seat in Mrs. Adams’ history class while acting like a bro, because high school kids are idiots.

“Yeah, I mean, I skimmed it.”  Rock took a seat, placed his books down, and then turned back to Jacob.  “By the way, what the fuck is a co-lo-nel?”

“A what?  I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

“It kept showing up in the reading.  Like, the co-lo-nels, co-lo-nel this or that,” Rock said, eliciting blank stares from Jacob.  Next to him, David Starger laughed.

“I think he means colonel,” David said, pronouncing colonel like kernel, the way a not-dumb person would.

“Oh,” Rock said.  “That makes sense.  Thanks, dude.”

Jacob laughed.  “You are such a dumbass, dude.”

“Shut up.”

“In his defense, he was pronouncing it the way it’s spelled,” David said, defending Rock.  “It’s kind of a weird word.”

Jacob was having none of this Rock-defending, however.  “Durr, I’m David, and I pronounce everything the way it’s spelled, because English is the most phonetic language ever invented.”

“English wasn’t invented.  It evolved over time.”

“Durr, I’m David, and I understand how language develops.  Durr,” Rock said, joining in on the making fun of David, uh, fun, I guess.

“Why are you making fun of me?  I was the one defending you.”

“You two leave David alone,” Beth Kerrigan said.  “I am so sick of the bullying in this school.”

“Who’s bullying?” Rock asked.  “We’re just making fun of David using our imbalance of power in a way that’s persistent, consistent and targeted.  Nobody’s bullying him.”

“Rock, I’m pretty sure that’s the definition of bullying.”

“Oh.  We’re just giving him a hard time.  It’s really not a big deal or anything.”

“It really isn’t,” David said.

“Shut up, David.  I’m not going to take your internalized victim-blaming anymore,” Beth said.

“I wasn’t blaming myself, it just wasn’t all that big a deal to me.”

“I said shut up, or I swear to god the next person to bully or victim blame is going to get the fucking shit kicked the fuck out of them,” Beth said, holding up her binder in a ‘I’m about to hit you’ gesture while swearing unnecessarily and excessively to convey the strength of her convictions, since the more emotional someone is, the more correct their point of view is.

“Dude, what’s that on your binder?” David asked.  “Did you draw that?”

“Yes, I did.  What business is it of yours?”

“It’s pretty good.  What is it?”

“A mermaid.  Because mermaids are graceful and beautiful, like me.”

“Fun fact, the myth of mermaids originated when sailors first saw manatees and mistook them for mermaids,” David said.

“Yeah, another fun fact.  Most women claiming to be mermaids on the internet are also manatees,” Jacob said.  He and Rock knucked it up.

“That’s it.  Come on, David.  You and I are starting an anti-bullying group,” Beth said, turning to Rock and Jacob, and elevating her nose ever so slightly toward the ceiling.  “What do you two think of that?”

Jacob shrugged.  “Sounds like a good cause.  And I’m sure you’ll conduct your campaign reasonably, targeting only those who are actually responsible instead of becoming so wrapped up in the righteousness of your cause that you start attacking everyone and everything in an attempt to augment your own influence.”

 

Part 2: https://stantonsislandblog.wordpress.com/2018/01/06/anti-bullying-campaign-part-2/

New Year’s Eve 2017

“How are things with Kelly?” Jacob asked as the two walked up the walkway to Lucy’s house for her New Year’s Eve party.  It was the evening of December 31st, when New Year’s Eve traditionally occurs, in case you were wondering.

“Jacob, my friend, I am now officially dating a black girl.  With that in mind, here is a list of words I will be saying with a lot more liberty from now on…”

“Let me just stop you there,” Jacob said, pausing at the door.  “I wouldn’t.  At least, not if you want to keep dating her.  I also probably wouldn’t refer to your girlfriend as ‘a black girl’.”

“What should I call her?”

Jacob shrugged.  “I don’t know.  A beautiful, strong black woman who don’t need no man?  Or Kelly.”

“Kelly works,” Rock said as the two entered the party.  “But is it sexist or racist if I don’t use her last name?”

“What?  Don’t be an idiot, Rock.  That’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard, you moron.  Hey, what’s up?” Jacob said, obviously not talking to Rock anymore, but to someone who had approached him and Rock.  You fucking moron.  You should have figured that out from the context.  Dipshit.  Those people were Lucy and her friend Julia, by the way.

“Nothing,” Julia said, handing Rock and Jacob drinks, because that’s easier than taking the time to write a scene where Jacob and Rock walk over to the keg, pour themselves beers, then walk back and get reacquainted with wherever the conversation has headed while they were gone.

“Hey, Lucy, is your boy here?” Jacob asked.  Lucy looked at him, confused.

“Who’s my boy?”

“Nate.  The quarterback.  The guy you’ve been crushing on all year.”

“Oh, shit.  I totally forgot that was a thing,” Rock said.  “We’ve been so wrapped up in time travelling and universe jumping and other sci-fi bullcrap that I totally forgot anything remotely reasonable or realistic was going on.”

“What the fuck are you talking about?” Lucy asked, totally unaware of most of what Rock was talking about.  “Anyway, no.  I invited him, but it turns out Nate doesn’t celebrate New Year’s.”

“Who doesn’t celebrate New Year’s?  Is he Jewish or something?”

“What?  No.  Um, I don’t think so,” Lucy said.  “No, it turns out Nate’s mom was crippled in a car crash on New Year’s Eve two years ago, so it kind of brings back bad memories for him.”

“Well, he need to learn to cope like an adult.  By drinking until he can’t feel anything and letting some random girl fuck the bad thoughts out,” Jacob said, leaning in and whispering in Lucy’s ear.  “You could be his random girl.”

“Jacob, stop it.  That’s kind of the problem.  Some guy was upset about a breakup or something, and got totally wasted.  Driving home, he ran a stop sign and hit Nate’s mom.”

“That sucks.”

“Yeah.  She was crippled.  He was fine.  Apparently, because he was drunk his body was relaxed, so he didn’t suffer any damage from the crash.”

“But Nate’s mom did?”

“Yeah, she was completely sober.”

“Whose fault is that?”

“Jacob,” Lucy scolded him while the rest of the group stared.

“Oh, I’m sorry.  I didn’t realize nice words would make his mom less crippled.  Maybe if we all stand around with super serious faces and talk about how tragic it is, his mom will magically un-cripple herself,” Jacob said.  “It happened.  Joking about it isn’t going to make it any more or less real or tragic.”

“You should apologize.”

“I refuse to apologize for doing something that has no tangible impact on anything.”

“You’re a dick.”

“Perhaps,” Jacob said, finishing his drink.  He turned to Rock.  “I need another drink.  You want one?”

“Sure.  I’ll come with.”

As Jacob poured the drinks, Rock, looking over his shoulder to make sure Lucy was out of earshot, leaned over to Jacob and said, “You better get me two.”

“What? Why?”

“Because if we’re in an accident tonight, I don’t want to end up like Nate’s crippled mom.”

Christmas Eve 2017

“All I’m saying is that I work as hard as he does,” Jared said, talking to his sister Lucy as they drove home on Christmas Eve.  “Sure, I have less experience, produce less, have fewer responsibilities, spend half my time eating or on break, and work in a different industry, but still.  I deserve to make the same, don’t you think?”

“If you’re going to rely on false equivalencies to make your point, you may want to try leaving out the facts.  Just saying,” Lucy said, staring uneasily out the window as the snow started to pick up.  “Anyway, how about keeping your eyes on the road, huh?”

“Relax, Lucy bean,” Jared said, his easy demeanor at odds with his intent stare out the windshield.  “We’re almost home.  We just have to take it nice and slow and we’ll be home in no time.”

“We’d already be there if you hadn’t made us drop off Rock and Jacob,” Lucy said, making sure to mention the main characters so the reader knows what series this story is a part of, necessitated by the fact that the main characters are notably absent from this story.  They sat in silence for a moment.  “So, you going to church with us tomorrow?”

Jared laughed.  “Don’t be ridiculous.  They aren’t going to have church services tomorrow.  It’s Christmas.”

“You’re an idiot,” Lucy said, fighting back a smirk.

“Calm down.  I’ll be there.”

“Remember when you see Tara not to let her know that you know she’s engaged.  She wants it to be a surprise to everybody, so let her tell you.”

“Won’t be a problem.  I don’t care enough about Tara to remember she’s engaged.”

“Don’t be a…look out!”

A purple truck pulled out of the gas station in front of them, close enough that they would have been cut off even in decent weather.  Jared slowed down, but the truck began to spin out on the slick surface.  As he quickly approached the truck, Jared laid on the horn, yelled and pulled the wheel to the left.  He managed to narrowly avoid the truck, sliding into the crowded gas station as the truck regained its traction and drove off.  He stopped for a moment, then pulled into a parking space.

“Are you okay?” he asked, turning to Lucy.

“Yeah, I’m fine.  What the fuck was that idiot doing?”

“I don’t know.  Don’t worry about it.  It’s alright,” Jared said, his voice calm but with an underlying hint of anger.

“Whatever.  Let’s just get home.”

“Right.  Just give me a moment.”  Jared sat back in his seat and closed his eyes.  For about a minute, the two sat in silence.  Then, Jared sat forward and put the car in reverse.  Before he could pull forward, he looked in the rearview mirror and froze.

“Shit.  Wait here,” Jared said firmly to Lucy.  Lucy watched in confusion as Jared got out of the car, and followed Jared’s gaze to the purple truck that had pulled up behind them.

“What’s up, pal?”  Jared called out over the noise of the busy gas station as the driver of the truck exited his vehicle.  He took a step forward, trying to be as intimidating as possible while keeping a friendly demeanor in the hopes of avoiding the confrontation.  The driver continued going through his truck, looking for something, and Jared considered charging him before he could find whatever he was looking for.  The driver fully exited the vehicle.  In his right hand he held a gun.

“What, are you going to shoot me?  Over a traffic dispute?  Seriously,” Jared said, trying not to show the fear that consumed his stomach in that moment.  The fear left as he looked at the man.  It wasn’t anger that he saw in the man’s eyes as he raised the gun and pointed it toward his own head.

“Come on, man,” Jared said, more relaxed now that he realized he wasn’t personally in any danger.  “You’re not going to kill yourself over a minor mistake like that.  Why don’t you tell me what’s really going on with you?”

“What’s it matter?” the man asked, fighting back tears.  “I’m an idiot, right?  That’s what you said.  What do you care what I do?”

“Dude, it was a mistake.  Everybody makes them.  You aren’t getting that upset over it.  Something else is bothering you.  Tell me.”

“What do you care?”

“What do you?” Jared said.  “You’re going to kill yourself anyway.  What’s it matter to you if somebody knows why?  Come on, man.  You’re about to fuck up my little sister’s Christmas.  You can at least tell me why.”

The man started to cry.  “Because… because I’m a fuck up, man.  I can’t even support my family.  I can’t support my kids, and my wife left me.  It’s fucking Christmas and I don’t even get to see my kids?  What type of loser is that?”

“Dude.  That sucks.  That’s just…that’s hard man,” Jared said, slowly approaching the man.  “How old are the kids?”

“What’s it matter?”

“It doesn’t.  What are their names?”

“Gregory, he’s my son.  He’s three.  And my little baby, Tianna, she just turned one,” the man said, breaking down more.  Jared reached his arms out, and the man fell into his embrace, resting his head and crying on Jared’s shoulder.  Jared slowly ran his hand down the man’s right arm as the flashing lights approached, and gently removed the gun from his hand.  Jared bent over and laid the gun on the ground as the police approached, and allowed them to take control of the situation.  After he’d given a brief statement, he got back into the car.

“What the fuck was all that about?” Lucy asked.

“Nothing.  Just somebody having a bad day.”

School Safety Pt. 4

“Jacob, it’s so cool that you came,” Lucy said, coming up to Jacob and hugging him as he and Rock showed up at the school safety rally.  “It really means a lot to me that you came.”

“What do you mean?  Of course I came.  Why wouldn’t I?”

“It’s just, well, I know you don’t really believe in what we’re doing here.  That’s all.”

“It’s not that I don’t support what you’re proposing.  I just think it’s a simplistic, insufficient solution that’s designed more to make you feel like you’ve accomplished something than actually have a positive impact.”

Lucy shook her head blankly.  “Whatever.  Anyway, take a look around.  We have a lemonade stand, and we’ve set up a gaming booth if you’d like to play.”

“Is this a carnival or a rally?”

“Both.”  Lucy shrugged.  “Just because we’re here for a cause doesn’t mean we can’t have a good time as well.”

“Maybe.  I thought activist events were supposed to be boring and serious affairs.”

“Hmm, you might be think of church.”

“Well, either way, it’s impressive.”

“Yeah, how do you like that, Jacob?” Carrie Grant said, inserting herself into a conversation in a manner quite insufferable.  You wouldn’t know this yet, but she generally was insufferable.  As most people are.  “Amazing what women can accomplish when we put our minds to it.  Pretty amazing that all this was put together by a woman, isn’t it?”

“Not really.”

“Yeah, why would we be surprised that a woman did something competently?” Rock asked.  “Are you saying we should be?”

“No, I’m just saying that is must shock your patriarchal minds to see that women can organize an event just as well, better even, than men could.”

Jacob shrugged.  “No, I pretty much assume women are competent.  Really not that big a deal.”

“Whatever.”

“Besides, women didn’t put this together.  Lucy did.  Let’s give her the credit.”

“Thanks, Jacob,” Lucy said.  Her eyes perked up as she saw Nate Street, the high school quarterback and therefore her crush, walking up to the gaming booth.  “Hey, I’m, ah, going to head over to the gaming booth.”

“What?  Why?” asked Carrie.

“Because of Nate,” Jacob said.

Carrie sighed with disgust.  “Ugh.  Why’s it always have to be about a man?”

“More of a boy, really,” Rock said.  He turned to Lucy.  “You are aware he’s underage, right?”

Lucy shrugged.  “That’s the nice thing about boys.  Nobody cares if you fuck them while they’re underage.”

“Yeah, why don’t you ask Kevin Spacey how that’s working out for him right now.”

“Anyway, if you’ll excuse us,” Lucy said.

Carrie rolled her eyes.  “You are so violating the Bechdel test right now.”

“What do you mean?  We just had an entire conversation about organizing this rally.”

“Yeah, with Jacob and Rock in the conversation.  It doesn’t count if there are men present during the conversation.”

“You’re telling me that a conversation is disqualified from meeting the requirements of the test because of the presence of penises?” Lucy asked, walking a sufficient distance away from Rock and Jacob that they were no longer in the conversation and couldn’t stop her from passing the Bechdel test with their evil penises.  Peni?  Peni sounds right for some reason, so I’m going to use it even though I know it’s wrong.

“Yes.  It has to be a conversation exclusively between two women.”

“What if the conversation is between two women, but there is a man present?  Like a secretary or something?”

“So, like, a man is there, but isn’t part of the conversation?  He’s just chilling silently?”

“Right.”

Carrie thought for a moment.  “I don’t know.  I guess it depends whether his presence has any impact on the nature of the conversation.  Because, like, if there were just a guy at another table, or sitting next to the women on a bus stop bench, obviously that wouldn’t preclude their conversation from passing the test, but I think it would if they are altering the substance of their conversation because of the male presence.”

“Well, we’re having this conversation now?  Doesn’t that count?”

“I don’t think you can pass the Bechdel test by having two women discuss the Bechdel test.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t know.  It just feels like cheating.”

“So, how’s the weather?”

“Sunny.”

“Cool, we’ve passed.  Now I’m going to go try and fuck this guy.”

From a distance sufficient to make clear that they weren’t part of the conversation, Jacob turned to Rock.  “What do you think they’re talking about?”

“I don’t know.  Something retarded.”

“You can’t say retard anymore, you fucking faggot,” Jacob said.  “It’s not politically correct.”

School Safety Pt. 3

“Wow,” Rock said as he and Jacob walked into the crowded auditorium.  “This place is more crowded than the donut stand at a Meghan Trainor concert.”

“How long have you been waiting to bust that one out?”

“Couple of weeks.  Did you like it?”

Jacob shrugged.  “Not your best, but passable.  Anyway, let’s find a seat.”

Jacob and Rock looked around until they found two seats next to each other, because God forbid the little lover boys be separated for more than two seconds.  That’s not homophobic, by the way.  I’m mocking their infantile attachment to each other, not their sexuality.  They eventually found a pair of seats that met their requirements next to Julia Sensabaugh.

“Hey.  What are you two bozos up to?” Julia asked as Rock and Jacob sat down.

“Just came here to support our friend in whatever stupid bullshit she’s up to these days.  You?” asked bozo one, aka Rock.

“Same.”

“Cool.  Is Lucy here yet?”

“No.  You’ll know when she’s around because of the cowbell she calls a mouth.”

“Wow.  I thought you two were friends.”

“We are.  Which is why I’m personally hurt by how much she runs that automatic rifle of a gabber,” Julia said as Lucy walked in and approached the front of the auditorium.  “Oops.  Ding ding ding.”

“Thank you all for coming out,” Lucy began, leading the assembly because it was a way for her to get attention.  “As you know, we’ve recently had some incidents related to school safety, resulting in injuries to the student body.  Our goal today is to prevent these injuries and ensure that our school is a safe environment for all our students.”

Jacob raised his hand.  “If you’re referring to Dylan, to be fair, he was acting like a dumbass.  The school is safe for anyone not acting like a dumbass.”  Rock slapped Jacob, and Jacob quickly edited his comment.  “I mean, my understanding, as someone who totally wasn’t there and had nothing to do with the situation, is that he was acting like a dumbass.”

“Victim-blaming isn’t going to get us anywhere,” Lucy said.  “The fact is we have some simple steps we want the school to take to address the problem.  Jesus Christ, Jacob, what is it now?”

“I only support causes as long as they don’t inconvenience me or deprive me of the slightest comfort.  It’s like environmentalism.  I’m all for it until you ask me to stop running my space heater and air conditioner at the same time, or cut my showers down to under an hour.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s cool to act like you care, I just prefer the positive attention to actually having to do anything to make an impact.”

Lucy sighed.  “It’s all very simple.  First step is awareness.  Some random dude whose name I forgot because he isn’t very important will be passing out tee shirts.  After school, we will be holding a rally to ask the school administration to impose stricter safety rules.  We hope to see you there.  Any questions?  Any questions that aren’t stupid, Jacob?”

“Yeah, what safety rules exactly are you proposing?”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, a student falling off a ladder is very different from someone injured during a sporting event, which is very different from someone getting lab chemicals in their eyes.  These are very different problems with very different solutions.  You can’t just say tighter safety regulations like it means something.  So what, exactly, are you proposing?”

Lucy shook her head.  “Tighter safety rules.  To make the school safer.  We have too many safety related injuries, and we need to tighten the rules to make our school safer.”

“It almost seems like you don’t actually have a solution, and instead of examining what is a very complex problem to find something that actually works, you just want to promote a feel-good solution that does nothing to make you feel better, even though it won’t actually make anyone safer,” Jacob said.  “That isn’t to say anything your proposing isn’t a good idea, just that if you actually want to make a difference it will require more than ‘safety rules’.”

“Look, if you don’t want to come, don’t come.  The rest of you, meet on the track after school.”

School Safety Pt. 2

“Dude, how are thing going with Kelly?” Jacob asked Rock, standing at his locker, putting some books in and taking others out, I presume, because best as I can recall that’s what people do at lockers when in high school.

“Kelly?  Oh, you mean the black girl with whom I’ve been texting,” Rock said, inexplicably using proper grammar.  “The one who’s black?”

“Uh, yeah.  That’s who I’m referring to,” said Jacob, using improper grammar, thus speaking like a normal person.

“They’re good.  We’re not officially dating, because you know, there’s barriers placed on us by society.  Because she’s black and I’m white, and some people don’t like that.  But I’m willing to persevere.  For love.  Because I don’t see race.”

“I have literally never heard you speak about her without inserting race into the conversation, even though I can’t think of a single instance in which there was any reason to bring it up.  You just keep shoehorning it in to point out that you’re semi-dating a black girl.  Which, by the way, nobody cares about, on account of it’s 2017.”

“Oh, they do. They do.  It’s a struggle Jacob, and it takes courage.  From me.  I’m courageous,” Rock said, reaching his hand out and placing it on Jacob’s shoulder while looking off into the distance, like some superhero or inspirational leader or some other stupid bullshit.  “We’re a real model couple for progress, Kelli and I.”

“Right.  Kelly spells her name with a ‘y’, by the way,” Jacob said, rolling his eyes.

“What’s up, guys?” Lucy asked, coming into the conversation.

“Nothing.  Rock won’t shut up about how courageous he and his girlfriend are.”

“Someone’s dating Rock? That does take courage.”

“She’s black,” Rock inserted into the conversation.

“I don’t care, but remind me to get a picture of you two holding hands for the yearbook later,” Lucy said.  “Anyway, did you two hear what happened to Dylan?”

“No.  What?” Jacob asked.

“He was apparently doing some stupid thing with a cart in front of the girls’ gym class, and crashed into a wall.  He hit his head.  Split it wide open.  He’s still in the hospital.  He had to get like twenty stitches.”

Jacob laughed.  “Oh.  That.  Yeah, we might have heard about that.”

“I’m not sure it’s accurate to say that that’s what happened to Dylan, though.  Shouldn’t you be asking if we heard what Dylan did to himself?”  Rock said regarding what he and Jacob had done to Dylan.

“It doesn’t matter.  The point is that he got hurt by doing something dangerous on school grounds,” Lucy said.

“So?”

“So, I’m organizing a meeting after school.  We need to push for stricter school safety regulations.”

“Are you sure that’s going to help?” Jacob said.  “I mean, it’s not like you can just add some rules and people will stop being dumbasses.”

“Yeah, you can’t make a rule against being a dumbass.  I’m pretty sure that’s discrimination,” Rock said.

“Nah.  Dumbass isn’t a protected class.”

“Ah.”

“Enough,” Lucy said.  “The point is that the number of people getting hurt at school has increased dramatically, and we need to intervene before more people get hurt.  Too many people fall victim to injuries at school.”

Jacob said, “I don’t think there’s any evidence to support that.  If anything, school injuries are down.  Are you sure you aren’t just taking advantage of a high-profile accident to gain attention and praise for yourself?”

“Do you really think I’m that self-centered?”

“Yes.”

“I disagree,” Rock said.  Jacob and Lucy turned to Rock, and he quickly clarified.  “Not about Lucy’s ego.  She absolutely is that self-centered.  I’m talking about her motivations.  I think she’s just upset, maybe a little scared, and is seeking a simple, feel-good solution.  She’s lobbying to pass new safety rules, so that once they get adopted, she can feel like she’s done something, even if they do nothing to improve the situation.  It’s about a sense of control, rather than actually solving the problem, which is difficult and complicated.”

“When did he get smart?” Lucy asked.

“He didn’t,” Jacob said.  “It’s just that, sometimes, he’s so detached and apathetic that he can see things more clearly, because he doesn’t get so wrapped up in his own ego and opinions.”

“Whatever.  Anyway, can I count on both of you to be there?”

Jacob sighed.  “I suppose.”