There was a loud crash in the hallway. Everyone in the classroom looked towards the door in surprise, except me. I side-eyed Lou's empty chair at my side. She was two-for-two on first period tardies. Worst lab partner ever.
Lou opened the door tentatively, as if she could somehow sneak in unnoticed after whatever happened in the hallway. Please. With her wardrobe? I've seen less conspicuous crossing guards.
She was greeted by 24 pairs of eyes--23 of them curious, one disapproving. I shook my head as she realized her plan to slip in quietly wouldn't work--she bit her top lip, did the Curly snap-snap-clap, and finished by sliding her hands underneath her armpits and behind her back, suddenly self-conscious.
I covered my eyes in embarrassment. How did I befriend the tackiest person in our class?
"Heyyyy....guys," she said.
Silence, then muffled laughter.
"I assume no note again today," Mr. Swank cleared his throat, "Lou?"
Lou smiled a little, then let it drop again. "No. Sorry."
"Alright, well. This will have to be a demerit, then."
Lou nodded. "I know." She joined me at our table and reached for my notes like a compulsive eater goes for the last piece of pizza.
I grabbed them back. "Hey," I whispered. "No hello? Are we just gonna pretend you didn't show up late to school again? And what was that crash?"
"I'm sorry! I--" Lou looked up to Mr. Swank, who was back at the board, drawing molecule configurations. "I was dealing with Kinkaide Problems," she continued in her inside voice.
"Your grandpa's in the hallway?" I casually doodled water molecules in my notebook, feigning attentiveness.
"What? No. The hallway was just a depth perception miscalculation. Kinkaide showed up at our house this morning. My mom's pissed."
"What did he want?"
Lou rolled her eyes. "What doesn't that guy want? I'll tell you after class. Long story short: Kinkaide Problems turned into Kali Problems--"
"--And now we have Lou Problems..."
"Absolutely not. Lou Problems are not--will not become--a thing."
"What are you drawing, anyways? Is that you? Lou took my notebook again, turning her head sideways to inspect it.
"It's a water molecule, Lou."
"No, it definitely looks like you, Duke. It has your big ears. And your big head."
This week's Speakeasy response draws from this story.
THANKS: PNC Bank, for letting me stand in the ATM foyer while waiting for my bus this morning.
Upcoming Post: Heads up, dear readers--tomorrow is the People's Choice Awards. Pending a strong CBS signal, I'll be live-blogging starting at about 8. As the first awards show this year, and the least serious, it'll be my test run/dress rehearsal for Awards Season. Join me!