Getting Too Comfortable

The first time I let myself skip a day of Story a Day May, I knew exactly what would happen. I knew that I would get lenient. I realized that if I allowed myself to slack, if I allowed myself to be convinced that it’s not THAT important, I would be willing to do it again.

It’s like stealing. You do it once, and then you start thinking it’s okay. Except that I’m not a thief.

Or am I? I’m stealing from myself. I’m not a very good person.

The great Universe would be disappointed.

Moving on from that, I basically have my story in mind for today. It’s based on a little anecdote–not really long or detailed enough to be a “story” within itself–that my English teacher told the class. The girl is named after a girl in my Public Speaking class–she’s such a nice girl, a senior who’s a really talented gymnast. And she loves children. She’s just so sweet!

出る杭は打たれる。

The nail that sticks out will be hammered back down.

~Japanese adage

I shuffled quietly into the class, head down, earbuds in tightly, hands in the pockets of my cheap khakis. I was surrounded by other students who were talking and laughing together, gradually settling into their desk-chairs.

I sat down and put my iPod away. A boy tapped me on the shoulder. “Hey, Kaho! How’s things?”

“Um, fine,” I reacted. “How are things with you, Ron?”

“Excellent!” The freckled boy gave me a thumbs up and I returned it. The history teacher came into the class from her office. Everyone sat down and she chatted with the teaching assistant–a friendly African American senior who had a tendency to do a bad job grading tests.

I admired our teacher history, Ms. Cuffe. She was really tall and smiley and wore pretty skirts. She listened to punk rock sometimes, which I knew because I often visited her class during lunch or her prep period to talk to her about various assignments. I struggled with U.S. history enough as it was, and they thought they could put me in the AP class. It was torture.

Ms. Cuffe whirled around the second the bell rang and her bright red hair–of which I was also admiring–flew with her. “Kaho Fujiame!” she said forcefully, pointing a finger at me while her other hand rested on her hip. “Did you watch the news last night on channel ten?”

I nodded. My family always watched the news after dinner.

“What is your opinion on the United States’ presence in Egypt?”

I looked around for answers. Ron stared at the ceiling. I knew he knew the answer. He always had those “opinions” that she was looking for.

“Um…”

The room was deafeningly silent. Pin-dropping.

I looked to my right, hoping the girl with the glasses might have an answer. I whispered, “What is it?” to her, but she just sort of shrugged and looked at me with sympathy.

I didn’t need sympathy! I needed an answer to her stupid question!

“Kaaaaho…” the teacher chided jokingly.

“I’m sorry, ma’am, I don’t know,” was all I could say.

“You don’t know your own opinion?” she wondered. “There’s no right or wrong answer, Kaho. You know that, right? I just want to know what you think. And if you can back yourself up on it. Do you know what’s going on in Egypt?”

I knew. Of course I knew. I hated this stupid AP crap, with all of its stupid “opinions” and “critical thinking”. Facts, I could handle. Equations? Fine. I wasn’t that good in math, but I could at least memorize stuff.

Opinions, though? I had nothing! There wasn’t anything to say on the subject. “Does my opinion actually matter?” I asked, probably for the hundredth time, to the chagrin of my poor instructor.

“Yes, Kaho, your opinion matters very much. You guys are the future of America, and I really can’t stress that enough. You’re educated kids, alright? You’re taking advanced classes, and you’re going to get into college and be successful. You need to care, and have opinions!”

I sighed and slumped into my seat. “Okay,” I managed.

“Kaho, do you care about what’s going on in Egypt?” she asked.

“Um…” I didn’t know what to say. “Not really?”

“Why not?” she asked, ignoring the sparse gasping of my classmates.

“Because it doesn’t really matter to me.”

“Well, then. I’ll tell you why it matters. But thank you for having an opinion.”

Hammered down yet again.

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