I like slapping things out of peoples’ hands. Or at least the thought of it. At Pittsburgh Pirates baseball games I’d see myself knock a fan’s nachos over the balcony. Or a fan’s baby. Then I’d sit on my hands wondering if anyone heard my thought. I’d smile, intoxicated and frightened by my own freedom.
The one time I actually lived the daydream, it didn’t end so well. In 8th grade the girls’ basketball team was riding on the school bus to an away game. I was hyper, bouncing up and down in my green vinyl bus seat saying things in strange voices and laughing at myself. Janie, my best friend on the team, was sharing a seat with me, laughing with me but in a stationary, normal-volumed way. Lauren and Vicky sat together in front of us. Vicky, like a self-assured, razor-lipped attorney, was telling Lauren about her pure-bred whippets and how easy GATE was. Lauren smiled and nodded at everything Vicky wanted her to. Lauren wore sports goggles when she played and never popped her zits.
Reaching into her blue basketball bag, Janie brought out an apple that her mom slipped into one of the 25 pouches, and munched away. She was sort of standing up in the seat with her apple arm hanging over the seat in front of us. In all my exuberance I hit it out of her hand with a quick downward CHOP. A few chunks flew off the core and hit Vicky. The rest fell on her blue bag then rolled to the floor. I let out a short, high laugh. She was not amused.
“Sorry!” I said with raised eyebrows and a chuckle, “I didn’t mean to hit you!”
She did not accept my apology. It was not funny. Lauren was not amused either--maybe because Vicky did not want her to be amused, or maybe because she thought it was a careless thing for me to do. Janie’s eyes got big in shock, and she stifled a laugh, noticing a chunk in Vicky’s ponytail. Like synchronized spinsters, Lauren and Vicky turned their backs to me and sat in silence. Janie and I crouched down in our seat and whispered.
“Gosh, it was just an apple. It’s not like she got hurt or anything,” I said feeling a weird mix of self-righteousness and remorse.
“Yah, but you don’t want to tick her off. She makes a big deal out of stuff,” Janie warned.
Lauren did not pass me the ball once during the game, and Vicky made sure to not touch my homicidal hand during the “Gooooooooo Team!” pile-up.
The next day I was summoned to the Principal's office over the loudspeaker.
“Ohhhhhhhhhh!” my classmates mocked, “You’re in truuuuuuuuu-ble!”
I was a little shaky walking down the hollow halls to The Judge. When I entered the courtroom I saw Vicky sitting in one of two chairs opposite the Principal, arms crossed, hair pulled back tight and low. She didn’t look at me as I entered and took my seat as the defendant. My shaking immediately and involuntarily turned into crying, what with the glowering authority figure behind her solid wood table in a stone grey suit and sharp bob, who had already heard the prosecution's accusations. I was wearing a white T-shirt that had blue rings around the sleeves and neck with a rainbow on the chest that said, “I’m special.” (It was a skater shirt, and I was in my alternative phase.) I soaked the armpits in about 2 minutes.
“So what happened on the bus yesterday?” the Judge asked me objectively.
I could barely choke words out.
“I was…just…[sharp intake of breath] being silly…[cracking voice]. I didn’t….mean for it..[pause]…to hit her,” I said.
Vicky kept her laser gaze on the Principal.
“I’m trying to be cordial,” Vicky informed the Principal. “I could press charges.”
My eyes killed her when I heard her say, “cordial.” Who says that?
“It was just an apple!” I exploded in angry tears. “Why is this such a big deal?”
Vicky primly refused to acknowledge my very presence or anything I said, instead talking to the Judge as if I were utterly unworthy of rippling her water. She readjusted the tight grip on her case against me and reminded the Judge of the seriousness of the incident and the magnanimity with which she was proceeding. “I was assaulted. I could get a restraining order and sue the school district. I agreed to this meeting to see if it could be resolved before it comes to that, but I don’t like how she’s speaking--”
Vicky was an only child, besides the whippets, and her parents filled her head with this "You’re the best and smartest and anyone who crosses you shall pay" crap. They probably informed her of her rights until 12am.
The Judge was growing impatient with Vicky’s presumption.
“Well, what will it take for you two to resolve this?”
Neither of us spoke.
“Why don’t you face each other.”
As if she were rolling a stone in front of a tomb, Vicky turned in her seat.
“Grablatch, will you apologize to Vicky for accidentally hitting her with the apple?”
“I already apologized!” I defended myself.
“Well, tell her again,” the Principal coached.
“Sorry for hitting you with the apple,” I said flatly.
“I will accept your apology,” she crisply replied, as if she were British and looking down at a bug.
“Well, ok you two. It’s settled. I hope I don’t see you two in here again.”
Vicky put her files in her briefcase, latched it shut, rose, and strode out of the room with her heels echoing down the hall.
I lingered a little, not wanting to walk too closely behind Vicky.
The Judge stood up behind her desk and leaned forward with a softened mouth.
“Honey, be more careful on the bus, okay?”
I smiled and nodded as I put my beat-up back pack over my shoulder and shuffled out of her chambers.