Today, hockey practice is extended due to an embarrassing loss at the hands of what should have been an easy opponent.
“There ain’t no reason why we couldn’t have won that one, boys,” repeats my coach as he watches us do extra suicides to atone for our defeat the night before.
I’m well aware of the double negative uttered by my coach, but I refrain from correcting him for fear of additional suicides. While in public, my appreciation for words and proper grammar has to remain a secret.
I walk across the hallway, weaving through groups of students huddled around their lockers and make it to my English class without a second to spare. As I sit, the teacher asks us to take out our copies of To Kill a Mockingbird — the book that we are to discuss today.
The teacher asks a few basic questions regarding the book, and the usual suspects answer. Rebecca, one of the smarter students, offers a brilliant analysis but is countered with disrespectful whispers from our classmates.
Then, rather unexpectedly, the teacher asks me to comment. I take a minute to reflect and take a deep breath before answering. Torn between sincerity and dishonesty, I choose the former, as a surge of courage overwhelms me.
I tell her that I enjoyed the book, and that I especially identified with the theme of prejudice – a theme which is clearly portrayed by the character of Boo Radley. The teacher smiles and, without responding to my comment, continues with her questioning.
When the bell rings my classmates make their way to the door and rush to their next class. I exit the room and run into several of my teammates, waiting for me.
“Nice answer. When did you become such a nerd?” one of the guys says sarcastically.
Normally an admirer of words, I’m reminded of how hurtful they can be when used with malevolent intent. Adolescence is a constant popularity contest, and being "different" excludes you from the perks that accompany a position at the top of the social hierarchy.
Aware of this, I respond, “I just used Sparknotes. I didn’t actually read the book.”
Now, seven years removed from the confined walls of high school, and no longer interested in the social hierarchy that once was my raison d’être, I proudly display my books and my love for words, stories and grammar. What used to be a source of insecurity has become a source of pride. It’s taken time, but I've come to learn that acceptance from others means nothing until you can accept yourself.
After spending ample time confined to a cubicle, Pierre has decided to hang up his suit and tie in order to pursue a writing career. He is a student at Algonquin College, in his final year in the Professional Writing program. Outside of class, Pierre is a passionate individual with a penchant for learning. A self-proclaimed nerd at heart, he also enjoys playing baseball and hockey, running, and over-analyzing things. On a rainy day, you can find him at his typewriter, transcribing his inner monologue.