Group Chats and Television
I was lying on my bed, half asleep, procrastinating schoolwork, staring at my pink, purplish-pink, orange, white, and almost-red colored hair dyes on my dresser in a neat line, arranged just like the lesbian pride flag.
I rolled onto my back, counting down from ten before getting up and beginning my math homework. Bored, I took a minute to doodle a pin at the top, shading it in with a red colored pencil I found in the drawer on my desk. FOR THE CAUSE, I wrote at the top, around the button. Proud, I took a picture of my math sheet and sent it to Gracie, making sure not to show any of my answers, not because I didn’t trust her, but because I didn’t want to do anything that could get me in trouble. She wrote back right away.
Yes! Can I send it to everyone else?
Sure. I replied, why don’t you make a group chat?
She agreed that this would be best, and shortly thereafter, there was a ding, as I was added to a group chat. I spent the rest of the afternoon joking around with all these people I might even have called my friends in between various math and social studies assignments.
When I went downstairs for dinner, my mom was smirking at me. My dad did not look amused. “I hear there was some disruption at the school today, Jamie. Know anything about that?”
I smiled unconvincingly. “Oh, it was just a couple kids dressing up as the other gender or something. I’m not even really sure.”
“Why would they do that?” If I hadn’t known better, I would have thought my father was asking his potatoes.
“I think they were protesting or something? It’s completely within the school rules.”
My phone dinged.
“Seems like they’re just making fools of themselves.”
“Now Howard. Be nice.”
My phone dinged.
“I’m just stating the obvious!”
“They’re taking responsibility for their lives. Claiming what they want! It’s a good-”
My phone dinged twice.
“A good thing. Jamie can you turn that off?”
“Yeah. Sure. Hold on.” I reached into my pocket and pulled out my phone to turn Do Not Disturb on. I glanced over the texts when I did, noticing they were all from the group chat. “Whoa,” I muttered.
“Off please, Jamie.”
I switched it off and put it back in my pocket. “So apparently they’re running a local news story on the reversed clothes thing.”
My mother’s eyebrows went up about an inch. “Really?”
“Mhm. They’re running it right now. Can we turn it on?”
She shrugged. “By all means.”
My father finished his meal in another giant bite and stood. “I’m going upstairs. I don’t need to hear some news story about a couple of misfits who think they can change the world.”
My mother and I ignored him and walked into the living room, where I grabbed the remote and turned it on to the instructed channel.
I gave a little gasp when I saw a photo of all of us standing in the front of the school. I wondered who had taken it. It must’ve been before Gracie and I got there, because we were not in it. I glanced at my mom. She had tears in her eyes. Grown ups were so so weird.
“We have brought in Principle Heerdom to talk about what he thinks about the, uh, protesters.” Said the man on camera. I pulled my legs to my chest.
The principal walked on screen. After a brief introduction, they moved onto the interview. “So what do you think of all this?”
Mr. Heerdom was a natural interviewee. He looked right at the camera, and I got the sense he was speaking directly to me when he said, “I think it is absolutely ridiculous and pointless. Those kids are wasting potential and embarrassing themselves for nothing. Nothing, you hear me?” He might as well have added a you hear me, Jamie to the end.
After that it went something like this:
Interviewer: “Interesting. So you don’t support their cause?”
Interviewee: “Not at all. They are acting like children. If they can’t handle being called the wrong name occasionally how are they going to make it in the real world?”
Me [In my living room]: [Clenches fists, angrily]
Me [In my living room]: “What a-”
My mother [In my living room]: “Jamie, shh.”
Interviewer: “Do they plan to continue this dress up game?”
Me [In my living room]: “Dress up game?!”
Interviewee: “I think they plan to have different things each day, something like that from what I gathered.”
Me [In my living room]:
Interviewer: “Ah. Now are these students normally trouble makers?”
Interviewee: “No. Two of them are at the top of the senior class. Most of the students are on honor roll. Many of these students have had no reason to cause trouble in the past.”
Interviewer: “I see.”
Me [In my living room]: [Turns off TV.]