The boy closed his eyes. He hated this moment. Knowing it was coming just made it worse.
"John, John Dillon?" the teacher called out.
The boy opened one eye a tiny bit. He saw a blond kid in the next row raise his hand and say "Here!" with a big smile. He had perfect teeth. All the girls turned to look at him. His smile got bigger. "Jennifer, Jennifer Farnsworth?" the teacher continued.
The boy put both hands on his head as if he could hide if he just pushed down hard enough.
A girl with long, flowing hair and a butterfly pin above her ear raised her hand. "It's 'Jen,' " she said. "Just 'Jen.' " The boy thought she was the prettiest girl he had ever seen. He noticed that John Dillon turned slightly in his seat and winked at her.
Of course, he thought. How typical. The perfect boy and the perfect girl already found one another. Life was so unfair.
He folded his arms and rested his head on them, completely covering his head with his hands. The teacher hesitated. He knew that meant she had come to his place on the class attendance list. Finally, he heard what he had dreaded all morning. "Myron, Myron -- " There was a long, pause. "Glebschnockerwatz?"
He clenched his teeth, waiting for the snickers to come, then slightly raised his index finger. The teacher didn't see it.
She looked down again at her class list and said in an even louder voice. "Myron H. Z. Glebschnockerwatz?"
Oh, no! Have mercy! The boy sat bolt upright as if from an electric shock. But it was too late.
"Myron Herman Zoltran Glebschnockerwatz?"
This time the class erupted in laughter. Myron's face turned beet red as he raised his hand. "Here," he said in a timid voice.
"Hush!" the teacher scolded the class while giving him a sympathetic look. She returned to her class list. "Hank, Hank Henderson?"
Myron just wanted to disappear under his desk. When the class ended, he wondered why he didn't hear the cruel taunts of his fellow students. They were all crowding together and pushing toward the promised freedom of the hallway.
John Dillon bumped him from behind, causing Myron to pitch forward right into the back of Jennifer Farnsworth.
Jennifer whirled around clutching her books tightly to her chest. "You bumped me!"
Myron was about to apologize when John Dillon stepped from behind him. "It was my fault," he said. "I accidentally knocked -- hey, what was your name again?"
Oh sure, Myron thought. That old trick. Pretend to forget my name so that you can make fun of it by forcing me to say it out loud. Might as well get it over with. "Myron," he whispered. "My name's Myron Glebschnockerwatz."
To his surprise, John didn't even try to taunt or tease. Instead, he just gave him a friendly slap on the back. "Right, Myron. I won't forget."
Jennifer smiled at him. "Sorry I blamed you, Myron."
Myron was so surprised he just stood there as the rest of the class filed out around him. He pushed his thick glasses higher on his nose.
It was then he saw the writing on the board. He had kept his head down and his glasses off in class. This was the first time he was seeing the teacher's name written in big purple letters.
Myron smiled for the first time that morning. Maybe this school year wouldn't be so bad after all.
Special thanks to Andrew Mitchell for his illustration. To see more of his work, visit ajmitchellart.com.