Monday, December 12, 2011


     Vicky ran up to her friends at their lunch table, almost spilling her tray of food, and jumped into her usual seat at the end. “Oh my god,” she said. “You two are not going to believe what I just heard.”
     Tracy and Becky were deep in a conversation about how Scott Williams dumped Tina Moore, but they could tell Vicky had something juicy so they stopped talking and gave her their full attention.
     Vicky leaned in close. “So I was walking by the teacher’s lounge on my way to English and I totally heard Mr. Jenson talking about Miss Alden’s birthday last week. She told everyone she was 39, but he checked her file and found out she’s really 47. She’s been lying about her age the whole time she’s been teaching here!”
     “Like, for real?” Tracy’s eyes grew wide. Catching a teacher in a lie didn’t happen every day.
     “Swear to god,” said Vicky. “And get this, I also heard him say she lied because at the time she was dating a guy who was 10 years younger than her, and she didn’t want him to know how old she was.”
     “No way!” Becky slapped Vicky’s shoulder in disbelief. This made Scott and Tina’s failed romance seem like old news. “Miss Alden’s is totally a cradle robber!”
     “I know.” Vicky was so proud to have broken the news. “Like, I can’t believe she tried to pass herself off as a 39-year-old. Who could fall for that?”
     “Totally,” said Tracy. “Who does she think she is, Jack Benny?”
     Vicky and Becky started to nod their heads in agreement, then stopped. They both looked a little confused.
     “Jack who?” asked Becky.
     “Jack Benny. I mean, right?” Tracy let the statement hang in the air.
     Becky and Vicky looked at each other, then back at Tracy.
     “Who’s Jack Benny?” asked Vicky. “Is he that hairy guy in Biology?”
     Tracy shook her head. “No, Jack Benny. You know, he was a contemporary of Dina Shore and Red Skeleton, and he was always 39...”
     Becky and Vicky looked at each other again. This time they both rolled their eyes and started to back away from Tracy.
     “Oh my god!” Tracy said, standing up. “If you don’t even know who Jack Benny is, then I just feel embarrassed for both of you.”
     Without another word, she picked up her lunch tray to return it to the cafeteria ladies. As she walked away, Tracy felt a rush of panic overcome her. She told herself to stay calm and focused on showing no visible signs of fear. The new scandal with Miss Alden was good material to divert attention, and she could try reviving the Scott/Tina issue, if necessary. If she played her cards right, she might get past this in one piece. She also made a mental note never to mention TV comedians from the Golden Age. For that matter, she decided it would be best to hide her Abbot and Costello DVD collection in case anyone ever came over. She even thought about taking down the poster of Jerry Lewis that hung above her bed.
     Being cool is a slippery slope.

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