Stephanie Anderson was excited when she walked into Mrs. Meyer’s second grade class on Tuesday morning. It was American Idols day in class; a day to celebrate the people that the class held as heroes. There were some restrictions: your hero had to be someone famous, either a celebrity or a historical figure. This meant that Stephanie couldn’t go as her grandma, which is what she really wanted to do. She had a great idea, though, and she couldn’t wait to show off her hero for the class. They also had to come in dressed as their hero, and they had to give a short presentation.
That morning, her mom helped her with her costume, which they had picked out over the weekend at the local Goodwill. For her presentation, she would get up in front of the class and give a speech. Not one that she had made up herself, but one that came from her American hero. She knew that she wouldn’t have time to give the entire speech, but she wanted to give enough of the speech so that the class knew who her hero was.
When she entered the classroom, no one noticed her. The seating arrangement was set up in reverse alphabetical order by last name, so Stephanie was seated toward the rear of the class close to the door. She didn’t really want to be noticed though, not now. She wanted to make her grand entrance at the podium when she went up to give her speech.
Her main concern now was making sure that no one else had picked the same hero that she had chosen. She scanned the classroom, looking around at the students that had arrived in class before she had. There was a buzz of excitement around the room as the students showed off their costumes to each other. It looked like almost everyone had already arrived in class, and they were dressed in a colorful array of costumes.
Brenda Mackey wore a one piece with a winking teddy bear on the front. The teddy bear had its tongue sticking out, and the ears were where Brenda’s breasts would be if she were old enough to have any. On her hand, she had a foam finger that she kept making suggestive motions with that she had seen on TV, motions that she wasn’t quite old enough to discern what they meant. She was grinding on her brother Tyson who was dressed in a black and white striped suit. They were showing Marcus Redford the dance moves they had been practicing for their joint presentation.
Marcus leaned against a desk as he watched Tyson and Brenda dance, nodding his head as if listening to music they were performing. For his idol, Marcus had to have his face done up with make-up to lighten his black complexion. He wore a blond Halloween wig that flowed past his shoulders, and a dress made out of pink and red fabric sown together to look like slabs of meat. As Tyson and Brenda finished their dance, Marcus started singing, “I’m on the right track, baby/ I was born this way.”
Stephanie saw Jeremy Spencer across the room. He had his hair styled into a modified pompadour with a considerable amount of gel and hair products. His skin was covered in an uneven and dark fake tanning spray. He carried around a Fisher Price Turntable that he sat on a desk and acted like he was a DJ in a nightclub getting the attention of some of the other students. Jeremy started pumping his fist in the air, shouting, “GTL! GTL! GTL!”
Mrs. Meyer laughed at the display from her desk at the front of the classroom and asked Jeremy, “What does GTL stand for?”
“Gym Tan Laundry,” Jeremy said in an unconvincing Jersey accent. “Maybe you should try it out, Mrs. M.” The teacher laughed as the rest of the class went back to cheering him on.
There were a lot of different costumes among the class, and some were repeated, but no one seemed to have thought of wearing the same costume as Stephanie. While everyone was showing off their costumes, she opened up her backpack and pulled out a piece of paper. On the paper was her speech. She didn’t want to forget it and make her hero look bad, so she studied until Mrs. Meyer called the class to order.