In addition to losing all recess privileges for the next two weeks, John’s puppet would also have to spend one whole week eating its lunch in the principal’s office (both sentences to be served concurrently). The puppet would report to the cafeteria and go through the lunch line as usual; but as soon as it emerged from the assembly-line serving queue it would be marched humiliatingly across the room, out of the cafeteria, and down the long hallway to Mrs. Moline’s office, tray in hand. It might as well have been made to wear a folding sandwich-board sign reading “I think it’s funny to make old ladies cry.”
How very surprised the little puppet was to learn that not one person in a position of authority gave so much as the tiniest shit about its pleading explanation that it was in fact John who had made him say that terrible thing to Ms. Driscoll; and this, to the puppet’s way of thinking, represented a full-scale breach of the social contract that, even if only implicitly, ostensibly brokers the tenuous peace that allows puppet and lay-folk to co-exist in relative harmony. But there was nary an ear willing to hear, embrace or even consider this argument.
At any rate, though, Mrs. Smith, the office secretary, was nice enough; and the principal, Mrs. Moline, almost never spent any time in her office- at least not during the lunch hour; so it wasn’t like the puppet was doing what anybody could reasonably call “hard time.” Mrs. Smith would talk to the puppet all through the lunch period, never once telling it to be quiet, and even listening, rapt, as it regaled her day after day with colorful tales of deeds of tomfoolery, oblivious irreverence, and puppetry run amok. Throughout the lunch period, students and faculty alike would lean and peer curiously into the principal’s office as they passed by, drawn thither by the reckless ballyhoo of Mrs. Smith’s loud belly-laughs echoing all up and down the hallway. The puppet did not mind in the least having such an enthusiastic and captive audience as Mrs. Smith for the week. There were way worse ways to spend 45 minutes of one’s day, admitted the puppet to itself at one point.
At the end of Friday’s lunch period, the puppet’s sentence in the principal’s office had at last been served in full. Freedom beckoned. The puppet collected its tray and various other lunch-related sundries, and prepared to return to the world of its fellows. The puppet then bid a fond adieu to its one-woman laughing gallery; and as it walked out the door of the office, Mrs. Smith stopped it and said “Don’t tell your mother or your teacher I said this; but this has been by far the most fun and entertaining week I’ve ever had in this office, and I’ve been sitting in this chair for almost twenty years. Now try to behave yourself. Take care, Derek.”
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