I walked into Mr. Polenski’s room with the usual smile on my face unaware of the monster on the board. I took my usual seat in the last row, second chair, behind Justin, diagonal from Brandon, next to Liz. Mr. Polenski was sitting casually with his legs crossed not paying any of his students an ounce of attention. Liz turned to me and her face read “Where’s my hug?” I answered her question and gave her a tight squeeze. Witnessing the disturbing act (in his eyes) Brandon turned and threw up his hands as he made a short clicking noise. This was usually a sign of annoyance on his part. I looked slightly to the left and noticed Justin slowly shaking his head without acknowledging any of us. Being overcome by the Déjà vu of this moment I began to giggle as I tried to sit. But that’s when I saw it; the monster scribbled across the board in slanted all capital letters. My giggling ceased and my eyes turned to slits. I was now engaged in a show down with this mystery word.
I tapped Liz without taking my eyes off the board. “What is that?”
“Umm,” she turned to me, “it’s a word” she answered.
“Haha, no duh it’s a word. But what does it mean?”
She paused and her face went blank. “I actually don’t know.” She replied.
My mouth turned into a tight line and I let out a discouraged moan. My hand shot up. “Mr. Polenski.” I called. He sighed and put down his newspaper to make eye contact. “What’s that?” I asked pointing to the far right end of the board childishly. A quick smile crossed his lips as he looked to the side quickly then back at me.
“What’s what.” He asked holding back laughter. I sighed heavily; I didn’t want to play this game.
“The word on the board Mr. Polenski.” I said with annoyance.
“What about it.”
“Mr. Polenski” I whined carrying out the ‘i’ in his last name, “I just want you to tell me what it means.” His face perked up and he sat straight in his chair pretending to just understand what I was asking him.
“Oh, you mean anthropomorphism.”
“YES” I replied happily, he ended the game. But my happiness was short lived because he began to pick up the newspaper again. “No, Mr. Polenski I want to know what it means.” He lowered his paper so I could only see his eyes.
“Look it up.”
Just as I was about to give up on the conversation his answer gave me fuel. “Oh my god, no. I hate the dictionary.” He chuckled and closed the paper.
“Then I guess you’ll never find out what it means.” I began to respond as Liz put her had on my arm.
“Just stop.” She said quietly.
I sighed and glared at Mr. Polenski who seemed all too pleased with himself.
“Okay class, close your journals and take out your Read magazines.”
I did as I was told the rest of the period but I couldn’t get that unnecessarily long word out of my mind. I came to class everyday and the word remained in the same position on board. I didn’t care what Mr. Polenski said, there was no way I was using the dictionary. But by the third day I couldn’t handle it, I gave in. I went home and looked up the word. That Friday I went to Mr. Polenski even though I didn’t have him that period. His classroom was full of faces I didn’t recognize but it didn’t matter I was only there for him. “Mr. Polenski.” I said happily standing in his doorway.
“Yes.” He said in a voice to deep for his personality.
“I looked it up.”
“Looked what up?” he questioned with a smile.
I rolled my eyes “Anthropomorphism.”
“And?” he asked.
“It means,” I answered with pride “the attribution of human characteristics or behavior to a god, animal, or object.”
Mr. Polenski’s smile widened “Yes, that’s exactly what it means.”
I shook my head in disbelief “And you couldn’t just tell me that in the first place?”
Mr. Polenski turned me around and began to usher me out the door. “Nope, now get to class.”
I sighed and walked away unsure of exactly who won this time.
Age 13, Grade 8
Mark Twain I.S. 239 for Gifted and Talented