dvajWESTSIDER LeROY NEIMANCompare Alk?us, Fragm. 90, ed. Bergk, and Herodot. vii, 172.with the ball between her feet, staring at our house. My mom didn't understand why it was so awful that ?that cute little girl? had held my hand. She thoughtI should make friends with her. ?I thought you liked soccer, honey. Why don't you go out there and kick the ball around?? Because I didn't want to be kicked around, that's why. And although I couldn't say it like that at the time, I still had enough sense at age seven and a half to know that Juli Baker was dangerous. Unavoidably dangerous, as it turns out. The minute I walked into Mrs.Yelson's second-grade classroom, I was dead meat. ?Bryce!? Juli squeals. ?You're here.? Then she charges across the room and tackles me. Mrs. Yelson tried to explain this attack away as a ?welcome hug,? but man, that was no hug. That was a front-line, take-'em-down tackle. And even though I shook her off, it was too late. I was branded for life. Everyone jeered, ?Where's your girl friend, Bryce?? ?Are you married yet, Bryce?? And then when she chased me around at recess and tried to lay kisses on me, the whole school started singing, ?Bryce and Juli sitting in a tree, K-I-S-SI- N-G?? My first year in town was a disaster. Third grade wasn't much better. She was still hot on my trail every time I turned around. Same with fourth. But then in fifth grade I took action. It started out slow ?a one of those Nah-that's-not-right ideas you get and forget. But the more I played with the idea, the more I thought, What better way to ward Juli off? What better way to say to her, ?Juli, you are not my type?? And so, my friend, I hatched the plan. I asked Shelly Stalls out. To fully appreciate the brilliance of this, you have to understand that Juli hates Shelly Stalls. She always has, though it beats me why. Shelly's nice and she's friendly and she's got a lot of hair. What's not to like? But Juli hated her, and I was going to make this little gem of knowledge the solution to my problem.What I was thinking was that Shelly would eat lunch at our table and maybe walk around a little with me. That way, anytime Juli was around, all I'd have to do was hang a little closer to Shelly and things would just naturally take care of themselves. What happened, though, is that Shelly took things way too seriously.She went around telling everybody ?a including Juli ?a that we were in love. In no time Juli and Shelly got into some kind of catfight, and while Shelly was recovering from that, my supposed friend Garrett ?a who had been totally behind this plan ?a told her what I was up to. He's always denied it, but I've since learned that his code of honor is easily corrupted by weepy females. ----------------------- Page 6-----------------------That afternoon the principal tried cross-examining me, but I wouldn't cop to anything. I just kept telling her that I was sorry and that I really didn't understand what had happened. Finally she let me go. Shelly cried for days and followed me around school sniffling and making me feel like a real jerk, which was even worse than having Juli as a shadow. Everything blew over at the one-week mark, though, when Shelly officially dumped me and started going out with Kyle Larsen. Then Juli started up with the goo-goo eyes again, and I was back tosquare one. Now, in sixth grade things changed, though whether they improved is hard to say. I don't remember Juli actually chasing me in the sixth grade. But Ido remember her sniffing me. Yes, my friend, I said sniffing. And you can blame that on our teacher, Mr. Mertins. He stuck Juli to me like glue. Mr. Mertins hasgot some kind of doctorate in seating arrangements or something, because he analyzed and scrutinized and practically baptized the seats we had to sit in. And of course he decided to seat Juli right next to me. Juli Baker is the kind of annoying person who makes a point of letting you know she's smart. Her hand is the first one up; her answers are usually complete dissertations; her projects are always turned in early and used as weapons against the rest of the class. Teachers always have to hold her project up and say, ?This is what I'm looking for, class. This is an example of A-plus work.? Add all the extra credit she does to an already perfect score, and I swear she's never gotten lessthan 120 percent in any subject. But after Mr. Mertins stuck Juli right next to me, her annoying knowledge of all subjects far and wide came in handy. See, suddenly Juli's perfect answers, written in perfect cursive, were right across the aisle, just an eye-shot away. You wouldn't believe the number of answers I snagged from her. I started getting A's and B's on everything! It was great! Butthen Mr. Mertins pulled the shift. He had some new idea for ?optimizing positional latitude and longitude,? and when the dust finally settled, I was sitting right in front of Juli Baker. This is where the sniffing comes in. ThatOn the twelfth of February, 1909, the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln, Americans gathered together, throughout the entire country, to honour the memory of a great American, one who may come to be accepted as the greatest of Americans. It was in every way fitting that this honour should be rendered to Abraham Lincoln and that, on such commemoration day, his fellow-citizens should not fail to bear also in honoured memory the thousands of other good Americans who like Lincoln gave their lives for their country and without whose loyal devotion Lincoln's leadership would have been in vain.dvaj
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