The Perfect Daughter (Part 2)—Clark Humphrey
The scene is a principal’s office. The lady principal of Roxy’s high school has sent in Roxy and her father Gerry, to be interrogated separately.
Principal Rena Maitland interrogates Roxy. Because this session could potentially lead to serious disciplinary action, the proceedings are recorded on a computer webcam. Ms. Maitland asked about the following incidents:
• Roxy leading a “re-education” group after school, at her home or other sites off of school property.
Ms. Maitland presented, and Roxy confirmed the accuracy of, a set of emailed “lesson plans” for these once- or twice-weekly confabs. The first few sessions discussed “real” sex-ed information, disallowed from public-school curricula by the State Department of Education.
As the weeks went on, until the other kids’ parents found out, Roxy’s lessons grew to include alternate takes on U.S. history (derived from the works of Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky) and the world’s major religions (and what was hypocritical/misogynist/fascist about each of them).
• Roxy’s alleged involvement in a “whisper campaign,” spreading rumors of criminal activity involving two of the school’s most prominent faculty members.
In these rumors, Ms. Davies was accused of trading sexual favors with male students for good grades; and Mr. Thom was accused of committing regular emotional abuse toward his wife and kids. Roxy apologized for participating in the whispering against Mr. Thom; she said she now knew the rumor had started with Mrs. Thom’s divorce attorney and could have been a lie.
But Roxy insisted Ms. Davies deserved to be smeared, that her barter system gave an unfair advantage to the compliant boys (and to girls who could procure compliant boys, something Roxy avowed had happened at least once).
• Roxy’s own status as the target of a rumor campaign against her. The rumor alleged she’d regularly seduced the boyfriends of the school’s more popular girls, as revenge for social slights those girls had supposedly committed against her.
Normally, Ms. Maitland explained, the administration wouldn’t pry into this aspect of students’ personal lives; but in Roxy’s case, this was part of an overall pattern of disruptive behavior. Roxy proclaimed that this particular behavior had only happened once, and she’d done it because she’d felt so sorry for the boy, having to put up with that prissy stuck up girl and all her petty demands all the time. She’d just wanted to show him, just once, what healthy sex without all the brutal mind games could be like.
As he had been at all previous sessions with school administrators and teachers, Gerry expressed neither remorse nor dismay over his daughter’s actions.
He rose to show off his casual wear-clad physique in front of Ms. Maitland. He told her he had his special girl to credit for keeping him on the workouts and off the junk food. He said he counted the day he was awarded Roxy’s primary custody as the day he began to transform, from a slovenly, depressed, withdrawn, overgrown nerd, into someone who was truly alert, aware, and alive.
He boasted of having helped Roxy devise the lessons for her “re-education” club. She’d come home from school one day complaining about the pitiful excuse for sex-ed offered in the school—the abstinence sermons, the distortions and lies about birth control, and the sass about all guys being out-for-just-one-thing jerks who need to be trapped into marriage.
As soon as Roxy told him about the pathetic excuse for education, Gerry put her and himself into high gear. They looked up factual sex-ed material from sites such as Scarleteen.com.
Then Roxy said something along the lines of it was a shame the other kids in the class couldn’t get the real facts. He didn’t have to say anything before she got the thought to get the other kids the real facts. Together the two of them copied, cut, and pasted some of these web articles. She emailed them to a few trusted classmates. That led to the meetups.
That led to the other lessons about other things.
That led to the parents of some of the kids in the meetups finding out and raising a stink.
That led to what Gerry called a smear campaign against Roxy, in which average teen gossiping and average teen sex were inflated into a “pattern of disruptive behavior.”
Gerry stood up again (his head going out of the webcam’s range). He threatened Ms. Maitland that if the district makes any attempt to suspend, reprimand, or transfer Roxy to the district’s “bad kids” school, a whirlwind of legal and PR action would descend upon the district the likes of which neither Ms. Maitland nor the School Board could even imagine.
Watching these video files two years later, an even more self-assured Roxy remarked that it was a shame the cam only caught her and her father.
Gerry agreed, saying it would have been priceless to have a permanent record of Ms. Maitland shrinking at least three inches in height over the course of the hour.