University of Minnesota
minnesota writing project
center for writing

Minnesota Writing Project.Center for Writing's home page.

Ann Johnson

© 2007

Ann Johnson writingMotorboat Races

Stupid Cow.

Doesn’t she see how talented I am?  I am so much better than Julie—she can’t even sing.  Who would give her that part over me?  Now I’m stuck as Screaming Teenager #3 or something, and we all have to listen to Julie squawk away at this song that is too high for her.

OK, fine.  Julie is better on stage than I am.  She has presence or some crap like that, and I sounded nervous in my audition.  Well, I’M SHY!  Miss Sage is the teacher, isn’t she supposed to see that I have potential?  I’m clearly one of the better singers up here and I know I have more inside of me, it just isn’t coming out right now.  Miss Sage, that’s a laugh. All right, Kelsey and Melissa are better than I am, and Nicole got the lead so she obviously is, but I’m still better than a lot of people.  At least I’m better than Julie.


Oh, who am I kidding?  I sounded like a trembling chicken in the audition.  Julie wasn’t the only one squawking—but at least I sounded like a pleasant chicken.  Julie’s voice is so grating.  She must be awesome at shredding cheese.


That wasn’t nice.  I’m a terrible person.  Julie has been my friend since we were six or something.  Eleven years ought to inspire some kind of loyalty from me.  But, she’s good at everything!  Why can’t she let me have something?  She’s the captain of the volleyball and basketball teams, a superstar at track, really smart—she’s going to be the valedictorian—and all the teachers love her, she’s never without a boyfriend, and she’s skinny.  My duvet is less fluffy than I am.  She ought to be totally cocky and unbearable with all of these qualities, but she’s really nice.  She never even talks bad about people.  Stupid bitch.

[big sigh]

I’m going to hell.  Why can’t I be nicer?  I should be nicer.  That’s it, I will be.  I am done being mad at Julie for getting the part that I should have had, even though I totally would have been better.  Everyone would finally have seen how talented I am.            

Wait; wasn’t I trying to be nicer? 

Crap.  Bad start. 

She deserves her part; she’s worked hard for it.  She had to suffer through three years of high school musicals where she was a singing tree stump, just like the rest of us.  Except her tree stump usually had lines or a solo. 


That’s it; I’m total crap at this nice stuff.  I will, from this point on, be impressively kind and cheerful.  I will make Screaming Teenager #3 the best she can be.  I have six lines, after all, and I should give them my full attention.  What’s this girl’s name again?  Right, Deborah Sue. 

 Deborah Sue, Deborah Sue…

She needs a story.  What’s her deal?  What makes her different from Screaming Teens #1-12?  I know…she’ll be totally awkward.  I can probably handle that.  She’ll be the know-it-all, anxious to make friends, but she tries to use her intellectual ability to do it instead of her personality.  She’s just not very socially competent. 

Is it OK that I’ve just turned a character in Bye, Bye Birdie into me?  I wonder if anyone will notice…  Well, people do call me Hermione.  I’ll just play it up and put it in the show.  Certainly if Miss Sage hates it she’ll tell me; she never seems to have a problem with telling me what I’m doing wrong.  Well, at least I’ve given my character some sort of personality—whether or not she agrees with it, there’s something there to be noticed.  She’ll notice me this time.  She’ll see what she’s missed out on.  Monday at rehearsal, I’ll give it my all and be impressively enthusiastic—everything a true screaming teenager should be.



How am I supposed to be impressively enthusiastic when the cow director has run this stupid scene nine times?  Miss Sage has been yelling since the third time through; how is that possibly going to help?  Now everybody’s just scared and tense—too afraid to do anything interesting at all.


I might be going blind.  Could these stage lights be any brighter?  I wonder what will happen if I actually pass out from the heat.  Well, I know what would happen.  People would step on me while they run through this scene for the tenth time.  On the bright side, though, I can’t see the rest of the cast—my supposed friends who are more talented and therefore not cast in a scene with sophomores and given a role with a number attached—and I know they’re feeling my pain. I can feel their eyes.  Thank goodness I can only see about the first two rows of the hideous gold and blue plastic seats.  The rest of this stupid little theatre is in darkness.  There’s Julie, sneaking up to the first row to give me an encouraging thumbs-up and a smile.  Why is she so nice?  I hate her.  

OK, no I don’t.  That was really nice of her. 


Wait, is today Monday? 

That explains it…Miss Sage does this every Monday:  she spends half the rehearsal on one scene, screaming at the victims of the day about not being convincing, not conveying the joy of the scene, not acting like this is the most fun we’ve ever had.  Is the screaming supposed to motivate me?  I’m unimpressed with the technique.  I don’t feel motivated.  I feel warm.  And sort of hungry.  I wonder if there are any Pop Tarts in the vending machine?

Oh wait, I’m on stage.  What am I supposed to be doing?  Ah, right…impressively enthusiastic.  Why is my arm damp?  OK, that needs to stop, the sophomore next to me is actually crying now.  Eww.  Miss Sage seriously needs to stop shouting at the sixteen-year-olds.  This girl’s not going to be any help getting this scene more exciting.  What about the rest of them?  Nope, everyone else on stage looks all red and puffy too.  Who put me in a scene with all sophomores?  They’re all terrified of looking like idiots and that Miss Sage won’t like them anymore.  What do I care?  This is my last show here regardless; I should just go ahead and look like an idiot.  I’m sitting on a box in front of a sort-of-gold curtain and am supposed to believe this is a “boat shed”…how much worse could it get?  Who could possibly think this looks like a boat shed?  I hope the audience has a good imagination…or lowered expectations based on the drivel this school usually produces. 

“No, do it again!  You’re not believable!  You should be more excited about spending time with Conrad Birdie!  Try again!”

Is she kidding me?  The kid playing Conrad Birdie is cute, granted, but he can’t sing his way out of a paper bag.  It’s hard to want to scream in ecstasy when he sings—well, I’m sure I can just scream in pain.  Nobody needs to know the real reason. 

Anyway, impressively enthusiastic.  Except for the crying, nobody else has changed anything since we began this scene, so I’ll do it.  Hmmm…maybe that’s why Sage’s frustrated.  Whatever, she’s a mean cow.  Oh, crap—I was going to be nicer.  And enthusiastic.  I love Conrad Birdie. I am Deborah Sue from Sweet Apple, Ohio and I love Conrad Birdie.  I love Conrad Birdie…

OK, I know what I’ll do:  I’m going to make my line ridiculously over the top.  I’ll be so excited she can’t possibly criticize.  Conrad Birdie is the best thing that’s ever happened!  This is the best idea I’ve ever had!!!  I’m so excited I can hardly keep my seat!!!!!  Deep breath…here it comes…






Why isn’t anyone moving?  No one else has gone on with their lines because they’re all staring at me.  No seriously, they’re all staring—the cow director, the idiot sophomores on stage, those in the audience, everyone. 

Crap, what did I do now?


What’s going on?  Miss Sage is actually sitting on the stage floor with tears in her eyes, she’s laughing so hard.  The idiot sophomores are just looking stunned, but some are managing to giggle nervously.  Is that applause coming from the audience? It’s surprisingly loud.  What’s happening?  Why is there clapping?  Are those audience members standing up?  I can’t see—do these lights have to be this bright?  Why is the cast standing up?  Oh, Miss Sage is yelling over the applause. 

“That’s it!  Exactly what I wanted!  Everyone find the excitement Ann had!  She was perfect—now do the whole scene again with that level of enthusiasm.”

Did Miss Sage just give me a compliment?  She’s still sitting on the floor.  I’m pretty sure that’s the first compliment in four years of high school.  I don’t even know what to do with that.               Weird.

Now here comes stupid, perfect Julie…smiling and telling me how good that was…

OK, I seriously need to be nicer.