The following is a transcript from the office of Newark High School’s guidance counselor, John Hughes.
MONDAY JANUARY 4, 1:19 p.m.
Xio Xiang (sophomore): Mr. Hughes, you have to help me.
John Hughes (guidance counselor): Slow down, son. What can I do for you?
XX: I don’t know how long I have. I’m being harassed and pummeled everyday by the other students and I’m scared I’m going to do something drastic.
JH: Like getting drunk at a wild party, then jumping out of a tree onto your face and waking up by the curb covered in dog piss.
XX: I was thinking more about using the shotguns I got from Wal-Mart and the homemade C-4 I fashioned from a recipe off the internet.
JH: Now I don’t think that’s going to make you any more popular. But I can help you. First, let’s start with the name—Xio Xiang. That has no comic cache.
XX: It was my grandfather’s name. He was a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist who uncovered the illegal slave trade in China. God rest his soul.
JH: That’s sweet, but I don’t think your grandfather could’ve rocked Newark High School. I was thinking of changing your name to something with more punch, like Phuk Yeu Long or Bang Mi Dong.
XX: Actually, I was hoping that you could show me how to communicate better with the other students so that they won’t savagely beat me everyday.
JH: Well, there’s the way you speak. Your diction is all wrong.
XX: I speak perfect English.
JH: That’s the problem. Where are the hilariously mispronounced words and double entendres? Where’s the accent of your homeland?
XX: I was born in Hoboken.
JH: Is that near Hong Kong?
XX: I think my only option is home schooling.
JH: I don’t see how that’s going to solve your problem. I mean, no one’s going to find you funny there.
TUESDAY JANUARY 15, 12:03 p.m.
Maria Ramirez (freshman): Why am I here?
JH: Well Maria, I’ve heard that you have recently suffered the loss of a boy—someone whom you loved but couldn’t be with because he was from the other side of the tracks.
MR: Actually, he was killed on the tracks in his car by an oncoming train during gang initiation. [Sobs quietly.]
JH: I’m sorry to hear that. Do you have a best friend you can lean on? Maybe a quirky guy friend that is secretly in love with you but you’ve overlooked until now?
MR: You mean like Chewy?
JH: Yeah, what about Chewy?
MR: [bellowing] He was driving the car!
JH: Was the car a red ’84 Porsche 944?
MR: [barely audible] No. It was a used ’72 AMC Eagle.
JH: Oh God! Those things are death traps.
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 10, 2:13 p.m.
Blake Thompson (senior): Hi Mr. Hughes. You wanted to see me?
JH: Blake, I’m a little disappointed in you. It’s your senior year and I don’t think you’re doing enough.
BT: But Mr. Hughes, I’m a straight-A student. I’m in the French Club, German Club, Drama Club, Physics Club, and Babysitter’s Club. I’ve lettered in football, basketball, diving, luge, polo and water polo. I volunteer for Meals on Wheels and the Make a Wish Foundation. I’ve gained early acceptance to Harvard and have been the first ever to be pre-selected as a Rhodes scholar.
JH: It really angers me to see you throw your young life away.
BT: Did I mention that I will be the first teenager to fly in orbit on the shuttle?
JH: Let me ask you this. Have you ever posed as a food magnate to get a table at a fancy restaurant? Have you ever climbed a float during a parade and lip-synched to Wayne Newton while five nubile young women in Bavarian costumes danced around you like cheap strippers?
BT: I fail to see how that’s going to get me out of the projects.
JH: Wait—you’re not a wealthy, white kid from the suburbs?
JH: Well, here’s a job application for the local parking garage. If you’re lucky, you might get to joyride in someone else’s classic sports car someday. Enjoy.
JH: I’ve got to run home and check on my son. He’s home sick from school today. He had very clammy hands.