At the sound of the bell, I used to race for the hallway, walking as fast as I could, but not running. Running was against the rules, but walking with your legs straight at breakneck speeds wasn’t. All the geeks and I seemed to race for the cafeteria line. The idea was to get there first, to be first in line, so you wouldn’t get a tray of cold food. Hamburger day, usually Thursday, was the most popular. You always had to hurry to get a good spot in line for those pasty, dry hamburgers.
In fifth and sixth grade I used to watch Bobby eat with his headgear in. Food piled up on the metal part in his mouth. It was pretty disgusting. One day he lost the band for the molar that held his headgear in place. We helped him look for it, but we didn’t find it.
By seventh grade, though, I was looking at girls, and thinking that they were looking at me. In the cafeteria, I always ate facing west, two tables over from where the popular girls (like Reneé Cole) always sat. I rarely stared, but always had them in the corner of my eye. They probably never noticed.