by Bert Hart
7 AM. The girl nervously approaches the main, locked door of Darwin High. Sheís wearing a gray cashmere sweater, peach blouse, short tartan skirt, and cobalt tights. A boy, a stranger, is ahead of her at the door. He turns and smiles, dropping his eyes, checking her out the way boys do. She realizes with a start that he must be the one who won the essay contest.
Principal Trefthen opens the door from the inside and ushers them in.
"Titus, this is Corrine, Corrine, Titus. Come with me."
At least the boy is reasonably handsome. She wonders if he is kind, if he will listen to her when she tries to set some limits.
Treffie escorts them to the nurseís office. There are white cabinets and a padded examination table. Corrine imagines lying on her back, Titus bending over her. There is a bed, too.
"Titus, late yesterday afternoon Corrine and her parents were in my office, and we reviewed the physical evidence and the surveillance tapes. Everything was pretty obvious, and Corrine admitted she had done it. I could offer her only two alternatives under the law. She could be expelled from Darwin and barred from all other high schools, which would effectively end her plans to attend college. Or she could accept a single Day of Humiliation. She chose that. An agreement was drawn up, and she and her parents both signed.
"She wanted to know the boyís name, but I had either forgotten or never was told the name of the contest winner. It was some months ago, and frankly I never expected the winner to collect his reward, as Darwin girls seldom get into serious trouble. Titus, last night I read your essay, and it is most excellent. I have left a copy on the table. I suppose you might wish to keep it from your parents, but I suggest you take it home and keep it in a safe place as a memento.
"Corrine, last night I went to Titusís home, told his parents how proud we were of him, and got their permission for him to participate. Also, I was able to speak to him in private, so he knows pretty much what his rights and responsibilities are. He will do things to you today which will embarrass and humiliate you. The entire school will witness some of these things; otherwise not. Your punishment will serve as a warning and a deterrent to others. I understand that in your head you know by now that your behavior was wrong. Soon you will know it...viscerally.
"Now Iím going to leave the two of you alone to get better...acquainted. The nurse does not come on duty until 8:30. I will come and get you at that time. I will place a Do Not Disturb sign on the door outside, and you should lock it from the inside.
"Corrine, you are required to answer all of Titusís questions truthfully, and obey his every order. There are certain items in the large white cabinet he is authorized to use if necessary. But Iím sure, having signed the agreement, you are prepared to do your duty. Iíll see you at 8:30, then."
When they are alone and the door is locked, he is the first to speak. "What exactly did you do?"
"I copied off a boyís exam, he was sitting next to me."
"AP pre-calculus statistics. I have to take calc next year, I thought it would help. But Iím pretty much totally lost. Iíve always had trouble with math. All my other grades are great. Unfortunately, the boy made a silly typo, miscopied a number from one line to the next. So naturally I made the same mistake, which made Mr. Fortunato suspicious when he graded. So he and Treffie reviewed the surveillance tapes, and there you are."
"So you cheated." Titus looks at her skeptically.
"Ah, yes, you could call it that."
"Back up against the wall."
Corrine does so, looking frightened. She thinks heís going to trap her, feel her up, start taking off her clothes.
Titus draws a black felt tip marker from his pocket and uncaps it. He stands inches away and applies it just above her left eyebrow. He makes a single stroke, an I. He moves to his right and starts a new word. A C. An H. When she guesses what will be written on her face all day for everyone to see, she shakes her head Ďnoí. He grasps her chin with his left hand and steadies her. Momentarily she freezes, and he continues. She tries to slide her body away. He removes his hand from her chin and presses it firmly against her right breast. She is shocked into stillness, allowing him to finish the word.
Itís not that a stranger is feeling her up that scares her, even though no boy has ever touched her there before. She knows things like this, and even worse things, are going to happen. Rather, itís the casual way he pushes against her, as if he knows he has every right to rudely grope her, as if sheís just a piece of meat. She knows she has to start negotiations right away, before he starts thinking he can do anything he wants.
"Please, Titus, ask me first, yes, I would have let you touch me there, maybe a little more gently, but I know you have certain rights...I know you have certain needs, Iím willing to talk, do things with you, things Iíve never done with a boy before, but Iím saving myself for marriage so I canít like, do THAT, but yes, we can work something out..."
But Titus interrupts. "I think it would be best if you read my essay. Out loud." He picks it up and hands it to her. She begins to read.
Why I Would Like To Be A Humiliator By Titus Johnson
If the proverbial Martian came to Darwin High, it would first of all notice that there are two groups of humans, Ďboysí and Ďgirlsí, inferior and superior. It would see that girls dominate the extracurricular life of the school. For example, over 90% of the staff of the school paper and annual are girls. A simple count would reveal that, both in and out of class, girls say three to four times as many words as boys every day, proving themselves to be more verbal and sociable. Our Martian would see that girls have GPAís about a half point higher then boys, and that 60 to 70% of Darwinís college-bound students are girls. 'Girls rule, boys drool'. The Martian would assume that girls run the school and the world, and that boys, like certain male spiders, are kept around only for reproduction. Sometimes I feel the Martian is right.
One group of girls at Darwin can be approached, as a male praying mantis approaches a female, only at great risk. If a boy does not shop at certain stores and wear certain clothes, in short, if he does not come from a wealthy family, he will be ignored or ridiculed. If I were to have the privilege of assisting one of these stupid and vain girls through her personal Humiliation Day, the very first thing I would do is to take her into the boysí bathroom, bend her over a sink, and scrub off all her expensive makeup. Then I would remove her Hermes scarf, her Prada bag, and every item of her clothing, making her recite as each came off the brand name and cost. And when she was completely naked and on display, the boys crowding around, I would order her to converse with them about any topic she might choose, excepting only clothing and money. And so she would reveal, along with the nakedness of her body, the bareness of her intellect.
But not all are like that. I see groups of girls in the halls, talking and talking and talking, comforting each other, hugging, sharing, forming enduring friendships. Things boys just canít do. If I approach such a group, they fall silent. Iíve prepared a few remarks, but now that Iím close to them, I see their breasts, I smell their perfume, Iím so lame, I mangle what I want to say. They are too kind. They agree with whatever foolish thing I speak, patronizing me. I turn and walk away and they resume their conversation. Perhaps there is a tinkling of laughter. Perhaps they ARE a superior species. Yet, I feel that if I had a chance, I would very much like to take one of them down a peg or two, to show her whoís boss. To place her under me, groaning.
But worst of all are the few girls whose company I most enjoy. They treat me as their equal. I learn from them and teach as well. I can talk to them about anything. Anything, that is, except sex. As soon as I raise that topic, itís sayonara. They tell me that they like me a lot, but only as a Ďfriendí. Whatís with that? Donít girls like sex, too? Here I am every day, thinking about sex more or less nonstop, wishing they knew what boys go through, but they wonít listen. Am I ugly? Do I smell? I donít think so. Iíd like to put one of them through Humiliation. I think by the end of the day Iíd know just how she really feels about sex. I think sheíd like it. A lot. Then she wouldnít be snooty anymore. Sheíd beg me to do her every day.
I have, I think, shown a certain hostility towards girls in this essay. But I donít really hate them, I just want to humiliate them. And thatís not because Iím a bad person, but because Iím a sexually frustrated one. If I were to meet a willing girl I could easily fall in love and leave all my hostility behind. But as it is, I hate every day that passes because it is a day I havenít yet done anything sexual with a girl. Iíve never felt up a girl, never seen a girl naked, never done anything, and itís driving me crazy.
So really it just all comes down to a simple fact. I want to be a Humiliator so I can get laid.
Corrine is too astonished to speak. She looks at Titusís calm handsome face. Is this what all boys are like, underneath? "I donít think you have...have the right..."
"Yes, I do. They told us that when we wrote our essays, why do you think I tried so hard? And Treffie was very clear when he talked to me in private last night; he even gave me some sex advice. And your father must have known."
Her father, indeed, had looked at her kind of sadly, but she had thought it was because she had disappointed him.
"So, Corrine, whatís it gonna be? Will you cooperate?"
She wonders what might happen if she just goes to the door and leaves for home. Her father, whoís a big believer in living up to your word, might just send her right back . Then sheíd have to find Titus and beg him to do her. Or if she didnít have to come back, sheíd be suspended, and college would be out.
But itís not even certain sheíd get out the door. Maybe Titus would grab her and drag her over to that cabinet with the scary stuff in it. Maybe heíd handcuff her or tie her up and then do whatever he wanted. Maybe heíd hurt her. He says he doesnít hate girls, but he might get angry.
She doesnít have any choice. She raises her eyes to his. He is looking at her forehead, where "I CHEATED" is written. Suddenly she blushes from head to toe as a wave of shame engulfs her. She did cheat. She deserves to be punished. But she seeks one last concession. She lowers her eyes. "Yes, but please donít hurt me. You know Iíve never..."
"Iíll do my best to be gentle. But you know, a girlís first time...raise your arms over your head."
Titus approaches and grasps the bottom of her sweater. His eyes are burning...