FICTION – How to Attend Public School by Ryan Strong

8 a.m.

Leave all conjunctive adverbs at the door. There is nothing more off-putting and socially suicidal than a kid who says moreover, furthermore or henceforth.

In the morning, take your ID out as the burly security guard waves a magnetic wand down your legs. Tuck your ID back in as soon as he’s done, so no one will know you get free lunch.

10 a.m.

Use profanity often. In the hallways, answer ‘shit’ as frequently as possible. You will soon discover it is versatile and can be used in a myriad of ways. However, never, out loud, say something can be used in a myriad of ways.

Examples, you will soon discover, include: What you do this weekend? Shit. Did you see what he was wearing? Shit. Where you about to go? Shit. Succinct conversations are key.

In class, sit somewhere near the middle. Never in the front and certainly never all the way in the back. You will quickly discover the back is reserved for the authentically rough kids. They will sniff you out.

11 a.m.

Do not be surprised if there aren’t enough books to go around. Your twenty-two year old teacher will pair you with a book buddy. “Does everyone have a B-Buddy,” she will ask. “Now, turn and give it to your B-buddy!”

At every mention of B-Buddy, expect someone to make a crack about gay people. Laugh along even though, in reality, you are much more appalled about the absurdity of abbreviating a four-letter word.

Downplay your post-secondary educational plans. In your head, Vassar, Northwestern, and Stanford become city community college X, Y or Z.

1 p.m.

Before entering the cafeteria, ensure your Jordans match your jersey and your hat. In the lunch line, nod at the authentically rough kids, but never open your mouth.

3 p.m.

Lastly, in the event that you are complimented on your outfits, never say thank you or that you put a considerable amount of effort into the unsung art of color coordination. Never do that. Play it off. Simply lift your chin, shrug and say, “Shit.”


Ryan Strong is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College. He lives in Brooklyn and is working on his first novel.


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