Vanderbilt's Undergraduate Literary & Arts Journal

The Vanderbilt Review

The Vanderbilt Review

The Vanderbilt Review

A Corndog by Any Other Name



My name is Millicent Brown. I am 17 years old. I am in Mrs. Panapolis’s special education class at Waterview High School. My friend Ava is the only other person in my class right now. I like my petting my dog. I also like playing basketball in the special olympics. I do not like to read.

A few days ago, Mrs. Panarolis made me read for a very long time. The book I had to read was about pandas. I like photos of pandas, but not words about them.

“The panda eats ee   ee     ecatus” I read.

“Eucalyptus.” Mrs. Panarolis corrected.

“Eucalyptus leaves. Why can’t I go to art?” I asked.

“Reading is important, Millie.” Mrs. Panarolis said.

“Madison and Kaitlyn are at art right now. I want to go too.”

“Finish the next two paragraphs, then you can go to art.”

“Maybe it should be Ava’s turn to read now.”

“Millie, Ava can’t read.”

“Maybe she would know how to read if you taught her how.”

“Millie, that’s not how it works. Ava never started using her voice to talk, so she’s unable to read. Now finish these paragraphs so we can be done.”

Finally I got to go to art. Me, Mrs. Paranolis, and my friend Ava all went together. Me and Mrs. Paranolis walked, and Ava rolled there in her wheelchair. On my way to art I saw someone in the ceiling. They were standing on a stepladder and half of their body was in the ceiling.

Mrs. P stopped walking and turned towards the person in the ceiling. Ava drove her wheelchair towards Mrs. P and ran over her foot.

“Ava, you need to be more careful. If you keep running over people’s feet, I’m going to have to steer your wheelchair for you.” Mrs. P said.

While Mrs. P was talking, I looked at the ceiling person’s pants. I couldn’t tell who it was.

“Why are you in the ceiling?” I asked.

“I’m investigating the behavior of some of your classmates.” the man in the ceiling said. It was Mr. Paranolis! He is the principal.

“Oh boy.” Mrs. Paranolis said.


The next day I went to school. I looked up at the ceiling and the ceiling was gone. It was dark and empty up there. There was no ceiling in the hallway, no ceiling in the special ed classroom, and no ceiling in the girl’s bathroom.

“Where’s the ceiling?” I asked Mrs. Parapolis.

“Millie, I don’t understand what you’re asking.” she replied.

“Mrs. Parapolis, the ceiling is gone!”

“That’s not my last name. Please Millie, just call me Mrs. P.”

“Beans beans beans carrots rice.” my friend Ava said with her communication tablet. I don’t know if she’s actually learned how to use the tablet to say real things yet.

I heard the loudspeaker turn on, and I covered my ears. I hate the loudspeaker. I could still hear it even with my hands over my ears.

“Hello, Waterview High students. Many people would expect a high school with only 119 students to have a tight-knit and respectful community. Those people are mistaken. I am very ashamed of each and every one of you. Your complete disregard for and lack of respect for your classmates, teachers, the school building, the school rules, the school buses, and basic human decency is astonishingly disappointing. You may be wondering where the ceiling tiles went. The three janitors and I spent hours removing them, because your behavior has shown us that you don’t even deserve a ceiling. Maybe if you manage to reform yourselves, we will replace the tiles before the end of the year. In your English classes today, you will be writing thank you notes for the janitors…”

Mr. P droned on and on. When he was finally done, Mrs. P said: “So that’s why he was 4 hours late last night.”

“I told you Mrs. P. I told you that there was no ceiling.” I said.

“Yes, you did. Now let’s get back to work.” she replied.

Mrs. Panapolis, Ava, and me practiced our life skills. We washed and folded some costumes for the drama teacher. We also emptied out all of the pop cans in the pop can recycling bins. Eventually we will bring all the cans to the grocery store. Then we will give money to the football team. I don’t like the boys on the football team, but Mrs. Panapolis does. Finally, the day ended and I got to go home.


The next day was really boring until lunch time happened. When we got to the cafeteria there were two boys sitting at our table. I didn’t know who they were.

“Why are you sitting here?” I asked.

“They’re here for Best Buddies.” Mrs. Papanolis said. “School administration is testing out giving students community service hours instead of suspensions.”

“I’m Jerrod and that’s Ryan. We’re both freshmen, and we’re the infamous school criminals. We’re the ones that got the ceiling taken away.” Jerrod said.

“Why did you get the ceiling taken away?” I asked.

“We were celebrating 4/20 in the ceiling above the boys bathroom.” Ryan replied.

“Jerrod, Ryan, that’s not an appropriate topic of conversation.” Mrs. Papanolis said.

“What’s 4/20?” I asked.

“It’s April 20th.” Mrs. Papanolis said. “Now let’s talk about something else. Do you boys have any pets at home? Millie likes animals.”

“Nope. Just a 5 year old sister who screams a lot. Is that smell what I think it is?” Jerrod said.

“It smells like lunch is ready. Maybe we should go get in line. Did anyone bring cold lunch from–” Mrs. Papanolis said.

“Dick on a stick!” Ryan yelled.

“Pardon?” Mrs. Papanolis said.

“Dick on a stick for lunch today.” Ryan said.

“Ryan, please use appropriate language.” Mrs. Papanolis said.

“Why can’t I use ‘inappropriate language’? I use inappropriate language when I’m with my real friends.” Ryan replied.

“Enough. Go get your food.” Mrs. Papanolis said.

I went to go get my lunch and it was corndogs. Maybe that’s what dick on a stick means. We also had french fries and mixed fruit. I sat back down at our table and started eating.

“You have nice shoes.” Jerrod said in between bites.

“My basketball shoes are even more nice. I play basketball for the Special Olympics.” I said.

“That’s cool. My brother used to play basketball in high school.” Jerrod said.

“Do you play basketball?” I asked.

“No, I don’t like basketball. I don’t really like playing any sports. The only school-related activity that I enjoy is woodshop. Guess how many coffee tables I’ve made in the past year.” Jerrod said.

“Is it 257?” I guessed.

“No, only 12. But 12’s a lot of coffee tables to make by hand.” Jerrod said.

“Mrs. Paranapolis, can I start making coffee tables instead of doing reading?” I said.

“Millie, I have explained all of the reasons why you have to practice reading dozens of times. Please stop asking questions like this. Also, you butchered my name again. Just call me Mrs. P next time. Please.” Mrs. Paranapolis said.

“Millie, if I was your teacher I’d let you go to woodshop.” Jerrod said.

“A person like you probably wouldn’t last a month with a job like mine.” Mrs. P said.

“Damn Mrs. P, that’s kinda savage.” Ryan said. Mrs. P looked really angry, and she took a large bite of her tuna salad sandwich from home. Every day Mrs. P always brings a tuna salad sandwich with whole wheat bread for lunch. I don’t know why she likes to do that.

We all kept eating quietly. Ava ate all of her french fries, then she started staring at mine. She couldn’t say anything because Mrs. P always takes away her speech tablet during lunch, but it looked like she wanted my french fries. Mrs. P says that Ava can’t have her tablet during lunch Page 6 because it would get messy, but I think the actual reason that Mrs. P takes it away is because she thinks it’s annoying.

I grabbed a small handful of my fries and tried to sneakily put them on Ava’s tray.

“Millie, do you remember the rule about eating the food that’s on our own tray?” Mrs. P said.

“Sorry Mrs. P.” I said.

Ryan leaned back in his chair and looked at us. He tilted his right hand to the side, and his half-eaten corndog fell off of its stick and onto the floor.

“Oh no,” Ryan said, “my dick. It’s no longer on its stick.”

“Okay, that’s it. I’ve had enough. You need to leave.” Mrs. P said.

“Am I being kicked out too, ma’am?” Jerrod said, “I’ve been using appropriate language.”

“I don’t care.” Mrs. P replied, “I want both of you to leave.” Then they both got up and walked to a different table.

After lunch was over me, Mrs. Panarapolis and Ava started walking back to the classroom. I thought that maybe Mrs. Panarapolis was probably going to make me go over the times tables again. For some reason she thinks that learning times tables is important.

“I still don’t understand why they were eating here with us.” I said.

“They got in trouble so they need community service hours. Community service hours are when you help other people out. If they can behave better, they’ll get community service hours from being you and Ava’s best buddies and eating lunch with us. Do you remember Francine, who graduated last year? She was one of your best buddies too.” Mrs. Papernapolis said.

“I do remember Francine. She told me she would come visit us after she graduated, but she never did. Can I get community service hours from Best Buddies too?” I asked.

“Silly Millie, you don’t need community service hours.” Mrs. Papernapolis replied.

Sure enough, Mrs. Papernapolis made me go over the times tables. I was supposed to know what 9 times 10 is but I didn’t.

“Can I use the calculator?” I asked.

“No, your IEP math goal is to memorize these equations. Remember Millie, ten’s a hero, add a zero.” Mrs. Panaperopolis said.

“Go have make make look go.” Ava said.

“I’m doing math with Millie, Ava. That means it’s time for quiet.” Mrs. Panaperopolis said in her teacher voice.

“Ten’s a hero, add a zero. It’s 100.” I said.

Mrs. Panaperopolis sighed. “No Mille, you add the zero to–”

“Confused confused confused tired bored.” Ava said. It seemed like she finally found a page on her tablet that made sense. Mrs. P walked over to Ava and took away her tablet.

“Speech Therapy Emily says that Ava’s tablet is her voice.” I said.

“I know Millie.” Mrs. Panaperopolis replied, “But Ava doesn’t have anything relevant to say right now.”

Ava opened her mouth. I thought she was going to scream so I covered my ears. I was right and she started screaming.

Finally Ava stopped screaming. “9 times 10 is 90.” Mrs. Papernaperopolis said.

“9 times 10 is 90.” I repeated. “When will we be done Mrs. Papernaperopolis?”

“Millie, that is NOT my name. I don’t understand how it’s even possible to mess up my name that badly. How would you feel if I called you Million, or Millimeter, or Milliegert, or Millipede, or Millidraperopoloney. I know that you’re truly incapable of doing a lot of things, but it seems like you’re messing up my name on purpose. It shouldn’t be this difficult to call me Mrs. P. I’ve told you over and over and over again to just call me Mrs. P.”

“Sorry Mrs. P.” I said. I felt really guilty. I missed when Mrs. Smith was my teacher and I didn’t mess up her name and she wasn’t as angry as Mrs. P usually is.

Ava smiled at me, then she ran over Mrs. P’s foot with her wheelchair.


The next day when I got to school there was a substitute. I kinda expected there to be a sub because Mrs. P had just had one of her bad days. Me and Ava sat around with the sub waiting for school to start. I was bored and started thinking about how much I wanted to hold the chicken. The guidance counselor has a therapy chicken that lives in her office. It’s a real chicken and it clucks and poops. It doesn’t lay any eggs though. Mrs. P always says that I can’t see the chicken because the guidance counselor is busy, and I can only hold the chicken if the guidance counselor is with us. I don’t know why the guidance counselor is so busy all of the time.

I told the sub that I had to go to the bathroom. She said that she would wait outside the bathroom door for me with Ava. My brother would probably say that she’s a hovercopter. I looked in the mirror and thought for a minute. My ponytail looked kinda lumpy because my mom was rushing this morning.

I opened the bathroom door and said: “Can you go to the classroom and look for pads? I think they are in the closet. I’m on my period.” I didn’t actually need pads and I didn’t think that Page 9 there was actually pads in the closet. My brother always says that I’m really clever, except that I’m too trusting and I can’t read or do math.

I gave the sub a few seconds to start looking then I left the bathroom and headed towards the guidance counselor’s office. On my way there I saw my two best buddies in the hallway.

“Hi Jerrod, hi Ryan. You should go into the guidance counselor’s office and get out the therapy chicken. I want to hold the chicken.” I said.

“That’s against the rules, and I want to stay out of trouble for at least a week.” Jerrod said.

“Mrs. P says that you’re my buddies. My best buddies. I’ll do a good job holding the chicken and I promise I won’t drop it. Then no one will ever know.” I said.

“The door’s probably locked.” Ryan said.

“Try to open it. Maybe it’s not locked.” I said.

Ryan walked towards the guidance office door and tried to twist the knob. It looked like the knob was moving.

“I don’t think it’s locked.” I said.

“I don’t want to get in more trouble.” Jerrod said.

“You won’t get in any trouble. I will hold the chicken for a little while then we can put it back. The guidance counselor isn’t here right now.” I said. Jerrod and Ryan were acting very well behaved for two boys that were so bad that they got the ceiling taken away.

“Okay fine, but promise you won’t drop it.” Ryan said.

“I promise I won’t drop it.” I said.

Ryan opened the door and went into the office. I heard some rattling and clucking noises. I looked at Jerrod and he looked kinda nervous.

“It’ll be okay Jerrod. You don’t need to be a scaredy man.” I said.

Ryan walked out of the office with the chicken in his arms. He handed it to me and I held it just like the guidance counselor showed me. The chicken looked at me, then it pecked my arm with its sharp beak.

“Ouch.” I said. Then I dropped the chicken.

The chicken half flew half ran down the hallway. Then I ran down the hallway in the other direction. When I got to the girls bathroom I heard a voice coming from inside. It sounded like the sub.

“Millie, are you in here? I didn’t find any pads in the closet, but there was one in my purse.” she said.

I opened the door and walked into the bathroom.

“I’m not actually on my period.” I said.

“Are you sure?” the sub said.

“Yeah, I’m sure. I’ll tell you if I’m on my period later today.” I said.

“Okay, let’s go back to the classroom.” the sub said. “Ava’s hanging out in there, and I should probably check on her.”

We went back into the classroom and Ava was putting paper in the paper shredder. Shredding paper is one of Ava’s weekly life skills jobs.

“Ava sweetie, where’d you get that paper from?” the sub said. “Wait, are those my lesson plans. No no no no!”

The sub ran towards Ava, but the lesson plans were already almost destroyed. I hoped that maybe I wouldn’t have to do reading or math that day anymore. The sub stood around looking confused for a little while, then she started reading us a book that Mrs. P had already read us last week. Then someone knocked on the door and walked into the classroom. It was Mr. P.

“Millie, were you involved in the chicken incident?” he said.

It sounded like Mr. P probably already knew what I did.

“What’s the chicken incident?” I asked.

“The ‘chicken incident’ means that you were with your classmates when they let the therapy chicken out. I texted my wife and she says that you need to spend 15 minutes in the contemplation corner.” Mr. P said.

“I’m 17 years old. I’m too old for a timeout.”

“The contemplation corner is not a timeout. It’s a place where young adults can go to reflect on their behavior.”

I spent my 15 minute timeout thinking about Barack Obama. Barack Obama is a man who used to be president of the United States. My dad says that he is very smart, but I don’t know if I think so too. Karen, the lunchlady, says that Barack Obama’s wife Michelle ruined our lunch. Maybe if I ever meet him I will ask about it. Barack lives in Washington so I would have to go live in Washington to meet him.

Mrs. P always says I will never get to move out of my parents’ house if I don’t do my reading every day. That probably means that I won’t meet Barack.

While I was having my timeout Mr. P was talking to the substitute about her kids and the weather and stuff. Then he walked towards the classroom door.

“Bye Millie. I’m going to go have a chat with Jerrod and Ryan.” Mr. P said.

“Are they going to get sent to a contemplation corner too?” I asked.

“No, this isn’t their first disciplinary infraction, so they’ll probably be in much worse trouble.” Mr. P said.

I felt kinda bad. If my mom had been watching me when I told Ryan and Jerrod to give me the chicken, she would probably say that I was a manipulator.

“My mom says that when a person tries to make someone do something that they shouldn’t, they are being a manipulator.” I said.

“Yes, Millie. They manipulated you. I will make sure that they know the severity of their bad behavior.” Mr. P said.

“No, I am the manipulator. I told them that they had to get me the chicken because they are my best buddies. Mrs. P is also a manipulator because she made them be my best buddies.” I said.

Mr. P paused and looked at me for a minute.

“Also I promised that I wouldn’t drop the chicken, and then I dropped the chicken.” I added. “I am as old as a senior, and I think that they said that they are freshman.”

“Millie, you are older than them, but—” Mr. P stopped talking again, and looked at me some more.

“Okay, maybe this infraction wasn’t that major.” Mr. P said.

“What’s an infraction?” I asked.

“Something against the rules.” Mr. P answered. “Maybe the guidance counselor should’ve locked her office door.”

“Mrs. P says that the guidance counselor is silly and clucks around just like her chicken.” I said.

“Maybe Mrs. P needs to learn to keep her mouth shut.” Mr. P said.

Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Aili Harmon, Contributor
Aili Harmon (she/her) is a senior who grew up in Ishpeming, Michigan. She is double majoring in special education and computer science, and she enjoys crocheting, playing Webkinz, and hiking.

Comments (0)

All The Vanderbilt Review Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *