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Thursday, 22 March 2001

The Slacker: A Drama

Written by  Sherri Mandell

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It's 5:00 in the evening, just before dinner. Justin, 14, and his mother are discussing his schoolwork.

Mom: Do you have homework?

Justin: I did it in school.

Mom: Forest's father said that he had an algebra test tomorrow. I thought you were in his class.

Justin: I am. But you can't study for algebra. Either you know it or you don't.

Mom: Of course you can study. You can study anything.

Justin: I pay attention in class. I know what's going on.

Mom: You only got a 70 on the last test.

Justin: 70 is good Mom.

Mom: It's okay. But if you would study, you could get 100. You're a smart kid. You could be at the top of the class instead of in the bottom third.

Justin:
Then I'd be a nerd.

Mom: That's not true.

Justin: Mom, only nerds study. I don't care about algebra. When am I going to need algebra? Do you think that one day somebody is going to come up to me and ask me: if Stuart is 6 feet tall and Mary is 120 centimeters tall, how many inches taller is Stuart than Mary?

Mom: That's not algebra.

Justin: Mom, Mary is a dwarf.

Mom:
Don't say dwarf, says a little person-and don't distract me. I want to concentrate on this. We need to focus on this. You're going to college in three years and your grades count. And if you want to go to a good school, you have to apply yourself. Just because you've got a good brain doesn't mean that you should just get by.

Justin: I don't want to go to Princeton like you and Dad. I don't even know if I want to go to college.

Mom: Don't be ridiculous. You've got to go to college. What are you going to do? Play in a band?

Justin: Maybe.

Mom: Even if you do, you still need an education. You should still study philosophy and literature and science. You should still know about the world.

Justin: There are other ways of knowing about the world.

Mom: College gives you a larger view--more of a perspective. And it will help you get a job.

Justin:
Maybe not.

Mom: We can leave that for when you have to decide. But I still want you to study more. What happened to that study hour we set for you? I'll sit with you and work with you on your homework.

Justin:
Doesn't that sound cozy? No way.

Mom: You can't play computer until you've studied.

Justin: No problem.

Mom: And no TV.

Justin:
Whatever you say. Your punishments don't mean anything to me, mom.

Mom: I want you to focus. I want you to work. You're wasting yourself.

Justin: It's my life. And it's my grades. And I'm not going to study for my algebra test. And there's nothing you can do about it. Nothing.

Last modified on Friday, 29 April 2011 16:11
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Sherri Mandell

Sherri Mandell

Sherri Mandell has a Master's degree in Creative Writing and has taught writing at the University of Maryland and Penn State University. She is the author of the book Writers of the Holocaust. She has written articles for the Washington Post. She is married with four children

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