by David Lubar
I would have enjoyed the assembly a lot more if I wasn't sitting next to Augie
Blockner. He's the biggest kid in our school, and he liked to make sure everyone
knew it. When I took my seat, he poked me in the arm and said, "Hey, shrimp."
Okay -- I'm short for my age. But I'm not so short I'd be mistaken for seafood. I
looked over at him and said, "Hi." It was the safest thing to do. If I ignored him,
he'd get mean. If I tried some sort of wise-guy answer, he'd get even meaner.
Luckily, the assembly started before Augie could think of some way to make my
life miserable. The program was actually pretty cool. They had five real football
players on stage. These guys made Augie look like -- well, they made him look
like he made me look. That's how big they were.
They talked about stuff like studying hard and staying in school. It wasn't really a
message I needed to hear. I did okay in school, and I didn't have any plans to drop
out of seventh grade to enter a life of crime.
They also talked about eating good food, and paying attention to nutrition. The
biggest player in the group held up a sack of oranges in one hand and a head of
lettuce in the other.
"This is what your body needs."
Another guy lifted a two-liter bottle of cola. "This isn't what you need."
The third guy showed us a picture of a cow. "Balanced meals are important," he
I zoned out as they went over all the food groups. I knew that stuff. They also
warned us about steroids and all that stuff.
"Kids," one of the players said, picking up a small bottle of clear liquid, "this will
do all sorts of evil things to your body. It just isn't worth it."
"Your young bodies are still growing and changing," another of the player said.
"There's no telling how much this stuff could mess you up."
When the assembly ended, I realized I'd survived 45 minutes sitting right next to
Augie. For the first time in my life, I was actually eager to get back to my class.
Before I could stand, Augie grabbed my shoulder and said, "Come on. Let's meet