June 8, 2004


In fifth grade I participated in a classroom debate. I’ve long since forgotten the topic of the debate, or whether my team was for it or against it, and in fact the only thing I remember is that I didn’t say anything. Not a word. I had spent a week studying the subject of the debate, but when the time came to debate I froze. I remember telling myself that I had to say something, that I couldn’t just sit there in silence, but that’s what I did. It was humiliating.

After class, my teacher, Mrs. Staller, who wore an extraordinary amount of make-up, almost like a clown, touched me on the shoulder and said, “Next time, Michael.”