Ms. Bellows understood the kind of nice that being nice is supposed to be about. Most of the other teachers only knew about the kind of nice where you’ve heard a lot of bad stories about someone and think you have to be their "special buddy."

One of the teachers at Field, Mr. Lynch, tried way too hard to be my special buddy, always coming up to me, even when I was with a crowd. It was completely inappropriate. He’d say things like, "Hey, girlfriend!" or "Like those shoes!" It’s not impossible that my shoes were nice, or that Mr. Lynch could have genuinely liked them, but the time to compliment them is definitely not when I’m trying to make new friends. Nothing scares away potential friends like a teacher who’s complimenting you all the time. It’s suspicious.

Mr. Lynch was getting out of hand, so I decided to do something about it. A golden opportunity came one day when he was showing me pictures of his family—that’s how much he wanted me to feel like his special pal!— and I saw that his wife was Mexican and very young. She was okay-looking, in that stubby way. You know: too much make-up, not a lot of neck. I don’t have anything against Mexicans in general, although a lot of people around here do, but I wanted to get Mr. Lynch off my back, so I started making some seemingly harmless comments about his wife. Such as: wasn’t she exotic looking, how long had they been married, etc. Mr. Lynch said that he and Mrs. Lynch were practically newlyweds in that they were about to celebrate their second anniversary.