I witnessed the kidnapping of Betty Ann Mulvaney.
Well, me and the twenty-three other people in first period Latin class at Clayton High School (student population 1,200).
Unlike everybody else, however, I actually did something to try to stop it. Well, sort of. I went, "Kurt. What are you doing?"
Kurt just rolled his eyes. He was all, "Relax, Jen. It's a joke, okay?"
But, see, there really isn't anything all that funny in the way Kurt Schraeder swiped Betty Ann from Mrs. Mulvaney's desk, then stuffed her into his JanSport. Some of her yellow yarn hair got caught in the teeth of his backpack's zipper and everything.
Kurt didn't care. He just went right on zipping.
I should have said something more. I should have said, Put her back, Kurt.
Only I didn't. I didn't because ... well, I'll get back to that part later. Besides, I knew it was a lost cause. Kurt was already high-fiving all of his friends, the other jocks who hang in the back row and are only taking the class (for the second time, having already taken it their junior year and apparently not having done so well) in hopes of getting higher scores on the verbal part of the SATs, not out of any love for Latin culture or because they heard Mrs. Mulvaney is a good teacher or whatever.
Kurt and his buds had to hide their smirks behind their Paulus et Lucia workbooks when Mrs. Mulvaney came in after the second bell, a steaming cup of coffee in her hand.
As she does every morning, Mrs. Mulvaney sang, "Aurora interea miseris mortalibus almam extulerat lucem referens opera atque labores," to us (basically: "It's another sucky morning, now let's get to work"), then picked up a piece of chalk and commanded us to write out the present tense of gaudeo, -ere.
She didn't even notice Betty Ann was gone.
Not until third period, anyway, when my best friend Trina—short for Catrina: she says she doesn't think of herself as particularly feline, only, you know, I'm not so sure I agree -- who has her for class then, says that Mrs. Mulvaney was in the middle of explaining the past participle when she noticed the empty spot on her desk.
According to Trina, Mrs. Mulvaney went, "Betty Ann?" in this funny high-pitched voice.
By then of course the entire school knew that Kurt Schraeder had Betty Ann stuffed in his locker. Still, nobody said anything. That's because everybody likes Kurt.
Well, that isn't true, exactly. But the people who don't like Kurt are too afraid to say anything, because Kurt is president of the senior class and captain of the football team and could crush them with a glance, like Magneto from X-Men.
Not really, of course, but you get my drift. I mean, you don't cross a guy like Kurt Schraeder. If he wants to kidnap a teacher's Cabbage Patch doll, you just let him, because otherwise you'll end up eating your lunch all by yourself out by the flagpole like Cara Cow or run the risk of having Tater Tots hurled at your head or whatever.
The thing is, though, Mrs. Mulvaney loves that stupid doll. I mean, every year on the first day of school, she dresses it up in this stupid Clayton High cheerleader outfit she had made at So-Fro Fabrics.
And on Halloween, she puts Betty Ann in this little witch suit, with a pointed hat and a tiny broom and everything. Then at Christmas she dresses Betty Ann like an elf. There's an Easter outfit, too, though Mrs. Mulvaney doesn't call it that, because of the whole separation-of-church-and-state thing. Mrs. Mulvaney just calls it Betty Ann's spring dress.
But it totally comes with this little flowered bonnet and a basket filled with real robin's eggs that somebody gave her a long time ago, probably back in the eighties, which was when some ancient graduating class presented Mrs. Mulvaney with Betty Ann in the first place. On account of them feeling sorry for Mrs. Mulvaney, since she's a really, really good teacher, but she has never been able to have any kids of her own.
Or so the story goes. I don't know if it's true or not. Well, except for the part about Mrs. M. being a good teacher. Because she totally is. And the part about her not having any kids of her own.
But the rest of it ... I don't know.
What I do know is, here it is, almost the last month of my junior year -- Betty Ann had been wearing her summer outfit, a pair of overalls with a straw hat, like Huck Finn, when she disappeared -- and I was sitting around worrying about her. A doll. A stupid doll.
"You don't think they're going to do anything to her, do you?" I asked Trina later that same day, during show choir. Trina worries that I don't have enough extracurriculars on my transcript, since all I like to do is read. So she suggested I take show choir with her.
Except that it turns out that Trina slightly misrepresented what show choir is all about. Instead of just a fun extracurricular, it's turned out to be this huge deal -- I had to audition and everything. I'm not the world's best singer or anything, but they really needed altos, and since I guess I'm an alto, I got in. Altos mostly just go la-la-la on the same note while the sopranos sing all these scales and words and stuff, so it's cool, because basically I can just sit there and go la-la-la on the same note and read a book since Karen Sue Walters, the soprano who sits on the riser in front of me, has totally huge hair, and Mr. Hall, the director of the Troubadours -- that's right: our school choir even has its own name -- can't see what I'm doing.
Excerpted from TEEN IDOL © Copyright 2004 by Meg Cabot. Reprinted with permission by HarperCollins. All rights reserved.