History of Notepad

History of Notepad


When do we really start to see the notepad? 

I think notepad has to be woven in with parent-teacher conferences. 

A history of getting in trouble. 

I think the first one is from fourth grade. 

I got an 80 on a math test. 

It was actually a 79 that got rounded up to an 80. 

My teacher was a guy. 

I think he was my first guy teacher. 

The two fourth grade classes occupied classrooms right next to each other. 

There was a door in the wall. 

Each teacher had his or her own specialty.

My teacher’s specialty was social studies. 

The other teacher’s specialty was math. 

Every day, for one class period, we would switch classrooms. 

Everyone would shuffle through the door in the wall. 

We would all go into the guy’s room, and all the kids from the other class would go into our room. 

The guy teacher was big. 

Not tall and fat. 

Just big. 

Big hands.

Big meaty hands.

Hairy hands. 

He was probably 40. 

He was the first guy teacher I had. 

He didn’t look like a teacher.

He looked like a gym teacher. 

I didn’t like him. 

I was always wary of anyone who called you “bud.” 

The strange sort-of-parental, sort-of-paternal, sort-of-friend relationship.

I always hated that. 

I liked my girl teachers. 

Teachers I could accidentally call “Mom.” 

Teachers I could have a crush on. 

Anyway, teacher is a job for girls. 

Guys should be coaches.

Or gym teachers. 

Or janitors. 

Or principals. 

I got an 80 on the math test. 

It was actually a 79, but Mr. Whatever was kind enough to round me up. 

I remember the actual test, like the physical paper, was all marked up. Red ink everywhere. All my mistakes circled. At the top, Mr. Sponky had done some calculations of his own. Totaling all my detracted points. Come to think of it, shouldn’t a math teacher’ve been able to do that in his head? And then there was the big “79,” scratched out. And under it, an “80.”

Anne and Ray came to school. 

We had a meeting. 

Mom, Dad, me and Mr. Hoinkydoink. 

It was after everyone had left. 

After everyone had gone home. 

The classroom was weird and empty. 

And moreover, it was the other classroom. Like not the one I was usually in. It was his classroom. 

It was dark. 

And my head was very close to the desk. Very close to the paper. 

My head was down and all the adults’ heads were above me, talking. 

I was looking at the red ink. 

The paper had a matte quality.

I was playing with the staple. 

I didn’t think an 80 was all that bad. 

Yeah 79 is bad because it’s a C. But it got rounded up. 

I didn’t know my parents were coming.

I was just packing up my stuff to leave like everyone else, and my teacher told me to hold on, and go to the other classroom. 

I think I had to wait in there for a while.

And then in walked my parents. 

It was very weird to see them in school.

They didn’t belong there.

Their outfits were weird. 

My face was very very red. 

I don’t remember much of the outcome of this meeting.

Other than me being very embarrassed. 

And feeling like my parents shouldn’t’ve come. 

I think maybe I had to do corrections and was going to get half-credit back for each corrected problem. Maybe?

I don’t think I talked very much during the meeting.

The next one was in fifth grade. 

I think this is where the notepad comes in. 

I can see where it happened. 

It started at the table, and then it moved onto the couch. 

I think I can see the notepad on the table. 

I think. 

It was D.A.R.E. graduation.


D.A.R.E. to keep kids off drugs!

Drug Abuse Resistance Education.

They had the graduation thing at the high school.

It happened at night. 

7 p.m. 

It was the end of the school year. 

It was May. 

I had probably been playing outside all afternoon. 

I was probably hyped up. 

Tweaked out.

On adrenaline and dirt-smell. 

I went with my dad.

When we got there I wanted to go sit with my friends. 

I sat with Steven Tyrone.

Steven Tyrone was notorious. 

He had learning disabilities. 

He was a troublemaker. 

He came to the first day of school in a luchadore mask. 

He had severe learning disabilities. 

He came from a broken home. 

I didn’t like him.

He scared me. 

I am a good person. 

I don’t know why I sat with him. 

We made jokes and laughed the entire time. 

What really got me in trouble was the whole mayor thing. 

Our mayor at the time, Jordan Glatt, came and delivered a speech. 

“I was a good kid. I was just like you. I used to be just like you.

But I hung around a bad crew. A real bad crew. Lemme tell you. 

They were into some real bad shit. They lied to their parents. They cut class.

They hung out by the train tracks. They would lie to their parents, they would cut class and go hang out by the train tracks. 

They hung out by the train tracks and did bad things.

They drank:


Oh, I can remember it: train tracks littered with empty beer cans.

I used to hang out with them too. 

I lied to my parents. I cut class. I went and hung out by the train tracks.

I even drank. 

But then one day it all caught up to me.

I woke up. 

‘What am I doing man?’ 

I had to cut them off. 

I stopped going down and hanging out by the train tracks. 

I stopped cutting class, lying to my parents. 

I got on the straight and narrow.

(And look at me now).

But my friends.

Oh, they weren’t to be swayed. 

No amount of pleading would get them to change their wicked ways. 

I begged. 

‘Stop drinking. Stop hanging out by the train tracks.’

But they wouldn’t listen. 

And then,

It was too late. 

One night, they were hanging out by the train tracks… drinking. 

And one of them got a little too drunk.

And stumbled onto the tracks. 

And fell over.

And a train was coming.

And he was fallen over the tracks.

Lying over the tracks.

And he couldn’t get up.

And his friends tried to help him.

And he couldn’t hear the train coming. 

He was too drunk and so he couldn’t hear the train coming.

And he was laughing. 



And his friends were screaming.

And the train was coming.

And he was lying across the tracks.

And BAM!

The train exploded over him.

Blood rained.

The boys were drenched. 

The noise. 

Oh the noise. 

The squelching of his body.

I’ll never forget that sound. 

When the train passed, they looked down to see, their friend…


He had gotten cut into three pieces. 

He was lying on the tracks in such a way that when the train ran him over it cut him into three pieces. 

The lower part of his legs.

The upper part of his legs and part of his midsection.

And then the chest and head. 

The skin was

[What does skin look like when the bloods drained from it]


All the blood was drained from the body and the skin was the color of candlewax.

The gravel, the empty cans: splattered crimson. 

It looked like mothafuckin JACKSON POLLOCK.

I was the one who had to tell his mother.

I had to go knock on her door in the middle of the night.

That knock every parent dreads to hear.

She came to the door. 

Before I could even open my mouth, she was bawling.

She knew. 

She knew her son had been on a bad path.

She knew this day was coming.

The day when finally it would all catch up to him.

The funeral arrangements were made hastily. 

They had to get three small coffins. One for each piece of his chopped up body. 







At this point Mayor Glatt was ushered off stage and given a glass of water.

I was at the pool.

Canoe Brook Country Club. 

It was a Sunday. 

The pool closed at 8 p.m.

At 7:45 p.m. they made you get out of the water. 

It was sunset colors. 

We drove home.

It was warm, but it was cold, too. 

The day had been warm. 

The air was warm.

But now the sun was going down, and it was getting cold. 

And my suit was still wet. 

It was wet on the leather seats. 

I asked my dad if I could play video games after dinner. 

His response was vague. 

“We’ll have to see about that.”

I thought nothing of it at the time. 

But I remember it now. 


After dinner, Mom and Dad sent Catherine and Reed to the basement to play.  

They called me into the dining room. 

They were seated side by side. 

I was to sit across from them. 

The table was wood. 

It was a rectangle. 

It was a nice table.

It was very smooth.

And nicely lacquered. 

It was light brown. 

In front of my mother, there was a notepad. 

A yellow legal pad. 

She had a pen. 

I didn’t know what was going on. 

I was in a good mood. 

And then it began. 

“We got a phone call from Mrs. Hague. 

She was sitting behind you at the D.A.R.E. graduation.

She said you were very poorly behaved. 

She said you were very disrespectful.

She said you reflected poorly on the school. 

She said you reflected poorly on her. 

She said your behavior was unacceptable. 

Your behavior was unacceptable.

What do you have to say for yourself?

I can’t believe you.

We can’t believe you.

To laugh and make jokes, at such a serious occasion: 

How could you?

The mayor, the mayor of our town deigned to speak to you, and this is how you repay him? 

The mayor related a painful, painful experience, and you laughed at him?

Did you think no one was watching?

Did you think no one could see you? 

What were you thinking?

Did we not raise you right?

Have we failed as parents?

We’ve failed as parents?

How could you do this? 

Have we not taught you to respect others?

Have we not taught you to respect authority?

Have we not taught you how to behave? 

Why did you sit with that boy? 

What’s wrong with you?

What’s wrong with you? 

What’s wrong with you?

Mrs. Hague had to call your father at work. 

How do you think that made him feel?

How do you think he felt?

He thought you were hurt.

I thought you were hurt.

I was in disbelief. 

He was in disbelief. 

‘How could he have done something like that?

You must have the wrong kid.

My kid would’ve never.

My son would’ve never. 

Danny would’ve never.

No! There must be a mistake. 

This can’t’ve been him.

Are you sure?

Are you sure?’ 

I couldn’t believe my ears. 

Your father couldn’t believe his ears. 

My son? 

My son? 

Behaving like this?

Associating with people like that? 

Have we not raised you right? 

What were you thinking? 

It’s beyond. 

It’s just beyond. 

Your mother is right, it’s just beyond.

I just can’t believe. 

It’s beyond belief. 

One of the most important moments of your elementary school career.

And this is what you do?

This was supposed to be a celebration. 

How do you think teachers at the middle school are going to react when they hear about this?

You could’ve just set yourself up for failure.

You’ve shot yourself in foot. 

How do you think it will feel going into middle school handicapped?

Good luck getting into that honors math! 

There goes Harvard! 

It’s not even that, Ray, it’s the principle of it. 

It’s the lack of respect.

It’s the disrespect. 

The blatant.



Incomprehensible lack of care. 

Do you just not care? 

Do you really just not give a shit? 

Don’t you care how you’re representing your elementary school?

Don’t you care at all?

The whole town was there.

The whole town saw you.

Every kid from every elementary school. 

All their parents. 

They were all watching you.

You let us down.

You let your school down. 

You let your teachers down. 

You let us down. 

You should be ashamed. 

We can’t believe you.

How could you’ve done something like this? 

It’s like we don’t even know you. 

You’re not who you are.

Who are you? 

Where is our son?

Where is our boy?



Throughout all of this, tears were shed. 

Bodies were moved.

All around the dining room.

And the living room.

And the den. 

It was one of those blowouts.

I tried running. 

They just followed me.

I curled up in a ball on the couch. 

Mom came over and sat with me and rubbed my back and hugged me. 

All while continuing the diatribe. 

It didn’t end. 

How many times did I scream “I’m sorry.”

How red could my face have been.

How hoarse my voice. 

Their voices modulated. 

Pitch and volume. 



They comforted me, between barbs.

Between blows. 

They really wanted to understand. 

How, how could I have done this? 

It didn’t make sense to them.

They listened to my responses. 

My mother recorded them on the notepad. 

Where was the disconnect? 

What had been going through my head.

How could they make sense of this? 

There had to be reason. 

And no, I didn’t mean, right there, “a reason.”

There had to be “reason.”

There had to be an explanation. 

There had to be some way to make sense of this. 

There had to be some way to understand.

“No Wii until school’s out.”


That was more than a whole month! 

Transformers: War for Cybertron was about to come out! 

I’d been looking forward to that shit for literally a year. 

I had been watching trailers. 

I had even gotten a like plastic gun thing, which you could put the controller into. And it made it so like, when you were aiming the controller, it was like aiming a gun. 

I was gonna have dad take me to Gamestop on the day it came out.

He had already said he would! 

No no no no no.

No no no no no no no no no.









Editorial Note: History of Notepad is an excerpt from a longer piece called A Smoking Hot Family History. The longer piece itself is an excerpt from an even longer piece, the title of which is yet to be determined. It’s like a mix (the longest piece is) between a novel and a short story collection. All about a family, and all the different parts, like notepads or cigarettes. You can read A Smoking Hot Family History here. And you can read the final big thing when it’s done, around Christmas. 

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