Degrassi Junior High “Rumor Has It” (part 4 of 5)
The next day, Caitlin and Susie are walking to school. Just then, Ms. Avery pulls up in a car with her kissy-huggy Dykey Hairdo gal pal. Caitlin tries to walk away as quickly as possible, but Ms. Avery intercepts her anyway.
Avery is once again over-affectionate, putting an arm around Caitlin, and talking about Caitlin’s essay on “native peoples”, again. Ms. Avery says she cut an article out of the newspaper about native peoples for Caitlin, and she even ordered a book for the library about native peoples, just for Caitlin. Seriously? Am I the only one thinking maybe the lesbian rumors are completely true, and Ms. Avery actually has a huge crush on Caitlin?
By the way, can we leave the “native peoples” out of this? You already took away their land—they don’t need to be associated with your sick sexual fantasies, too.
Ms. Avery puts her arm around Caitlin again, and Caitlin is completely weirded out. And wouldn’t you know it, as they head up the front steps, they walk right past those two yentas Annie and Kathleen, who are—surprise, surprise—muttering silently to each other. And right before our very eyes, they create a totally new rumor to spread around the school.
Cut to more of the subplot where Arth-Yick stake out Rick, hooray! Arthur is convinced of Rick’s guilt: “Once a thief, always a thief!” Rick’s at his locker, and almost spots them, but they duck out of sight. Once Rick is gone, Arthur promises that very soon, they’ll “catch him red-handed!” I think we’re more likely to catch Arthur red-handed, if you know what I mean.
Over in Ms. Avery’s class, Annie and Kathleen enter, sharing their new rumor with Susie. This prompts Susie to utter the classic line, “Caitlin? A lezzie? Come on!” Ah, if only. As proof, they point out how Caitlin is always hanging around with Ms. Avery, and they’re always “touching each other”. Okay, I’m convinced. But Susie is extremely skeptical, at least for now.
Kathleen goes, “What about how weird Caitlin is about getting changed in gym? Hiding behind a towel and stuff?” Wait, that means you’re gay? If so, I was the queeriest queer that ever queered, at least back in high school, anyway.
Kathleen and Annie keep building the case, noting how weird Caitlin’s been acting since the “Avery is a lesbian” rumor sprung up. Melanie overhears and has had enough. Her defense comes down to this: Caitlin’s not a lesbian, but even if she is, so what? Sorry, Melanie. That dog won’t hunt. There’s a good reason Obama the presidential candidate never said words to the effect of, “I’m not a Muslim, but even if I were, so what?”
Susie replies, “She’s not a lesbian! She’s my friend!” Well, okay then. I don’t know what that implies, exactly, but thanks for keeping an open mind, Susie. Kathleen says she “wouldn’t hang around with her in a darkroom if I were you!”
Susie says, “Why?” Why? Has she not been paying attention to the whole “lezzie” conversation that she’s been a part of for the last three minutes? Kathleen explains that Caitlin “might try to do something!” Like… expose her negatives! Or… develop her photographs! And then what will Susie do, huh?
Susie tries to ignore her, so Kathleen says, “And don’t blame us when people start talking about you, too!” Thanks for putting that fine a point on it, Kathleen. I really wasn’t understanding how bad rumors can be, but you just made it all come alive for me. But what’s funny is that, just prior to saying this line, Kathleen actually lays a hand on Susie’s shoulder. So who’s always touching who?
Right on cue, Caitlin enters and sits beside Susie, and Susie stares at her in a not at all disturbed and unsettled way.
Class begins and ends in a nanosecond, at least on a cosmic scale, and now everybody’s coming out of class, and Rick is still the Pied Piper of Licorice-ingham, and offering licorice to random people out of his big paper bag. Is that the same bag from yesterday? Or did he buy a whole new bag?
Caitlin and Susie come out of class, and Caitlin wants to finish developing their photos. But Susie is evasive in her bad acting way, and tries to make excuses to get out of being alone in a darkroom with Caitlin. But eventually, she gets suckered into it.
In another hallway, Rick is offering licorice to a soccer player named “José”. I have a feeling he’s like that Mexican kid in the opening credits of the Mister T cartoon who’s never seen in the actual show. Actually, I’m kind of wondering why “José” wasn’t in the previous episode, which only happened to feature the entire boys soccer team facing off against the girls swim team. After José, sure to become an audience favorite, takes the licorice, Rick again declares, “I won a hundred bucks!” What is this, his daily affirmation?
Arth-Yick follow Rick into the bathroom, doing that crafty “act casual” thing they do so well. And here’s where things hit a new low.
Rick goes to a urinal and starts peeing. Then he notices Arthur and Yick staring at him, so the two of them immediately run into stalls. But then they poke their heads up over the stall doors, and watch him. While he pees. I think perhaps Arth-Yick are interested in getting a whole new rumor started, about the two of them. I really, really have no idea what they hope to find out by doing this.
So Rick finishes up, and without washing his hands mind you, he pulls out two twists of licorice from his paper bag quiver. He says, “Licorice for you… and some for you!” and tosses them over the stall doors at Arthur and Yick. The boys just peer over the doors and watch him go. You know what? I have a feeling that if you said it would make them taller, Arthur and Yick would be more than happy to pick the licorice up off the bathroom floor and eat it.
Cut to the Degrassi Darkroom. Susie is a nervous wreck about potentially being alone with a “lezzie”, babbling nonstop about the great pictures they took, and how their school is so interesting, and her parents were going to send her to private school, but she’s glad they didn’t, because this school is so interesting, and these pictures are really great.
Finally, Caitlin demands to know what the deal is. Susie tries to pretend like it’s nothing, but then when Caitlin reaches in front of her, Susie actually gasps loudly and takes a step back. Look out! She might get you with her gay cooties! Eventually, Susie asks Caitlin point blank if she’s a lesbian. Caitlin, too angry to respond, just storms out, probably ruining a whole batch of pictures in the process.
And now Caitlin is in bed again, but thankfully, it’s not another installment of Freudian Dream Theater. Instead, Caitlin has an extended conversation with her stuffed monkey, wondering what the dreams mean, and if she really is a lesbian, “does that mean I won’t have any friends?” Well, it means you’ll probably have lots of male friends, but not necessarily the kind you want. And I bet the monkey is thinking, Damn, suck it up, I’ve got my own problems to deal with.
“I really like Ms. Avery,” Caitlin tells the monkey. “Is that wrong?” And oh, how I wish the monkey would actually reply, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that.”
Caitlin hugs her monkey and goes, “I just don’t want to be different!” Alright, it’s a sweet scene, so I’ll stop being snarky. Well, okay, just one more thing: if she doesn’t want to be different, I would suggest she start by not talking to a monkey.
The next day in class, Caitlin is rocking a purple silk headband. She honestly looks like a freedom fighter. She looks like she walked off the set of The Legend of Billie Jean. Ms. Avery is handing back essays, warmly encouraging every student with her usual touch on the shoulder, boys and girls alike. But when she gets to Caitlin, Caitlin suddenly snaps, “Don’t touch me.” Everything grinds to a halt as everyone shoots meaningful glances at each other. Ms. Avery looks wounded, but carries on.
And hey, right on cue, the bell rings. Everyone files out, but to no one’s surprise, Avery asks Caitlin to stay behind. As the students wander out, Kathleen says, “I told you she was a lesbian!” What? Caitlin just told Ms. Avery not to touch her. And that proves she’s a lesbian?
I think, at this point, anything could be fodder for Kathleen’s gossiping. Everything she sees directly supports her beliefs, reality be damned. I think class could have ended with Ms. Avery blowing a guy right there in front of everyone, and Kathleen would still walk out saying, “I told you she was a lesbian!”
Ms. Avery asks Caitlin what’s going on, and even sits on the desk in front of Caitlin and strikes a warm and understanding pose. Caitlin finally fesses up that “people are saying stuff”, specifically about Ms. Avery being lesbian. Avery takes the news well, and eventually, she coaxes all the “evidence” out of Caitlin, about how Avery is unmarried, and “always with that woman”.
“Who?” Avery asks. “Elaine?” Yeah, Elaine? I guess? What does she expect Caitlin to say? Avery explains that she and Elaine “share a house” because it’s “cheaper than living alone”. Caitlin then talks about how they were seen “holding hands on King Street”, but Ms. Avery simply says that whoever said that has “a very vivid imagination”. Which I’m sure was enhanced by New Zealand Zappers.
Caitlin brings up how Ms. Avery gets all kissy-kissy with Elaine. Avery says, “I kiss most of my women friends!” Me too! No shame in that game. And just like that, Avery has completely dispelled all the rumors.