NOTE: VERY OLD! Fifth grade!

The name's Jercath, Joan Jercath. I know what you're thinking. Joan Jercath? what a name! As soon as I'm 21 I'm going to change it to something glamorous like Shawna Day. But for now it's Joan "The Jerk" Jercath. I go to Glendale Public Middle School. I'm in the 8th grade. I have dreams. I'd like a nose job. My mom says "Your nose is fine, dear, it's just like your grandmother's." Oh, please, the woman is ancient. I'd like to layer my hair like the popular girls in high school. I'd really like to have a lot of money so I could buy some nice clothes instead of wearing my cousin's hand-me-downs. I wouldn't mind a few A's instead of B+, B+, B+ always a B+ and someone saying, "Joan tries her hardest and is on the verge of success!"

That's the story of my life!

But what I'd like the most is someone saying, "Joan, you are so perfect. You are beautiful, smart, popular and such a great friend!" All I am to anybody is this school is Joan "The Jerk" Jercath. Middle-of-the-road kid. Plain old me.


"There goes The Jerk!" I "overheard" my best enemy Robin Okuly say. Robin is constantly teasing me because she's part of the "in" crowd and I'm not. I hate her.

Robin is a good student, beautiful, and popular. She is everything I want to be, except that she's a snob. Her only friends are snobs.


"If twoo traains traaveling aat ...", BLAH BLAH BLAH! That's Mr Vaffur, our math teacher. He is soooooo boring! As if I cayare! What's the point of Algebra anyway? When will we ever...

"...Ms. Jercath, Ms. Jercath! Now that we have your attention, do you know the answer??" I turned red around my ears. Aaaaaaaargh! How could he do this to me! I held my head like I had a head ache.

"Mr. Vaffur, I feel so sick, I could hardly hear you. May I go to the nurse?" I'm good at pathetic voices.

"Go, Joan, but if you're leaving school, bring me a note." Mr. Vaffur sighed.


After I received the note and gave it to Mr. Vaffur, I started to walk home. On the way a saw the most beautiful flower imaginable. Each petal was perfect. It smelled lovely.

"I wish I was as perfect as this flower." I picked the flower, and finished the walk.


I walked into my house with my hands around my stomach.

"UOH, Mom, I didn't feel good so... Actually, I was embarrassed, so I faked sick and came home." WHY DID I SAY THAT???!!! Well, it isn't good to lie anyway. Come to think of it, mom isn't home yet.


"HELLO? Oh, hi mom. You got a call from school? Yes, I left school early. No, I'm not sick. Why am I home? Because I was embarrassed in math. I went to the nurse, who sent me home. She thought I was sick. You'll be home in 15 minutes? OK, bye." Great. Now I'm grounded for life. Oh, well. At least I didn't lie. That would have been imperfect.

Imperfect? What do I care if things are perfect?


"Yes, Elly, I told her the truth. It's imperfect to lie."

"Since when have you cared if things were imperfect?" asked my friend Elise.

"I don't know. This is something new believe me. Something just came over me and I couldn't lie!" I said.

"Wow," said Elise, "and you really look good today too. You are really going to drive Robin crazy! What did you do anyway? Did you change your hair or something? Did you get it layered?"

"I don't know. I just woke up and brushed it, but it did seem different somehow."

"Whatever! You look great. You look perfect!"


All day long people have been telling me how great I look. I have done beautifully on every test. I really amazed my band teacher when I played our new march without a flaw. I usually don't even remember what piece we are supposed to be playing! Something has come over me and I cannot lie, I cannot fail, I cannot be messy. Even when I try! Even Mr. Vaffur told me I seemed interested in the today's algebra, while yesterday I was fall-asleep bored. Ever since I picked that perfect flower, my life has been changed!


"Wow, you look terrific!," said Robin as she was walking home with Elise and me. She was more friendly today that she has been all year.

"Well, I can look better than you, you know," I replied. What am I saying? What a catty comment, but I know it is true and I can't lie!

"I can't believe you said that to ME!," roared Robin as she stormed off dragging Elise behind her.

Boy am I stupid -- perfectly stupid!


Five days have passed and none of my friends - or even my enemies - will talk to me. My mom is furious with me because I told her her taste in decorating left something to be desired and even Mrs. Smith at the corner store is mad just because I told her that her apples were bruised. I can't seem to keep my mouth closed. I have thought and thought about the change in me. I look perfect, I can't help but tell the truth, I'm getting all my work done flawlessly -- and now nobody likes me. I am really miserable and I wish I could be just me again -- just Joan "The Jerk"!


What a plain bird that is. What's it doing out tonight? I looked out my window. Just then the bird opened it's mouth to sing, and I saw a silver throat, and heard the most beautiful song.

Now I realize! It's what's inside that counts! Perfect isn't really perfect.


Now everything in school is fine again. All my friends like me, and my teachers have the old me.

Everything is perfect.*