From the book
They call me King Dork.
Well, let me put it another way: no one ever actually calls me King Dork. It's how I refer to myself in my head, a silent protest and an acknowledgment of reality at the same time. I don't command a nerd army, or preside over a realm of the socially ill-equipped. I'm small for my age, young for my grade, uncomfortable in most situations, nearsighted, skinny, awkward, and nervous. And no good at sports. So Dork is accurate. The King part is pure sarcasm, though: there's nothing special or ultimate about me. I'm generic. It's more like I'm one of the kings in a pack of crazy, backward playing cards, designed for a game where anyone who gets me automatically loses the hand. I mean, everything beats me, even twos and threes.
I suppose I fit the traditional mold of the brainy, freaky, oddball kid who reads too much, so bright that his genius is sometimes mistaken for just being retarded. I know a lot of trivia, and I often use words that sound made-up but that actually turn out to be in the dictionary, to everyone's surprise--but I can never quite manage to keep my shoes tied or figure out anything to say if someone addresses me directly. I play it up. It's all I've got going for me, and if a guy can manage to leave the impression that his awkwardness arises from some kind of deep or complicated soul, why not go for it? But, I admit, most of the time, I walk around here feeling like a total idiot.
Most people in the world outside my head know me as Moe, even though my real name is Tom. Moe isn't a normal nickname. It's more like an abbreviation, short for Chi-Mo. And even that's an abbreviation for something else.
Often, when people hear "Chi-Mo" they'll smile and say, "Hippie parents?" I never know what to say to that because yes, my folks are more hippie than not, but no, that's not where the name comes from.
Chi-Mo is derogatory, though you wouldn't necessarily know that unless you heard the story behind it. Yet even those who don't know the specific story can sense its dark origins, which is why it has held on for so long. They get a kick out of it without really knowing why. Maybe they notice me wincing when I hear them say it, but I don't know: there are all sorts of reasons I could be wincing. Life is a wince-a-thon.
There's a list of around thirty or forty supposedly insulting things that people have called me that I know about, past and present, and a lot of them are way worse than Moe. Some are classic and logical, like Hender-pig, Hender-fag, or Hender-fuck. Some are based on jokes or convoluted theories of offensiveness that are so retarded no one could ever hope to understand them. Like Sheepie. Figure that one out and you win a prize. As for Chi-Mo, it goes all the way back to the seventh grade, and it wouldn't even be worth mentioning except for the fact that this particular nickname ended up playing an unexpectedly prominent role in the weird stuff that happened toward the end of this school term. So, you know, I thought I'd mention it.
Mr. Teone, the associate principal for the ninth and tenth grades, always refers to Sam Hellerman as Peggy. I guess he's trying to imply that Sam Hellerman looks like a girl. Well, okay, so maybe Sam Hellerman does look a little like a girl in a certain way, but that's not the point.
In fact, Mr. Teone happens to have a huge rear end and pretty prominent man boobs, and looks way more like a lady than Sam Hellerman ever could unless he were to gain around two hundred pounds and start a course of hormone therapy. Clearly, he's trying to draw attention away from his own nontraditionally gendered form factor by focusing on the alleged...