I'd grown cavalier with curse words. But unlike my mom, Mrs. Machida heard me just fine. She turned magenta and hauled me out of the room by the scruff of my neck.
"We're calling your parents," said the principal, Dr. Burke, after Mrs. Machida told the story. I explained to them that my dad was at work and that my mom was deaf. Back then, my mom had no operator-assisted phone. When she wanted to make a phone call, whether to order a pizza or talk to a friend for an hour, she needed me or one of my brothers to translate for her. "Look," I said to Mrs. Machida and Dr. Burke. "You got to wait till I get home so I can tell her what you're saying."
Tell her what you're saying. I thought about it the whole bus ride home, not sure what exactly I was about to do. The phone was ringing as I walked in the door.
I tracked down my mom and told her the principal was on the phone. "What does she want?" my mom asked me.
I shrugged. My mom picked up the receiver and said hello, then passed it back to me.