Rod always fell asleep in class. It didn’t matter if it was math, English, or science. Ten minutes into the class, and he was sound asleep. A person might think he had a sleep problem. He did, actually. It was called not going to bed before 2:00 in the morning. The teachers tried talking to him about it, and he always promised to do better, but he never did.
In math class he would lay his head down on his desk, and soon he was out. One day he fell asleep and rolled his face onto the wire rings of his notebook. When he woke up, he looked like mini train tracks had been laid across his face. But that wasn’t near as funny as the day he laid his head down in the middle of his history book. The ink in the book must have been cheap, because in that hour he absorbed Susan B. Anthony’s picture into the side of his face. It was amazing that the ink was cheap enough to release from the page, yet no amount of scrubbing could seem to remove it from his skin. Some students thought that was when he received the nickname of Suzy Q, but it wasn’t. That came later.
You see, even the bell signaling the change of classes didn’t wake him. Only the books slamming and packs zipping were enough noise to barely rouse Sleeping Beauty. He would pull himself together enough to move to the next class, where he would immediately fall asleep again.
One day at lunch, before Rod got there, Lenny addressed the issue. “You know guys, I’m getting really tired of Rod falling asleep in class. The teachers are annoyed at us for not keeping him awake, and yet, if we try, he gets all mad at us. I, for one, have had enough.”
“So what can we do?” I asked.
Lenny sipped his milk as he considered it. We could see the wheels churning, and when that happened with Lenny, it was anyone’s guess what he would come up with. Just as Rod approached our table, Lenny grinned. “I’ve got it!”
“Got what?” Rod asked as he set his tray down.
“Oh, nothing really,” Lenny said. “I think I just figured out a solution to a problem in math class.”
“What problem?” Rod asked, starting on his desert first.
“Nothing you need to worry about,” Lenny lied, glancing around at us to make sure we didn’t say anything.
Needless to say, we were all curious as to what Lenny had up his sleeve. But math class was right after lunch hour, so we would soon find out.
There is nothing like a good lunch to make a person sleepy. Of course, cafeteria food is nothing like a good lunch, but even that acted like a sleeping potion on Rod. We weren’t five minutes into class when he was sleeping like a baby.
That was when Lenny put his plan into action. He passed a note around the class. As he did, each person grinned and passed it on. When I read it I made no attempt to hide it as I passed it to the next person. The teacher saw it, as I had hoped. “Howard,” he said fiercely, “give me that note!”
I handed it over, and he read it out loud, as was his usual practice. “When we leave the class let’s all do it quietly so we don’t wake Rod. Pass it on.”
Rod didn’t hear it because he was asleep. The teacher just grinned and nodded his approval.
When the bell rang, everyone quietly gathered everything up, and snuck out. The class that followed us was an all-girl, home-ec class, who was in the middle of the chapter about makeup and hairstyles. As I went out I heard Lenny whisper to the home-ec teacher something about a model as he pointed at Rod. She in turn looked at Rod and grinned.
We were nearly 45 minutes into the next hour when Rod came storming into P.E. “What is the big idea of leaving me asleep in math class?!”
But as we looked at him, instead of answering, the whole class burst into laughter.
“Oh, and what is so funny?!” Rod demanded angrily.
That was when Lenny and I maneuvered him in front of a mirror. There, for the first time, he saw his face and nails all painted up pretty, and hair bows in his hair.
And that was how he got his nickname.