It was my first week in the credit department. I had a new desk and a new computer and my very own telephone. It was 7:00 AM. My very own telephone rang at my new desk. "Shit," I thought, setting down my freshly brewed cup of coffee. "Who in their right mind would be calling the credit department?" I cleared my throat and picked up the hand piece. "Good morning. Credit Department. This is Millie." "Mom?" It was my youngest. I could barely hear him. My mind began to race. "Why is Rene calling me? He's on a field trip." Unlike his mother, Rene was a joiner. It was his freshman year in high school. He was on the football team. He was in band. He joined Forensics, which I thought had to do with dead bodies and solving crimes, until I went to a forensics meet. He was on the math team. And he was also a member of something called, The FBLA. I'd gone to a meeting. I'd signed a permission slip. And I'd written a check. At the crack of dawn, he'd proudly boarded a bus that was headed to Green Bay for a four day, Future Business Leaders of America, conference, carrying a duffle bag in one hand and over his other arm was draped his brand new suit. "You need a suit?" I'd said. "Yeah. It's for our presentation." Good thing I nailed this fancy job here in the credit department. As he walked the runway in our kitchen and stopped to pose, I told him how handsome he was, all the while feeling my first pangs of "shit, he looks all grown up." "Rene?" I said into the mouth piece. There was no response. "Rene?" I said again. It has been hard to hear Rene ever since puberty. Before that his opinions were unmistakably loud and clear. He'd been a bundle of fury when he was little. But when he began to transition into a teenager his voice was up and down and all over the charts. It finally landed at a low mumble in the end and that is where it stuck. On top of that he was a walking mumbling kind of a kid. He would mumble past Sven and I sitting in the living room as he headed to his bedroom. "What?" I would say. He would repeat his mumble as he headed in the other direction toward the kitchen. I would look at Sven and raise my eyebrows. Sven would look at me and shrug. I learned the hard way that I was only allowed to say, "What?" twice. His childhood fury would resurface if I said, "What?" for the third time. "I SAID THAT I WILL BE LATE FOR SUPPER TOMORROW. I HAVE FORENSICS PRACTICE." "Do you have cadavers right there at your school?" "What? No!" Rene cleared his throat on the other end of the line. "Where are you?" I said. "The police station," he mumbled. "The police station? I thought you were in Green Bay!" "It's the police station in Green Bay, Mom." Heads were turning toward me on my own phone, at my new desk, in my new office. I lowered my voice. "What are you doing at the police station in Green Bay?" "Dad's on his way to pick me up," he said. "Rene, there's a snow storm. Green Bay is three hours away." "I know," he said. "But we got kicked out of the conference and we have to go home." "Did you get arrested?" "Not exactly," he answered. "What is that supposed to mean?" "Well, I was in a talent contest last night." "You were in a talent contest?" "Yeah." "What'd you do?" "I danced." "You dance?" "Not very well. We got disqualified." "For Dancing?" "The judges said our dancing was inappropriate." "They can't start locking people up who don't dance. My God. The jails are overcrowded as it is." "I'm not locked up." "But you were arrested for inappropriate dancing?" "Not exactly." My co-workers weren't even pretending not to listen anymore. "Mom, I have to go. Other kids need to use this phone. I just wanted you to know that I'm coming home." I could feel the lump in his throat. "Are you okay?" "Yeah," he said. But his voice said not at all. My heart broke. "You'll be fine. We'll talk about it when you get home." "I've been sitting on this hard floor since three o'clock this morning," he complained. "Jeez!" "I'm starving." "Oh Sweetie," I said, "Did you ever get to wear your new suit?" "I'm wearing it right now," he said. As we hung up I pictured the purple bow on Eeyore's tail swing to the left and then to the right and then it disappeared down a long dark prison hallway. "Okay, so what happened?" I said to Rene two days later. We were seated in our living room. The boys were home from their dad's. He began his tale. "A bunch of us signed up for the talent contest. And we all wore wife beater t-shirts and jeans." "What in the hell is a wife beater t-shirt?" I said. "You know, those white ones with the real skinny straps that old men wear," he said. "Hey, my Grandpa Noe use to wear those! Is that why you got disqualified?" "It probably didn't help." "So what kind of a dance did you do?" "I don't know. We made it up. Actually things were going pretty good up there on the stage until we got to the leap frog part." "Huh?" "Yeah. See, Amanda fell down when she was leaping over Josh and that tripped up Curtis. And Curtis knocked Crystal over and pretty soon we all ended up in a big pile." "So that's why you were disqualified?" "Mmmmm. I think it was that combined with some of our sexy moves that upset them the most." "Oh, Rene!" "It wasn't that bad. And we didn't even care that we got disqualified. But some of the other kids from our school started arguing with the judges. The judges told them to get back to their seats." "Yeah?" "Well they wouldn't quit arguing with them. Probably because they were drunk." "They were drunk?" "One of the judges smelled alcohol." "Were you drinking?" "No." "You are such a good boy." "Well, I wasn't invited to the party." "So, then what happened?" "A couple hours later they rounded us up and took us to the police station to take breathalyzer tests. We were questioned one at a time in an interrogation room. "Oh, my." "Oh, and by the way..." "Yeah?" "I'm expelled from school." "WHAT!!" "Just for one day, Mom." "WHAT!" "Mom, it's only one day. Some kids are expelled for five." I was reeling with this new information as he continued. "You see, we are all expelled one day for every charge we have against us. I only have one." "And that is?" "Inappropriate dancing." "Oh. Right. What are the other charges?" "Well, let's see, there is the inappropriate dancing charge, arguing with the judges, being disrespectful, failing the breathalyzer test, and possession of alcohol." "Rene...." "And I can't go back to school until you go in and talk to the principal." "Why do I have to see the principal. I didn't do anything." "You have to call the office and make an appointment, before I can go back." On Monday morning I called the school, with my very own phone, from my new desk, with my co-workers gathered around. "I'm sorry ma'am, Mr. Frank is not taking calls at the moment. He is in a meeting. When would you like to come in?" "I can be there at four o'clock this afternoon," I said. "Mmmm, no. It has to be during school business hours," she said. "I might be able to make it there by 3:50, if I speed," I said. "No, ma'am. The last meeting I can schedule is three o'clock." "Well, I don't get off work until half past three." "Well, I am sorry, but it has to be before three o'clock." "Yes, but, I don't get off work in time." "Yes, but I am supposed to schedule these meetings during our school business hours." "How about a conference call?" I said. "No. Sorry. The meetings are to be in person." "Yes, I understand that, but I don't see how that is going to work out. You see, my business hours are the same as Mr. Frank's business hours. I could possibly stop by at six AM?" "The first meeting I can schedule is 8:00 AM." The conversation ended, unresolved. On Tuesday morning, I drove to work. Rene rode the school bus to town. "I'm sorry, ma'am, Mr. Frank is not available to take your call. I can schedule a meeting for you." "No. That's not going to work. You see, my son is sitting across the street, staring at your building. He is waiting for me to let him know that he can go to class." "Hmmm. Mr. Frank has an opening at one o'clock. Would that work?" "Perfect. Schedule a conference call at one o'clock. Here is my phone number." "Oh, no. These meetings have to be in person ma'am." "I can be there at four o'clock." "Mmmmmm. No, that won't work. It must be during our school business hours." "Put me t-h-r-o-u-g-h to Mr. Frank," I said real slow. All eyes were on the crazy woman holding her very own phone to her ear. "PLEASE HOLD," snapped the little lady. "I'm on hold," I told my audience, with my hand over the mouth piece. "Mrs. Noe?" I heard a few minutes later. "Yes?" "You can inform your son that he is welcome to go to class." "Oh. Thank you. When can I talk to Mr. Frank?" "He said he doesn't need to see you." "Well, does he want to talk to me?" "No. He really doesn't." "So, this is it then? This is the end of the inappropriate dancing episode?" "Yes ma'am. It's over." Today my Rene is a leading business man. As far as I know he has not entered any more talent contests.