The chair calls Kelly to speak first. Razza whispers, “Twang!” in Ishmael’s ear, but Ishmael ignores him. He has to concentrate—he must analyze and pick apart Kelly’s argument. But as Kelly begins, Ishmael thinks of Kelly’s lovely voice and her beautiful eyes. He totally misses her introduction of the theme. Thankfully, Scobie is paying attention; he passes a note to Ishmael with a word, presumably the theme, underlined. But Scobie’s handwriting is illegible. Ishmael decides to proceed with getting down Kelly’s main points so he can rebut them. He can do without the theme.
Ishmael is battling two opposing goals here. He wants to know everything about Kelly, a sign of his burgeoning maturity; and he also wants to take the debate seriously and make his teammates proud. Unfortunately, Ishmael is thwarted at every turn. His crush on Kelly makes it impossible to pay attention, and Scobie is little help when he can only write notes to Ishmael rather than speak to him. Ishmael is, in this sense, on his own.
As Kelly flicks to a new index card, Ishmael notices how cute her hands are and how pretty and shiny her hair is. He comes to when she introduces her second point—what happened to the first one? As she notes that famous people aren’t public property, Ishmael realizes that’s not a bad point. But then he remembers he can’t agree with her. Bill rings the three-minute warning bell; Kelly only has one minute to go. Ishmael tries to recall the four steps of effective rebuttal just as Kelly concludes her argument. Ishmael is next, and he isn’t ready.
Ishmael is still more or less on his own, especially since Razza can’t, say, remind him of the four steps of effective rebuttal in the moment. Again, it’s a combination of Ishmael’s overwhelming attraction to Kelly and his fear of public speaking that makes it so impossible for him to pay attention. But Ishmael also agreed to be here to support the team and do his part—so he has no choice but to make the best of it.
Kelly sits down to applause. Scobie pushes index cards with his unreadable notes on them to Ishmael. Razza passes Ishmael a card. It reads, “Your girlfriend’s got hot legs!” Ishmael knows he’s dead as he gathers up all the cards. Something hard pokes him in the groin, but there’s no stray pen in his pocket. The chair calls Ishmael up, butchering his name. Ishmael grabs his cards and stands, legs shaking. It’ll all be over in four minutes.
Rather than being helpful, Razza is just making things even worse for Ishmael. Then, especially when the chair butchers Ishmael’s name, it just adds insult to injury. Ishmael already believes this is going to go terribly. After having his name mispronounced, it just seems even more embarrassing.