PONCA CITY, OK—Weird Ponca City High School freshman Sam Hollis, 14, briefly transcended his lifelong streak of social awkwardness Wednesday, surprising his classmates and teacher when he deftly dissected a frog during his second-period biology lab.
Displaying a never-before-witnessed confidence and poise, Hollis effortlessly handled a surgical scalpel and a pair of forceps. After making a clean lengthwise incision in the preserved frog's abdomen, he used the forceps to skillfully pull aside the layers of skin and muscle.
Hollis reportedly completed the opening of the body cavity in less than one minute, which drew the attention of nearby pairs of students still arguing over who would have to touch their frog and gagging from the stench of formaldehyde.
"At first I thought he was going to be all weird and start to cry or something," said Hollis' assigned lab partner Ricky Malnight, who before knew Hollis only as "that dork who never talks and has dandruff." "But he just picked up the scalpel and dove right in. He didn't even look at the workbook or anything. It was pretty awesome because all I had to do was sit there while he did everything."
Hollis appeared so in his element, Malnight said, that for the rest of the class period he almost forgot the scrawny teen's faintly musty odor, perennially crooked glasses, and widely agreed-upon "gross" status.
As students craned their necks to watch him assuredly navigate the frog's abdominal cavity, Hollis capitalized on his fleeting peer acceptance by identifying the functions of all seven major organs. He even showed his classmates how to cut out the gall bladder without damaging the liver, a skill which earned many extra credit on the project.
Hollis also blazed a trail in stomach cutting, the most dreaded part of the project, in which students examined the semi- digested remains of the euthanized frogs' last meals.
"That weird science kid totally knew what he was doing," fellow biology student Mike Warner said. "He's still a loser, but it was pretty cool when he showed us where the frog's balls were."
Added Warner: "Courtney Olsen screamed like crazy when I pretended to throw mine at her."
By the end of class, the weird teen had managed to speak to six different classmates for a combined 17 minutes of flop sweat–free conversation.
"My mom's French, so I've actually eaten frog legs before," Hollis said. Miraculously, his comment failed to gross out or otherwise repel the majority of students.
Hollis then began moving the dissected frog's mouth, making the lifeless creature plead not to be eaten, which earned Hollis a few halfhearted chuckles from nearby classmates for the first time in his life.
Perhaps the most surprising event came when student council president Natalie Kranz asked Hollis where the elusive spleen was located. The resulting 30-second exchange with the most popular girl in school marked the longest period of communication with a female peer in Hollis' life, as well as the only known occurrence of direct eye contact.
"Yeah, Steve [Sam] was a big help," Kranz said regarding the event Hollis will replay over and over in his mind for the next several years. "I really need good grades in this class or my parents aren't going to let me go to prom with Josh [Mueller]."
According to those who have sort of known Hollis since elementary school, the classroom dissection was by far his most successful foray into normal social interactions. Past failed attempts include breaking his collarbone in third grade during a game of tag, and a poorly attended Battlestar Galactica–themed birthday party.
Hollis, however, seemed optimistic about the possibilities of entering a new phase in his social life.
"I really wish we were working on fetal pigs," said Hollis after turning in his tray and scalpel and offering to stay after class to gather and dispose of the gutted frogs. "It would be really interesting to cut open one of their hearts, because they're pretty similar to the human heart in a lot of ways."
"[Hollis] said that?" Malnight asked upon hearing of his lab partner's continued interest in animal dissection. "What a fucking freak."