so today this kid comes into my classroom and pursuant to another conversation, he says "i have a sister in 6th grade", and he names the feminine equivalent of his brother's name.
"so", i said, putting down my book and taking my feet off of my desk, "think carefully. this is a trick question: is that meant to insult your brother, or women in general?"
"my brother", he says.
"think again. use your logic. if calling him a girl is meant to be an insult, the implication is that girls are inherently inferior, which is kind of an insult to every woman on the planet, and we don't like it."
he listens, but does not give any indication if he hears or not. at any rate, it is the kind of thing i can say to him, because i've known him a long time and i have much respect and affection for him, which i think is mutual.
the conversation moves on to basketball, which is what he'd rather talk about, anyway.
and i stepped back and had a good look at him. i remember when he was a teeny little boy, but today he is tall and handsome. he looks for a moment like a real man, which he'll be soon enough.
i fell in love once in the produce aisle of the supermarket, over the tomatoes. the man had blue eyes and hands that were lithe and graceful. he smiled at me and we exchanged a few words and in those few seconds in my head i had already married him and borne him children.
yes, it was a surprise.
i don't know why i did not offer him my number. i kept going back all summer to see if he would return. i spent a lot of time in the produce aisle, different days, different hours. an eggplant groupie.
and then last week i was in traffic and the guy in the car behind me caught my eye. he had red hair, a red beard, red moustache. i'm partial to redheads. i was originally a redhead myself.
well, truthfully, i was bald until i was almost three, but eventually i became a redhead.
but he was kind of fretting in traffic; maybe tired, maybe late.
i love you, i thought. and it was true. i don't know where he went; i lost track of him after he got on 289. but i loved him. hoped for the best for him, sent my heart out to him.
i don't know why.
but the light turned green. i lost him. wherever he is tonight, i hope he's well.