I like to tell people I go to a “private” (with air-quotes) school- always with air-quotes. It makes me feel pretentious and rich. I’m not rich and not sure how the tuition is covered.
I assume, now, it was a combination of my dad’s expanding, born-again ideology, my mom’s concern for my literacy and some sort of scholarship for the needy. Disadvantaged hadn’t been invented yet.
During recess I trade stickers with the girls, google eyes, scratch and sniff and Smurfs are the best. I love going to a Christian school- a “private” school”. This week’s bible verse is 1st Timothy 4:4 which I’ve memorized by heart. “For everything created by God is Good”. Mrs. West, who looks just like Barbara Mandrel, told us “God made you and loves you just the way you are”. I know that’s true about me but not so sure about Miss. Linda, the teacher’s assistant, she’s fat and has bad breath.
I can fake reading when only Mrs. West is in the classroom. I put my finger on a page and wait until I see, from the corner of my eye, Heather who sits next to me, turn her page. But today, once again, I can since Miss. Linda’s large breasts hovering above my head, along with her breakfast-burrito-breath. I know she knows; I’m faking it.
She makes me read out loud to her, slowly, in a whisper voice. I don’t like her. I don’t dislike her I just don’t like her. Why is she so insistent that I do something I am not capable of? I am not a reader and that is fine! God did not make me a reader. He made me a charmer.
She sounds out the words to force me along. This, along with her girth, and whatever she had as a midnight snack, makes the air around me oppressive. She reminds me not to rush, something I’m sure she’s good at. I wish she would leave me alone, though the slower pace does give time for the letters to stop switching places.
I’ve agreed to trade a Smurfette sticker for a blueberry scratch-n’-sniff and a “K-ROQ 106.7 FM” bumper sticker. As I open my sticker-book I hear a yard duty teacher blowing her whistle, over and over. It’s not the short-double-whistle, that means, stop being naughty and behave. These are long and irregular. We all look towards the sound.
Miss. Linda is running with the whistle in her mouth and a boy in her arms. There is blood, too much of it. I’m shocked to see so much blood. I’m also shocked to see how fast Miss. Linda can run.
Miss. Linda is congratulated during school chapel for her quick response. I feel proud to have a close relationship with her as both her and the boy, Jason, rise in popularity. I also note that being a victim in a dramatic event can bring additional attention. This is a valuable lesson. Jason seems fine, but he is slightly cross eyed, and I can’t remember if he was that way before he hit his head. It doesn’t make him look goofy, but kinda cute, like a talking Disney animal.
For years I’ve thought about Miss. Linda’s jumbo breasts galloping, as she sprinted with Jason in her arms. I think about her, and them, when faced with a challenge I don’t feel equipped for.