It is the early 80s and an olive skinned boy with hazel eyes and curly black hair is wandering through the halls of his school. A few moments ago he made a quick stop at his locker to pick up his math book and is now fighting time. If he doesn’t hurry up he is going to be tardy.
He is a good student and most subjects are easy for him but math isn’t one of them. It could be one of his favorites. It could be something that tickles and stimulates his mind but it is not. Some of that can be attributed to bad math teachers and the bad attitude he has developed towards it. He is 14 years-old and has already decided that he knows as much math as he is going to need. But there is a bigger problem than his bad attitude and bad teachers.
Her name is Denise and she teases him constantly. From the moment he walks into class until the bell rings she will be the epitome of the mean girl. For 50 minutes she will pick apart his clothes, the way he looks, how he walks and anything else that she thinks will hurt him. For 50 minutes he will grit his teeth and try to ignore her barbs, pretend that he doesn’t feel their bite.
If she were a boy he would be ok because he knows how to deal with that. Were she blessed with a dangling appendage he would threaten her with bodily harm. Were she male he would be in her face and the traditional methods that boys use to work out their differences would be in play.
But she isn’t and he is at a loss. He won’t share his misery with anyone. It is junior high and he hasn’t developed the thick skin that will protect him later in life. Appearances are critical and he can’t afford to let anyone think that this girl has a thing on him. But it gets harder each day not to scream at her.
Each day that goes by takes a little piece of his patience. Each minute that goes by feels like it is an hour and he begins to dream of attacking her with water balloons and shaving cream. He is afraid of going that route because he fears getting suspended. Yet, the idea is exceptionally attractive to him. Because the one thing that he knows for certain is that she works very hard to look a certain way.
Time passes and she doesn’t relent. Eventually he snaps and in the middle of class he throws her purse, backpack and books across the classroom and screams in anger. Her eyes get wide and then she bursts into laughter. For a moment he considers attacking her with the erasers from the chalkboard. There are two of them just a few feet away- in seconds she’ll be covered in chalk dust.
But before he can do anything the teacher is standing next to him. She hands him the hall pass and says to go take a walk. When he returns to class the girl will sneer at him and threaten him with physical harm courtesy of her boyfriend. She doesn’t realize that this is much better, he knows how to handle that. Now he smiles at her and says that he will happy to give her an ice pack for her boyfriend to use.
A few hours later the boy will replay the events of the day through his mind and wonder what he is going to do about the boyfriend. He has calmed down and without the surge of adrenalin running through his veins he is a bit more realistic about things. The boy friend is older than he is and drives to school. That car changes the equation a bit.
Time passes and the sun sets and rises again. The curly haired boy takes a deep breath and walks back into his math class. It is the day after the incident and he doesn’t know what to expect. He takes his seat at the table and waits for the usual outburst. But she doesn’t say anything. There are no comments or threats- no words about what has happened.
Almost 30 years later the boy has grown into a man. During a short trip to the mall he walks into a Ralph Lauren/Polo Store and looks around. He doesn’t need anything there and doesn’t care about designer labels but it is marked as an outlet store so he figures what the hell.
A shirt catches his eye and he walks over to it. Suddenly he remembers that moment and feels a moment of sadness. He is both shocked and surprised by it. He is remembering that moment from junior high and for whatever reason the sadness the boy felt has come to visit the man. He can’t figure out why, but he doesn’t really care enough to try hard.
It is only a moment and then the feeling is gone. Later on when he writes about that moment then and the moment today he’ll remember that life is nothing but moments in time. Little memories intermixed with bigger ones and maybe that moment in the eighties was more significant to him than he realized.
Hard to say and not really clear whether it is appropriate to classify it as being among the wounds that take longer to heal- but that is ok. Because when all is said and done part of the purpose of blogging is the opportunity to reminisce and consider that which was and that which may yet be.