Posts Tagged ‘life lessons’

Although I could likely have spelled and pronounced infelicitous,
could have used it in an essay or book report, I did not know, when reading
the names of the new student council members over the school’s
loudspeaker how to pronounce the last name of the boy
who had beaten me in my homeroom for the seat on the council.
Deutsch. And reading that long list of names, when I came to his,
I did not hesitate to pronounce it the way it looked on the page.
That’s when Cathy, reading beside me, burst into giggles, and I did, too,
and we had to turn off the PA system until we were sober enough
to read the menu for the day.

It was war. I never intended it that way.
Mispronouncing Gary’s name was a terrible,
sincere mistake. And it was war.

For the next two years, Gary called me names he knew I hated.
Rosie. Rosefairy. I’d like to think I didn’t mention
his last name.

He would come up behind me in Gifted and Talented,
and squeeze my skinny waist from behind. And always I would jump.
And curse him. And he’d laugh.

And then one day, just before summer, I said, “Gary, if you do that again,
I will throw you out that window.”

Gary did it again.

I did not mean to throw Gary out the window.

But the glass cracked and Gary cried and the whole room
stopped and stared. From somewhere outside of my body,
I stared, too, at the scrawny, mousy, over-achieving slip of a girl
who stood by the window, paralyzed in disbelief.

I think Mr. Foley laughed before he sent me to the vice-principal.
I think I cried. For days.

I paid for the window with my babysitting money.
Gary never squeezed my waist again.
I learned who I did not want to be.

It is funny now, when I tell my son. We giggle into his pillows,
and try not to wake his sister in the bed next to us.

I had forgotten Gary and his last name and the window until tonight
when I whispered to him in the dark before sleep,
“Sweetheart, It is going to be okay.
Everyone makes big mistakes sometimes. And we learn.”

“Even you, Mom?” he said, and I said, “Oh yes, there was one
particularly infelicitous day …”

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