Thursday, March 26, 2009

this tornado loves you///part 2

it was the boys only free-play that alerted us. my 6th grade teacher, miss mostella, announced what should have been a thrilling thing in somber adult tones.

we were wary of this "reward."
first, free-play was never a boys only affair. second, free-play sessions were always allocated as rewards for various achievements. otherwise, we were given over as minions to the grotesque crone, mitzy miller. things just didn't add up.

john elmore, a few other boys & i huddled together on the playground. "what do you think's going on?," was the main topic of conversation. "it's obvious," john asserted, "this is some kind of sex thing. bird & the bees. how to do it. you know, stuff like that." we were all on thin ice here. 'how to do it' was a young boy's macho obfuscation. what the hell did we know about "how to do it'? how to do WHAT, exactly? "yeah, you're right," we all chimed in. "sex things...ha ha ha."

when we returned to the classroom, the girls were all down cast & shy. something had happened right here in our classroom that we as boys weren't privy to but it still seemed to be hanging in the air like an embarrassing presence, like a drunken relative at c'mas.

i nudged ann hathaway, "what happened?," i asked impotently. she half turned, head down between her bent elbows & shook her head quickly. "huh?," i returned mystified. "i can't!," she spit out quickly. most of the girls seemed in shock. none of us seemed to be able to reach them. they seemed further away then ever & that seemed pretty damn far.

at the end of the day, miss mostella went around to every girl & passed out several sheets of mimeographed pages. "you're to bring this back w/you tomorrow, signed," she said in her most severe teacherly voice. the girls quickly put the papers away. whatever this secret was, it hung heavily in the air now. miss mostella seemed to be rubbing it in w/her distribution of this contraband material in plain sight of the boys. we were inflamed.

bobo picked us up at the end of the school day. there was lewis greenhut, bruce rickoff, bob palmer & me, all chattering away about the day's mysterious activities. "john says it's all about the birds & the bees," i offered. they all considered this & seemed to agree. bobo said nothing. we kept up the speculation but in even more vague terms until we'd dropped off the last of our rides(bob). i did whatever i usually did w/my afternoon but i kept running things through my mind.

after dinner, i was doing my homework in our living room. unexpectedly, my mother came in. "can i talk w/you for a minute?," she asked in a strange strangled voice. i felt a deep awfulness in the pit of my stomach. my mind seemed to float away. i didn't answer her query. "your father said you boys were talking about the girls today." i think i nodded but i felt frozen & numb. "well, i think i should explain what's going on. it's something you should know." again, i tried to nod my head. her voice was strained & her body seemed to be twitching. she sat down. i'm sure she was trying to steady herself.

"danny, there are times, for girls, for women when we're just not ourselves. you never know when it's going to happen. it just does. i remember once when i was younger & we were out at innerarity point beach & some boys were throwing all the girls into the water & we were all trying to get away but they kept catching us & throwing us in. danny, there are times when girls just can't go into the water. they just can't. that was my time. i tried as hard as i could to get away but they caught me & were about to throw me in & your grandmother stopped them. i couldn't go in the water. she knew it & she stopped them. it wasn't their fault. they didn't know. but now YOU know. danny, you understand now, don't you?"

i was already unnerved by the situation & her calling me "danny." this was some kind of formal circumstance that i hadn't been prepared for. i hadn't really followed her story. i remember her eyes darting all around the room. she was wringing her hands in a studied kind of agony. i nodded. "yes," i croaked out. her body seemed to deflate & she quickly got up from the table. "you get back to your homework, ok," she blurted out & bolted from the room. i stared at the door she slammed shut behind her. i sat there for an hour. i didn't finish my homework.

i didn't share this information w/my friends.

this initiation was over. i'd gotten my birds & bees.

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