The boy with the jabbing pencil

That middle aged woman in the classroom in my head? I figured out how to make her drop the class. She'll probably show up again. She'll probably register for nearly every class I ever take. She'll bring her pinched face and telltale style, and she'll bring the questions she uses to accuse me. What are you doing here? Didn't you read the books? Don't you have the reading list? What are you doing here?

But now I can make her go away!

I learned a trick a couple of days ago. (Don't tell most of my memories about this trick. The Teacher's Pet I once was will not be happy about this.) I learned a trick from one of the boys. He sits behind me sometimes, and he fights boredom by poking me in the back with a pencil. Drives me nuts.

A couple of days ago, every time that wretched woman in front of me turned to face me and accuse me with her look of contempt, every time she asked one of her hammering, hammering, yammering questions, that boy jabbed me in the back with his pencil. And every time I turned around to make him quit, he mimicked that nasty woman.

Now, usually, I just turn around enough to make him quit without really paying any attention to him. But I finally couldn't take it any more. I turned full around in my seat - and then I saw his face! The pest was smiling! He thought it was funny to ape the absurdity - he was on my side! (Boys are so dumb! They can't ever seem to find a way to get your attention without doing something like poking you in the back with a pencil.) I looked him full in the face, and he did it again. He did a perfect imitation of the front row bitch, and he said, "What are you doing here?" But coming from him, it was a whole different question. Coming from the boy with the pencil, the question was one that made me laugh!

(I thought I was going to get in trouble - but the teacher didn't hear me - he was keeping the front row scornwitch busy.)

So I turned back to him, and I asked that boy the same drumming question.

What are you doing here? Hmmm? Why are you sitting in this class?

And he said, "I want to."

Well, slap me silly and sound the horns! My word, my gosh, my golly. THAT's the answer! What am I doing here? Why do I want to go to school? At my age? Knowing full well that there are a thousand reasons for its being utterly impractical? Why?

Hey, lady. Turn around. Go ahead. Ask me again.

(She's so nasty - acts like I just interrupted someone far far out of my league.)

Why do you want to be in school? She asks me again. Right on cue.

This time I don't falter.

Because I can. That's why. There are people who can sing, and there are people who can weld, or sew, or garden, or do accounting, or paint. When these people are women who've reached middle age, and found that their world is settled enough to bear the weight of building a broader, deeper, higher life, then those are the people who can do it. They should do it. Because they can. I want to go to school and get that degree from that school because I can.

She dropped the class. Now maybe I can get on with it.


Anonymous said...

It's going to be a crime against HUMANITY if you DON"T go back to school.

Stephanie said...

Thank you, Anonymous. I've worked up quite a head of steam about this in the last couple of days, and it's nice to get a little validation. I send all heaps of platitudinous gratitudes your way, and I mean every one. (more posts to come on the matter!)