August 29, 2020:


That's me, firmly declining what feels like the millionth high-pressure invitation. I'm not worried about being polite, and as she trails after me I continue walking, at high speed, doing my best to leave her behind.

She's the teacher who runs the gifted program at George W. Marston Junior High between at least 1969 and 1972, the years I was there. Because she had almost no impact on me I don't recall her name. She was young ish, younger than most of the teachers, with an unusually affected demeanor for that milieu in that time, projected primarily through berets and small black cigars she chewed as much as smoked. I seem to also recall black velveteen boots with high spiked heels, like a low-rent dominatrix; but that could be imagination half a century after the fact. It would make sense, though.

She pursued me tirelessly all three years. The word "pursued" is here intended literally. She followed me between classes, tracked me down on the lunch court, watched me running around the P.E. field. My refusal seemed to have brought out something stubborn in her, where perhaps I was the one black star on her accomplishment board slathered otherwise with all gold. Maybe she actually thought contact with her and her socially-and-physically-ill-adept-crew-of-pubescent-brainiacs would do me good. Not like that grammar school lot. Thanks but no thanks, I'll stick with drugs.

And my friends from my neighborhood, and our basketball games and bowling in summers and bicycle-based exploration of the city. Regular kids who are allowed to play together after school without first finishing our fucking homework. With whom, perhaps ironically or narcissistically, I feel superior to her captives in the program. Vastly superior. In all practical ways infinitely so.