Have you ever woken yourself up from a daydream or a memory by laughing at some image your brain has randomly thrown at you? I do this a lot, probably because my brain never shuts down and it’s really quite sporadic in what it sends my way.
Today it was a memory of second grade – sitting on the floor of the classroom after recess, taking off our snow pants and boots and putting on our indoor sneakers as was the daily ritual. Nothing too odd about that except the kid next to me on the floor. He was a beautifully awkward child, the kind that struggles in these small town scenarios just as badly as I did. Today he was sitting on the floor stocking-footed when he decided to unleash a confession to me – not because I was a close friend, more because I just happened to be there.
“My mother is strange.” This is often how he started conversations – with no segway or reason.
“I probably shouldn’t show you. She told me not to tell anyone.” He said as he unfurled a sock and stared at his bare feet. “She painted my toe nail.” I looked over and indeed, his big toe was sporting vibrant crimson polish but just the big toe, nothing else. I found myself more annoyed the rest of the toes weren’t painted rather than wondering what possessed his mother to paint his toes in the first place. And being seven years old this is where either conversation ended or my memory of it. Now I’m in my thirties wondering why I am I remembering this now?? And this specific and odd memory?? I have no answers.
If you’re wondering if this kid ever grew any social finesse the answer is no. My next memory of him was seventh grade science class. This was a class in which smarter students would get their work done in five minutes and spend the next forty finding increasingly strange ways to keep entertained. I was fond of the mealworm races myself. My fellow student of ennui on the other hand… One day he went around class asking every student if he could “borrow” a piece of paper. He showed up at my desk last with a whole stack of badly torn notebook papers and asked the same of me.
“No… but I can give you a piece of paper.” He giggled. Finally someone got the joke! No one borrows paper. I tore a page from my notebook and handed it to him hoping for more of an explanation. He wasn’t hoarding paper for any reason other than to keep occupied with the borrowing joke but now I was talking he made note of how cleanly torn my paper was, a nice sharp edge perfectly ripped at the perforation. There was no reason to have it any other way and yet all the papers he was holding were torn crazy, one was only half a page. We laughed at the half-assed attempts at kindness the other students had put forth. “But you already have paper!!”
The next day he wandered around class asking each individual if they believed in Osiris…. as in the Egyptian God Osiris…. Blasphemy at it’s best.