Wednesday, July 05, 2006

School Memories: A Tale of an Infatuated Seventh Grader

I was winding up my poetry unit, wherein we were writing some poems to close the time. Most students need guidance to write poems, so I had structured lessons. One such lesson was to write a poem inspired by a photograph.

Students were asked to bring their own, but knowing that some would forget, I printed several from my computer for students to use. Pictures would be analyzed for details that revealed their stories. I selected pictures based on "narrative" or "descriptive" quality. There were several from when I was a child, one of our wedding showing a nondescript couple running through birdseed to the awaiting car, and some photographs of artwork from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

I also had some Czech pictures from my youngest sister. Some were quite artistic, like a black and white of a man in a dark subway. There was also one of a friend of mine, Shalin, with perhaps a fondue pot in front of him at a restaurant.

In fifth hour, one girl grabbed it and asked who it was. I replied, "A friend of mine from college." She took it to her desk, her parting words being, "He's HOT!" I told her I'd inform him a 12-year-old girl thought thus, and she was embarrassed (and hopeful) as only a seventh-grade girl can be.

I'm not completely sure of the accuracy of the following, as I was just out of earshot, but someone asked her about the picture, and I believe she might have claimed the picture was hers from home. Oh, what the throes of young love will push you to say!

Then, my next class rolled around...and I realized that Shalin's picture was missing. I imagined this girl at home, fawning over Shalin's image. In time, she would pull it out to show others and brag about Shalin being her boyfriend, or some other equally entertaining story.

I had printed these off anew, knowing some could be bent or misplaced through the exercise, so I wasn't despondent about the loss of a picture. Curiosity, however, caused me to near the girl's desk the next day and ask her about the picture. Should she have claimed it was in her locker or at home, I would have let it be. Bashfully, however, she opened her binder where it was displayed and returned it to me.

Yes, I recognize I am cruel to break up a harmless, imagined romance. Alas, I am the ogre English teacher, and I must keep my reputation intact.

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