Thursday, September 15, 2016

Writer’s Workshop: Remembering a Friend

Interesting this prompt should come up today…

Share a memory about your elementary school!

I’ve shared lots of memories of grammar school, which for me covered kindergarten and grades 1 through 8. Things were like that back in the day, and are probably still like that in some places. But something — more like someone — has been on my mind for the last couple of days.

One of my classmates (let’s call him M) was a real character. He was always a little theatrical and dramatic, and sometimes that would bleed over to the classroom. One day in sixth grade, he was talking and carrying on during class, and the nun got fed up and told him to stand in the corner. Well, he was there for about five minutes, and suddenly he starts moaning and wavering in the corner. When the nun asked him what was wrong, he said, “Sister, I feel faint…” and he collapsed on his desk (which was conveniently in the back of the room).

She rushed to the back of the room and helped him up (no mean feat, because he was a pretty big guy) and out into the hall. We had no idea what was wrong with him, but five minutes later, he came bouncing back into the room, perfectly all right, a big grin on his face. We gave him a standing ovation, for which we were all punished. We didn’t care. It was worth it.

He and I were good friends through our later years in grammar school. He was a big fan of Herb Alpert and The Tijuana Brass, as I was, and he used to lend me his records. We hung out together most days after school. I’d go to his house some days, other days he’d come to mine. We just liked each other’s company. He was always up and happy, and could get me out of a bad mood, which he never seemed to get into. His nicknames for me were “Maniac” and “Flirt.” I never quite understood why, but with M, you just sort of went along, because he was a good guy and fun to hang out with.

In eighth grade, we decided to do a show for the rest of the school, one that would show off our talents, such as they were. He was the star of one act: about a dozen of us boys and girls lined up and put a hand on the shoulder of the person in front of them. M was the last person in the line. It would start with the first person turning their head and saying “Is it time?” to the person behind them. It would continue, with each person asking the one behind, until they got to M. He would put his hands on his hips and say “NO!” and it would go forward from there. This went on a couple more times, and M would get increasingly more indignant each time, finally putting his hands on his hips, stomping his foot, and saying “NO!!!!” The last time, he said “Yes!”, and when that message got to the front of the line, everyone turned around and faced the other direction.

Okay, it was stupid (we were what, fourteen?), but the best part of the routine was seeing him “lose his temper” each time. That was what he did best: theatrics and drama.

We lost touch after eighth grade, and it wasn’t until yesterday that I learned he had died from AIDS-related complications. I wish I had kept in touch. The world was better with him in it.

Just wanted to share that.

from The Sound of One Hand Typing

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