January 7, 2010
If you ever have the occasion to attend the same school for grades 1-8 and then to attend the subsequent 15 year-reunion of the graduating class, I recommend both. The latter, I must confess, was almost as daunting for me as all those years of academic rigor.Â
You see, although my Massachusetts driverâ€™s license indicates that I am some age that rhymes with â€œWendy Wine,â€ I am certain that I spent no less than 53 years in grade school.Â How else would I have learned and mastered all those ways to cheat at four square. filled voluminous notebooks with definitions for the words â€œplateauâ€ and â€œpeninsula,â€ translating them all into foreign languages in the margins. Or written suspiciously upside-down EETMAY EEMAY IN THE ATHROOMBAY OWNAY, or further, spent at least 3 months on the dispensary death bed with a crippling case of Algebritis?Â
I do not recall repeating any grades.
Of course Math was never my strongest subject.
I much preferred lunch, recess, field trips â€” particularly those that involved wearing play clothes and in which there was no mention made by an ad hoc educator about photosynthesis, colonialism, or card catalogs.Â
There was also a part of the school day, a time so fleeting but so sweet it carried its own musical score.Â It was a small slice of time just before dismissal bells rang when students would gather their backpacks and half-eaten tuna sandwiches and teachers would ask for various assistants of classroom chores.Sigh.Â
Day after day I would wait for the divine pairing of one particular lad and myself.Â Together we would raise our hands in earnest, anxious for the opportunity to step out of school building doors and dutifully clap chalk out of erasers for Teacher.Â And then one Indian Summer day one early October, whole galaxies collided.Â Together, Eraser Boy and I commenced out of school doors with our supply of felt-blocks and, just as I had planned it for decades, I let the doors swing shut before he could prop one of the erasers to hold it open.Â Marooned with the seven year-old love of my life! Beyond the scope of Teacherâ€™s gaze!Â Only the two of us, caught up in our misty cloud of chalk and laughter and unbridled love!Â Only, within moments, Eraser Boy rebuked me for not propping the door. After tapping his two felt blocks against the brick wall, he began rapping at the doors to gain entrance once more.
My entire tryst â€” foiled!
Needless to say, I had some reconciling to do at this upcoming reunion of ours.Â But would Eraser Boy show?Â
I plotted for months, consulting my sources, sleuthing his whereabouts, combing the Internet for information leading me to present-day Eraser Boy and his intentions to attend our reunion, appropriately at a mock-speakeasy in Cleveland, the day after Christmas.
Obvious motions such as â€œfriendingâ€ him on Facebook failed.Â Weeks passed and so did he on the friend request. I contacted his cousin who may or may not know that I saved the cardboard valentine Eraser Boy gave me in the fourth grade with a picture of a devil on it, which I may or may not have traced and had multiple copies made for fear of losing such a talisman in a natural disaster.Â
His cousin gave me his e-mail address, and so I composed the following missive:
Dear [Eraser Boy]: As you may know, a reunion has been planned for our graduating class.Â I hope to see you there.Â Which is to say that if I do not, I will spread malicious rumors about how you are in the slammer, serving a 25 year-sentence for trying to steal the patent for the Shamwow.Â
Yours very sincerely, Kendra
The day of the reunion arrived.Â I should probably mention that I was uncertain up until the time I arrived as to what I actually hoped would transpire at the reunion should Eraser Boy grace us with his presence.Â I should probably also mention that I was flanked by my ridiculously handsome husband of what our marriage certificate indicates is almost five years, though he maintains that it is at least 109.Â I should further mention that I was five months pregnant with our second child, our first child staying at home to possibly clap erasers with her grandmother.Â
Together, Husband and I entered the reunion.Â I filled out my nametag:Â â€œHello, my name is:Â Most Likely To Become Supermodel.â€Â And then we chatted and chortled with some of my favorite former classmates whom I havenâ€™t seen in 395 years.Â Surprisingly, we all looked great.Â Especially the ones who no longer have to wear the orthodontic headgear.Â We waxed poetic about those good old days of wearing uniforms and hemming the skirts with staple guns.Â We talked about field trips and photosynthesis and all the gummi bears we hid in the drawers of the antiquated card catalogs.
And I told the story of Eraser Boy.Â
Eraser Boy, who never showed. As we all headed out into the night air, I thought about the Eraser Boys and Four Square Girls we once were, and how those games and duties and foiled trysts have informed the men and women we are becoming.Â Perhaps another 300 some years will pass until the next reunion, but I know that, at least for me, time has a way of vanishing the eraser claps on the sides of brick buildings, but I cannot explain the indelible chalk marks on my heart.
Kendra Stanton Lee of Dorchester is a regular contributor to the Reporter.