He had an intense desire to make himself known to the schoolteacher at once, to tell him what he had done and why and to be congratulated by him.
—“The Violent Bear It Away,” by Flannery O’Connor
Sure, make fun of me and the chicken business and maybe how I do my hair and pretty much the way I tawk and act in general but I was right on one thing: I’ve had that graded test of Felix’s on my desk up in the front of the classroom since October, just waiting on him for a reason that just worked like a thunder clap of glory.
I’ve missed him, and every day I sit there and get to see that thing of beauty. An A-plus. A big, wonderful 97 on the chapter 7 quiz, Life of the People in Colonial Georgia. And then he leaves. He was such a great kid. A great kid in class. Kind. Mannerly. He was so missed.
But he was seen today. I’m walking across campus and I see a kid in blue jeans and a t-shirt and hoodie jacket and a baseball cap playing basketball by himself on one of the goals near our parking lot. When you see some kid way out of uniform on campus it’s usually somebody’s brother, but it was ol’ Felix, timing his visit to see his old pals when they came out of the buildings to go home. He’d be able to see them all … and they’d be glad to see him.
He calls my name first and I didn’t know who he was … he’d lost weight and had a real pep in his step.
It was Felix, all decked out in what everybody’s wearing these days. You know, skateboard sneakers the size of Buicks. I asked him what he was doing.
I’m here to see my old friends!
I asked him how his mother was doing.
She’s in the car over there!
I waved. I don’t think she saw me.
I asked him how he was doing.
What school did he end up in.
He told me … a certain middle school.
And you’re keeping up? Class and academics … okay?
They’re great! I’m taking Georgia History, he said.
But I’m still your favorite Georgia history teacher, right!
For some reason he takes his cap off and shows me … his shaved head.
So … Felix … you’re bald now!
I told him I still had that chapter seven quiz on my desk of his … and that he made a big, bad A-plus on the thing.
Sure did. I shook his hand and told him he looked great … that I was proud of him … and then I had to ask him: did he still have that big, black wristband with test answers underneath it?
I still have it!
We shook hands and I walked into The Cozy Room of Learning and thought for a second … I don’t need that test anymore. Why would I keep it from him any longer. It’s really his … and he earned it and this was the moment I guess I was waiting for. I ran back out and interrupted his basketball game again and gave him the test. See here, I said. You did great!
He looked at the test as if he really and truly couldn’t believe I had saved the dang thing. For this long.
But I did. And me and Felix and the school nurse who was walking by all had a pretty good chuckle about an old quiz grade and a kid who still counts.
Next Entry ... February 26: Lincoln Lives For Us