Saturday, August 07, 2004


Morning. Hair tousled, teeth unbrushed. Across the room, Alan asleep on the couch.

I went to pick him up from his fencing class last night. They weren't quite done, so I watched through the glass door. I know nothing of fencing, but what seems to happen is that the fencers have to stay in a marked-off oblong, like a narrow hall, and there are spotters, or umpires, or something, on one or both sides. Alan was being one of the umpires, his mask under his arm. He looked elegant, tall, and strong. Whatever he was doing, he was doing it with care and attention. A very small boy -- not much more than half Alan's height (Alan is not that much shorter than I now!) was fencing the instructor, who was patiently and skillfully, I thought, making the same rather slow attacks over and over again, until the small boy could deal with them and "touch" him.

Care and compassion come from Alan naturally. He'd never talk about it -- his talk is generally about Pokemon, Magic, anime, and computer games, ad nauseum -- but he's instinctively inclusive. That you'd "dumb down" your fencing so that a littler boy could learn without getting too discouraged is obvious to him. There was not a trace of impatience or condescension in him. He gravely did his job -- whatever it was -- with exactly the same attentiveness he'd have given to an Olympic fencer.

I realize with a pang that I don't think he knows how proud I am of him.

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