Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Answer to Dweezila, 4

My mother likes to tell entertaining stories about me. This is one of her favorites.

I read virtually all the time. I used to walk from class to class, reading. One day I walked into gym class, reading, completely absorbed, forgetting to suit up. The gym teacher said, in some exasperation, "if you want to read, Dale, maybe you should go to the library."

I looked up blankly. "Oh." I said. "Okay." And I turned around and walked off, still reading, to go to the library.

This story, she says, was told to her ruefully by the gym teacher, who was dumbfounded to see me walk out of his class. My innocence in taking him at his word was so patent that he just let me go. He didn't know what else to do.

Probably, like most of the stories my mother tells about me, this one is almost true. I have no clear recollection of this incident. If I ever had one, it would have been buried long ago under the repetitions of my mother's version of it. But my horror of gym class was so deep that I would never have gone into it so defenseless. My sensitivity to sarcasm was so fine that I could never have misunderstood him. If I really did trail off to the library, it would have been with full exultant knowledge of what I had pulled off. This is not a story of innocence; it's actually a story of deep duplicity.

I try very hard not to tell stories about my children. Particularly not droll little stories illustrating their charming foibles. Everyone, I believe passionately, should be allowed to tell the stories of his or her own life. No one else ever really knows what these stories mean.

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