January 5, 2013

by jkatejohnston

Dear Max,

My note says, “My butt at the parent meeting.”  Okay.

I rode my bike to the parent meeting at Enzo’s school last weekend.  On the way I stopped at the Family Hair Center for a cut:  twelve dollars and they’re fast.  The stylist asked me if I wanted my eyebrows done.  “No thanks.”

“Do you color your own hair?” she said.

“I used to, but I decided to go with the gray.”

“Doesn’t matter anymore?”  She was about twenty, very pretty, Asian and spoke with a strong accent.  And I was making allowances for differences of culture and age, so I didn’t say, “Look, you little stem cell.  I am your elder.  This is what that looks like.”  Instead I said, “I like the way the gray looks.”

But I’m telling it wrong.  Of course I just didn’t think fast enough to rebuke her.  There was no cultural sensitivity, no mature decision.  It takes me about fifteen minutes to figure out for sure that someone’s been rude, then another day or two to come up with just the right reply by which time it’s too late, and a good thing too.  The simple, uncomprehending reply is really the right one.  

On to school.  I tend to talk way too much at these meetings.  It’s the old good-student impulse, hand in the air, I know the answer, call on me!  And you want to help out the teacher, avoid awkward silences, keep things moving.

So at the meeting when the teacher said she needed a volunteer to demonstrate The Burrito I stuck my hand up.  The teacher spread a sheet on the carpet in the middle of the circle of parents and told me to lie on it, face down. 

That’s when I remembered my butt.  It’s normally pretty big, but when I wear my cycling tights, it’s fucking enormous.  I lay down, and I could actually feel it getting bigger.  I resisted the urge to squeeze my cheeks together for a more toned look.  And I tried to think about how I would tell Enzo and Teresa about this later and we would all have a chuckle.

The teacher wrapped me up tightly in the sheet, arms to my sides.  It was very soothing.  I lay in the sheet during the whole meeting, eyes closed, breathing, listening.  And I couldn’t raise my hand the whole time.