A Chair Through the Window

I don’t really think anyone noticed. No one in class, not Ms. C. at least. Not the principal, soon to leave to moonlight at Media Play, the short-lived existence of which illuminated our days and blazed upon our young nights for a brief while. Not B., with whom even then I was cultivating a clandestine crush. Not at lunch, not at recess. Our first baseman wore a Bernie Williams jersey. I didn’t know that much about baseball, but I knew that loving the Yankees meant hell, so I hated him just for that. My uncle — may God bless him — loved the Yankees. He could tell you every damn thing about every damn time ball crossed home. I’ve got his autograph staring along with Bernie,’s Mattingly,’s Mariano, you name ’em at me from the corner.

I never thought I could write about my uncle. In this instance, I think I was right. He was always the square peg forced amicably into the round hole. For me, this day was when I tried to be the hero unsung by sirens unseen. My act of defiance. It was a small thing, really, weighed no more than a handful of sand, and, in the end, carried as much significance. An assignment from art class, actually, six or seven plastic beads stringed along a neon yellow thread of plastic, yellow and white for me. I wore them one day — one day only, such was my fear of being caught — for an entire schoolday. For the pride that I felt in maintaining my me-ness by that simple and ultimately meaningless act of defiance helped mould that sense of difference and independence that I deem so essential to the ultimately dissident nature of democracy.

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~ by Benji on 11 March 2014.

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