Entry 3

Eight mods down, 12 to go …

When my younger brother was in high school (this one, in fact), I lived vicariously through him. Although he would deny it, he is a genius. Perhaps not of the Stephen Hawking ilk, but a 1350 on the SATs counts for something if you’re only in eighth grade. But, quite frankly, boy—and girl—geniuses are not at all uncommon these days. Actually, if you believe everything you hear, a close relative of Superman’s teaches my science class. “You look like Superman” is actually what the student said. Of course, she meant Dean Caine, and, in the right light when you squint your eyes, he does (vaguely). I think it’s the glasses. But even Dean Caine—who only played Superman on TV—went to Princeton, which requires no small amount of intelligence.

My ancient to … less ancient (Mesopotamia to Rome) world history class is all juniors and a few seniors. And “Nick.” Nick is a sophomore. A genius in boy’s clothing. He reminds me of my brother in ways revealed to one only in adulthood, as though the veil of adolescence prevents you from really knowing the people you live with. Nick emits that geeky aura mixed with just enough hipster to stay in the in crowd while intellectually hovering above them. My brother mastered this. At home, he loved to regale us with stories about how physics makes ice skating possible; in public, he was big man on campus. So, I said to Nick, “You remind me of my brother.” And Nick said, “What? He liked to sit in the back of the class and make fun of the teachers?”

Well, actually, yes, but not to their faces.

Yesterday, quite frankly, wasn’t all that exciting. This is a good thing, I suppose. I go to class; I sometimes take notes; more often than I care to admit, I have a “Oh, now I get it” moment when something that eluded me in high school suddenly makes sense—although I still can’t figure out how to solve for X half of the time, and balancing chemical equations continues to be beyond my grasp, even with Superman for a teacher. (If you ever need to be humbled, have a rambunctious 15-year-old correct you and be right in, well, anything.)

But my brother is a little old to live vicariously through anymore. No, what I mean is I’m a little old to live vicariously through other people. Although now that he’s been accepted at St. Andrews University as a graduate student, I plan to vicariously meet the future king of England. But royalty aside, I can’t help but wonder if I was like this in high school. And I mean the many facets of this.

There’s the this of students like “Matt,” who I implored to try to keep his behavior under wraps while in class yesterday. It’s the usual attention-getting tactics. Waiting to speak when no one else is speaking, various mumblings under the breath, saying anything to get a rise out of the teacher. “It slows the whole class down,” I said. “I know; I like it that way,” he said. “I do it for the other kids so they have time to get what she’s talking about.” How altruistic of him. What utter bull. “Hey,” he said, “you laugh. You think it’s funny.” This I admit, but I tell him it doesn’t make it any more right. Oh, that it did, because he is funny. He’s the sort of guy who will thrive at frat parties if only he can get into college.

The shoes: old-school red Pumas.

Then there’s the this of students like “Casey,” who told me that he marks the days of the week by my shoes—only sneakers, never the same pair twice in a row. “Drew,” he said, “I like the sneaks.” Red Pumas. “Those are old-school,” he said, as if at 17 he has a true understanding of the phrase. This this, the appreciation of style, even in this setting, I can appreciate, understand even. Unlike Matt, Casey has a great camaraderie with most of the aides and faculty—he has relied on it, I think, to get him through. Casey has mastered the system, knows all the loopholes, and stealthily glides through without raising a ruckus. This is not to say that he is without great potential, for I see myself most in Casey—try as I may to see myself in Nick. Casey is the guy who will come into his own in college.

And then there’s the this of students like “Joe,” who I supervise in the peer-mentor program. Joe, who is a member of NHS, a gifted athlete—two thises I never was—and popular—make that three—is the sort of kid who makes you want to go back to high school and right all your wrong decisions (damn him).

And then I remember that I’ve already graduated high school and (could it be?) come into my own. Why do I work here?