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Lions Roar : July 2015
don’t remember her name, but I remember reading a lot of slave narratives and Native American literature. I also remember the pointed scowl she gave smartass students to shut them up, which usually worked, a miracle considering she taught a bunch of insubordinate Southside kids who would rather be anywhere else in the world but in an Early American literature class. I sat with a group of guys who sat next to the cutest girls in the class, and I watched my friends pass notes back and forth, the girls giggling each time they read what the guys wrote. Once this teacher—I think her last name began with a B— snatched one of the notes in transit and read it aloud. “You’re telling me this is more important than A Light in August?” Ms. B said. She carefully unraveled the note, her pin- kies pointing up. Her glasses dangled around her neck, but she never put them on. She lifted them up and squinted, peering through them like a magnifying glass. “How did you get out of the third grade, Mr. Wolfe, with handwriting like yours?” Brian Wolfe—B-Bear—wasn’t fazed. He was cocky like all Southsiders and liked the attention. Smiling, he said, “My mom says the same thing.” Ms. B ambled to the front of the room. She always carried the demeanor of a woman not from this time period, but one who strolled along the Seine in Paris with a parasol. “Well, isn’t this the question of the class. I had hoped we could discuss this today in light of our readings. What Mr. Wolfe has written so sloppily to Ms. Styx is: I would like to know you better.” The class laughed. B-Bear mouthed I do at Gina Styx, who was so red she hid her face in her arms. “Hasn’t it been the case this quarter,” Ms. B said, “that all the texts we have read come back to the question of identity? Who are we? Where do we come from? To whom do we owe our roots?” Ms. B pointed at B-Bear. “Let’s start with you, Mr. Wolfe. Please inform the class where your family originated.” “I’m all Irish, baby.” Many in the class hooted. Ms. B went around the room, asking each student where he or she came from, and to be precise. Most of the class said they were Italian, Polish, or Irish. There was a student whose parents Moments when the other me is needed, he doesn’t come out and I find myself smiling and apologizing too often. SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2015 49