5 November 2015

Parent Night

{Spoiler alert. I die.}

Last night, I’m standing outside the cafeteria at the little-Little’s school. The chamber singers are in the middle of their first number. We’re gonna wait for them to finish up before we go on in there to find a seat. I’m not saying our knowledge of concert etiquette makes us better than anybody else. I’m saying we’re all a little better for knowing some concert etiquette.

It’s Parent Night. That means we’re gonna get herded from one place to the next. The school runs a tight schedule for these things. I appreciate the whole experience, ’cause they’re well executed. In one hour, we get a concert, a book fair, an art walk, games, a “snack” (McDonald’s cheeseburgers, chips, Coca-Colas, and cupcakes), and time with our kids’ teachers. There are door prizes. It’s a rocking good time.

At about 4 o’clock yesterday, the little-Little calls me. This is how that conversation goes down.

me: Hello?

the little-Little: Get on a bra.

me: Excuse me?

the little-Little: Get. On. A. Bra.

me: Why?

the little-Little: Parent Night starts at six o’clock.

me: It’s only four.

the little-Little: Yeah, I figure you’re gonna need a head start.

For the record, I don’t need a head start to get my girls corralled. I don’t need a Klonopin for Parents’ Night either, even though my mister isn’t with me. We have to divide and conquer. The middle-Little has a college financial aid session at the high school. This is what we get for giving my uterus a minimum five year rest between babies. We have kids at different schools.

I’m doing well. No, I’m better than all that. I’m back to actively loving people last night. I make eye contact and hug people. My friends and community members seek me out, love on me. If there’s any shunning over what transpired this summer, I don’t notice it. If you’ve forgotten about that time the Good People of Lil’ Nashvegas found out queer people live here, just ask Justin Timberlake. He knows all about it now.

I can’t have a single conversation last night on accounta friends comin’ up for hugs or people introducing themselves. I can’t stop saying, “Hey, y’all!” Even when I see a few people I can’t quite bring myself to hug, ’cause the sting of what they did or didn’t do still hurts me, I manage a smile and a genuine love for them. We’re all on different parts of our journeys. I have to remember that. Love is a verb.

So, there I am, standing outside of that cafeteria, waiting for the chamber singers to finish up their spectacular opening number when someone taps me on the shoulder. I turn around and smile. A lady I don’t recognize smiles back. She holds out this stick. She’s smiling in earnest. She’s so sweet. She really, really wants me to take it. It’s completely black. I have no idea what it is, but I say thank you like I know what it is and turn back around. I’m trying hard to remember if I made arrangements to pick up a black stick from someone at Parents’ Night or if I know this woman from somewhere. And I’m thinking how that’s completely plausible when she taps my shoulder again and whispers, “Look at it.”

I look at her first. She’s got the big eyes. She waiting for me to get it, to understand. I look at the stick. It’s a pencil. I don’t get it. I say thank you again. Oh. My. God. I’m not the psycho who forgot about a discreet pencil exchange at Parents’ Night. No, friends, she’s the psycho. She taps me again, whispering urgently, “No, look at it!” Super psycho.

I turn the pencil over and over. I see two little faces. They look like… Can they be? No. I see these markings. The markings make a word. I’m squinting to see it… I can just make it out… NINJA. I look up at this woman. Right outside the elementary school cafeteria, as the chamber singers finally finish up their first number, I say, “Goddamnit. Did you just beat me at my own game?”

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Copyright 2017 by Beth Hallman. All rights reserved.

Posted November 5, 2015 by Beth in category "Beth Hallman 101

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