Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Second Grade; part one

I liked Christian school. On my first day, all the kids gathered on the playground as their parents dropped them off, and played on the giant wooden roundabout, the long swing set, and the many slides. As we gathered into lines by grade, and I lined up with the second grade class, the petite dark skinned girl in front of me turned around and said, "Hi, our moms are friends. I'm Brooke. We should be best friends, too!" And so we were. And it really was that easy to join the social workings of the group. My cousin and I were instantly accepted, although Jason had a lot more shyness to contend with than I did.

I was friends with most with of the girls, and he was friends with most of the boys, and so we were the only two kids in class exempt from cooties. My friend Natalia might say, "Boys have cooties" and then, at a look from me she'd add, "except Jason." Likewise, he kept my reputation unsullied by the dreaded gender germ.

My teacher Mrs. Dempsey was married to the pastor of the church that owned the school. We went to a different church, so I only saw him as he lead Wednesday chapel services during school, but I thought she was wonderful. I've run into her over the years and over a decade a later she still recognizes me from the 8 year old girl I once was, and is happy to greet me in a grocery store or library. A few years after we left, we learned that Mr. Dempsey had been having an affair with - who else? - the church secretary.

Of all the philandering pastors, I'm maddest at him, because there are few people as genuinely loving as Mrs. Dempsey, and he blew it. Their two boys had graduated from the school's high school by then, so there was no pretense of staying for the kids. She stayed here in town with her head held high, and he was the one who left in shame.