I reviewed, I promise you. I even knew the answer, really I did. Just not when you asked me the question.
You’re looking at me, disappointed, annoyed, maybe even a little frustrated. Your wide green eyes are boring into me inquisitively, accusatorily. Your mouth is set in a firm line, and your jaw thrust forward demanding authority. I want to give you what you ask for. I prepared to give you what you wanted, but I can’t ; I just don’t remember. And all the little tricks and hints I prepared have disappeared along with my confidence and security. You hold your blue roll book in your hand, and after waiting the appropriate time, and me protesting that I really knew the answer, you shake your head and made a mark in the book. I knew it was a red minus next to my name; a minus on reflecting on me.
I knew I had a hard time remembering his name. I remember you saying it for the first time, and I giggled inside; it was funny sounding, but rolled off the tongue at the same time. I can tell you all about him; he founded the state of Georgia as a place for the “worthy poor”. After his friend died in debtors prison, he was outraged at their poor conditions and petitioned for a land to be given to rehabilitate petty criminals, people with outstanding debts. The English Parliament granted him the land of Georgia (then just known as the land below the Carolinas) not so much because they believed in his cause, but they wanted the land inhabited to serve a buffer zone to Florida which was then under Spanish rule, and who better to inhabit it than the less worthy members of society.
See, I told you I knew everything about him, doesn’t that count for something? Just this one tiny detail ruins me in your eyes. That I’m no longer on top, invincible, brilliant. I slipped up. Once. That doesn’t mean I’m not everything you thought of me. That doesn’t negate everything I’ve done up until now.
Till today I can still vividly recall walking down the back staircase to lunch. Shaina Rochel I and were in the front of the pack. I had a running monologue going, a review of yesterday’s history lesson. I kept getting stuck on his name. Shaina Rochel had to remind me of it at least twice. We were walking down the last staircase on ground level, ahead was one of the school entrances, on the side a door for the A floor and further down, the lunch room, with smells vegetable soup with too much lima beans and slippery macaroni wafting upward, beckoning. I started repeating his name over and over again. I said you’d for sure call on me for this question, because I was having such a hard time with it. When I said that, I didn’t really believe it. I meant it as hyperbole. And like a bad novel, you called on me, like I said you would, and I drew a blank.
I met you at a wedding 8 years later. I reminded you of who I was. I’ve grown a lot since 7th grade. We talked about what I’ve been doing with my life, teaching, who I still kept up with from the class, and what not. You smiled and told me what a brilliant student you remember me as, but I just kept thinking about his name. What it all represented to me. And I still haven’t forgotten James Oglethorpe.