I woke up yesterday morning knowing that my day would be spent doing paper work. Grades…. guh.
So the first thing I did was get washed up and drive all over town. I was looking for a mellow place to find a hearty breakfast, and I think sub-consciously I kept driving just to postpone the grading grind.
I ended up in the regrade, at the Hurricane. I ordered my eggs and toast as bloody marys were served and drained at other tables. Service there is a little slow, so I pulled out a stack of rough drafts and started marking them up. One of my waiters, I think as he was giving me my change, saw me grading papers and asked me cheerfully if I was a teacher.
Who else grades papers besides teachers? Whatever.
Here’s the thing… Seattlites are not talky by nature. We sit alone in public places, pull out our work, and expect no one to talk to us. So here was this waiter asking me if I was a teacher, and then telling me that he wanted to be a teacher one day, and I thought, wow, go away.
But he didn’t go away; he kept talking, cheerfully, amiably, asking where I worked, telling me his story. Actually, rewind; the first thing he did after I told him that I was a teacher was to thank me for my choice of profession. There were stars in his eyes, in admiration of my self-sacrificial choice of career/lifestyle. And then he said he wanted to be a teacher someday.
He seemed like a perfectly nice kid, and I didn’t hear naiveté or idealism that I know is the mark of a one-year-and-out certificated teacher. He seemed smart, and he was going into it with his eyes open. It was down the road for him, though, as he was scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan next September. I suggested that maybe the situation would change, and that I hoped he wouldn’t have to go. He shook my hand and introduced himself before I left… Matt was his name. Nice kid. I hope he has a fulfilling career, and I hope we pull out of Afghanistan before Matt’s deployment.
I got a lot of my grading done, and later that evening I trucked out to Ballard to Cowsin Mikey’s surprise birthday party at the Shelter Lounge.
(I used to sing at the Shelter club in Shanghai; what a crazy time in my life. I miss J).
I had a hell of a time trying to find a parking spot, and showed up post “surprise,” but the party itself was doing fine. Most of everyone there were Mikey’s friends, the only people I knew were two cowsins and my sister.
I struck up a conversation with Mikey’s friend… I think her name was “Brie.” That’s what it sounded like, anyway. She’s Mikey’s snowboarding partner, a recreational therapist by trade… just like cowsin Frances. We talked about Mikey, snowboarding, playing music, recreational therapy… nice lady.
Then this dude sits down and starts talking to Brie, kind of busting into our conversation. I stay with them for a while; he mentions how men in Seattle are not required to shave the way they are in his home state of New York. I turned to my cousin and talked to him for a while, and left Brie to talk to the dude.
Eventually he got up to get a drink or something, and Brie gave me that look, that “save me from this guy” look.
So I tried to think of options for her, but then the dude was back, with some other topic of conversation, equally as compelling as the shaving conversation he had started before.
I thought about the stack of papers I had back at home, and decided I should take off.
I said goodbye to Brie and shook her hand. Then I turned to the dude and said, good to meet you, I’m taking off.
NO YOU’RE NOT! he screamed, WHERE ARE YOU GOING?
I’m going to grade papers, I said, laughing, and extended my hand again.
No, he yelled, you can’t leave! He refused to shake my hand… and then to my surprise, he said, I want a hug.
So the dude gets up and runs through the crowd, around the table to where I was, and started hugging me. For a long time. What do I do? I hugged him back. The next thing I know he’s got a leg up around my hip.
Well, I could do worse, I thought. Haha. Ok, that’s enough.
Then my cousin goes, “Oh, I want a picture of this!” That was enough to renew the hugging and extend it for another minute.
We looked over at my cousin, and she’s just STARTING to get her camera to work. “Do it again,” she says.
So for the third time, this dude is hugging me, leg around my hip. Just so you know, I tell him, the camera is over there… she’s not getting that you’re leg is up around my body.
It’s not for the camera, he said, it’s for you.
Sigh. Drunk people….
Ok, that’s enough. I said goodbye, and he introduced himself as Obie. I told him my name was JP, and he spent a good 20 seconds trying to guess what JP stood for.
I said goodbye to the cowsins and my sister, but before I could go, there had to be a family picture…. and somehow Obie got into our family picture. It felt wrong to leave him out.
I got home that night in time for SNL, and didn’t get back to my grading until the next morning.