A Brush With Greatness

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I am out of things to complain about because after praying and hoping so hard to care so little, you sometimes get what you ask for and you find that you still hate everything and you still have opinions that will probably offend literally everyone around you. But for now, maybe I should keep my opinions about people to myself or you know, until they really ask for it.

Instead today I’m going to do an entry of a memory I found in an old notebook. I used to self-teach from creative writing text books from my school library throughout middle school and high school and I don’t remember which textbook this was but there was one that gave assignments so on most weekends that was what I’d be doing. A writing assignment that I’d give myself like a total nerd. This note is from the ninth or tenth grade I think and the title of the assignment was titled A Brush With Greatness. You were supposed to write about a moment in your life where you felt that brush of greatness.

Here goes…

Mr.Million, my English teacher was marking our English exercise books. So that naturally meant that the class was chaos. And I was a part of the chaos. I’d crammed myself into a desk with my two best friends Maria and Abigayel, a desk meant for two but now that the teacher wasn’t looking had to host three kids. I was forcing them to read the latest novel I’d been working on. I’d developed the beginning of a story line the previous night and the excitement was still fresh in my mind so it was the most brilliant thing ever and my best friends were going to read it if it killed me.

I’d written it in my phone and cellphones weren’t allowed in school so we had to hide it in one of our bags and huddle all three of our heads together to read. I don’t remember at what point Maria jumped over me to run to the teacher with my phone but she does reach the teacher’s desk before I could stop her and hands my cellphone over to Mr. Million.

In addition to the panic of having my illegally present cellphone given to a teacher by someone I’d called my best friend for a good five years by then, there was the sheer terror of the thought that he just might find the phone unlocked and open to an unfinished novel I’d written. It might have looked like I was confident about it sharing it to my friends but at that time they were people I’d trust with my life. They were cool. My English teacher wasn’t.

Maria presented my phone to Mr. Million and he starts reading at which point I wanted to find a rock to crawl under and die. But it was a classroom where we don’t have rocks so I used Maria’s oversized bag instead. She doesn’t return to her seat right away probably to avoid my dagger eyes. I was so angry I would just zap her if I could.

Finally, Mr. Million looks up and calls out my name and I refuse to come out of my hiding place. He calls out my name a second time and this time all gruff and serious like I was in big trouble. The class does love watching someone get in trouble so the chaos settles and in the silence Mr. Million asks me over to his desk. I swear at this point I’m thinking about how I’m going to lose my phone and about how I’m going to have to deal with our mean principal who has a no excuse policy for bringing cellphones to school. My phone was the newest Samsung Galaxy which was my pride and joy so loosing that to the school basically seemed like losing my arm.

When I get to the teacher’s desk, Maria, like a fucking four-year-old, gives me a raspberry and goes back to her seat. Smiling up at me, Mr. Million hands me back my phone and says, “Read it to the class, please.”

My eyes bug out and my throat clogs but I can still be stubborn enough to say, “No.”

Once again, he does the face that reminds me just how much trouble I am in; and I remember this very distinctly because it was a nervous thing I did back then, I took three steps away from him and muttered, “No.” There was a long staring contest going on here where he tried to keep looking angry and me determined to just say no. “I mean it,” he says sternly once more. “Stand over there and read it to the class or_”

Well the rest was implied so I face the class. My two best friends do the honors of making sure everyone was quiet and paying attention to me. My teacher gets out of his desk and stands behind me to make sure the class was listening and says to me, “Go on.”

I hiss some more death threats to Maria and I begin to read a story of a girl who finds difficulty going back to school after her sister was killed. She tries to stay brave and avoid pity from her friends and her teachers even though it’s difficult for her.

When I finish reading, I look up and there is a small resonating silence where I see the shine in my classmates’ eyes all looking up at me before they all break into applause. Some stand up to clap and there were appreciative murmurs that follow me as I race back to my seat behind my best friends. I grab Maria’s bag to hide under once again and here Mr. Million gives some speech to the class about creativity that I didn’t hear a word of because I was so overwhelmed by the big hero he was making me out to be. There were hugs that I did not understand and knowing smiles that my best friends gave me. I was still a little mad at Maria but she told me that she was proud of me. I didn’t know that that moment of silence that followed me reading a very crappy, unedited and amateurly sadist piece of work that I never went back to, would be something I’d call my brush with greatness.

So thinking back to that time now, the standing ovation and all the admiration might have just been something humorous to the kids who did it. Those who did stand up to clap where the clowns of the class and the fact that some of it might have been straight up BS wasn’t lost on me even then. But it wasn’t really about them liking what I did. It was about the fact that I actually did that.

If I could find that unfinished story that I read then, I’d finish it and share it here but I have no idea if I still even have it.

I am not close anymore with the girls that made that moment possible for me and I don’t think they’d actually read this because people who know me very well don’t really read my blogs. But if either one of you happen to come across this, I really appreciate what you did. Thank you.