Well, not really. No one even asked, let alone demanded this re-run, but I'm too lazy to write today and since today was my first day at the pool all by myself - because school is back in session - this is the right time to re-visit this post. So here goes:
Can You Say "Paradise"?
That’s what our neighborhood pool felt like today. For some reason, once the end of summer vacation comes and the kids are all back in school, no one comes to the pool, and so I have it to myself. It was lovely this morning: the bluest, cloudless skies; no noise except for the birds and whatever the noisy insects in the trees are; perfect temperature and humidity; and the occasional, silvery corporate jet gliding noiselessly overhead, very high in the cloudless blue sky. I have said for decades that the only thing I would trade my soul for is my very own swimming pool. Natas, are you listening?
When I lived in Florida, I was a regular long-term substitute teacher in a school for the gifted. It was a separate facility, on its own campus, and the students had to meet IQ and other ability requirements to qualify for the school. The kids were amazingly bright, smarter than most of the teachers probably, and teaching there required that the teacher’s ego could stand knowing that if a student questioned something, it was OK to say, “I don’t know, but let’s find out.” We couldn’t fool these kids. Since it was a separate school, the kids weren’t bullied by the types of people who would call them “geeks” or “nerds.” They may have called each other that at times, but all in teasing fun. They tended to spark off each other so classes were never dull and it was a blast to teach there.
One student has stayed in my memory. His name was Joe, but when I took over the class for the remainder of the year at the start of second semester, I couldn’t figure out who he was; he signed his papers “Natas.” I asked Natas to let me know what his real name was so that I could record his grades correctly in the grade book. Turns out, he was signing "Natas" because that is "Satan" spelled backwards. It was meant to shock, I’m sure, but I just said “OK.” Let’s just say that Joe was dancing to his own music. He was sort of Goth before Goth was even in existence and occasionally got in trouble for his behavior and his appearance, but all in all, he seemed like a nice kid.
His poor father was called in once for a conference after Joe had done something wrong, and he certainly was rattled by his son’s behavior. He said to me, “Do you know he signs ‘Natas’ on his papers?” Well, yes I did, and I told him it didn’t worry me, that it was just meant to shock and it wasn’t working. He finally bought his son a computer (before the days when every home had one, let alone multiple, computers), hoping that using it would inspire better work. Oddly enough, Joe started signing his papers “Joe *anonymous*, 3rd.” I guess he liked how his actual name looked in print.
We teachers wondered what would happen to Joe. Would he end up a bored office worker? An ultra-conservative, right-wing Republican? Very strict with his own children? I hope not. I hope he’s found a creative and fun way to make a living, and is able to use his sort of odd outlook on life in a way that he and those around him can appreciate. It’s just one of those things I will probably never know….
What? Who’s there?
It's me, Natas.
Didn’t you just go on and on about how no one is at the pool and the weather is perfect and blah, blah, blah?
So you already have your own pool. Stop bugging me. I don’t want your soul. Geeze, you’re practically circling the drain aren't you?
Uh, well, I hope not, but...
Well, you're old. So there's not much soul there for me to work with, right?
Well, Ohh...kay . I see your point.