I Feel Spooky, Tina

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

(after a line by Peter Davis)

The only person named Tina that I remember knowing was from 4th or 5th grade.  She was small with a cute doll face and fine curling hair.  She looked very fragile with a strawberry birthmark on the side of her face, a sad, unsettled look about the brow.  In truth, my main memory of her is one day when Tina, Tammy, and I were taken down to a basement classroom to begin learning the flute.  Maybe the unsettled look only happened on that day.  Maybe her name wasn't Tina. 

Tammy was one of the middle-aged fifth graders.  There were a few girls who looked like 47 year-olds in shift dresses.  I imagined that they were required to do all the housework and bring their dads beers while their moms worked overtime at crap jobs.  These middle-aged kids had a resigned look about them, and it was both creepy and comforting to be sitting there learning long-division with them wafting preternatural competence and brokenness out into the room.   

I hope that Tammy hasn't worked too hard in her life.  I hope that she is now a teacher of the flute.  And, Tina, if that is her name . . .  I hope she owns a condo and drives a Cadillac.  Maybe a vintage MG. 

We all lived at the base of some mountains.  This meant different things to each of us.  That was the year I was a complete latch-key kid unto myself and I skipped a month of school to stay home and watch I Dream of Jeannie.  One day I missed a field trip to the bread factory, and someone kind who I didn't know very well-- Tammy?-- brought me my free sample of bread, a miniature loaf, all perfect and small in its cellophane.  For the rest of the time I lived in that town, whenever that baking bread smell from the factory wafted my way, I felt an unaccountable longing.

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