Noah howls like a wolf on a Yukon trail. In fact we are waiting for the last bus of the school year.
“What? Not two hours.” His buddy Malcolm stares into the distance, channeling the math gods. “School starts at 9 so it’s, eh, uhm,…”
Can’t compute…fail…system breakdown…. can’t compute….
“…it finishes at 12h30 today so, yeah….” .
Noah blinks. He realizes that there’s a whole three and a half hours of school left.
“Mr. Aaron said we would do nothing else except like play board games and I brought like the coolest game, look.”
Change the subject. I gotta love my boy. Quick as a whip and sometimes just as nasty. And sometimes just as much fun.
He opens his bag so his buddy can see, but Malcolm is still computing.
“That’s three and a half hours, yeah, not two.”
“Who cares, it’s the last day…. no the last half day…youuuhooouuuuu.”
Noah does a cool dance.
“You know Noah, the guy at the depanneur (corner store), you know what he tinks? He’s Japanese, you know….”
“Noooo, he’s not.”
Malcolm frowns. Noah’s a bitch, but he’s also smart, funny, enjoyable and ultimately, a good friend.
“I know about Japanese, like I know a lot of Japanese, like even at school they’re, you know my friends, and I love mangas and like Pokemon and I even watch them in Japanese, you know? So, yeah, he’s Chinese.”
Actually he’s Vietnamese.
Malcolm bows to my midget’s superior confidence. Proof of what I’ve always thought. Loud ignorance beats out quiet knowledge. Always! Just look at the Republicans.
“Anyways, the guy at the depanneur, he tinks, I was in Grade Four when I’m in Grade Five.” He shakes his head in disbelief.
Imagine the enormous failure of the poor man! Like making a mistake and buying lean minced meat instead of extra lean.
God! The horror!
Reminds me of the last barbecue with Noah’s mom before she left for good. She went primitive on me because I had bought meat that was too fat. Lost in her schizophrenia, she seemed to hang on to details that were otherwise unimportant. Perhaps they were her only reassurance.
“You know Malc…” Noah’s so cool.
“…everybody like, you know, thinks I’m like way older. Yeah, everybody thinks I’m in Grade Four …imagine, yeah.”
Imagine! He’s just finished Grade Three.
One creature’s detail is another’s necessity. An ant hill is an ant’s skyscraper. To me, it’s an underfoot nuisance.
Malcolm and Noah share a comfortable silence as they reflect on the uninformed folly of Adults.
“Dad, can I take the bus back from school, today?”
“No, Noah. I’ll come and get you.”
“But why not, dad, it’ll be easier.”
“Because I don’t know the bus number for the trip back. Neither do you, since you never take it. Too risky on the last half-day.”
“The last three hours.” says Malcolm.
“Three and a half.” corrects Noah.
I nod. I have always hated details. But being a single parent means that some details keep your kid alive.
And keep me sane.
“So dad, what if I find out the number of the bus like right away at 9.”
This is when I would love to be a 1950′s father. For one, I wouldn’t be at the bus stop. For two, I would have pretended that his crazy mother was just “high strung”. Three, I could just yell and he would shut up.
“Tell you what, why don’t we invite Malcolm for lunch and I’ll make really fat cheeseburgers with fries.”
Malcolm and Noah look at each other and nod…Dragnet style.
Screw the extra lean, screw the lean. Today I buy regular mince meat so the burgers sizzle with burning fat.