Aubrey Porter wasn’t the most beautiful girl in school; standards were a bit different in grammar school. Among the most beautiful were Tracy Wang, Lisa Oldman, Amy Diaz, Aubrey Porter, and Dominique Salas. Each, in their own right were beautiful for 4th graders. We all knew it after we found out the truth about cooties. They were the Top Five Angels of Dillon Elementary. Every boy had this scale and picked their favorites, and I picked Aubrey.
She was most beautiful to me. I was like a bull chasing the muleta in a bullfight. I’m not sure why bulls charge after the red cape, but neither was I sure about why I did it. She was just so graceful in every way imaginable. And like a bull to the cape, I just had to hit it.
Of the Top Five Angels, Aubrey was also the only one to make eye contact with me. I made little to no attempt to speak to them because whenever anyone with my level of impact tried, they’d scoff and make a face like the one made when toilet water came upwards instead. We looked like shitty toilet clogs. There was nothing I could say or do about that.
Sometimes, they would act like they were listening to music through their earphones and talk about about Freddy Prince Jr, what they saw on MTV, some which boys were cute, music; the things I couldn’t care about. They never wore any earphones, but I felt better pretending they were so I could walk by. Aubrey knew my name and started to say hello on a regular basis as if I was a human being. I didn’t feel like a shitty toilet clog with her. I found it weird because I always thought the masses were right, no matter how stupid they were.
5th and 6th grade continued that way except we didn’t have to brush our teeth after lunch anymore. Well, in the 6th grade, we didn’t. That was okay, because Aubrey wasn’t in my class anymore. She had gotten Mr. Frank, who, later won an election for city council. He was a really nice man. He always shook people’s hands and said wonderful-sounding things with a grin. I got Ms. Winthrop, the only black teacher at Dillon.
Ms. Winthrop was the first teacher I’d ever gotten to know, and she was married to a white guy. I thought that was interesting, and didn’t know why. She had us refer African-Americans as Black-Americans instead. And said it was because more accurate and less degrading. She was the only Black-American I would ever know that referred African-Americans as Black-Americans. Ms. Winthrop had the most beautiful green eyes. I didn’t know Black-Americans could have colored eyes so I thought she was special. I listened to everything she said.
In between subjects, she always told a story about her life from when she lived in Houston. She made it sound like it was going to be relevant to the subject. Everyday had a new vibrant and detailed story. They never had anything to do with Social Studies or Language Arts or any other subject, but I didn’t care. I liked her stories.
She pointed Houston out on the U.S. map on several occasions, and always told this specific story when she did. It was how her family performed a reunion concert and called her on stage because they were all in a famous gospel choir together. She told us this story multiple times, so I supposed it was meaningful. I couldn’t grasp why she kept telling us that same story, but it made me think about how my family would never do something like that together. Maybe she always forgot she told us.
She was a teacher, but she seemed sad when she told us these stories about when she was younger. I was already sad, but if I told stories about me when I was younger I thought I would feel more embarrassed. I didn’t have great experiences like Ms. Winthrop, I just wanted to avoid everything and never have to tell my stories. No one was interested anyway. But I liked my green-eyed Black-American teacher. She was the only teacher I’d had that made me feel like going to school was nicer than it was to going home.
The freedom attached to the 6th grade was surreal. We had our own playground, bathrooms, and thoughts. Some of us even stayed inside the class during lunch. They chatted with the teachers and some even stayed after school. I left because I didn’t like the idea of staying after school.
There was a yellow line, five inches thick on the playground. It separated the K-5 students from the 6th graders. It was either detention, or the fence if they crossed. The fence was to be time-served-immediately punishment. It was 10 to 15 minutes standing in front of the fence that lined the outer edges of the poorly kept restrooms. The teachers were supposed to clean the restroom. If anyone was forced to do something, the job would be half-assed. I knew that so I was never mad about the restrooms.
And detention meant you’d have to stay after school. On top of that, a note would be pinned to the front of your shirt for the rest of the day. That was for our parents. I always thought the weak chose detention. It was more nauseating to hear my mother remind me of how hard she worked to put food on the table, so I could receive an education, while my father grunted in agreement. Maybe I was the only one who that found it that nauseating. It didn’t matter because I had never done or said anything anyway. Nobody yelled at me.