There is nothing that restores my faith in humanity quite like a middle school tough-guy with a crush.
"Did anyone have a great day yesterday they want to share?" the teacher with whom I am interning asked his 7th grade English students.
One hand in particular, garbed in a the sleeves of the same black hoodie he has been wearing since I arrived in the class three weeks ago, shot up.
Then shot back down, embarrassed at the display of eagerness.
Then shot back up again.
Then lazed back down once more, to rest under the chin. Then Black Hoodie leaned back in his chair and kicked out his legs, looking around him. With complete nonchalance, he tilted his chin and scooted his hand back in the air.
"Yo Teach', I got something," he drawled.
Teach smiled, "whatcha got?"
"I went to the Christmas parade last night."
Teach raised his eyebrows, ". . . and?"
"I had a . . . lot of fun," Black Hoodie said, a small smile blushing it's way on his acne-dimpled cheeks. Teach and I exchanged grins.
"Oh yeah? Why's that?"
"I just . . . I just saw cool people, that's all," Black Hoodie said defensively, as if he hadn't been the one to volunteer the information.
Low oohs could be heard throughout the room. Black Hoodie waved his hand to banish the syllables, the blush creeping to his ears.
"Who'd you see?" piped his neighbor, a boy with a gnarly padawan braid.
"Ye-ah," taunted a girl across the room with multi-colored knee-socks and a t-shirt that read: I'M A FANGIRL: WE DON'T DO CALM. "Who'd ya see, huh?"
"Shaddup!" Black Hoodie said, burying his face into the crook of his black hoodie. Padawan Braid poked him repeatedly until he crawled out of his elbow pit. "Okay, okay! Lay off!"
"What kind of cool people did you see?" asked Teach casually. Black Hoodie looked at his shoes.
"It was one person, actually."
The low oohs became loud oohs. Boy-Already-With-Full-Mustache and Girl-Who-Believes-in-Email-Chain-Messages got to their feet and started prancing excitedly at the back of the classroom.
"Who did you see, then?"
Black Hoodie extended his scrawny legs again and draped himself over the back of the chair. He looked at the ceiling and sighed deeply.
"I saw her, okay?! I saw her!"
The classroom exploded.
Teach and I made eye contact, bewildered as students suddenly began doing laps around the room, unable to control the psychotic amounts of raging middle school hormones. Knee Socks stood on her desk, Boy-Who-Neighs started galloping around the room, Peace Sign cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, "Ask her out, bro!"
Black Hoodie breathed exasperatedly, throwing up his hands.
"I can't, man!"
Padawan Braid began poking Black Hoodie again, Boy-Already-With-Full-Mustache started emitting screeches. Someone shouted, "why?!"
"Because!" retorted Black Hoodie.
"But why?!" another voice pleaded.
"Because . . . because it's Kelly!"
Kids took their seats solemnly.
Students stopped galloping out of respect.
Peace Sign shook his head and mouthed, bummer.
Then they all turned to look expectantly at Teach and I--we were just standing there, mouths agape at the scene, not having processed it all yet--ready to move along to the next person for good things.
I'm tellin' you, man. Middle Schoolers. I could write a whole blog about them.