Tuesday, December 30, 2008
"The backbone of surprise is fusing speed with secrecy."
They say to always beware of the quiet ones. I was that way in school: quiet, unassuming, blending harmlessly in with the classroom walls.
And then one day when I was fifteen, while my classroom bubbled over chaotically as we waited for the teacher to arrive, I was hit with a heavy glass bottle- walloped with such force that it almost knocked me out of my desk.
One fellow had been aiming for another's head, and my spine got caught in the middle.
I would have let the matter dwindle. I knew well it was an accident, that my presence had disrupted the intended route of the missile. But the thrower laughed, and then some more people laughed, and nobody at all apologised.
I remained crouched in my seat, trying to read my textbook, finding the same sentence over and over as the words blurred and melted together. Everybody forgot, the laughter stopped, the glass bottle was scooped up.
Then I slid unseen from my seat, made my way to the other side of the classroom and halted casually beside the chap with the appalling aim.
"Hello," I said, and he had only a moment of ice-cold understanding before I hit him in the face.
My classmates were stupefied, then got caught up in the hysteria of the moment, chanting my name and thereby acknowledging that a moment of paramount significance had taken place before their eyes- that somebody had come from nowhere and reduced a teenage boy to humiliated, streaming tears in front of his classmates.
Yes. Always beware of the quiet ones.
Posted by Phyllis Hunt McGowan at 6:28 PM