Thereâ€™s a group of students that frequents the track on a similar schedule to my own. They normally walk the outer lanes in pairs and a few of them have faculty chaperones. I run by and they wave, I wave back, we make funny faces at each other as I pass, exchange a â€œhello!â€ or sometimes just make weird noises and grunts at each other. Everyone seems pleased with these interactions. These are the special education kids, and theyâ€™re the only high school students I know who actually think Iâ€™m cool.
The other high school students I see regularly are the kids at swim practice. â€œCoolâ€ is not a word that any of them would use to describe me. Saturday I was introduced to a new kid. â€œThis is Ben, heâ€™s really old, kind of funny, and he has lots of hair.â€ As far as I can tell there are only two people on the team that look up to me. One who goes to the same high school I went to and was recently accepted to Columbia University (heâ€™s obviously destined for greatness) and one who aspires to be a triathlete (also a very smart kid). But alas, looking up to me just reinforces the â€œreally oldâ€ descriptor, and further separates me from the coveted â€œcoolâ€ status that I lacked even when I was myself a 17 year old high school student with more pimples than brains. Maybe someday Iâ€™ll teach physics and the kids will call me â€œcoolâ€ because I show them a proof that their least favorite teacher falls from the roof at the same rate as the rival schoolâ€™s mascot.
Anyway, back to the Special Ed kids that actually like meâ€¦
Last week I showed up at the track to find my favorite group of students riding tricycles around the track in lane one, and one of their teachers walking around bouncing a basketball in lane one as well. This got me a little irritated. I mean, itâ€™s not the studentsâ€™ fault, they have no idea that theyâ€™re not supposed to be walking in the inside lane, let alone riding bikes!! I made a mental note that the school must be informed of this disgraceful use of our communityâ€™s brand new all-weather track, then began warming up in the outside lanes. I was running the opposite direction as the tricyclists, and at about the same speed, so I saw each of them twice a lap. One kid, who was riding by when I rolled up on my shiny Beyond Fabrications speed machine, took an immediate liking to me. As I ran by the first time he waved at me with googlie eyes â€“ I waved back enthusiastically and said â€œHI!!!â€. The second time he blew me a kiss â€“ I waved back again, wondering if I had been too enthusiastic. The third time he waved, blew a kiss, shouted â€œHELLOO!!â€ AND gave me the googlie eyes â€“ I definitely had been too enthusiastic, I responded with a mere â€œhiâ€ and smiled. After that he had to give up his trike to let one of the other students have a turn, and then his PE period was over so he and the others all left. Iâ€™m guessing if he were to introduce me to a new kid it would have sounded something like this: â€œThis is Ben, heâ€™s really fast and awesome, and has the sweetest bike that anyone has ever seen, and his afro looks awesome â€˜cause he is the COOLEST!!!â€
I may never be as cool to any high school kid again, and we didn’t even got to say â€œBYEEE!!!â€