Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Where Are They Now?

Ken was a cool kid, a jock. He had a nonchalant bearing that I envied, that I knew I could never replicate. It’s as if he was incapable of ever appearing awkward, and yet was utterly unconcerned with not appearing awkward. These paradoxical characteristics were not in tension. They potentiated each other.

To this day when I’m in the kitchen late at night, all alone, trying to wrestle the recycling bag full of old newspapers out of the plastic can, and failing miserably, instead lifting both the stuck bag and the can by the drawstrings of the bag, I think to myself: Ken would never look like this.

One day in science class we were all sitting cross-legged on our tables to view a demonstration Mr. Pinkston was giving of a dissected frog. Except for Ken. He was lying flat on his back.

Mr. Pinkston had been a military man and liked to bark like a drill sergeant.

“Ken!” he shouted.

Ken lifted his head drowsily and rested on his elbows, a little sheepish. Somehow this flash of self-consciousness did not appear self-conscious. It appeared calculated—and it appeared not calculated at all.

Mr. Pinkston asked Ken what part of the frog’s anatomy we were presently discussing and by some miracle, or obviously, Ken provided the correct response.

“It seems to me, Ken,” Mr. Pinkston declared, “that you do some of your best thinking in the reclining position.”

We all laughed. Ken laughed. I laughed. All I could think was: Did Mr. Pinkston just make a joke about Ken getting laid? We were twelve years old, maybe thirteen. But if anyone was getting laid it was Ken.

Some time later Mr. Pinkston was fired for groping a student.

Ken spent the rest of his life skiing in a rich and secluded Rocky Mountain resort town.

Or so I heard.