August 24th, 2001


Back History Thought While Grading Student Papers

From a student paper, "Solomon had three hundred wives and seven hundred porcupines."

When I was in junior high, I had art with a teacher who looked like he'd modeled for a Michaelanglo statue. He had a neat little goatee, sparkling eyes, and exuded enthusiasm for his work. His laugh was infectuous.

Once, we were assigned to draw a valentine's card. I drew a picture of Solomon, the wise Biblical king. I gave him a sandaled foot, and a slave girl leaning over it, washing it with her long hair. (Mine was kept unfashionably short, and kinked all over the place, but I always admired Joan Baez's long flowing hair, so that is what I drew.)

Then I needed to come up with a clever rhyme. Valentine is not that easy a word for a junior high school kid to think up rhymes for, but even then, I had quite a grandeous vocabulary. I was good at picking up the meanings from context, but sometimes, these were a bit vague on the exact details. A lot of things went clear over my head.

I had a very severe crush on this teacher, and when I turned in my card, he called my parents.

My father was the one deligated to handle the matter. "What do you think a concubine is?"

"A woman who is greatly loved." There was nothing sexual in my understanding of the word at all. Ownership also did not compute. Animals were owned, not people. People had souls, and souls were free. My world was very simplistic. Everything was either black or white, sans confusing shades of gray.

My inscription? "If you'll be my valentine, I will be your concubine." Ah, youth!

Last updated 2/23/02.
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