I have been dating a teacher at my school for several months now. The students are behind it really – they are the ones who put it in our heads, chasing us around the school and insisting that it was a good match, and that we must be crazy. The girls would sit me down and give me lectures about how I could ‘bag’ him. ‘Bagging’ refers to dating, kissing, hand holding, and beyond, and is tossed innocently around at school. They would swarm around me every morning, telling me that if I didn’t stop dressing like a grandma there was no way I would ever bag Mr. M, and that I should really wear my hair down more.
“You’re playing too hard to get!” they would insist, “he’s going to meet someone else if you don’t do something now!” They would be very specific in their advise to me.
“Go downstairs right now, and take your hair down in front of him, and say, ‘you look good today, mister,’ and then turn around and walk out real sexy.”
“You better send him a message with us or he’s going to think that you don’t like him.”
“We saw you walk by him in the hall this morning without even saying hello to him – why are you doing that, Ms. Klein?”
He’s a popular teacher – plays football after school with the boys, who idolize a stable adult male in their lives, and teases the girls who come up to my room to tell me how cute they think that he is. One day, Mercedes, who frequently speaks about how much she hates her own father, came to talk to me.
“I wish Mr. M were my dad,” she confided, “there aren’t many guys like Mr. Mullen, he’s really special Ms. Klein. You should marry him. He’s a good person.” At the time, of course, I already was dating him, and I smiled at her insights.
For a long time while they were convincing us to date, we were already together. We would play games with them, him saying that there was no way that he would date me if I kept playing hard to get, which sent them flying up the stairs to my room, begging me to relent in that game. If ever they got close to figuring it out, we would deny deny deny.
One day a student stole my phone and read text messages from him. His name is in my phone as Gavin, and she read them and asked who it was.
“I know it’s not Mr. M,” she said, “because his name starts with a ‘g’.” For once, I was grateful for illiteracy.
One day we were driving out of the parking lot and a student passed in front of the car. Her jaw dropped when she saw us, and she pointed and smiled triumphantly. At school the next day she brought it up to him.
“Stephanie, are you seeing things? What are you talking about? You show up to school twice a month and start hallucinating?” he teased her. She came to me next.
“Ms Klein, I saw you two leaving school yesterday.”
“What are you talking about Stephanie? I took the subway home from school.”
“Why are you guys doing this to me?!” she groaned, frustrated to have been robbed of her moment.
“Stephanie, I really don’t know what you are talking about.”
“Well, Mr. M had a girl who looked just like you in his car yesterday.”
“He What?! I’m gonna have to talk to him about that!” she smiled and nodded, glad that she could at least provide me with some information.