In first grade, I missed the day you had to be tested for running for physical fitness. I assume it must have been part of those National/Presidential contests, or else why would I have been forced to stay after school later—unheard of, and eerie, at that age, to be there as the shadows grow long and the light burnt yellow—to make it up? I can’t remember the name of the gym teacher, but he had a thick dark mustache and yelled often. Everything at school delighted me until I left that part of the country, so for me to have disliked this man, he must have been awfully antagonistic.
In the car on the way home, my mom asked me about the run, and I said it went all right (I did, in fact, like running), but that I didn’t like being there with Mr. WhatsHisFace, because of the yelling. She said I shouldn’t hate him, because for him to be so angry all the time he must’ve been sad for some reason. I don’t know if she emphasized “lonely” or not, but that’s what I took away from the conversation, and forever after that when I thought about him I imagined him always after school in the shadows and half-light, making kids who missed tests run, when most people were having dinner and relaxing at the end of a day.
I don’t know where my tolerance or pity for yelling evaporated to after that, but it’s tapped out. Raise your voice to me and die.