For the first few weeks of my senior year, I am completely obsessed with the idea that whether I like it or not (and mostly not), I’m almost an adult. Whatever that means.
I keep tiptoeing up to the idea, acknowledging very reluctantly that it’s happening, and then scampering away again.
This impending adulthood is still largely hypothetical, though. In the main, senior year is not that different from junior year. As usual, Little Sister Yovanoff and I are pretty much inseparable. We’re locker partners. We eat lunch together and have all the same friends, and we’ve even arranged our class schedules so that we’re taking most of the same electives. Really, the only difference is that now we have a car.
Our last class before lunch is PE, with a focus on team sports. Irish is in the same class, but we don’t really talk to him. Or else, he doesn’t talk to us. We mostly stand with some quiet girls who don’t bother anyone. Irish stands with a bunch of drug dealers.
I’m privately surprised he’s there at all, even though when I saw him filling out add/drop forms in the cafeteria last year, he said he would be, and once I ran into him downtown over the summer and right as we were saying goodbye he told me he’d see me in August, and I’m still surprised.
Thor, our gym teacher, is this relentlessly wholesome viking of a farmboy, who looks like he probably played football in college. We are his first class ever, and he has absolutely no idea what to do with us.
He keeps trying to get us to behave like a little army of avid sports enthusiasts, which is confusing because the kids in our class are mostly the worst kids in school, and not really primed to be avid anything. The general consensus is that Thor is trying way too hard to be a fascist.
Later, he will relinquish his desperate need for order. This will happen sometime around the middle of the sand volleyball unit, and will be so acute that I actually witness the moment in which it occurs.
He’ll be standing on the edge of the parking lot, trying to supervise three courts at once, and failing dramatically. In the background, Patrick and Holden are passing a cigarette back and forth, and the slacker girls are sitting in the sand with their shoes off, working on their tans. Arlo is viciously hungover and doesn’t want to move, so to help him out, Jason keeps throwing the ball into the creek, which is an incredibly effective diversionary tactic because then we have to spend the next fifteen minutes fishing it back out.
Thor will be watching all this unfold, with his shoulders squared and his chest stuck out, and something will break inside him. He’ll press his hands against his forehead and look up at the sky like he’s wondering if maybe he should just quit now, just cut his losses and walk away.
He’ll turn his back on us for a second and then inform us with tragic dignity that we’re done for the day and can go change out.
After that, he will let us do pretty much whatever we want, which is all the class was really looking for in the first place. Once Thor has given up, everyone will adjust their behavior and even follow the instructions occasionally and line up without having to be told five times, and actually show him some respect. Or at least, they will stop smoking on the volleyball court when they’re supposed to be serving.
Later in the year, one of the sophomores in my literature elective will remark upon what a completely awesome teacher Thor is, and Holden will respond, with very little irony, “Yeah, we did that.”
But that particular change is still weeks away and at the moment, we’re in the middle of the baseball unit, which is the first unit of the semester.
I am fabulously bad at it. Also, my badness totally doesn’t matter, because everyone else is fabulously bad too.
What follows is a transcript of my last-ever on-school-grounds conversation with Irish. Also, thanks to my complete lack of responsiveness, it only qualifies as a conversation is the very loosest sense.