The boys and I were late to school yesterday. This might sound like a mundane thing, but it's a big deal for me.
I am ordinarily not the promptest man, mostly because I assume it takes half an hour to get everywhere. I blame the city, which teaches you that if it's more than a half hour away, it's not worth going to. Since the number of places that actually require a half hour to reach is a small fraction of the whole, my success rate for on-time arrival is lacking. And if I am on time for something, I've likely arrived there a while ago and am killing time in the drug store that is always within a block of where I'm going.
School, however, is different. You have to be on time for school, for two reasons. First, you have to get there in time to size up who's there and who's absent, assess your loyalties, and get your game face on.
And second, every drop-0ff is an endurance test of waking and dressing and feeding and lunchbagging and equipping, and after the 197-block schlep, I am Roger Fucking Bannister, awash in adrenaline and exulting in my 3:59 mile. I don't know if I was born to live this lifestyle or I've merely adjusted to what the city inflicts on me, but there I am, arms raised, taking a victory lap to my coffee joint.
I had been late one time before, when the A train, that fetid alimentary canal that swallows us at one end and craps us out two blocks from school, got a really bad intestinal blockage. We lingered on the platform for a decade or so with 20,000 of our closest, sweatiest friends until slow and steadyish digestion resumed. By the time we finally wobbled out of the ground, the boys had already missed first period and I was desperately trying to override the urge to take a cab to Hurricane Harbor.
Yesterday was a half day, which meant no lunchbagging. So I had the brilliant idea that the boys and I would just dress, grab our stuff, and head out for a leisurely bagel breakfast before school started. Once again, however, the A didn't cooperate. It wasn't as bad this time--a little gastritis, maybe?--but after another overlong, overcrowded ordeal, we got out with about a minute to spare before school started.
We could have joined the herd and sprinted to school like gazelles fleeing a tiger's charge. But no kid deserves to be thrown into a classroom stressed, sweaty, and starving. So we sauntered perpendicularly to the bagel shop, savored each bite as every human should, and luxuriated in our mini-truancy. TwoBert might write his E's backward for another week because of it, but the great world will continue to spin.