Maybe We Were Smarter In Middle School Than I Usually Give Credit For
December 26, 2008
And then Ivan Kenneally gives me an off-topic (or is it?) flashback: Eighth grade, I think, outside during gym class. OK, that’s what it was – we were doing our end of year “Olympics”: the various jumps, relay races, etc. (I was not particularly good at these.) So there was a lot of still time, and I turned around and saw/heard one of the guys in my grade (who I really couldn’t stand) swaying and singing, “Jesus Loves Me,” while two girls were talking next to him. No big problem, except he and I are both Jewish, they’re Christian and more religious than either of us at the time, and he’s singing it in a sort of asshole-like tone.
I don’t remember what transpired in detail, but the short of it is: I wanted him to stop, because it was pretty clear that he was mocking them; one of the girls – exceptionally sincere and one of my favorite people from then – said that she didn’t mind because it was true. At the time, I was mostly frustrated by the fact that her letting him go on like that would probably make him more insufferably obnoxious elsewhere.
I didn’t really understand any of what she meant until four or five years later — and part of it is something I am capable of understanding as distinct from Jesus though she (if I were talking to her right now) might tell me that she understands it as indistinct from him, but also understands what I mean. I think it has something to do with this: that even if they’re not any more effective, smiles are at least more beautiful than hellfire.