I was sitting at the computer when the professor set something down on my desk. It was one of the Gort’s most recent assignments from school: All About Me.
I turned to the ‘My Family’ page. I was curious to see how we’d been depicted, because after pick-up one day he asked me ‘what color are your eyes?’ ‘They’re kind of hazel-ly,’ I responded. ‘Oh, I said they were green,’ he informed me. ‘Well, they’re not. They’re a greenish-brown, but they aren’t green.’ ‘Yeah, I guess your hair is kind of brown too. I said your hair is black. ‘Yeah, my hair is not black.’
Has never been black.
‘Well, what color are Daddy’s eyes?’ ‘They’re brown.’ ‘Oh, I thought they were black.’ ‘Nope, they’re pretty much brown. He and Percy’s eyes are basically the same color.’ ‘Oh.’
So, after all these physical misrepresentations, I was curious to see what we looked like on paper. At least according to the Gort’s slightly untrustworthy memory.
Mother: Black hair in the usual ‘flip’ style preferred by my oldest. One side of the flip substantially higher than the other. And I have blue eyes. And I’m wearing blue ‘pants’ that look more like men’s longjohns.
Father: Short black hair. And blue eyes. And what appears to be a halo over the head. But, at second glance, I see it is not really a halo; he’d simply started out with a six-foot-five father and scaled him down to six feet. The ‘halo’ was an erased head.
Brother 1: A shortish fellow, with blue eyes and brown – clown – hair (at least he got that right!) wearing a smaller version of my longjohns.
Brother 2: A taller fellow with somewhat sculpted hair and blue eyes. Also wearing a pair of those strange looking longjohns.
But what strikes me most about the four of us, pictured side by side, are the hands. We seem to have miniature rakes attached to the edges of our sleeves; rakes with four or five protrusions – depending on the person. We are a family of claws. Or, better yet, scarecrows.
I turn the page and move on to the house section. ‘My house is red and black,’ he declares. Though I believe the roof is technically green. On the back of the page he’d written a few factual statements:
‘I have a new deck.’
‘My house is very old.’
‘There are spiders in my house.’
I find myself wondering if I should send a note to his teacher. ‘Just so you know, our house isn’t being overrun by spiders. When he says ‘there are spiders in my house’ I think he just means, you know, every once in a (great) while, he and his brother find spiders.’
Which they then attempt to kill, with a disconcerting amount of joy.
His teacher, perhaps taken aback by the spider comment or the ‘very old’ comment wrote possibly the only positive thing he could think of: ‘thanks for using periods!’