Michael Moore: Why I Became Anti-War
Continued from previous page
“Yes, Mrs. Beachum.” Yes, I knew that, and I actually even believed it. But weren’t the longest tanned legs in the school also something worth believing in?
“I knew that would be your answer,” she said proudly.
“Couldn’t ask this of the other boys. No sir! Only you. Thank you, child.”
Ugh. Why not? Why not ask them? Why me?
“Plus, I figured seeing how you are thinking of going to the seminary next year, you won’t really need many of these ‘manners’ I’m teaching you, now will you?”
Apparently the Mother Superior had shared my thoughts about becoming a priest with Mrs. Beachum. And, of course, what use does a priest have for sex, much less “manners,” much less those pink-black engorged lips you’re using to hand me the worst news of my life?
“Sure. It’s fine. But what about Kathy?” I asked. Yes, what about Kathy? You’re not considering the grief she’s going to experience not being able to be my date!
“Like I said, I already talked to her. She was very happy to do this special thing for Lydia. Said you would be, too.”
I decided to give it one last shot. “But, but then Kathy will be all alone at the dinner!”
“No, child, here’s what we do. Lydia will sit across from you. Kathy will sit with the both of you, next to Lydia. So in a way, Kathy will still be there as sorta your date, too.”
Sorta. (This will become the story of my dating life. More later.)
“But you’ll officially be there with Lydia and you will pull her chair out for her and order for her and talk to her and make her feel that she, that she . . . is . . .”
A hint of tears began to make their way to the front of her eyes, but she blinked fast enough to catch them and wick them back behind her sockets and finished her sentence.
“That she is wanted. Can you do that, Michael?”
That this had suddenly been elevated beyond an etiquette lesson, beyond a date, to a call for mercy and possible sainthood - well, that was all I needed to hear.
“Yes, I can do this. I want to do this. You can count on me! You’re right, I won’t have any use for girls after this year anyways!” Exactly! Mrs. Beachum, you’d just be wasting all these lessons on me. I’m off to be a monk for life!
I had a pain in the pit of my stomach.
I went into the classroom and asked Lydia to be my date. Though I tried to say it soft enough so none of the other boys would hear me, it wasn’t long before word got out that I had given up the top prize for the Loser Lydia - and these little men in their high - waisted pants spent a lot of time on the playground scratching their butch-cut heads and trying to figure out exactly what had happened to me.
“Don’t make sense, Mike,” Pete said, shaking his head. “How are you even gonna stand it, being next to her?” “I dunno” was about all I could muster. How was I going to sit next to her? Ewww.
The big night came to go to Frankenmuth, and Lydia was all freshly scrubbed and her dress was plain but pretty. I opened the door for her, let her take my arm, pulled her chair out for her and, in a momentary act of rebellion against my impending lifelong celibacy, I pulled Kathy’s out for her, too. Kathy talked to Lydia, then I talked to Lydia, and Lydia talked back to us. We heard the story of how her brother had died and how her dad was working two jobs because her mother had health problems and how she spent her time in her room writing poems. Lydia was shy but not a cipher. She was funny, and she had a snorty laugh that after a while was cute and catchy. The other classmates looked down the table to see what the three of us were up to, and a couple of the boys joined in to talk to the newly interesting Lydia. This gave Kathy and me a chance to talk, also a new thing for me, for up until now she had just been an object to observe as often and as vigorously as possible.