Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Daydreaming at Starbucks

I cracked open John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath the other night. I bought it from a used-books store a few weeks ago, right when I was halfway done with East of Eden. For the first time, I noticed the writing on the book's inside front cover. In fat and neat American print, someone wrote "Tuan Grogman Mrs. K. C-24."

Someone, somewhere used to own this volume. As I sit here nursing my latte, my mind's eye starts spinning.

The image I have is of a classroom in a public middle school somewhere in the US, Kansas perhaps, or Arkansas. Mrs. K, a stout, bespectacled, little lady with curly grey-streaked white hair, hobbles into C-24, a class of eighth-graders. She is dressed in a white blouse with a lacy collar and a long skirt with small floral prints. Around her neck is a thin gold necklace. She squeaks more than speaks in her high-pitched grandmotherly voice, but most of her students pay attention.

Tuan Grogman sits on the third row from the front, right by the window. He is a thin boy with a shock of uncombed golden brown hair that cover his ears. Today, he wears the last pair of clean blue jeans he has, along with a striped blue and yellow shirt and tattered used-to-be-white sneakers. He squints at Mrs. K. He doesn't like wearing his glasses.

Judging by the condition of the book I'm holding, he hasn't read the assigned chapter. Instead, under his Trapper-Keeper, he has the Cliff Notes open. In the fat and neat American print I am familiar with, he writes a final few words on the paper summarizing Chapters 1-10. He takes the sheaf of papers the pretty girl behind is passing to him, places his paper at the very bottom of the pile, and hands everything to the kid in front of him.

Mrs. K collects the homework and keeps it in her folder. She sits down and in her tiny voice begins to talk about Tom Joad. Tuan Grogman looks to his left. He sees the open green fields, the grass swaying and the leaves of the trees shuffling along with the soft breeze. It is mid-afternoon and school is almost done for the day. He begins to daydream.

Sent from a BB.

Posted via email from karlmd's posterous

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