I credit Mrs. Klerkin, my kindergarten schoolmarm, with my love of people-watching— and I guess indirectly with my wanting to become an anthropologist. But, I’ll get to that later. Maybe.
Even in kindergarten, I was garrulous. I barbed with kids about anything. Lincoln Logs rocked building blocks. Matchbox cars smoked Hot Wheels. Han Solo for president. I had opinions on medicine and that the Shah of Iran was being a meanie to his people. Okay, so maybe I was parroting my parents, but a lot of the stuff I blabbered about was highly unusual for the sub three-foot echelon.
Mrs. Klerkin sent me to the Brown Chair by the corner. She wasn’t cruel enough to make me face the wall. The edict was more of a timeout than a punishment. I think Mrs. Klerkin thought I had a great smile so she wanted to keep a gentle eye on me. And I watched fingerpainting, nosepicking, checker-hopping, Crayola-snapping, and the mulligrubs of playing house, I must say, with greater zeal than when I was actively engaged in the activities. Don’t get me wrong I was nuts for playing and pontificating, but occasionally I needed that timeout, to rewire.
I remember spotting Andrew Pichinini trying to stuff a plastic triangle through a circle and thinking boy, this kid hasn’t got a clue.
The thing that strikes me most profoundly now is that when I was evicted from my chair I settled back into the thick of things, recharged, as if nothing had happened, whereas other kids returned from the Brown Chair sullen, blighted by their temporary removal from fingerpainting society. Maybe I was the exception to the rule, the Tephlon John of kindergarten. Then again, I didn’t have to sit in the Brown Chair every day. Sometimes I was so immersed in my farm scene collages and high on Elmer’s glue I couldn’t be bothered with being deported to the other side of the room.
What else can I say, kindergarten was a glorious bi-polar experience.