When I was in 6th grade my little brother did a project on Panda Bears.
He learned, in his research, that Pandas are pretty stupid. They are known to drink obscene amounts of water a day. If a Panda is drinking from a stream it will see its reflection, and thinking its another Panda it will competitively drink more water from the stream.
This is going to seem totally random but remember it for later, it will make sense.
In 6th grade there was a boy in my homeroom and my math class named Erik. I am pretty sure Erik had a crush on me.
He sat at my table during homeroom and we always laughed a lot together. He was a good kid, despite some shortcomings. One of these was his complete inability to ever do his math homework.
Our teacher would walk around checking our work and stop at his chair.
“Did you do your homework Erik?” Miss Epps would ask.
and Erik would just sheepishly look down and be quiet.
Eventually Miss Epps stopped even bothering to look at Erik’s binder, she would walk quietly by with an air of disappointment and anger looming.
One day she stopped behind his chair.
“Erik have you done your homework?” she asked. Her voice clam yet utterly icy and quiet.
“No I didn’t get a chance to..” Erik began, but before he could finish Miss Epps brandished her pink Lucite clipboard and threw it against the wall all the while screaming
“NO OF COURSE YOU DIDN’T!!!!!!!”
And the clipboard hit the wall with a magnificent crack and clattered to the ground. You could have heard a pin drop, the room was so silent.
After that day we all crowded around Erik in homeroom, helping him do his math homework.
I gave him my phone number, so I could help him out but Erik never called to ask about math.
He would call “just to talk.”
By “just to talk” he meant to watch television while saying very little on the other line.
I found this aggravating.
I tried to force conversation out of him.
Eventually I told him if he was just going to sit on the other line and breathe and or narrate whatever he was watching on tv he could just stop calling me.
The next day he wrote me a note, folded it into a paper football and passed it to me.
Do you like me?
Check Yes, No, Maybe.
Internet. I checked Maybe. Which was dumb and selfish. I didn’t want to hurt Erik’s feelings by saying no, but I had no interest in him. That stupid “Maybe” gave him hope.
The rest of the year I was inundated with Eriks advances. I tried to be polite, accepting, all bad ideas.
At the 6th grade dance Danny T asked me to slow dance. To “This I Promise You” by N*sync.
This crushed Erik. He went to the table where my mother (who would not allow me to attend school dances unless she also chaperoned) was passing out cups of water and he drank. According to my mother he drank Dixie cups of water as if they were vodka, drowning his sorrows in Dasani.He stood at the table, the rest of the night, drinking water.
As we drove home from the dance that night my mother told me about the drinking of the water.
“Almost like one the Pandas Sam did his project on” my mother tittered.
The image of Erik as a Panda was too much. We laughed over that for a really long time.