One of my favorite current students is a four-hundred pound african-american girl with a squeaky, baby-doll voice. Her parents dress her in solid colors, no patterns, so when she comes towards you it is like a giant wave of color spilling out into a room. When I take her places, people always stare.
Though when I take any students anywhere, people stare.
It does not really annoy me, though.
In fact, you can kind of milk it a little.
One time someone came up and gave me a twenty dollar bill. "Get them a pizza or something" he mumbled. At a garage sale, a well-meaning mother shoved a giant broken Star Wars playset at me. "Use it in your classroom".
We've gotten free stuff, discounted stuff, dubious hand-outs, pretty much an endless stream.
Though the worst is probably the compliments.
I have had so many nice, elderly women grip my arm and talk real close in my face, telling me how blessed I am for working with these kids, and how they had a brother Earl or Jerry who was also "touched".
Can't they see I am an awkward person, and close-talking strangers scare me?
I don't hear a word your saying, I am only thinking about the positioning of our bodies in proximity to each other, and whose bad breath is ricocheting off of whose, and how to keep myself from giggling inappropriately (some people make gas when they are uncomfortable; I sweat and giggle, the effect is not dissimilar).
I know they mean well, but where are they when I am just slumping around by myself?
When I am picking up some groceries, and have stopped to linger lustfully over the Cadbury Fruit and Nut Bars, how come they do not emerge from the shadows then, and grip my arm with a wizened claw, press close to me, and hiss "It takes real patience being you, fatty. God Bless you for living with yourself. My cousin Randy had manbreasts similar to yours".
But no, I am an anonymous blip, kidding himself that he's not going to buy that candy bar.
However, strap a four-hundred pound black girl to my side, and suddenly I am bald Jesus.