Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Basics

The Basics

By Allison Adams 06-11-10 / Submitted to The Greeneville Sun 06-12-10

Once when our family was sitting in a restaurant, a boy walked by our table and he and my son exchanged a casual nod with one another.

“Who is that boy?” I asked my son.

“A guy who sat behind me in class last semester.” He replied.

“Oh! How nice! What’s his name?”

“I dunno.”

I remember wondering then how my son could sit in front of someone every day, for three and a half months, and not know his name.

A girl would be able to name everyone in her class. She’d also know who her classmates’ families were, and where they lived. She’d learn that basic information on the first day of class, within minutes of making eye contact.

Boys rarely make eye contact with another human being. They really aren’t social creatures. They really don’t care much about knowing the basic things like someone’s name, or where they live, which is why I didn’t hold out much hope for learning anything from my son when he came home after spending a week at camp.

Gaining the basic information from him would involve a slow, methodical process, which is sometimes as successful as getting the proverbial blood out of the proverbial turnip.

I knew I had to pace myself, and lower my expectations.

“Tell me about your roommate.”

“I had two.”

“Oh! How nice! What were their names?”

“Um. David. And, ummmm ... Joe.”

Um David, and Um Joe.

A girl would have known, and cheerfully volunteered her roommate’s first name, middle name, and surname. She’d have known her roommate’s nickname, and how her roommate came to be nicknamed. And, she’d have revealed the new nickname she’d given her roommate to take home with her, and shared all the fun the two of them had coming up with it.

“Oh! How nice! Where were they from?”

“Um. David was from … ummmm … somewhere in Iowa.”

Honestly – I was impressed he knew that David (if that was his real name) was from “somewhere in Iowa”. I was really expecting to hear something a little more global, like “North America”.

“Wait. Nope. Not Iowa. He was from somewhere in Ohio.”

A girl would have known exactly where her roommate lived and she’d have been able to recall it without hesitation. She’d have also known where her roommate was born, and where her siblings, her parents, and her grandparents were born …

“Oh! How nice! Ohio! Where in Ohio? Dayton? Akron? Cincinnati?”


… and she’d have told me all about her roommate’s great-grandparents, and their adventures following their Ellis Island landing …

“Toledo? Columbus? Cleveland?”

“Yup. Cleveland. I think.”

… and she and her roommate would have fantasized about how exciting it would be to someday live in a foreign country. They would have shared with each other their dream to someday study, work, and live abroad. They would have talked about all the wonderful new people they would expect to meet.

“Oh! How nice! How about the other one?”

“Other one what?”

“The other roommate. Joe. Where was Joe from?”

“Ummmm. Lemme think.”

Girls make sure they know the basics about one another. By basics I mean name, address, phone number, favorite color, favorite song, favorite food, favorite TV show, favorite movie, and favorite place to shop. Basic information also includes details about boyfriends, best friends, hobbies, hairdos, and their dream wedding.

I didn’t expect a biography about these boys, but honestly – how can someone spend a week sharing a room with a person without wondering where that person will be headed when its time to go home?

“I think he was from Kansas.”

“Oh! How nice! Where in Kansas? Topeka? Wichita?”

“Ummmm. Nope, I don’t think so.”

I suspected that these boys would not become pen pals.

“Dodge City? Kansas City?

“Uhhh, that sounds right. Kansas City.”

“Oh! How nice!”

I didn’t believe for one minute that Joe (if that was his real name) was from Kansas City, but I still wanted to find out how the camp food was, and what kind of activities he engaged in.

I needed to save my strength.

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