4.05 / May 2009


I slept with my son’s Spanish teacher. Or I should clarify, slept next to her. We’d both had too much to drink and dozed off on the pull-out couch in her apartment. Had we not drank so much at dinner I imagine I would have slept with her for real.

This was a mistake. I can see that now. She waits out by the bus loop, in front of the brick facade, one long leg hooked over the other, her lips wrapped around the ear of her glasses. I have no interest in calling her.

My son’s Spanish grades correspond inversely to the days I go without calling her. I see her on the bench by the bus loop, waiting. I ask my son to walk around the corner, so I can pick him up in the back of the school.

He and I both know casa means house, that the “a” he wrote was not a “q” but an “a”. He knows casq is not casa, that casq has no meaning in Spanish, that casa is house.

I remember the parent-teacher conference. My son looked on, oblivious, as our feet dueled underneath the table, and I told him, politely, to visit the water fountain: his teacher and I had something private to discuss.

I can’t let my son take the bullet for me. No, that wouldn’t be fair to him. Things haven’t been exactly easy post-joint custody, days divided between his mother and me. I know it’s my responsibility to make it right. I approach her one day as she sits on the bench by the bus loop.

Are you failing my son because I didn’t call you? I ask.

Yes, she says, without denying it, without a morsel of shame.

You can’t do that, I say.

Sure I can. I want something and I’m using the resources at my disposal to get it. That’s what you do when you want something, she says.

But that’s not ethical, I say.

Ethics, she laughs. What do ethics have to do with this? What do you know about ethics?

There are holes in my education, I concede. I know this well. She is willing to teach me, she says, about ethics, geometry, the Constitution and civil liberties, how the “r” in her last name should leap off the tongue like a Mexican jumping bean. I will need a trapper keeper, she says, a number two pencil and the sort of sharpener that keeps the shavings intact, as one long unbroken coil. I will need to stay after class, some days — fine — most days. I should bring her an apple, she says, a ritual offering, and leave it on her desk before she arrives. Fuji, preferably ‘” they’re the sweetest.

I ask her how to say Fuji in Spanish.

Fu-h-i, she says.

I nod.

She smiles.

4.05 / May 2009