What is this feeling,
So sudden and new?
I felt the moment
I laid eyes on you;
My pulse is rushing;
My head is reeling;
My face is flushing;
What is this feeling?
Fervid as a flame,
Does it have a name?
What is this Feeling? Song by Stephen Schwartz from Wicked
He was the smallest and the youngest of twelve. “Pipsqueak,” “shorty,” and “runt” were names as familiar to him as his own. Having six older brothers and five older sisters, his emotional hide was pretty thick by the time he started school. The taunts and name-calling of the other children seemed to roll off his back like water off a duck’s. Even-tempered, he seemed impossible to rile.
When some older child, mistaking his size and demeanor for an easy mark, attempted to physically accost him, he would be the first to offer a hand back up. His prone opponent now raising eyes filled with a new respect for him. His strength belied his size and he was careful not to ever let loose or go full bore, for fear of causing serious injury.
That was the way it had always been and the way it probably would have continued were it not for the arrival of the new teacher. His mind could not wrap around the image of her. She was nothing a schoolteacher should be. Yes, she was young, pretty and unmarried, but more than that, she “got” boys.
She could throw a baseball like the best major leaguer but didn’t try to play with the boys. She felt like a guy, you know, just regular, but she smelled like a girl… but that wasn’t quite right either. It had to be some kind of perfume, but it wasn’t anything like the scents this mother wore. The closest he could come to describing it was to say she smelled like, well like cookies.
He stood before her amazed eyes. Shirt torn, knuckles bloody and eyes showing the promise of the beauty of a shiner. The other kid was already in the nurse’s office getting patched up. When it caused this flashpoint? What caused this normally calm, not easily perturbed boy to erupt?
“Jailbird,” he whispered. His flushed face revealed feelings he couldn’t begin to own yet. “Teacher, he called you a jailbird.”