The bell rang, and my government teacher closed the door and walked along the front of the classroom.
“Mister Hanley,” he said. His salutation was followed by an ellipsis, which was clearly audible in the pregnant pause that followed. He paced across the front of the class room giving me just enough time to wonder why he was beginning class by addressing me.
“You know, I like football.”
Oh god. Football? Really, Mr. Robertson? Are you sure you want to talk to ME about this?
“And I was at the football game last Friday night, along with my wife. And I have to say, Mister Hanley, I was mighty surprised when I saw the halftime show.”
Oh. That. The halftime show.
“My wife was surprised too. And you know what she said? She said, ‘That boy got roots! I know that white boy got some roots!’ So Mister Hanley, I promised her I would ask you: do you have any African American heritage?”
My lily-white face flushed red – an occupational hazard of being Irish which makes lying virtually impossible. I managed to stammer, “N-n-n-o. Can’t say that I do.”
Mr. Robertson continued, “My wife and I were mighty impressed with your dancing though, and I never would have suspected that someone as mild-mannered as yourself could get up there in front of everyone with that – what do you call it? – and move like that.”
“M-My mace?” I asked.
“Yeah, your baton-thingy! I’m tellin’ you, boy, you need to take a look at your family tree, cause you’ve got some kinda soul and WAY too much rhythm for a white boy.”
And I guess he was right; it’s just not my genetic family that I get my dance moves from.