The red second hand travels along the familiar white face of the schoolroom clock in my office… tick… tick… tick… audible and inexorable, stopping so diligently at each and every hash mark before moving on to the next, the sound resonating through the gathering quiet of my solitary evening like a steady heartbeat, bringing to mind a manifest of life’s tortured anticipations—waiting for the bell to sound at the end of a school day, for a lopsided game to be mercifully over, for an interminable meeting to conclude, for the labor pains to come closer together, for the notary to finish rumpling the many pages of the divorce settlement, for the commercials to end and the show to resume, for the light to change to green.
Tick… tick… tick…. I have nowhere in particular to go. Nothing at all to anticipate. No crib to assemble. No stroller to fold and lift. No Barney videos to watch. No kid to pick up from school. No snacks to provide. No functions or fund-raisers to attend. No practices to coach. No list of parents to advise of a game cancellation due to rain. No holding my tongue about asshole teachers. The middle school English nitwit who gave him a B on his life story. The history teacher who took umbrage with his thesis that Malcolm X was as crucial to the success of the civil rights movement as was Martin Luther King Jr.—I edited the thing; it was NOT an 82. The varsity coach. The players hate him. The parents hate him. The only time he ever won a championship was when his team rebelled and coached themselves. How to explain why the fancy school keeps asking him back?