I have a student named Jack.

He's not a current student.  He's one of the best kinds of former students--the kind who has outgrown your class but still makes sure to walk by your classroom while he's running errands for his 8th grade teacher and pause to give you a big smile and a wave from the hallway.

One day he said, "Hi, Wheatzie!"

I was just inside my classroom door, placing a stack of copy paper on my shelf.  (When kids bring copy paper in as a donation to the school, we're supposed to take it to a common area for all the teachers to share, but instead, I hoard mine.  It causes a few dirty looks toward the end of the year when all the other teachers are desperate for it and I'm, like, mysteriously rolling in it, but whatever. My stuff gets copied and theirs doesn't, so who's winning?  Hmm?)

"Hi, Jack!" I responded, looking over my shoulder to return his smile.

"Don't say that in an airport!" he retorted, laughing.  

It took me a second.  I've never been the quickest with jokes. In fact, my younger sister and I were just talking about this the other day because she's the same way.  Someone will say to me, "Hey, do you want to hear a joke?" and I'll go, "No, because I won't get it and I'm not good at that fake laughing thing where I pretend that I get it, and it will be awkward for everyone."  Then the person will go, "Oh, no.  This one's so obvious.  You'll get it."  Then they'll proceed to tell the stupid joke anyway and when they're finished I'll say simply, "I don't get it."  Then they'll have the nerve to look at me like I'm dumb and I'll tell them, "Well, you're the idiot who didn't listen to me and just wasted both of our time."

When I finally grasped the punch line, I laughed out loud with Jack. How is it that I had never heard that joke before then?  Is it a new one, or have I just been hiding under a rock all these years?  

After this, my jovial interactions with Jack became somewhat of a challenge:  I couldn't let him get me again.

"Hi, Wheatzie!" he would say, an expectant smile on his face. But I wasn't falling for that again. Oh, no. 

My default response became, "Greetings, Jack!"  

Soon, since I fancy myself a writer and try to vary my word choice, this morphed into, "Greetings and salutations, Jack!"

Then, because it just felt natural, I began adding a British accent to it.

And you can't have a British accent without a curtsy, can you?  So one day, surprising both myself and Jack, I threw one of those in, too.

And now I find myself curtsying every time I see him.  Sometimes with no words.

I think this might have been his plan all along.


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