Lately, when Max decides (in a persnickety, cat-like way) that he's ready for a little affection, he'll come and hug me.
Delighted, because these moments are increasingly rare, I'll throw my arms around him and hold onto his hard, angular boy body.
It often ends with him shaking me off and snapping, "Get away from me, weirdo."
Author Meg Wolitzer totally gets what it's like to mother a boy. I'm reading The Ten-Year Nap right now, and the way she writes about boys around the ages of 9 or 10 is genius. Her narrative is filled with the nuances of raising a male creature with their growing remove and surging testosterone.
"I wonder if the boys learn a particular kind of maleness at school...A Lord of the Flies kind of thing. I know their aggression is held in check, but I feel like it's still there, like I can almost see it."
Max is not even the most boyish boy. He tends to be observant and scientific rather than rough. He is more the kid from Jerry Maguire who constantly quotes, "Did you know the human head weighs eight pounds?" than boys who stomp and squash and barrel.
Still, though, I'm sensing the impending distance. It lurks behind the trees like a hazy, pink sunrise.
So...Spectacle. In it, I write about a gym teacher who is despised by the two protagonists, Emily and Trix. Though, in the novel I changed the gym teacher's name and physical characteristics, she is, largely, based on my real middle school/high school gym teacher. A few of the scenes in the novel very much parallel my real life experiences.
Silly me, I never thought my ex-gym teacher would ever read my story aimed at 16-year-olds. Through the magic of Facebook, however, I learned that she has downloaded it.
Though I'd love for her to rethink some of the ways in which she "taught" us and favored certain students to the detriment of the rest of us, she's retired now and is, from what I have heard, a decent person and a constant in the community in which I grew up.
I'm an idiot. I hope I don't hurt her feelings too much and that she doesn't contact me.
In other Spectacle news, my little story hit the top 25 on Amazon's free Kindle books today! Mostly thanks to Pixel of Ink. Holla, P-O-I, and thank you for the shout out. It was a fun day watching the numbers go up.
Back to reality tomorrow when I hang the $2.99 price tag on Spectacle again.
Max and I have been watching the stats together, high-fiving a lot. Today I picked him up from unicycling club after school and could hardly wait to tell him: 4,500 downloads since I saw him last. He wore his hairnet still, the thing that protects him from catching lice from the community helmets, and had ballpoint pen scrawled across his smooth, soft forehead. "Wow," he said. "That's a lot."
He was caught there, between little boy and big boy, between looking ridiculous and not caring and grinning with me over Amazon rankings.
And I thought, God, I love this. I love this age and this moment and that I can appreciate it all.
Apparently there's a new genre of cat video that has come about since my short foray into Cat Video Friday a couple years back. It's called WTF cats. Since cats are always thinking either, Hey, give me some food or What the fuck? I'm sure the category is rich with great snippets.
This poor cat is me every time I dwell on the fact that some day I will die.
Except for maybe at 2:00 every afternoon, when I feel like this. Whether or not I'm thinking some day I will die.