There’s this strange memory I have, of a man from my elementary school years.
He wasn’t my father or my step father. I am really not sure who he was, but I seem to remember a white moustache.
And I definitely remember his voice. It was slightly Southern, but in that California wannabe-cowboy way. He spoke softly, and I remember him kindly despite my under-appreciation of cowboys in general.
And I remember his words, and their context. He would ask me a simple question when I was in trouble, and it would make me think.
Despite the mystery, and my reputation as a satirist (a text-based one, where you can never tell if I’m serious or not), this is a real memory of mine. And I truly cannot place it, though I can recall multiple times that this man would speak to me. He must’ve been a friend of my mother’s, a pre-step-dad boyfriend or something.
One was a lesser squabble, one was a proper fist-fight that I had been suspended for.
The man asked me, “Were you in the right?”
And I said, “No.” Whoever this man was, I never lied to him.
And he’d pause for affect, before asking gently,
“Well did you try your best?”
The answer was always “no” as well, but I would just smile and avert my gaze.
And in my mind, I’d say “Next time, I’ll try harder.”