o? How was it? Rose Jackson asked the question as she sat down across from her daughter Jennifer, who stared
blankly at a heavy hardcover book that lay open on the dining room table in front of her.
Huh? How was what? Jennifer shifted her attention to her mother.
How was your first day back at school?
Jennifer gave that a moment s thought. Good, she said. Very good. Very different.
Rose took a sip of the tea she had brought to the table. Different how? she wanted to know.
Jennifer pondered that for another second. I think the biggest difference is that the teachers treat us like grown ups, she said.
Yeah, well, twelfth grade IS different. Rose smiled. And the truth is if you act like grown ups the teachers will treat you like grown ups. She took a sip of tea. So, what else is new? she asked.
Jennifer didn t answer right away. Umm& there s some new people, she said.
Aren t there always a few new people every year? said Rose.
Umm& yeah, I guess. Jennifer s purposefully nonchalant tone belied the spot of colour that had appeared on her cheek during this last bit of conversation, a spot of colour that did not escape Rose, whose interest in the topic suddenly grew keener.
I m all ears! she said.
Jennifer appeared to be trying to decide what to say. Oh there s a& just this guy, she said.
Oh. Rose pretended to lose interest. OK then.
There was a long moment of silence.
There s just this guy, said Jennifer, who is totally hot! When he walks down the hall the girls wait till he s out of earshot and then they make sizzling noises!
Really now? How very classy, said Rose.
Yeah, exactly, said Jennifer. But he IS ridiculously hot!
Rose laughed. Alright, she said. Point
made. And I am very curious& what is it that makes him hot to that degree? Pardon the pun.
Jennifer brushed a stray hair from her forehead, as if the hotness might have followed her home.
Everything! she said. He s like six foot two. In his stocking feet. And his hair is black and wavy and perfect. She paused. And he has the sexiest accent I ve ever heard! she concluded.
Whoa Nelly! Rose set her teacup down. Don t you know that 17-year old girls are never supposed to say sexy around their mothers?
Jennifer looked at her mother. Sexy, she said. Sexy, sexy, sexy.
Rose laughed again. Once again, you ve made your point, she said. So what kind of an accent? French?
Gah, no, not French. If I want French I can listen to the CBC.
Italian? Rose asked, but then shook her head. Of course not, she said. When s the last time an Italian showed up in rural Manitoba?
He s Spanish, said Jennifer. He s from Argentina. And he wears wicked cowboy boots.
Rose raised an eyebrow. Oh so you like him for his cowboy boots and his accent?
Well that and his horse, said Jennifer, which he rode to school!
Well as long as it s not just his boots and his accent, said Rose. She paused. Is this boy in any of your classes?
Jennifer looked delighted. Better than that! she said. His locker is right next to mine!
No kidding. Lucky you. Rose was less enthusiastic. So have you talked to him?
Sort of, said Jennifer. More like he talked to me.
And he said what? Rose wanted to know. Well, said Jennifer, I was putting my
books into my locker, completely not paying attention to anything, and suddenly this awesome voice beside me says I am so happy to find in my new school that my locker is next to the loveliest senorita in the country.
Rose raised both eyebrows this time. Seriously? That s what he said? And what did you say?
Well first of all I almost fainted, said Jennifer. But then my 4-H crisis training kicked in and I got it together and I said, I have no idea who you are seor, but you are not half as happy as I am.
Oh my goodness, said Rose. Did you really say that?
I did, said Jennifer. And then he gave me a great big smile and said Good, I am happy that we understand each other and I said We d better get to class and now he sits next to me in Math and in English. And my life is perfect.
Rose sighed. I guess the time has come, she said.
The time for what? said Jennifer. The time for The Talk, said Rose. Jennifer looked aghast. Mom! she said. Oh don t worry, said Rose. I m kidding.
Sort of. She took a sip of tea. But sort of not, she said.