Chalk: (n) a soft white limestone used for blackboards
I liked Page. He was odd.
Most kids in school knew he was odd, which disqualified him from consideration. He was highly intelligent, which is the booby prize often given to odd people. Page had quirks.
Page loved to eat cold kidney beans out of a can.
He loved to have crab apple fights in his backyard.
But he hated the sound of squeaky chalk on a blackboard. It made him crazy–not fake, “pretending to be upset” crazy. No, his blood pressure went up, his face turned red, and he gripped the sides of his wooden schoolroom desk as if he were going to tear it apart.
We had one teacher who always had squeaky chalk. I don’t know if it was the cheap stuff or the expensive–but every time he wrote on the blackboard, there was an accompanying atonal melody of squeaking which most of the class ignored.
Except for Page and me–and only me because I was concerned about Page.
One day in the midst of a particularly elongated session of trying to solve a problem on the board with the squeaking chalk, Page got up from his seat, quietly walked to the front of the room, took the chalk from the teacher’s hand and threw it against the wall, breaking it into several pieces. He turned to the class and said, “Doesn’t that sound drive you crazy?”
He was met with a roomful of blank faces.
The teacher took him to the principal’s office, where he received a lecture on self-control and was given in-school suspension for five days. During his stretch for the crime, I saw him one day on his way to the cafeteria. He was smiling.
I was confused. Why would Page be so happy about his punishment? Then I realized.
No squeaky chalk.