Saturday, July 08, 2006 A.D.
Suddenly Susan
I've heard the story so often since I was a child that I never bothered to ask my mom for details. Back when she was in college - and being a math major - she regularly found herself teaching review/remedial classes to her lowerclassmen in exchange for an exam exemption or in fulfillment of an extra academic bonus (either way, it meant that she was good with math to start with). Those classes, she said, were most often standing-room-only occasions, and she prided herself in the fact that she can analytically break down complex problems to their basic component parts, thus making it easier for her students to comprehend. More importantly, she also told me and my brother that it made her feel really good to know that she was given the opportunity to help out other people.

I never bothered finding out why her classes were so popular, except I had a hunch when she was again telling her story this afternoon. I figured that the only reason I would go to a review class was if I found the instructor attractive. It's kind of a disturbing thought, but I had to know: I asked my mom if her classes were mostly male and she told me that there were quite a number, although they mostly kept to the back rows. She also told me that she received several love letters but she never really found out who gave them. There we had it, I thought, even men from forty years ago were socially inept and had the same motivations as men today. It's not such a bad thought, really, because it meant that my mom was a looker and that she was good with numbers. My mom went on to tell me that, aside from those pesky love letters, she received a fair number of thank-you notes from those who passed. Again, it's not such a bad thought that my mom was well appreciated in college (I would have liked a little bit of that for myself). Expectedly, most of these notes came from girls, which shouldn't be that surprising since notes had always been more of a girl thing (if I ever gave you in this lifetime anything that qualifies as a note, please throw it away now). In addition to notes, my mom said, one girl named Susan even gifted her with food. In fact, this Susan turned out to be something like a rabid supporter of my mom in that she almost always attended my mom's classes, where she was always seated up front (my mom was making friends in college - again, a not-so-bad thought). She also rallied her fellow students to attend her classes, testifying about my mom's excellent teaching skills (and having been taught by her a lot, I would attest to this as well). Susan, whom I have never heard of before this afternoon, sometimes even convinced my mom to teach an impromptu class because the student-teacher assigned to her class was running late. When the actual teacher arrived, Susan told her to just let my mom teach the rest of the class. This resulted in an unpleasant misunderstanding, as could be expected, although the way my mom recounted it, she didn't see why the other student-teacher should be offended by her intrusion, but that's my mom - she's such a good person that she wouldn't see malice in anything. Hearing my mom and learning about her uncomplicated values bothered me a bit - I wouldn't call her naive, more like sheltered and simple. It was then that I suddenly understood. "Is Susan - urmm - boyish?" It turned out that she was. She's not lesbian... she's a tomboy - but of course, that was how my mom saw it. She would call it appreciation, while I would call it 'putting the moves'.

I wouldn't know anything about lesbians even if they figure a lot in the videos I view for research purposes. Of course, as we all know, lesbians didn't at all exist during the 60s - although 'tomboys' were fairly commonplace (the Church maintains that lesbians do not exist). As I understand it, these 'tomboys' all wore clothes that made them look like taxi drivers with crew cuts because it's really impossible for them to look like humanly decent females. Then again, even at the so-called height of the so-called sexual revolution, tomboys were understood to grow out of their tomboy phases and eventually have grandchildren. This was the Philippines after all.

Not wanting to break my mom's heart, I kept my observations to myself (and my brother, whose eyes lit up the same time as mine earlier). It's enough for her to know that Susan was really just someone she helped a lot with mathematics (I'm also quite sure of that anyway). It's good to know, however, that in her college years, my mom was something of a headturner who was also a consistent honor student. That she was also a lesbo-bait shouldn't matter, and it really shouldn't give me any reasons to sleep less comfortably. Really. Really, really. Anyhow, I'm of the belief that it takes more for a person to become attractive to someone from the same sex, but I can only think that because it's never happened to me before as far as I know. I would ask my dad if he had similar experiences except I'm afraid that he would enjoy telling his stories, which, frankly, I wouldn't believe anyway. Regardless, if I were to believe all the nostalgic baby-boomers I met (and they are legion), the 60s were indeed a time of fun, fun, fun. Eventually however, suffice to say, my daddy took the T-bird away.

(You don't want to know how much I wanted to use that last line. Dork.).

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