Sunday, February 3, 2013

Five--Quincy Discovers Gambling in Kindergarten

Quincy discovered gambling in kindergarten.  Despite her waitress’s salary and her status as a single mother, Annie Berkley, Quincy's mother, found a way to enroll him at the best private school in town, Ingoll’s Training Academy.  The biggest difference between Ingoll’s and the other kindergartens in town was that Quincy had four teachers spread out over four different classrooms.  His schedule looked like this:

Class One:       Coloring within the Lines

RECESS—10 minutes

Class Two:      Singing Like Angels

RECESS—10 minutes

Class Three:     Sharing Like the Saints

LUNCH—30 minutes

Class Four:      Napping Like Giants

RECESS—10 minutes

Class Five:       Learning Our Alphabet

RECESS—10 minutes

Class Six:        Milk and Cookies

Mister Sam taught Coloring within the Lines and Sharing in Room Blue, Miss Erica taught Singing in the Rainbow Room, Elderly Miss Geraldine taught Learning Our Alphabet in Room Purple, and Mister Ed taught Napping Like Giants and Milk and Cookies in the Sunshine Room.

Children kept getting lost or showing up at the Rainbow Room at the wrong time.  Quincy brought his baseball cards to school and allowed himself to get lost on purpose.  Whenever a teacher stumbled across him, he would strain his face and open his mouth as if he were about to cry, and the teacher would shuffle him away to his proper room.  But when there were no teachers around, he tried to flip baseball cards with an unsuspecting victim.

His first day of flipping turned out to be his most profitable.  Quincy had noticed that an Asian boy named Oscar also showed up at school with baseball cards, a comfort toy that teachers permitted just as they allowed girls to bring stuffed animals.  During recess, Quincy approached Oscar and asked if he wanted to flip.

“What’s flipping?”

“We each put a baseball card on the wall.  Then one of us calls odds or evens.  Then we flip.  If the cards both come face up or face down, then evens wins.  If one comes face up and the other comes face down, then odds wins.”


They began to flip.  From a distance, any teacher on yard duty would think that they were engaging in a Sharing Exercise.  To Quincy’s perspective, he was getting owned by an Asian kid, and he wanted his cards back.

But Quincy had always been an observant child, and he noticed something pretty quickly: whether Oscar’s card flipped face up or down relied on how high on the wall he held it.  And Quincy also figured that if he held his card on the exact same spot on the wall, then it almost always flipped face up.  A thumb’s width higher on the wall, and it flipped face down.

And so when Oscar declared “Evens!” and put his card up on the wall, Quincy noted its position, adjusted his own card accordingly, and over the span of three recesses absorbed a baseball card collection that Oscar had acquired over two birthdays and three Christmases.

Quincy would never again be able to re-create the thrill of triumph that he felt on the day that he destroyed the will of a five-year old Asian boy, who as he grew older would eventually forgo college and work as a garbage collector for thirty-five years for the city of Fairfield, California—never knowing where it all went wrong.

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