A kid who could draw a perfect circle free-hand on a chalkboard deserved better. But we were bad and he was good, so he pulled it out for everyone to see.
Holding his driver’s license in his right hand, he said, “See. Told ya.”
Winn’s problem was not so much his weird first name, but talent. He had too much of it. As only a sophomore, there he sat in our senior level math class. This was high school. Applying oneself was never a good idea. I often wondered how many of us really saw how special Winn was. And I envied Winn for his patience with us, with the morons. But that didn’t stop me from seeing only a nerd.
The teacher, Mrs. Tietz, naturally defended him from any attacks. Little did she realize that rather than protecting him, her efforts only further marked the target.
This was a lady who publicly professed that using Rain-X eliminated the need to turn on windshield wipers while driving in the rain, a lady who believed the Nielsen ratings were gathered by specific families with special boxes hooked up to their TV sets which automatically recorded which stations were being watched.
How did we know these things about her? Because she didn’t like us any more than we liked her. And one day, for some appropriate reason I’m sure, I volunteered to the class that years earlier I had used the time my family got to submit our watching habits to help tilt the scales away from Rosie O’Donnell and towards Gargoyles and Batman: The Animated Series. After all, Nielsen would never know the difference. They just trusted that one dollar would acquire honest reporting.
Mrs. Tietz wouldn’t budge. Believing me to be a liar, she maintained that there really were specific “Nielsen Families”. To this day, I don’t know why he did it. Maybe he saw through me. Maybe he didn’t like her, either. If push came to shove and I had to guess, I’d say that he did it because he was noble. He was righteous, in the purest sense of the word. So later that semester, when his family happened to be mailed the paperwork and accompanying one dollar bill, he brought it in to class the next day. And in doing so, he redeemed not only me, but hope. Long live Winn!