You have been teaching at a boys’ school for three years. You teach geometry. You describe circles and points and parallel lines. The boys like you because you have a boy’s smile. You draw circles on the board with vigor, using your forearm as the circle’s diameter. You execute the circle rapidly, with manic speed, supposing that your diameter might be less affected by human error if you describe its bounds as quickly as possible.
The effort makes your blond hair come loose and cling to the inspired damp on your forehead.
Despite your best efforts the circles you perform are always imperfect. This makes you sad. And as the inconsistent curvature of your formal circles persists your sleep has become similarly arduous. Your sadness has been deepening. You are disappointed in your lack of improvement.
One day you catch Simon Dobbs with a Playboy during an exam. You take the magazine away without saying anything; the room continues to scribble in the interim, furtive and beady eyes peering up to discover consequence. Your pupils scratch bare lead on paper. You remain impassive, flipping through the glossy pages of April, and turning the magazine for appraisal when perpendicularity demands. now you think of chicks. The bell rings and the boys shuffle toward the door, dropping tests on your desk before making their way outside.
You cough. Your cough is an ice breaker. “Mr. Dobbs, I’d like to speak with you a moment if you wouldn’t mind.”
Simon Dobbs puts his test on the desk. He is staring at the ground with hot cheeks.
“Look at me.”
“You must keep these two things separate. This is geometry,” you point to the circle you had described. For a moment its imperfections distract. You blink. “This is geometry,” you say again, pointing this time to the desk. “Geometry is not to be muddled by this.” You put the Playboy on the desk in front of the boy. “Vice versa. Do you understand? Vice Versa.”
“You don’t. You don’t understand yet, but,” you shrug boyishly, “maybe you will. I bet you might.”
“I hope so,” says Dobbs.
“You will. Here,” you gesture to the glossy. “It’s yours. Take it.” As an afterthought, you add, “I really like that spread. I thought it was pretty good.”