When I was growing up, everyone I knew looked alike — German-Irish kids with pinkish skin, mousey hair and big, round eyes. Most of us had only very limited encounters with people who didn’t look like us, so it was baffling that there was so much hatred for them.
Then again, scores of teenage girls harbor weirdly intense crushes on vampires and werewolves, and I am pretty sure none of them have ever encountered a vampire or werewolf. So how can anyone really know whether they love or hate.
But our country is said to be a melting pot, and so it was silly to expect our little town to be a pinky-skinned, buggy-eyed enclave forever.
My friend Courtney was giving an anthropology presentation at the high school the day the news broke that families from New Orleans would be staying at the local campgrounds until the mess from Hurricane Katrina could be cleaned up. Predictably, many of the kids in the class she was teaching that day were upset to learn they’d soon have a little diversity in the student body. But one voice spoke up the loudest and, in a way, the most sensibly.
“Your sister was in that class, though,” Courtney said. “She set them all straight.”
Annie has always had a sense of right and wrong, and she sees nothing wrong with fighting people who don’t get it right. So when Tommy Podunk started outlining the things he was going to say and do to his new classmates, Annie did her best to dissuade him.
“If you even think about it, I’ll knock your other front tooth out,” Annie said, balling her fists.
“I ain’t missin’ any teeth,” Tommy said.
“Oh, snap. They just grew that way?”
“What are you talkin’ about?”
“Your mouth is ugly, and I think you’d better keep it shut.”
Annie wasn’t the gentlest peace protestor, but as far as I know Tommy Podunk kept his hands to himself.