“Madam Jennifer, why did you wink and blow a kiss to that boy, and nobody else?”
“ Hmmm. I am not sure what you are referring to.”
“You winked like this, and you blew a kiss.”
“Oh you must be talking about the fact that I winked and made a clicking noise with my mouth.” Apparently he had misread the wink plus the clicking noise, which in American English, translates roughly to, “way to go kiddo”.
“Yes. Well mam, he is telling everyone you blew him a kiss, and he is very happy about it.”
The things that sixth graders cling to. But hey, if that wink motivates him to ace his next spelling test, then it’s fine by me. It was Friday, and hopefully the wink heard round the school would be forgotten by Monday.
To celebrate the end of a busy week, I went to a canteen, found a table all to myself, and ordered some Dahl and tea to eat slowly and quietly. Two high school boys in matching school tracksuits entered the canteen. Despite the fact that all the tables were empty, they sat at the table right next to me.
They struck up a pleasant conversation about where I was from, what high school was like in Bhutan, their traveling experience, etc. My conversation with the students went something like this:
“Where are you from?”
“Oh, the USA. Someday I would like to go to college there for architecture or engineering.”
I advised him as I had once advised my little sister about searching for a place you love, then finding a school in the area, then using the Internet to explore the options and scholarship opportunities. As a teacher, it’s easy to fall into the “you can do anything you put your mind to” spiel, but as a young adult, I figure I still have a little bit of street cred with teenagers, and I don't sound too cheesy.
From there, he asked me if my parents still help support me. I proceeded to explain the term “cut off”, and I told him to enjoy the “love money” while he could.
“Are you bachelor?”
“How old are you?” asked one of the boys.
“Oh, you are too old for us.”
I know that due to the size of Thimphu, it is particularly important to watch what I say; otherwise the entire town will talk. This may come as a shock to you, but believe it or not, I have developed the skill of self-monitoring what truly wants to come flying out of my mouth. The following is what I held off on saying after the student said, "You are too old for us":
Inner Monologue #1) Yes, yes indeed I am. In the US we call that statutory rape.
Inner Monologue #2) What you are basically telling me is that, I am too old to date and too young to qualify as a cougar. Thank you for gently reminding me that I am 26, in the awkward age of no-mans-land.
Inner Monologue #3) Call me in 15 years when both of us will probably be too old to give a shit about age anyway.
Instead, I replied with, “Yes, I am. I could be your high school teacher though!”
On that note, the young lad said, “Do me a favor.”
“Yes, What is that?”
“Find a Bhutanese man and marry him.”
His phone rang. I assume it was one of his parents calling to pick them up. The two boys quickly gathered their belongings, grabbed a momo to go, and waved, while hurrying to the counter to pay.
At that point, I said "goodbye", and I smiled a “teacher smile”, pursing my lips tightly so that, “Any other dating advice?” didn’t slip through the cracks of my teeth.
As I sipped the rest of my tea solo, I reminisced on my encounters: two men in matching tracksuits and the imaginary kiss that swept the play yard. As I sat alone in the little canteen, I lifted my mug of tea, and I toasted to my Friday. Here’s to being single, seeing double, blowing kisses, and staying out of trouble.