Of all of the people I remember from third grade there will be one person that I will never forget. Her name was Miriam. We went to PS 24 in Flushing, Queens. Don't ask me what year it was cause I damn sure don't remember. Let's just be safe and say it was in the mid to late 70's.
Anyway, everybody in my class used to run away from this skinny Puerto Rican girl named Miriam. I never knew the reason. At the very sight of her mother fuckers would start bookin'. "Ill Miriam's coming..." And they would dash away like roaches. The rumor was she threw up in a water fountain and contaminated the drinking water for the whole entire school or something like that.
Well, after a while stupid me joined in on it too.
"Ill, Miriam!" I said as I ran as fast as I could.
That went on for about a year.
Fourth grade rolled around and we did the same thing to her. That was until one day in March or April I think it was. Had to be one of those months cause it wasn't cold anymore.
There was Miriam walking across the schoolyard. 'Ill Miriam", I said as I started jettin' the hell out of the way. Word was she had 'cooties'. Whatever in the hell 'cooties' were I sure as shit didn't want them.
But this day wasn't gonna go down like any other day.
Just as I was reaching top speed lo and behold Miriam was hot on my tracks. 'Oh shit the cootie girl is gonna get me!' I accelerated more, I looked back, "Goddamn, she's closing in!"
I juked to the left and then a quick right, then I made another quick juke to the left, surely she'd be in the dust by now.
Hell no, her hand was damn near on the back of my shirt. "No, don't touch me please!' I shouted.
'Gotcha!' She said.
'Oh no, I'm gonna start throwing up or something like that" I thought.
But it didn't happen.
"See, I touched you and nothing happened to you." She said looking me square in the eyes.
"Yeah, huh" I said surprised.
"Why do you run from me? I don't even know you."
"I dunno." Stupid me responded.
"See, you run from me because everyone else does. That's not right."
'It isn't?' Stupid me responded back.
'No, how would you like it if I did the same thing to you?"
'I don't think I'd like it."
"So how do you think I feel?'
"Hey, you're right."
"When you see me just wave and say hi, I'm not a bad person."
'Ok, you got it."
After that whenever she and I saw each other we always smiled and said hi to each other. Not a day goes by that I don't think about that girl. She taught me to never follow the crowd. Just because one person doesn't like somebody doesn't mean that i have to dislike them too.