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21st Century Problems: Surrogate Father Appreciation Day Part 1 (#18) (Louis Toliver Jr, Swartz, LA)



I was standing in the large entrance to the Richard E. Nixon High School staring at all the kids and their parents. I wasn’t really sure what Ben looked like but I assumed he would be the lonely kid without either of his parents…maybe eating reduced lunch. By the looks of things, the lunch was some kind of brownish-orangish rice and gravy. Then, as I peered around the cafeteria, I noticed there were many kids with out their parents. However, they didn’t seem that bothered and they were all grouped together teasing each other and throwing their lunch, surely creating psychological issues they would only be able to resolve on a morning talk show. I was going to have to try to go into the jungle and determine who Ben was. I was about to when, “What hell are you doing here, Trey?”  Nate tapped me on the shoulder. “How’s the new lesbian look treating you” Nate laughed. “You work here?” I asked Nate who was seeming to appear too frequently in the episodes of my life. “Yeah, I’m the computer science teacher,” he scratched his ass. “I lost that copy of the Best of Michelle Branch. You think I could come over and use your internet and burn another copy?” I changed the subject, “I’m looking for a 12 year-old named Ben.” He looked at me like I was stupid, “Do you know how many Bens there are? You’re going to have to give me a last name.” I didn’t know Ben’s last name so I added, “His online gaming name is FishEater2013.” Nate looked as if I had given the winning clue on a game show, “Oh yeah, Ben Boudreau! He’s the fat kid sitting by the salad bar that looks like Justin Bieber with manicured eyebrows and blond hair.” At that moment, I saw exactly who he meant, and I almost seemed to float towards the kid. Ben saw me and I saw him. He was like the fat,12 year-old version of me. He was eating a chocolate Teddy Graham when I sat down in front of him. It was like one of those movies when the parents and kids switch bodies. Before either one of us could speak, a teacher interrupted, “You must be Mr. Boudreau! I’m Mrs. Nunns! I tell you. Me and the other teachers were starting to think you were a ghost! Do you want to sign up for the parent/student talent show?” I looked at Ben who was chewing on a Teddy Graham. I grab one and put it in my mouth and while chewing I said, “Sure.”

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