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Cafeteria Champion

Cafeteria Champion

I am an old, fat white guy. I am not the type beautiful Black teen-age girls fall in love with. Three years ago, during Cafeteria Duty, I noticed a group of students who arrived late, stood in their own line, and sat at their own tables. They were a special group. Today there are specific names for their conditions but fifty years ago, when I was a child, they had different names. Secret names. One day, as they slowly filed past, a short Black girl stopped and looked at me, her face filled with a wonderful smile. She stared and studied me for the longest time. She asked, gently, "Who are you, Mister?" I said, "My name is Mr. Baltz, and I teach photography here." Her eyes wiped my face slowly and lovingly. She said, with that gorgeous smile, "But, Mister, you told me what you do. I asked, who are you?" It was now my turn to stare. I could not think of a reply. I stammered, "Well, I am....uh, I guess I....." It was an awkward moment. I could not think of an answer. Her eyes swam with joy, curiosity and love. They never left my face. I finally gave up and said, "I'm sorry, dear, I guess I don't know who I am." Instantly she saddened, saying, "I'm sorry, too, because you are very nice." To talk with me she had left her place in line. I saw one of her friends jump into the empty space. I said, "I'm sorry, but this is her spot." My little friend took her place as I walked back to my station. As the line inched along she continued to stare at me. Suddenly, with no warning, she ran across the Cafeteria, grabbed me around the waist and said, with tears in her eyes, "Oh, Mister, I love you. I just love you!" I had become her Cafeteria Champion. From this day forth it was I who would do battle with the Great and Evil Knights who threatened her honor, or tried to take her place in line. I would be her fine and handsome protector. She would be my beautiful damsel. I saw her everyday that semester. She always came to hug me and say, "Oh, Mister, I love you. I just love you." I always protected her place in line. She always proclaimed her undying love for me. The next year my schedule was different and I saw my little friend infrequently. When I did, she would break free from the protection of her teachers, race to me, give me a big hug and tell me how much she loved me. She left school last year. Occasionally I see her around town with her parents. She looks but does not recognize me. I am not "Context Specific", as the experts say. Love is so cruel. Our affair is over. She will always remain my beautiful damsel; a lovely young black girl with a face filled with eternal smiles, love and wonder. Alas, I will never again be her Cafeteria Champion. Never again will I vanquish the Evil Doers, or vow a fight to the death to preserve her honor, or her place in line. I will return to what I was before, just an old, fat white guy.

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