Wherefore Art Thou, Florentino?
This blog is to close the chapter of my ‘F’ story. One person, at least, is curious to know what happened to Florentino.
I wasn’t part of the elite group that Florentino and the girls who surrounded him belonged to. They were the smart ones but, Florentino, as I mentioned, was the top student of the class.
My class standing in first grade was average (story of my school life, really). Mrs Lavastida, somehow, managed to lure me occasionally out of my shell.
One day, Mrs Lavastida decided to pit one student against another, to see who could read well in English and fast. Being secretly competitive, I wanted to impress everyone, most especially Florentino.
I raised my hand. I knew I could beat those slow ones! Mrs Lavastida kept ignoring me, however, and called everyone else except me. And the later the lines of text to read, the harder they got, at least for a first grader.
It seemed my hand was raised forever when, finally, my teacher noticed me. She called my name and I eagerly stood up. As I was checking out the next sentence to read to give myself a head start, guess who she decided to pit against me??
She could have called one of those who, after a few lessons, still couldn’t read. But, noooo, she had to pick Florentino!!
Florentino already had his turn and it dismayed me that she called him again. Discouraged even before we started reading, I knew it was a lost cause. I was only halfway and struggling through my line, and Florentino had stood up, read his sentence lightning quick, sat back on his chair and bowed his head, perhaps to try and look magnanimous.
Any fantasy I had of impressing him and getting his attention away from the bevies of cute little girls who liked him, went down the drain.
Later on, it occurred to me that I had no chance to compete with the smart kids in that class. Most of them went through nursery and kindergarten, which meant they started school a year or so before me. They were well ahead of me.
Out of my girl classmates, only two stood out for me and I still clearly remember them: Anna and Irene.
Anna was the smartest girl in the class. She wasn’t what you’d call beautiful, but she was pretty and well-groomed. She belonged to the long list of girls who liked Florentino.
Irene, on the other hand, was my neighbour. She was pretty too. Dark with short hair, she lived in the same complex where I temporarily stayed. She belonged to the second list of girls who were indifferent to Florentino. But, if you read my previous blog post about Florentino, I was on both lists, right?
As a six year old, this is how I saw and assessed the situation:
Try as Anna might, Florentino only had eyes for Irene. But, Irene, as much as I liked her was, I suspected, a tomboy. Not that there is anything wrong with that! It’s just that poor Florentino had no idea. I noticed Irene was the only one he was very friendly with and kidded around with her a lot.
I don’t know if Irene turned out to be a real tomboy or if she outgrew her tomboy phase. I don’t know what became of her and Florentino. Sometimes, I wonder what became of my first grade classmates.
As fate would have it, my parents found a new place for us to stay, farther from my very first school but closer to another school, a public school. It was also farther and away from Florentino… forever.
Next post: A Paradox