Chinmoy as he sat on Mason’s lap on the way back from Manhattan.
Mason and I went to Alpha Donuts to get a bite to eat before we went to Manhattan. It was early and bitingly cold as it’s been in the post-global-warning portion of our winter. We got the sandwich and hailed a cab into Manhattan. Mason must have been a bit nervous because he only at half the sandwich, though he ate some bites after I got started on it. Prep for Prep will allow the winners of the testing sweepstakes to go to the most expensive and elite schools in the city for free. It will include two years of academic summer camps and tutoring bootcamp every Wednesday evening for the next couple of years. The kids were, on this cold Saturday morning, unconcerned with these frigid facts.
As we walked up to Trinity School on west 91st another cab pulled up and in the front seat was Rafin, another of Mason’s friends with his father (driving) and his mother (in back). This was not a stressful test where the kids are pinned to the scantron sheets like butterflies, as they will be for the SATs, MCATs, GREs and the like. This wasn’t even as stressful as the ELA and Math tests (the academic storm troopers of No Child Left Behind). The kids were all loose and because they had beenrecomended by their teachers and principles. In that sense, they were all already winners no matter how they scored.
We all headed into the chapel to wait for the Prep for Prep test. As we walked in we immediately saw Chinmoy and his dad sitting in front and we scooted in next to them. Mason and Chinmoy were hailing kids all over the room, everything from broad goofy waves to reserved finger waves depending on the kids they were hailing. Within five minutes the boys joined Sharar, Musfiqer, Rafin and Nasra a girl whose African mom wears a loose sequined Hijab that rarely covers all of her hair. They all moved down to the front and started a PS150 click in the very front. These kids, a fair representation of Western Queens, had confidence that will make them fit in well at the private schools of Manhattan, given half a chance.
They were the first out of the room when the call was made and four hours later they all came out together laughing at how simple the test was. We all squeezed into Chinmoy’s Dad’s compact Ford Contour for the ride back to Sunnyside. The boys and Sharar’s Mom all squeezed in back while the men spread out in front. We crawled across Manhattan and down to the Queensboro Bridge and back home. I am so grateful for that ride home because it allowed me to see the kids enjoying their victory over metrics, testing and norms. They mightn’t all have done all that well, but they came out of the exam with the sense of posibility and prowess that can’t be bought. It has been a long time since I’ve been in an overcrowded car full of promise and hope. Today I rode shotgun.
The boys were in high spirits and it was a great scene that the plastic Khali watched from Chinmoy’s dad’s dash board all the way home. Her necklace of heads and bloody tongue was an accurate representation of the triumphantilism that Mason’s coterie from PS150 felt after taking the test. I thik that in thier minds they too had their foot up on the chest of a vanquished enemy (the demi god statistico of metrics).
God I love Queens