“Max can dance,” a girl offered. The others nodded with looks that told me it was impressive. So I asked him if he would perform for my theater class. He shrugged in that way that meant sure, whatever, and we arranged the appointed time.
I still think of those simple words, “Max can dance.” They could not possibly have prepared me. In all fairness, I don’t think any words could have.
There is right now a viral video of a man who is an impressive dancer. I honestly think Max was better. He was a magician. Before my eyes his bones dissolved. He bent in places no human being should bend. His movement wasn’t fluid; he was fluid. He melted and become rubber and elastic and oozing syrup all at once. He was ragdoll, then puppet, then robot, then top. He defied gravity. He glided and floated and flew. He danced with his ears and pores and fingertips. Dance wasn’t something he did, but something he was.
And all the while there was a look of boredom on his face.
I sat dumbly while watching him, though I’m sure my mouth hung open. Because there just were no words. There still aren’t.
The thing with students is this. You always try to find good in them. Sometimes you find wonderful that you never forget, and that is how it was with Max.
He had something going on with his health. I never did find out what, but it made his eyes disturbingly yellow and it made him put his head down sometimes. When I would ask him if he needed to see the nurse, he’d tell me it wouldn’t do any good. He couldn’t go home because he had too many absences. If he missed anymore school, he wouldn’t graduate.
He graduated, and I have wondered about him since. Looked for him—on television, anywhere. Just now I Googled him. I never seem to find anything. I hope somewhere out there he knows. He is special. Many years and thousands of students later, even more so.
(Next week: Part VI)