I got home from work last night and found an envelope stuck under my door. My name was misspelled across the front and every letter was written in a different color ink.
I ripped it open and found two Tootsie Roll candies and a note that read: 'Please come back. I won't make you do math.'
'Promises, promises,' I said wearily, stuffing the candy into my mouth.
The note and the candy were from Maria Donna, a 10-year-old I've been 'tutoring' for the past two years. I use the word 'tutoring' very lightly. We spend the bulk of our sessions bickering and calling each other names. She has accused me publicly of being an imbecile - a word I taught her and then asked her to use in a sentence. 'You are an imbecile,' she said with too much glee. She regularly taunts me with my shortcomings in math, forcing me to play Multiplication Wars, a sadistic game she invented as an exercise in humiliation for me. At least once every session, the head tutor pulls me aside and reminds me that I'm the adult and Maria Donna is the child.
Like all women in my life, Maria Donna is demanding, difficult, and smarter than me. The year I joined the tutoring program, she was on the verge of being kicked out for being a smartass. But she employed her little-girl wiles to charm me into taking her on, and then proceeded to make my life a living hell by reminding me daily what an idiot I am.
I'd like to say that I volunteered to tutor little kids for some high-minded reason. But the truth is that I did it to impress a cute woman - the motivating factor behind all of my actions. But the whole seduction plan backfired after Maria Donna confided in the woman what a dimwit I am.
'I don't think you should help the children with geometry,' the cute woman scolded me after Maria Donna told her that I had instructed her to measure 'the circumcision of a circle.'
A few weeks ago, when Bush's new Secretary of Education declared that straight parents do not want their young children exposed to lesbians, I breathed a sigh of relief. I called the head tutor immediately and said, 'The Secretary of Education says that lesbians are a bad influence on young minds, so I feel it would be in the best interest of the children for me to quit tutoring.'
'Well, I agree that you are a bad influence, but I don't think it has anything to do with the fact that you're a lesbian,' the head tutor said. And then he added, 'Maria Donna will be heartbroken.'
I scoffed and reminded him that Maria Donna holds me in the lowest possible esteem and couldn't wait to trade me in for a tutor who knows what the hell a 'calculus' is. But like all women in my life, Maria Donna is most attracted to me when I am no longer available to her. In the weeks since I quit tutoring, she has showered me with phone calls, presents, and love notes.
When I finally returned to tutoring last night, Maria Donna greeted me with a worksheet of long division problems and a smile of triumph.
'You're a bad seed,' I said, staring incomprehensibly at the math problems.
'What's that mean?'
'It means you're just my type of girl.'