This short novel won my book love for Paul's story, the truth mixed in with so much good humor, and this quote:
"I've always known I was gay, but it wasn't confirmed until I was in kindergarten.
It was my teacher who said so. It was right there on my kindergarten report card: Paul is definitely gay and has very good sense of self.
I saw it on her desk one day before naptime. And I have to admit: I might not have realized I was different if Mrs. Benchly hadn't pointed it out. I mean, I was five years old. I just assumed boys were attracted to other boys. Why else would they spend all of their time together, playing on teams, and making fun of the girls? I assumed it was because we all liked each other. I was still unclear how girls fit into the picture, but I thought I knew the boy thing A-OK...."
Which leads to this conversation with his teacher...
"Am I definitely gay?"
Mrs. Benchly looked me over and nodded.
"What's gay?" I asked.
"It's when a boy likes other boys," she explained.
I pointed over to the painting corner, where Greg Easton was wrestling on the ground with Ted Halpern.
"Is Greg gay?" I asked.
"No." Mrs. Benchly answered. "At least not yet."
Interesting. I found it all very interesting.
Mrs. Benchly explained a little more to me-the whole boys-liking girls thing. I can't say I understood. Mrs. Benchly asked me if I'd noticed that marriages were mostly made up of men and women. I had never really thought of marriages as things that involved liking. I had just assumed this man-woman arrangement was yet another adult quirk, like flossing. Now Mrs. Benchly was telling me something much bigger. Some sort of global conspiracy.
"But that's not how I feel," I protested. My attention was a little distracted because Ted was now pulling up Greg Easton's shirt, and that was kind of cool. "How I feel is what's right...right?"
"For you, yes," Mrs. Benchly told me. "What you feel is absolutely right for you. Always remember that."
And that last line is golden. Oh how I wish we truly had conversations with students like this. Although odd that Mrs. Benchly openly points out Paul's sexuality via his report card but his sense of self worth-yes! It's funny and filled with very real characters.
My copy has this lovely inscription: