One of my best friends growing up was Andy, a boy slightly younger than I was. At the beginning of the school year, we had been the “new kids,” and had utterly failed to integrate into the tight clique of Grade Three, students that had been together since kindergarten. I had moved from out West the previous summer and Andy had come from another school in town. Andy and I had become friends through necessity.
He was a thin, blond boy with a big head and rapidly blinking eyes. He was, by all accounts, an oddity. He was better read than any third grader had a right to be, and his class marks rivaled mine in almost every area. Even while the mothers of girls in my class were arranging their daughters marriages to me, they’d unconsciously step away from Andy when he came into a room.
It wasn’t that there was anything wrong with him. He was just twitchy. He’d forget the names of people in the class, even the boy he sat beside. He talked in stilted, choppy sentences, unless he was explaining a math problem. When he talked about numbers, he could be as smooth and convincing as a politician.
Years later he’d be diagnosed with Asperger’s and eventually kill himself, but back then he was just a weird kid. I admired him for his failure to judge people, and secretly liked him for being more of a misfit than I was. And for being a friend.
I miss him.