THE SMARTEST WOMAN EVER
Ann Wightman got all As and one B in high school. I think she purposefully got the B to let a boy be valedictorian. That’s how it worked back then; some smart girls didn’t want to stick out academically.
In 1991, my wife, Alice, called me from the Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia. She was on a canoe trip. She said, “You’re not going to believe who I’m with.”
“Ann Wightman?” I said.
I often guessed “Ann Wightman.” I had a case of Ann-on-the-brain, even though I hadn’t seen her in 23 years — since high school graduation.
When my kids were very young, I told them: “There was this girl, Ann, in my second-grade class who read so many books, the teacher had to put up extra sheets of paper on the wall to track her book reports.”
I probably ran into Ann after graduation, but didn’t recognize her. Maybe we were at Disney World or O’Hare airport together. I’ve seen everybody at least twice. That’s my theory.
The Georgia sighting: Ann was in an alligator-infested swamp with my wife. Alice, via the park pay phone, said, “Ann says your crowd at Brush High was so full of itself — particularly after they went up to Boston and saw Harvard their senior year — that they clapped when Larry Klein was named valedictorian instead of her. That bothered her.”
I met Ann at the swamp when I picked up Alice. (I had been at my cousins’ in Jacksonville.)
Ann was blasè. She didn’t want to reminisce with me about high school. She said, “I’ve probably mentioned high school twice to my husband.”
Ann, what about about our Spanish teacher, Mrs. Worth? I knew Ann was a professor of Latin American history at Wesleyan University. Ann wasn’t interested in recordando a Mrs. Worth.
Was high school that bad, Ann?
I haven’t seen Ann since. And she’s not coming to any high school reunions.
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