As students enter the classroom first thing in the morning . . .
Gwendolyn: Miss? You got any lotion?
Me: Yup. In my bottom left drawer.
Gwendolyn: Oh, I like this lotion. It's good.
Me: Thanks. I like it too.
Grace: I like Palmer's.
Gwendolyn: Uh huh. And Suave is too watery.
Nadine: Yeah, but Palmer's is too thick for me.
Grace: What's that lotion in the blue bottle?
Me (thinking): . . . Nivea?
Grace: Yeah! That's it.
Gwendolyn (to me, laughing): That's what you should have, Miss. That's white people's lotion.
Me: I'm sorry. What?
Elizabeth: What? Why?
Gwendolyn (as others nod in agreement): I dunno. It just is.
Me: Hmm. Okay. Whatever. So the lotion I just gave you isn't white people's lotion?
Nadine (laughing): Naw, Miss, it's good for us, too. See? It's in a brown bottle!
Me: O, lord. . . but if Nivea's in a blue bottle, why is it for white people? . . .
Samantha: Can I have some too? I'm mad ashy today.
Elizabeth: Oh yeah! Me, too.
Me: . . . I can see you're not going to answer my question . . .
Samantha (to Elizabeth): White people don't get ashy!
Elizabeth: What? Yeah, we do.
Samantha: No, you don't. Or if you do it doesn't show because you're pink.
Me: What? Pink?! I'm certainly not pink. I'm more of a . . . um . . . yellowy beige . . . AND Elizabeth and I will go without using lotion for a week just to prove that white people get ashy too.
Elizabeth (as others nod in agreement): I know, right?
Grace: Miss? May I have some lotion even though it's not for Puerto Ricans?
Me (sighing): Of course.