I am going to save the philosophical post for tomorrow morning, as I worked a long 13 hours today (from 5:30 am til 6:30 pm!) and now feel like I might be coming down with flu. I don’t think many of my theories about childhood would be very sound. However, I wanted to make some quick points before I go to bed:
1. I did not remember that (un)TinaTurner did that to you! She was not at all fun, and I’m glad I could remind you of that. I like the point you make that there are things that happen to you as a kid that just get sublimated as normal, everyday stuff that you don’t recognize as an injustice or a truth or a pivotal moment until you begin to tell your own story as an adult. (In other words, it doesn’t really become a “moment” at all until we prescribe it some significance and structure through storytelling. Otherwise, it’s just “stuff that happened”.) I had a similar adult-life recognition about our high school art teacher. I was, as you mentioned, a horrifyingly neat and polished little kid and used to doing everything in a very straight line. (What happened to that? I don’t think I EVER do that anymore, but maybe somebody can contradict me.) My Keds were VERY bright. My belt was ALWAYS straight. But in art class, you and I switched roles. You could draw and paint and handle oil pastels. I most definitely could NOT. And there was one year when we were assigned to make an art project that involved drawing a vase with flowers in it in pencil lines, then, rather than coloring the picture, gluing brightly dyed popcorn kernels to it to give the flowers and petals color. I guess it was supposed to be like a mosaic? Anyway, I remember the teacher (ugh, I REALLY want to give away her name, because it was like something out of a Dickens novel) walking past my table and saying, “No, no, no Sharon. Those flowers don’t look lifelike at ALL! You need to make some of them look like they’re drooping. They can’t all stand straight up.” She later called my finished product “sloppy”. I took it home to my mom, crying, and she of course told me that I should tell Ms. Haversham that SHE was sloppy. (My mom could get away with telling me to do things like this because she knew I’d never actually do it. I would, however, think it, and it would make me feel a little stronger and more powerful – a little bit more deviant.) I retell this one a lot as a childhood indignity (you can’t FORCE a kid to have a talent. You can ask them to learn things, memorize things, practice things. But you cannot force a little girl to have a talent she just doesn’t possess. I have some artistic sensibilities, but I cannot draw worth a damn.) I follow it up by explaining that a few days (or maybe it was a year? who knows) later a bee flew into our classroom and , of all the places it could have landed, flew straight into Mrs. Haversham’s open mouth and stung her on her tongue. For vengeance, of course.
2. I have remembered two kids from specifically our second grade class. One was named Matthew S. (he had a very Dickensian last name too. It sounded sort of slythery or snakey) and he had a crush on either you or me or maybe both (again, sort of indistinguishable at the time). He had very tightly curled black hair and wore the kind of glasses that Steve Urkel wore on Family Matters – you know, the kind with the string attached to them. He was super skinny and used to sit across from us at lunch and mix big globs of ketchup and mayo together and then stir his fries around in it. (This was disturbing to me, with my neatly separated bag lunch items.) There was also this REALLY BIG (as in tall for his age) kid who might have been named Kirk, or Kirt, something like that. He really liked America’s Funniest Home Videos. I really only remember him because I don’t think he was ever in our class again after that year. Oh! And another one! His name was Mike, and he was my other best friend besides you. We had first grade together too, I think, and he was really sweet. His brother used to pick on him for hanging out with a girl. I wonder what happened to him. He left the school earlier than we did. We used to play this game with him and another kid named Josh (he was very small, with a big mole on his face, I think) where we’d pretend to be animals on an adventure. Dogs and cats, mostly, since unicorns were reserved just for us. And we’d go eat those honeysuckles off the big bush that grew at the playground fence.
3. You know who I did like that year? Our librarian. That’s just further proof that I know what I need to do with my life.
4. Oh! Was this the year we had “Prairie Day,” or was that the next year? I have MUCH to say about Prairie Day.
5. You “went out with” Kyle in 4th grade. He and Jordan were best friends, so I decided I needed to like Jordan, since you liked Kyle. Once at the skating rink during the creepy disco-light fiasco we made up yet another mystery story (this time a spy story, I think) in which we involved them somehow as characters. We might have even played their parts, which would be yet another moment of crazy childhood gender-bending.
6. I’m pretty sure Jordan eventually went to military school. His mom was REALLY cool, even if she was a mom-of-priviledge. My mom still sees her sometimes and always loves talking to her.
7. I remember pretending you fell into the quicksand. And I remember it EXACTLY the way you told it, right down to your mom not having it for a second. And I’m pretty sure that we also never imagined that falling into quicksand would be something dangerous. It was more like you got sucked temporarily into another dimension and would be home later, maybe after dinner, thank you very much.
8. My brother was still a BABY during all of this. Can you imagine? He’s 22 now. He graduates LSU in December. Just wanted to point that out.
9. There MIGHT have been a plastic tape recorder (white) with red microphone. But there was DEFINITELY a white plastic pretend video camera with red lens. We used it a lot too, to pretend we were filming our adventures. My Pop probably got it for us, given how much he loved his camera.