True Tales of Human Interest

The following stories from my life are entirely true. Whether or not they are interesting is left to the reader.

I was going to run away with a girl once. It was elementary school, and we had decided after much discussion that we should run away. I believe we got together a few peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and headed into the wilderness. Unfortunately, before we could make it too far, her extremely attentive mother told us to come back. “There are snakes out there,” she said. We had no choice but to return and play Super Mario World. I’m not sure what we intended to do, but I’m fairly sure we didn’t accomplish it. We didn’t talk much afterwards, and though I saw her around from time to time, we never spoke again.

During my second-grade class, I had to leave the room every day to do math problems in the hallway with a first-grade student. I think it was supposed to better us, but I don’t remember enjoying it or learning anything. One day in November, we had a substitute teacher, and the class project for the afternoon was making turkeys out of coffee filters. Instead of doing that, I was expected to return to the hallway for math problems. I went out and started work, but quickly changed my mind and returned to make a turkey, abandoning the first grader in the hallway.

When my regular teacher returned, she found out what I had done and forced me to apologize during recess. It was extremely awkward, but I followed the instructions on our social skills poster (“How to Apologize”) and got through it. Being intelligent was one of my biggest problems at that age.

While I was in elementary school, I had several friends in my age group, but when I skipped 3rd grade, I had to leave them behind. Oddly enough, my first-grade math buddy skipped a grade too, but still ended up behind me with the rest. I had to make friends from scratch in my new grade, but still did stuff with the others outside of school. We would have sleepovers and all loved pokemon (first generation only, thank you very much).

In middle school, my friend Joseph, who was fond of bicycles and dirty jokes, would walk home with me. Actually, I would walk and he would ride his bike crookedly to stay at my pace. We talked about a lot of things, including PG-13 movies and video games of all kinds. I don’t remember being a very good friend. I remember being short-tempered and impatient, although I was still pretty funny at times. For all my scholastic skills, I still had no emotional maturity. I don’t know if I’ve improved since then or not.

One week, I suggested an impromptu sleepover at my house, but it was the night his family went on a bike ride together. As they were driving from the VA Cemetary to Dairy Queen, Joseph took the lead and was hit by a truck. He was taken to the nearby hospital and died there overnight. I didn’t find out until the next morning, when my family woke me and told me that either Joseph of his brother had been hit and killed. They weren’t quite sure which, but I sincerely hoped it was his brother. I went upstairs to get dressed, and my own brother met me in the hall. “I heard your friend Joseph died,” he said. “How did you know?” I said, and collapsed in his arms, crying.

I spent one year at East Middle School, the dilapidated former high school in Leavenworth. They were building a new middle school to be used the next year, and everyone was thrilled to be moving on. The building was in terrible shape; it had asbestos, broken ceilings and walls, and no air conditioning. I did take several classes there, including home economics, band, choir, and the class for gifted students. I learned to bake stuff, a bit about nutrients and sewing, to play the trombone, and how to build a roller coaster out of wire. I sang tenor then, and later on I even went to a statewide choir competition with 5 other students (“Thanks for the great sex…tet!” the instructor told us).

My biggest conflict was with the math teacher, who was always frustrated that I never showed my work. I was good at math, but I was supposed to be showing steps I didn’t know I had to do. The problem was all in my head. On one particularly chaotic day, everyone was just goofing off like true middle schoolers. For some reason, there was a pair of girl’s underwear on the floor, and I took them to the instructor and said “Mr. ___, you dropped your panties.” He sent me to the office.

I bragged about the experience to my peers, who were all quite impressed. The teacher is now an administator at the new middle school, and they are finally demolishing the old one. I also learned to be less of a bratty snot. Sort of.

Like most freshmen, I had a hard time adjusting to high school. I had taken 2 high school classes as an 8th grader (which is where I was on 9/11, in case you’re keeping track), but there is a big difference between being a part-time and full-time high schooler. One key change was lunch. Instead of going through a typical slop line, high school students could spend their lunch money on just about anything. We had vending machines, pizza, fries on Friday, bread and cheese (actually quite good and popular), snack cakes, fruit snacks, and the usual sandwiches and chips. Oh, and there was a slop line, too.

When I started as a freshmen I got 10 dollars a week for lunch. With my daily 2 dollars, I would eat (look away, Mom) a Milky Way candy bar, an Otis Spunkmeyer Chocolate Chocolate Chip muffin, and a can of Barq’s Red Cream Soda. Later on, I would get bread and cheese, and when I was a senior I usually got a turkey sandwich with chips and juice. It’s still hard for me to believe I dodged a diabetic coma that first year, though.

I also had to take freshman gym and health. At the very end of the year, thrilled to be finished with an idiotic health class, I wrote “Righteous!” on the cover of my health textbook without thinking. When I was due to turn it in, the coach was greatly annoyed to see my remark, and claimed that they wouldn’t be able to use that book again (which was bullshit). I lied blatantly to avoid paying for the book, claiming it was already there. The next year, that teacher went to another school. I have a feeling the textbook was used long after he left.

So there you go. A few mildly interesting stories from my scholastic career. Happy Labor Day.

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