Wednesday, August 27, 2008

This is why juice boxes were invented...

Well, school has officially begun here in Austin (yea! Let’s go to the mall! :)). It’s hard to believe that autumn is just around the corner, what with the stifling heat we’re still experiencing on a daily basis. (Although thankfully, the weeks of 100-plus degree weather seem to be over.) I had an elementary school flashback yesterday, as I was browsing through my friends’ profiles on Facebook and looking at pictures of kids with new backpacks and first-day-of-school smiles. I was thinking of the end of my third grade year, when my class had a little “last week of school” party, and we all brought sack lunches and cans of soda. I had a Sprite – I can still remember that, because the silly, innocuous can of Sprite became the source of much anxiety…

After we ate lunch, we were supposed to throw away all our trash, of course. And I did throw away my brown paper bag and whatever remnants of food were left inside. But I’d only drank about half the soda. I’ve never been able to finish an entire can of soda – not even now, as an adult. So forget my eight-year-old self trying to polish off twelve ounces of Sprite – that was never gonna happen. And the weird little anxious worrying part of me couldn’t help but think that if I tried to throw the can away, all that soda would spill out into the garbage can (which was actually probably little more than a flimsy plastic bag that we passed around the room). So instead of tossing the half-empty can in the garbage, I decided, for some reason, to tuck the can in the very back corner of my desk – these were the kinds of desks with hinged tops, so you could lift the “desk” part up and stash all your books and paper and pencils in the storage area underneath. So along with all my books and paper and pencils, a half-consumed can of Sprite resided in the cavernous recesses of my desk for the rest of the year…

And then the last day of school arrived, and it was time to return all our books to the School Textbook Keepers (whoever they are…), and pack up all our projects, and throw away the papers and broken pencils and partly-used bottles of glue we no longer needed. So again, the trash bags were passed around the room, and all of us soon-to-be fourth graders eagerly disposed of the contents of our desks. And as the hands on the clock inched closer and closer to Freedom Time, my worried little mind wandered to that solitary can of Sprite hiding in the back of my desk. Well, I certainly couldn’t throw it away NOW – even if I could manage to gingerly place it in the garbage can without spilling any soda, how could I possibly explain to my teacher and the other kids why I still had a can of soda in my desk?? And so it remained – left behind, all alone in my desk, an almost-instantaneous memory the moment the bell rang.

A memory, that is, until the night before I began my fourth-grade year. As I fell asleep that night, a bizarre fear overcame me – what if, months ago after I left my third grade classroom, someone found that can of soda? Surely the janitor had cleaned out all the desks by now, in preparation for a new class. What if my name was still inside that desk somewhere?? Did someone know that I’d failed to throw away my trash?? What if someone reached inside to grab the can, and accidentally flung warm, flat soda all over the room?? Would it be my fault??? Would I get detention??? Would this go on my permanent record?!? Was the principal going to meet me on the steps of the school with a pair of kid-sized handcuffs and a tazer?!?!?

I can still remember the anxiety as I walked into school that year. Tentatively, with much trepidation, I crossed the threshold from hallway to fourth-grade classroom, half-expecting a police officer to jump in front of me and say, “not so fast, there, missy… aren’t YOU the one who left that can of Sprite in your desk? Yeah, you’re gonna have to come downtown for questioning…” But, to my utter relief, it became apparent after a few hours that no one seemed to care. No one had said a thing. No scary police officers, no principal, no janitor… and surely by NOW that soda can was gone. Finally tossed into a garbage can by some unknown person, who, to my amazement, didn’t turn me in to the authorities. At last I was able to focus on my new status as Fourth Grader.

Gosh, I was a weird kid… (and I’m only slightly less weird as an adult…) :)

1 comment:

mom said...

I am so sorry. Why didn't you tell me? I can't believe I even gave you a can of Sprite in third grade! Bad Mom!! Are you sure it wasn't ALL a bad dream?? :-)

Love ya'