Sunday, September 13, 2009

West of Lake Michigan—Part III



I had my story for show-and–tell. It was a blockbuster, too, so I rose early to make sure my appearance was good, since all eyes would be upon me. Hair combed, teeth brushed, but not much I could do about my itchy, navy wool skirt and button down white blouse. The uniform was hard to work with when I wanted to wear pink chiffon every day, but no, it wasn’t allowed.

At school, in the my third grade class room, sitting in my back of the room, last-person- in- the-aisle desk, I waited patiently, listening to all the pathetic stories about teddy bears and how a cop ticketed someone’s dad for running a red light. All the normal, run of the mill type yawners I heard last week. Finally, it was my turn. I rose from my desk, squared my skinny shoulders and walked to the front of the room where I looked face-to-face. Eye contact is most important for holding and maintaining attention. I took a breath of stale classroom air and quickly spilled the story.

Looks of horror crossed the faces of not only the very popular but the quite smart and my stoic-faced teacher, too. It was so hard not to smile. I wanted to smile, but thought my dad being hurt and going to the hospital wasn’t an appropriate time to show happiness. I wasn’t happy about my dad, I was sad. Very, very sad. What did make me happy was that I had delivered an amazing story, making me the buzz word in the cafeteria at lunch. Maybe Jessica* (not her real name) would even allow me sit across the table from her when I eat my usual peanut butter and jelly sandwich, without potato chips (Mother thinks potato chips aren’t healthy—she keeps forgetting that taste matters).

I think my social standing at the private school raised me up one notch to the third most unpopular girl in my class. I had expectations for so much more, but Jessica sitting at the table behind me, instead of with me, might have had something to do with it. Just like real-estate, location is essential.

When I got home, a friend from down the street Janice* (it is her real name), came over to play Barbies. I was actually holding out for Monica to get home so we could play Barbie's, but I let Janice talk to me on the front porch until then. I couldn’t help but say the words, “I was so worried about my mother and my dad all day.”

“Why?”
“Don’t get me started.”
“Tell me.”
“Okay.”

And the same show-and-tell story fell from my lips. Janice couldn’t help if she went to public instead of private and I do believe in equal opportunity for all. And total disclosure. But there is where I went totally wrong. Janice’s dad was a Chicago policeman.

By the time I went to bed that night, I had this uneasy feeling I might have told the story one time too many.

4 comments:

Christine said...

I am so enjoying the sassy humor of this princess child even as she deals with some major adult issues...thanks Robin!

Lynn@ The Vintage Nest said...

Can't wait for the next chapter!

Lesa Henderson said...

Can't wait to read what happens next! I'm really enjoying it Robin. Keep it coming!

Anonymous said...

Love this! You are so honest on how you were when you were growing up. I can also relate to how you were feeling...growing up was so hard to do!