In third grade Morgan tripped me on the way to get my spelling test, we ate raw ramen, and everyone had a giga pet.
Our principal Mr. Johnson would sing “Good Good Good Morning Peter Hobart” every morning over the loudspeaker. He also would announce people’s birthdays and tell bad jokes. He had a tarantula. If you were really, really good at math you got to go do problems with Mr. Johnson and the tarantula. I was good at math but not really, really good. That was ok though because I didn’t want to spend that much time with the tarantula.
Peter Hobart was the name of a boy had had died. All the elementary schools in my city were named after kids who had died.
A lot of people had bangs but only Nicole’s were puffy. The curled out in a perfect half circle over her forehead. Most people called Nicole “The Girl with the Puffy Bangs.”
I wore of overalls a lot of the time, but my best friend Taylor wore them every single day.
My teacher Mrs. House was the youngest and prettiest teacher in the whole school. She had dark brown hair that fanned out around her head and tan skin; if you looked closely you could see a few freckles on her nose. Her husband, Harry House, also had tan skin, but his hair was pure white and slicked back. He was principal of the elementary school for the older kids, but I heard he wasn’t as nice.
My music teacher, Mrs. Lamb, had a bald spot. She made us sit in pods and sing “ Ta Ta Tee Tee Ta” over and over. People didn’t believe her when she said she drove a motorcycle.
My favorite school lunch was mash potatoes with chicken and gravy. The mash potatoes were so smooth that you could make really neat art projects on you lunch tray.
Taylor had more than 12 pairs of overalls, but her black velvet pair was the coolest.
One day my parents came to my bedroom to tell me that I would have to have an operation because I had fluid in my ankles. Then they gave me a black stuffed animal puppy. I felt so lucky that I named the puppy “Lucky.”
My mom and I went shopping and I got a pair of black velvet overalls too.
After the operation, I decided to get a dark purple cast which meant it was hard for people to sign it. That was ok though, because I had everyone sign my crutches.
Whenever she wanted to read the news, or explain a project, or just talk to us, we would sit at Mrs. House’s feet or on one of the three blue cushions. Mrs. House always threatened to take away the cushions because we kept fighting over them, but she never did.
Because of my cast, I got to sit on a chair, which was even better than the blue cushions. One day, when I was sitting on my chair, I won a brown leather folder that Mrs. House was auctioning off. She said it was fitting that I wont it because of my cast. I knew I would keep the folder forever.
Mrs. House would read allowed to us from the newspaper every morning, but only the good parts, not the parts that were scary. Once she accidently read a scary part and I could tell that she was really embarrassed.
When Morgan tripped me, I cried a lot but no one thought anything was broken. Then a week later I had to get a cast on my wrist even though I still had a splint on my ankle from my operation. My gym teacher called me “The Cast Queen.” I felt special.
In third grade, on the way to parent-teacher conferences, my mom forgot to stop at a stop sign and got pulled over by the police. At the conference, Mrs. House told me that I was going to have to dance with someone in the play, but she wouldn’t tell me who.
After my mom gave me a book called “The Body Book,” I held my fingers up close to the light and screamed. Then I ran show to Taylor the tiny almost invisible strands that were surely my first pubic hairs.
At recess, we played puppies with the second graders in the back corner of the playground, behind the black top that had the map of the United States. The second grader who looked like a boy, Kate invited me over to her house. It was great. We played puppies and ate puppy chow.
Taylor said everyone had hairs on the fingers and that pubic hair only grew on certain parts of the body. I was normal.
It turns out that the play was “The Pied Piper of Hamlin.” I had to waltz with Zach, and sing a solo about how “I only would marry for love.” Everyone would laugh as we practiced on the stage made out of masking tape in our classroom. I pretended to be embarrassed, but secretly I was pleased.
Taylor laughed a lot during play practice, so I decided to steal her stuffed mouse. It was the mouse from the book, “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.” The whole class looked for it and Mrs. House asked me if I knew where it was. I said I didn’t know. Then I hid the mouse in Taylor’s coat sleeve so she could find it without knowing it was me.
One day I made my mom come down with me to the basement. I stripped off all of my clothes and made her check me for pubic hair. She promised me that I didn’t have any.
Everyone collected stickers but Taylor had the most. The coolest were the Pooh stickers. Taylor had a ton of Pooh stickers. The very coolest were the Baby Pooh stickers. Taylor had a ton of Baby Pooh stickers. The best day was the day that I got Baby Pooh stickers too.
Taylor and I liked to study the writing on the inside of the slide. One day we found something that said “For Sex call 989-5634.” We were really worried about it so we decided to tell the playground monitor.
One time when we were all in the girls’ bathroom, Nicole (The Girl with the Puffy Bangs) told Kate (The Girl who Looked Like a Boy) in a mean way that she wasn’t supposed to be there. Kate didn’t say anything so we had to explain for her. Then Jasmine started talking about her boobs.
At Peter Hobart, there was a fountain in the media center that no one was allowed to touch. The media center people reminded us that we weren’t allowed to touch it at the beginning of each year, the middle of the year, and several other times during the year too. There was also a sign on it that said “Don’t Touch.” One day, when we were sure no one was looking, Taylor and I decided to touch the fountain, just with the tip of our fingers. It turned out that all of the media center people were in a glass conference room, so they saw us.
That year, I had a Pooh birthday party and got a guinea pig that I named Piglet. Piglet was all black with a white diamond shape on his forehead. He smelled really bad but I still loved him anyways. He died a month later.
The media center gave Taylor and I a big lecture about how disappointed they were in us. We had not shown the maturity expected out of the oldest kids in school.