You know that Gavin Degraw song, Chariot? I always thought he was singing Carrion, not Chariot. Changes the whole song when you know that. I am the Queen of Misheard Lyrics. You get one little word wrong…
Along with the marketing I’ve done, I dropped notes to a few of my former alma maters (there are nine or eleven, depending upon whether, or not you count colleges) to share news of the release. The one I least expected to hear back from was my original elementary school, Glenwood School, in Phenix City, Alabama. TIARA TROUBLE is set in Phenix City, and one of the tiny characters is very, very, very loosely based around my experience representing the school at the Little Miss PC pageant. I got the happiest surprise today to find that not only did they respond to my email, but the respondent was a classmate! She said she remembered me vividly, which is worrisome, but it is nice to be remembered at all, non?
It made me think about what my most vivid memories of Kinder and First Grade are. Funnily enough, my classmate mentioned a boy who plays a role in one of those memories. As I told her, I remember that boy walking into my classroom and thinking, “Oh yeah!” I was going to make him my boyfriend. I thought he was adorable, and I was so glad he was in my class. I wasn’t even six years old, people. Turned out, he was in the wrong class, so I only got to see him on the playground. He did not share my feelings of kinderlove, and did not enjoy being chased.
Another vivid memory is of being dropped off at the school early one morning, and going out on the playground (by myself) to find that someone had torn out the pages of what must have been a Hustler magazine and strewn photos of naked women all over the place. I went around collecting, considering, and discarding my finds, very, very confused by the amount of hair I was seeing, but more concerned that all these women seemed to think it was fine to wear shoes, socks, and sun visors (or terry cloth sweatbands) but nothing else. I mean, if you’re going to be naked, take off your shoes. I spent the next few weeks doodling naked ladies in my spiral notebook, drawing them with massive afros in their crotchal regions. My mother found my drawings and we had to have A Very Serious Talk. I promised to stop drawing naked ladies, but was so fascinated by her horror that I kept at it until I got A Very Serious Spanking. After that, I only drew ladies with dresses on them.
There was the glue fight, which is my greatest memory of injustice done to me, and an excellent example of just what a stubborn little thing I was. I had to wear orthopedic shoes for several years. All I wanted in the world was a pair of red shoes. Orthopedic shoes do not come in red, so when I was finally able to have a pair of normal shoes–normal red shoes–I was prouder of those than I was my own teeth. For some reason, Mrs. Barnes left the classroom while we were working with Elmer’s Glue. The little girl who sat behind me purposefully, and with great aim squirted glue on my New Red Shoes. I was as livid as a 5-year-old can be. I aimed my glue at the middle of her chest and got her good. She did the same. I aimed for her long, red hair. Take that, Shoe Ruiner! She tried and failed to get glue in my hair. Mrs. Barnes returned, and while the other girl was telling on me, I squirted glue in her desk chair. I think things might have been fine, but when she sat down in the glue, it was all over for me. I spent a very long time sitting out in the hall, after talking to the principal. My little friend? No punishment other than glue in her pants. I also refused to apologize. p.s., My shoes were fine. (To be fair, I probably started it by saying something smart. I just don’t remember that part.)
I did spend a lot of time sitting out in the hall for talking in class. I remember thinking that if I could just get a dog costume, I could put it on and crawl out of the school, and no one would ever know. Maybe the principal would even pat my head and try to give me a treat? So I spent most of my hall time, trying to conceive of where to find myself that dog costume, and how to conceal it on my person for such occasions.
My last memory of First Grade happened the last day of school. I was standing with a friend, talking about how we were leaving Alabama, and moving to Virginia. I was sad and scared, and she was sympathetic. She also had tiny beads on her shirt that looked like candy sprinkles. She suggested we pick them off and eat them to make ourselves feel better. So, we did. That is my very last memory of Glenwood: My granny driving up to get me, finding me eating beads off another child’s shirt.
Somehow, I managed to grow up to become a productive adult.