Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Extended List Day: 36 Memories from Primary Education, Part II of III

Fifth Grade

13) I had Mr. Ferris in fifth grade, and once had to write a 250-word punishment for talking when I wasn't supposed to. That was the only one I ever got, even though he handed them out like candy. I had Language Arts and Science with Mrs. Nicholson. In science class, we had footprint-shaped plastic terrariums where we grew seeds and farmed aphids. My terrarium always ended up moldy and dead. Mrs. Nicholson's class was a split class of fith graders and sixth graders from the Talented and Gifted program, which meant she pretty much ignored one half of the class while teaching the other. I developed a crush on a pretty sixth grader who liked playing computer games. How hot is that?

14) I started playing the cornet/trumpet in fifth grade and continued to do after-school gymnastics in the gymnasium / auditorium that constantly smelled like feet. That's what you get when you have a hundred kids exercising barefoot in a carpeted room. I could barely do 1 pull-up, but I was in the one-hundredth percentile on the sit-and-reach. Sit-and-reach was my bitch. That was the result of all the gymnastics with rugrats like Shawna Johnson and Jennie Dennis.

15) One weekend, I was invited to Eli Whitney's birthday party about six blocks away. My dad didn't want to drive the car for that small of a distance, so he gave me a ride on his bike with me squished in the kiddie seat I'd outgrown a couple years beforehand. Kids laughed at me when I rolled up. Actually the kid's name was Eli Soto, but having a friend named Eli Whitney would have been much cooler. This is so far in the past that I can change details as necessary for a better narrative flow.

Sixth Grade

16) Sixth grade was the highest grade in primary school so I was at the top of the food chain in Mrs. Turner's class. I was a patrol guard, and the principal, Dr. Garrett personally put me in charge of the Kindergarten wing doors. This meant I arrived at homeroom five minutes late and left class five minutes early every day. I got to know all the youngsters and their parents. There was one kid named Eric Wales whose artwork always looked like some sixth grade ringer had dropped his papers in the Kindergarten pile . When people say "My first grader could have painted that" I always think of him. One of my most eye-opening memories was when I visited the middle school after I graduated from high school and saw all the snot-nosed youngsters as middle-schoolers. I looked at my 6th grade yearbook to do research for this entry, and saw a surprising number of future T.C. Williams juvenile delinquents who went to my elementary school. Among the names T.C. readers might recognize: Liz Fuller, Jennie Dennis, Andrea Frazao, Nonsom Ofulue, Marija Ugrinich, Emily Beatty, Greg (who asked me to remove his name), and David Lipnick. The funnest part of this research was placing those innocent third grade faces with the misanthropes some of them became in high school.

17) I went to Patrol Camp in the summertime which was pretty stupid. One kid in our cabin pooped in the communal showers and our cabin-resident took him out on to the docks to talk to him in private. We all thought he was going to get thrown into the bay. Our cabin also did this talent show where we lip-synched some song with the lyrics "Heyo, rasta rasta, Heyo, reggae reggae". I was the fake bass player.

18) My best friend in sixth grade was Daniel Bethancourt, who moved out West the following year because his dad was a pastor. He had a birthday slumber party once where he got an air rifle, and we spent the whole night shooting holes through potted plant leaves inside the house. During recess, all the boys would pick and throw wilted dandelion buds at all the girls (organized mainly by me). We called this the War of the Weeds, and it lasted about four weeks. I also had a lucky rock that I used to play hopskotch with until one fateful throw when it shattered.

Seventh Grade

19) I moved to Hammond Junior High after sixth grade and was again at school with my sister, who was two years ahead of me. I was the only trumpet player in a band of about 32, and everyone was constantly in awe of how good I was and how small and cute I was. This turned me into an annoying, insufferably arrogant prick for the remainder of junior high. I couldn't hit G until halfway through the year, which was unfortunate since the solo in Somewhere Out There from An American Tail featured this note prominently.

20) Once in Mrs. Landrum's social studies class, she asked for volunteers to get the projector. Since I was a teacher's pet I volunteered and everyone laughed, so I went and got it anyhow. It probably weighed more than me and didn't come on a cart. I would also bring granola bars to math class for everyone to eat.

21) Remember that girl I had a crush on in fifth grade? This was the year I stalked followed her around endlessly, embarassing her and myself for the ages. I still wince every time I think of the stupid love-struck things I did. I also thought my sister's friend, Jon Kula, was the coolest guy ever because he was a 6-foot tall ninth grader that drew really cool pictures and played sax, so I latched onto him nonstop as well. If you look up the definition of "ankle-biter", my seventh-grade alter-ego is probably prominently displayed.

Eighth Grade

22) Eighth grade was not a very memorable year. I was suddenly able to do millions of pull-ups in the Physical Fitness Test, and also entered the awkward acne years, a year later than everyone else in my class. I walked to school every morning with Aaron Ulm, taking the shortcut past the burnt-out derelict house full of Playboys in the woods (I never personally went in, but other kids tried and were always shoo'ed off by our friend's mom who lived next door and must have spent the entire day spying on the house).

23) I started Crew in eighth grade because I was tired of everyone telling me I'd be a good coxswain. I coxed the senior 4, a boat full of misfits that never won anything. It was the coxswain's job to bring a gas tank to the coach's launch back then, and a full gas tank generally weighed about forty pounds (whereas I weighed about 80) causing plenty of spillage. I remember once during warm-ups in the boat bay when I discreetly and politely asked Coach Baroody if I could go upstairs and wash up, because "the gasoline was burning my legs". I didn't really like Crew yet. Especially all the running.

24) They had staggered lunch periods in eighth grade, and I didn't have a period with any of my friends. Rather than sit in the cafeteria and have to share a table with a bunch of random people who didn't speak English, I finagled my way into the band room and ate there every day (since I was the band director's golden child). I read more books in eighth grade than any other year to date.

    A slightly tipsy Mr. Randall announces at a concert that I will drop music to be a gynecologist (121KB MP3)
    BU plays the solo in A Chorus Line (381KB MP3)

To Be Continued Tomorrow...

Scientists have devised a computer program that listens to a song, then predicts how humans will react to it.
One way ticket, please.
Rugby fan explains why he chopped off his balls

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