Mrs. White and Miss Knee-tree-knee taught me the Macarena. Whenever the second grade teacher listed on my official records would be out, every Friday I believe, we would welcome them back, eyeing the table of goodies that they occasionally set out.
They didn’t give handouts. Hard earned tickets had to be handed over in order to take anything else.
I hoarded those tickets.
It’s hard to say for sure as I no longer have the mind of a seven year old and memories have all but completely faded away, but I’m willing to bet that the little colorful pieces of paper meant next to nothing to me. I didn’t save them because I wanted something bigger or better. I know that much.
I think I saved them because I didn’t want anything at all. At least I thought I didn’t, or wanted people to think I didn’t, or both. I saved them because it was embarrassing not to.
On the other hand, I did get at least one thing that year. The pink lockable diary with puppies making out on the front. Something that I knew I was going to use (I ended up making it about half way through too- a record for that time) and for that I broke into my stash. For that, I admitted that the stash existed.
Usually I ignored my growing bag. I stuffed it in my desk and pretended to forget about it. No one else was going up when asked whether they wanted to buy anything. Why should I?
Second grade ended and a few days before third grade started, I looked at the posted list to see who I’d have. I had had my hopes on Mrs. Harrison for years, but rumor had it that those odd, intriguing subs were taking over the trailer classroom in the middle of the concrete playground.
For a few short moments, I really wanted them.
I got my original pick and loved her, just as everyone had been telling me I would. She wore Lakers gear and read us the Sideways Stories books. She rubbed her hands together and cackled whenever we, as a class, yelled out Discipline board as one of the beloved characters got written up.
We made stuffed paper cut outs of ourselves to place on our chairs so it looked as if we were seated when we really weren’t and she liked my Jupiter project so much that I let her keep it.
As that year also came to a close, it became more and more obvious that we really were moving.
On my last day of school, I took that old beat up bag of tickets, still stuffed from the year before and climbed the steps to the portable classroom.
I explained how my father was being transferred to a foreign land where seasons exist.
I thanked them for their kindness, their energy. I told them that I’d miss them.
Then, emptying the graffiti covered bag out onto a desk, I looked down and admitted, “these are yours”, knowing full well that they hadn’t lived up to their potential and I had wasted weeks and months worth of gifts.
“I can’t give you anything for them”
I knew that. I didn’t want anything. Remember? I convinced myself once again that I didn’t need anything as I started back down the steps, trying to ignore the memory of the gift table set up in the back.
At least if I wasn’t going to use them, now someone else could. Only later did I realize that my tickets were thrown away and brand spankin’ new ones were given out to those who dared take them. The teachers had a storehouse hidden away somewhere and didn’t need or want my leftovers.
Uselessness – Part 2 (coming soon).