The blogosphere is wide, and I do read non-running-centric blogs (gasp!) including one of a lovely lady I know IRL who inspired me to lose weight and start running in the first place and last week she came up with the idea of a weekly writing prompt to help those of us who are sometimes less than inspired to come up with something fabulous to write about. So this week's idea, courtesy of She Likes Purple, is "I Wouldn't Say It Was My Best Idea..."
I wouldn't say it was my best idea. In fact, it was probably the worst idea I have ever had. No, wait. It was probably one of the worst ideas ever put forth in the history of the world.
In sixth grade, I decided I could finally become popular if I did something so outrageous, so unlike my quiet, bookish persona (not a winning combination in the rapidly developing world of adolescent cliques) that the popular kids (including the boy on whom I had a huge crush) would have to notice me.
What was it, dear readers? What grand idea could I possibly have come up with that I would now call the worst idea of my entire life (and yes, that does include my current crazy notion that I might, just might, be able to pull off completing a marathon)?
I gave our teacher rabbit ears behind her head.
In the official class photograph.
The one that was going to be sent to every member of my class and from there to countless grandparents not only in the San Francisco Bay Area but all across the country. (Dis)gracing bookshelves and refrigerators from coast to coast.
I was perfectly positioned in the row directly behind my teacher, who was seated in the front. I was slightly to the side of her right shoulder. I was primed. I was ready. This was going to make me the most famous sixth-grader in all of Loyola Elementary School's class of 1986. Maybe of all time. In 1990 (such a far-off, distant year...) people would still be talking about me, the wacky, wild, and wonderful girl who gave Ms. K the ol' rabbit ears in the class photo.
Word had been leaked. My classmates were edgy, glancing at me, muttering. Would I have the guts to pull off such a stunt? Me, who read so many books in fourth grade my teacher had to add an extra sheet of paper to contain all of the stars (one for each book) piling up next to my name? Me, who was one of only two girls in the GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) program for my grade that year? Me, the dork extraordinaire?
My reputation as a nerd was on the line: it might come to an end that day. The photographer readied his equipment and called out, "Say cheese!" My left hand shot out and forked open right behind my teacher's head. It was done. I had done it. I was ready to receive my reward. Popularity, here I come!
Except...my classmates were shaking their heads, whispering, "I can't believe she did that," and not in a good way. My stomach flipped over. What had I just done? Oh my God...the picture was going to be ruined...everyone was going to see. There was no way to hide it. I had been right behind her. What on earth had I been thinking?!
But wait! What was this? A commotion at the photographer's station. "We're going to have to take the picture again. The word 'school' was misspelled in the picture placard."
Holy shit. One of my classmates had misspelled the word school in the little square placard my teacher had been holding. Loyola Elementary Scholl, Ms. K., 1986.
Thank God for poor spellers. I had been rescued from a horrible death in the flames of adolescent embarrassment! When the picture was taken for the second time, I did not repeat my mistake. I kept my hands firmly behind my back and the resulting picture, the one that still resides in my school scrapbook, shows nothing out of the ordinary (if one doesn't count the terrible mid-80s fashions).
We filed down from the risers and lined up against the wall of the multipurpose room for individual pictures. I busied myself with my black plastic comb (the one which said "Unbreakable" on its side) and exhaled a deep sigh of relief that the incident had passed unnoticed by my teacher. I decided that was to be the end of my attempt to become popular. Crazy antics were just not my forté. I would leave the classroom shenanigans to someone with an already-established reputation as a class clown and general fuckup; there were a few in my class who filled that role nicely.
Suddenly my teacher was standing in front of me. We were almost at eye level; I was a tall kid and she a petite woman. Her face was grim. "Sarah. Did you put a 'V' behind my head in the picture?"
Every single one of my classmates' heads whipped around, every pair of eyes rested on me. I felt like I was going to pass out. There was a roaring in my ears. I silently wished the linoleum-tiled floor of the multipurpose room would open up and swallow me (this being northern California and mere miles away from the San Andreas Fault, this was not as far-fetched a possibility as you might think). I wanted to disappear off the face of the earth. I wanted the accusing stares and snickering to stop and my teacher's furious face to vanish.
My teacher's voice cut through my desperate daydream: "DID YOU or did you not give me RABBIT EARS in the picture?"
Oh, dear readers, you might have thought that my original idea was not my best idea. What came out of my mouth next was the product of an even worse idea. I decided I had to lie. Why? I don't know. I was so embarrassed, so humiliated. In a tiny voice, I whispered, "No." My teacher straightened up, glaring at me. I think she knew I was lying. She had to know I was lying. My face was burning. I stared at the floor, looking for signs of the giant crack which would shortly be taking me away forever. My teacher didn't press me. She didn't point at me and yell, "Liar!" She didn't say anything, just walked away. I got my individual picture taken without incident. My classmates found other things to discuss. In my photo I am still a homely, crooked-toothed, skinny girl with a bad bowl haircut and an ugly magenta splatter-paint dress. Look at me. There was no way I was ever going to be popular. Not in a million years. No nutty antics would ever change that (well, not until I got braces, grew up, went to graduate school, and discovered beer, but that's for another time).
As for the cute boy who was the object of my (and many of my female classmates') affection that year, the one whom I set out to impress with my grand idea in the first place? That's the best part...he grew up and became this.
I never had a chance.