I know this may come as a shock, but I was not one of the cool kids when I was in school. I know. It’s hard to believe that the chubby quiet girl with frizzy hair who liked to read wasn’t Miss Popularity.
I did incredibly socially awkward things like write a note to the most popular girl in my class (on stationery, no less) complimenting her penmanship and asking her to please consider teaching me how to write like her. Or there was the time that I noticed the boy sitting in front of me was eating a sandwich on rye bread and I was eating a sandwich on rye bread and OMG it must be fate, so I had my friend tell him that we had the same bread! To be fair to me, my friend should have realized how asinine that sounded and not gone through with it, but SHE DID. Oddly enough, the boy was not impressed by our bread kismet.
Despite all that, in third grade, I was invited to the birthday party of one of the most popular boys in my class. In retrospect, I realize that his mother probably made him invite the whole class to be polite, but still. It was a spring party, so it was warm out and we spent the afternoon playing in the backyard. We had three-legged races, tried to balance eggs on spoons, and played tag.
Then the boy’s mother had us all line up: boys in one line, girls in the other, facing each other. She had us all take three steps back and then we stood and waited. She brought out buckets upon buckets of water balloons and we had to pass them across the line to our partner without dropping them. After each catch, we took one step backward.
I was doing really well, which is surprising for me because my hand-eye coordination is seriously lacking, when all of a sudden the balloon slipped through my fingers and burst open right on my sneakers. My feet were drenched and I was the first one to lose so I felt like huge failure. It didn’t help that my partner was pissed about being out of the game now, too.
The boy’s mother rushed over and told me that I absolutely could not stay in wet socks the rest of the day, so she brought me inside and gave me a dry pair of her son’s. I was just happy to have dry feet again and didn’t think much of it until I got home and told my mother. She informed me that I had to make sure to return them right away after she washed them. My mother was very much about “doing the right thing” and apparently the right thing in this instance was to return the socks at any cost.
On Monday at school, I tried to give them back and he told me to keep them. After school, my mother asked me what happened and I told her. She told me to just give them back – he had to take them. I tried again on Tuesday with no luck and debated just throwing them out and lying to my mom. I was a horrible liar, so I told her the truth, which resulted in her driving straight to his house, marching up to his front door, and demanding that his mother take the socks back. I sat in the car, wishing to melt through the seat into the pavement, but I wasn’t nearly so lucky.