When I was in Kindergarten (I sort of hate that word. It just always feels wrong, somehow, ya’ know?), I lived in Alaska, before Alaska was a state. While I was there, we were blessed with a middle-of-the-day volcano, prompting those in charge to hustle everyone home as quickly as possible.
There we were, just before noon, and the sky was as black as midnight. Everywhere, mama’s hung out of doors, calling for their offspring. And children of all sizes ran from this new and frightening terror which we had no previous experience with and no emotion which we could reference for recall.
After a year or so, we moved away from Alaska, the proud owners of a full jar of volcanic ash. That was my personal badge of honor; my shining star. No matter where I lived after that, I was the only person in my next class who had lived in Alaska. And as my crowning jewel, I had experienced something that no one else in any of my classes could even comprehend; a volcano.
Its amazing how much mileage I got out of that little jar of Proof. Volcanic Ash, carried in a jar, creates the most remarkable sense of prestige. At least, it did in my mind. I was oh, so important, when I told my story of unbelievable fear and danger. As far as I was concerned, no one else was as important as I was.
Then came the day when my bubble burst. Fifth grade and I was the new kid. Being the new kid was something of a way of life for me. Ours was a military family and that’s the way things were; transfers. Since I was almost always the new kid, I had grown rather accustomed to the notoriety of my position. That is, until that awful day when it all started to come down around my ears.
Just two days earlier, wearing my brother’s hand-me-down blue jeans, I had given a report which included the horrors of surviving a volcano, as told by a very creative fifth-grader. I was in my element. Other students still viewed me as the new kid and I had the added benefit of being very nearly as famous and brave as Superman, himself. Yep! My very active imagination had created a real super-hero.
Then came a knock at the classroom door and the school principal walked in. With him was one of the prettiest, prissiest, blonde-haired girls I had ever seen. She wore many crinolines under her showcase skirt and the way she held her arms, bent at the elbows, with her hands hanging limp, told me she wouldn’t know what to do if someone handed her a bucket and told her to play in the dirt.
Did I mention that I had blonde hair at that age? Yeah, that was previous to the red hair that started showing up about a year later. And as if that wasn’t enough, she was being introduced as the new girl. But the nightmare didn’t end there. Nope! It just kept getting better all the time.
My traitorous teacher, whom I had adored only moments earlier, was introducing this intruder with MY NAME. My WHOLE name. How dare she! And wouldn’t you know it? She was coming to us from that beautiful land up north… Alaska.
What I found interesting was that the teacher kept looking at me and smiling, as though she thought this was wonderful news. She seemed to feel that I should be charmed by this total intrusion into my world. What was she… NUTS?!?
Just as the volcano had erupted, years earlier, so began my temper. By recess, there was a full-blown explosion.
You’ll be proud to learn that in my entire school career, I was never in a fight with anyone. Well, except for that one time when a very pretty, prissy girl moved into MY school, using MY name and stealing MY personal Land of Fame. I don’t think I have ever gotten over that treacherous act. I wonder what ever became of that girl?
Until the next time, keep a hug on.