I was once posed the question, “What was your most embarrassing moment?” I have difficulty answering that question. I’m not sure why. It may be because I was embarrassed about everything. Or, on the other hand, it may be because I didn’t feel embarrassed when I should have. I was thinking about this question recently, and I honestly don’t know what my most embarrassing moment was. I did, however, think about something that should have been embarrassing, but wasn’t.
When I was in the fifth grade, I got detention twice. Detention was a rare thing in my school. It was this hypothetical place where the really bad kids went. I didn’t know anyone who had gotten assigned to detention. That is, until I was sent there. Let me quickly explain the first time I got detention, because it isn’t nearly as interesting as the second one. Which would forever change my life.
My first detention was for throwing a snowball. Yes indeed. It was for ”throwing” a snowball. I emphasize the world throwing because I didn’t actually throw it at anyone, I just threw a snowball during recess. Well, maybe I did throw it towards someone, but I didn’t hit anyone. I had two main friends in the fifth grade, Kurt and Ryan, and I was playing with them at recess, and I threw a snowball. Kurt tattled on me. ”He tattletaled on me.” We were all throwing snowballs, but for some reason Kurt decided to tell the teacher on me. I even tried to defend myself, by explaining to Mrs. LeBeau, my teacher, that we all deserved detention, since we were all throwing snowballs. Only I got it, though. I felt short-changed. I felt I didn’t deserve it. I tried to make my argument, but that accomplished nothing. That was all well and good, though. I quickly thought nothing of it, and didn’t hold anything against Kurt.
The second detention, on the other hand, was well deserved. In fact, it is related to what should have been the most embarrassing moment of my life. I should still be ashamed of what I did, and some of me is, but most of me looks back in good humor. To be clear, I didn’t do anything lewd or sexually deviant, but I did do something disgusting. Something… Hilariously gross.
As with the previous incident, I happened to be hanging out with Kurt and Ryan at recess. There is a small road in front of my Elementary School where parents would drop of their kids and pick them up. Well, at recess, we noticed that there was quite the gathering in that area, so we went to check it out. In fact, my buddy Jimmy had specifically gotten our attention to call us over there. It so happened that there was a dead mouse in the road. And it wasn’t just a dead mouse, it had been run over by a car, so it was flatter than a pancake. Indeed, a flat mouse, like you’d see in cartoons after an anvil falls on them.
It must have been there for a while, because it was completely dried out, and there was no blood to be seen. Kurt, that deviant who had gotten me detention, dared me to go grab it. And me, being a dirty-little-boy-that-didn’t-think-anything-through, couldn’t resist his dare. So I walked out into the road and grabbed it by the tail and came running back. Quite a group had gathered to see this dead mouse, and seeing the girls there, I thought to myself, ”now is my chance to show them how brave I am”. I ran after them with the mouse. They, as any young girl might do, ran away screaming and laughing. I withdrew a little, so that they wouldn’t be so afraid, and let them gather a little closer, then I ran after them again, the mouse held out in front of me. I couldn’t help but feel proud of myself as I saw those girls squirming and laughing.
After I was done taunting the girls, for some reason which I don’t understand today, I starting banging the mouse against a tree. Just smacking it against a tree as hard as I could. There I was beating this dead mouse against a tree. Showing utter disrespect to it’s little lifeless body. Then I started throwing it up in the air, and the whole group scattered in all directions, so that it wouldn’t fall on them. This behavior proceeded for quite a few minutes.
Someone ratted me out, to use a pun. I don’t know who. Honestly, my guess is that half the class ratted me out, since everyone was watching me. So there I was after school, with Mrs. LeBeau asking me why I did it. I honestly didn’t know. “Kurt dared me to do it,” I said in my defense. I wasn’t alone during this conversation, either. Some of the witnesses were there, including Kurt. Kurt made the whole story painfully clear, even exaggerating parts of it. I tried to defend the exaggerations, but Mrs. LeBeau didn’t believe me. It didn’t really matter though, despite which parts weren’t true and which were, I was still getting detention. In the end the list of charges was extensive. Going out into the road, a violation of school safety rules. Harassing students with a dead mouse. Causing body parts of a dead mouse to land on other students (that came from Kurt’s exaggeration, at no time did the mouse touch anyone but me).
My detention was the next day. I guess the school had to call your parents before you could actually be assigned to detention. Then again, I don’t know if they really did call my parents, because my mom never said anything to me about it. Detention, though, didn’t turn out to be so bad. It happened that this girl I had a crush on, Debbie, was there the whole time. I don’t know what she was doing there. She must have gotten detention for some other reason. I couldn’t fathom that, I mentioned that I had thought detention was some hypothetical thing that no one really ever got. I could understand why I was there, but Debbie? Anyway, being in detention at the same time as her, I figured it was my chance to mack on her. She wouldn’t have anything to do with me, though. So I just sat in my desk, and she cleaned out her tote tray.
Debbie’s family moved into town when we were in the fourth grade. That’s why I had a crush on her. Unlike all the other girls that I’d known since kindergarten, she was new. Like any little boy I fantasized about marrying her. I didn’t fantasize about much else, though, since I didn’t actually know what grownups did. I had my crush none-the-less. I didn’t really think much of her disinterest in me that day in detention. There would be more opportunities later down the line.
The next year at the sixth grade dance I figured it was my time to shine. We had dance cards, and before the dance started we filled them up. Not only that, but there was a rule that a girl couldn’t turn a guy down. Plenty of girls were interested in me in the sixth grade. I remember primarily Charise and Breanna. Breanna had the biggest crush on me of all the girls, but she was too shy to admit it. In fact, it was Charise that told me how Breanna felt. Charise wasn’t shy at all, and she wasn’t afraid to let me know that she also had a crush on me. The two of them appeared on my dance card more than once. That was all well and good, but I wasn’t really interested in them. I had one girl on my mind, Debbie. I mustered all the courage I could find to ask her to dance. I saved a spot just for her on my dance card. Since she had to say yes, I was in.
When it came time for Debbie’s dance with me, she mysteriously disappeared. She was nowhere to be found. It was like she disappeared of the face of the planet. Naturally, I was devastated. I went home sad, feeling like a real loser. That was the most embarrassing moment of my life. Actually it wasn’t, because no one knew about it. I can’t say I blame Debbie, though, I was the little boy who was playing with a dead mouse.
Debbie went to the same Middle School as me, and that is when I actually began to have a sense of physical attraction. Unfortunately for Debbie, she didn’t have any sex appeal. She was in my eighth grade history class, as a matter of fact. I hadn’t seen her since the sixth grade, and I didn’t recognize her. I just thought she was some unattractive girl in my class. (Actually, I didn’t think anything at all.) Then I heard her name called, and I was like, ”That’s the same girl I had a crush on? No way, it’s got to be someone with the same name. What was wrong with me?” I’m not saying this out of bitterness either. Any other eighth grader would have agreed with me.
Going back to the fifth grade. Mrs. LeBeau one time asked me why I was such a dirty little boy. She pointed out that I always wore the same clothes, and asked if my family was destitute. (Well, she didn’t use the word ”destitute”.) I said that I liked my ”Ninja Turtles” shirt, that’s why I wore it so often. Her asking me that, however, changed my entire attitude. I realized that perhaps I ”was” doing some disgusting things. I mean, one time I actually fantasized about eating a giant pile of boogers. Previous to her pointing out my behavior, I thought very little of how I dressed or what I did. With her comments, I began to question my behavior. It was all for the better. After that I bathed every day and wore clean clothes. I did better in school too, I concentrated much harder than I ever had before.
I very much believe that some people saw me the way that Scout saw Burris Ewell in ”To Kill a Mockingbird”, and if it hadn’t been for Mrs. LeBeau I may have always been like that. I didn’t realize this until years later, though. Not until I was in High School, at least. In fact, for years, I considered Mrs. LeBeau to be my worst teacher of all time. Now I consider her to be one of the most influential. Getting detention twice turned out to be a good thing, a life changing event.
In writing this post I cyber-stalked some of the people involved. Ryan is one of my facebook friends. Kurt is nowhere to be found, and I have reason to believe that he is possibly dead or in prison. Debbie is as unattractive as ever. Charise is looking hot, perhaps I made the wrong decision when I averted my attention from her to Debbie. Breanna was also nowhere to be found.
A second dead mouse showed up when I was in fifth grade. At the end of the school year. This one was in the bushes, it hadn’t been squashed as a flat as a pancake. Kurt, again, dared me to grab it and chase after the girls. I said, “No,” and walked away.