Sunday, May 24, 2009

A Brief History of Things I Have Stolen: Part One

I started thinking about this today as I was writing, and I think it's time I came clean. I have stolen a surprising amount of things over my lifetime. Never from a store--I'm far too sissy to be a shoplifter--but from people, from places, even from Christmas trees. So I'm finally ready to admit to my tiny robberies, even if it means I'm finally revealing how devious and snotty I was as a child.

(1.) The Construction Paper Reindeer --- Elementary School

It's no secret that I hate math. I hate math. Whatever section of my brain conducts computations and measurements is sluggish and bleary. It is perpetually hungover. It's always been like that, too, even in elementary school. I was always behind, always confused, always lost during math lessons, which led to my hating and obsessing over it, which led to my falling further behind.

My hatred for math is legendary. I got the scar on my chin because I hate math so much. I was in first grade, and we were doing a worksheet on adding. To help us with the process, we had small and flimsy plastic disks that stacked on top of each other that we could count out, push together, count again. This was how we started to add.

But even if that was as simple as anything, I hated it. And because I hated it, I had to do something to keep myself amused. So I started flicking those little disks off my desk and onto the floor--plink! plink! plink!--and then getting up, stretching my arms, and taking my time rounding the row of desks to collect my lost disks. When I got back my desk, it was plink! plink! plink! all over again--red and blue chips falling to the floor.

Well, on one of my trips to gather the disks, I got a little fancy. I put my left hand on a desk and my right hand on a desk and then I kicked my legs forward, trying to propel myself with a little zip, but what happened was less zippy and more bloody. I went flying, face first, and my chin cracked into the concrete floor. There was blood everywhere. I would end up getting stitches from a doctor who spoke almost no English except the words "no scar" (liar), and, later, my parents presented me with a Barbie and a multi-colored Slinky. And I so got out of doing that worksheet.

My hatred of math continued after that. No matter of Slinky or Barbie would change my mind about it. And because I was useless at math, I was always behind with my seat work, and I was smart enough to realize the people who were usually behind on their seat work were the kids who had developmental problems, the kids others called retarded. This made me feel even worse about everything, especially on the last day of school before Christmas vacation.

That day we had three worksheets to do for seat work, and after that we would be able to work on our Christmas craft, which was a construction paper reindeer. We had to cut out his brown body, his white accents, and his red nose. We had diagrams that talked us through the elaborate system of folds and safety-scissor cuts we needed to make to put the reindeer together, and I was excited to get into it. But, as usual, I was late with my seat work. It was that math stuff again, and it was making absolutely no sense to me. All my friends had handed their worksheets in and were moving on to their reindeer. I was jealous. I was panicked. Was there enough time for me to get everything done?

Then my classmates were finishing their reindeer. They were hanging them on our Christmas tree for safekeeping until we left for the day. And because they had finished everything, their praises were sung by our teacher, and she let them play quietly in the corner while the rest of us slackers finished up.

Needless to say, I did not finish my seat work in time to start on a reindeer. And our teacher told us to hand everything in and get ready to go home. There was a mad scramble for our tiny lockers in the corner, and suddenly everyone was shoving limbs into jackets and boots.

"Merry Christmas!" our teacher said as she waved goodbye. "I hope Santa is very sweet to all of you! Don't forget your reindeer on your way out!"

And, well, I was embarrassed to walk out to the bus without a reindeer because then everyone would know that I hadn't gotten my work done, that I was just like the retarded kids, that I was a retard, too.

So after I bundled myself into my coat and boots, I ducked into the flow of students leaving the room and heading off to the bus. When we passed the tree, I reached my hand out and plucked one of the best looking deer off the tree without faltering. I walked confidently to my bus, with that reindeer dangling by a red string from my wrist. And when I got home later, my parents were pretty impressed with me.

You're such an artist! they said. Look at what a good job you did!

And I smiled and said thank you.


Chatty Cathy said...

Ok, this is why I follow your blog. Jason Castro, kitties, math? All things we have in common. I loathe math. As a matter of fact, I was just telling someone that today. Basic math? I suck.

Jess said...

Exactly. Math is so awful, it makes people CRIMINALS.

Kristin said...

I commend your behavior. I HATED math. HATED. And due to a**hole teachers, I wasn't that great at it. Well I was, I could get it done, but not in the time frame they wanted. I would end up standing at the blackboard for 20 minutes as other kids came up, did their problem and sat down. Ugh.

Good for for you Jess. I would have done the same thing. I bet it was a beautiful reindeer;)

Chatty Cathy said...

I agree. Math really should be banned. Outlawed, even.