At the end of my fourth grade year, I was selected to be a member of the safety patrol. It was easy to imagine myself opening car doors and wearing a really cool, orange safety belt. My elation wasn’t due to the fact that I was going to boss the other elementary school kids around. That was just not my style. What I was looking forward to was the end of year trip to Disney World. Coming from a family of modest means, I had never been to Disney World. I also figured I could regain a bit of popularity that I had before we moved to South Carolina. This was a big deal to my eleven year old self. Alas, it was not meant to be.
When my parents could not persuade the owners of the house we were renting to sell it to them, we had to move for the second time in less than a year. This meant another new school for my sisters and me. At the new school, my mom pleaded with the principal to allow me to continue to be on the safety patrol; however, they did not have a free spot. My young psyche took another hit, but I wasn’t out for the count yet.
At my new school, there was a blue-eyed, brown-haired beauty that became the object of my affection. Unfortunately, my puppy love went unrequited; but I would not be deterred. I wrote her name on my book covers and would tell anybody who asked that I liked her and only her. I gave her frequent notes asking her to check ‘yes’ or ‘no’. It was always and would forever be ‘no’. I was sad and confused. This had never happened to me before. I just couldn’t understand why she didn’t like me. Such are the whims of a pre-teen girl. Not being one to give up too soon, my attempts began to become more infrequent, but didn’t end until I was in the sixth grade. Trying to figure this setback out led me deeper into my own little world where life played out the way I wanted it to. Even more unfortunate was that I was doomed to repeat the process a few more times.
My elementary school emotional scarring did not end there. My fifth grade class took a field trip to Furman University in the spring. It was a perfect, sunny day and would be the one of many trips I made to the Furman campus. I don’t remember all of the events of the day, I’m sure they were educational. Lunch, on the other hand, proved to be the main event. I had packed a cheese sandwich and a bag of chips lunch. I set out my lunch near the lake and made my way towards the cooler to pick up a drink. Little did I know that the foulest of fowl was about to ruin my day. About halfway to the cooler, I heard someone say “Look!” As I turned around, this large, white duck was standing over my lunch. With the speed of a ninja, the duck grabbed my sandwich. I ran after it and it darted towards the water. There was no fear in its eyes as it watched me clumsily try to catch up. It made it to the lake, swam out a few feet and proceed to enjoy my sandwich as I just sat down, watched, and held back the tears. The rest of the class was laughing hysterically. I don’t recall who, but somebody replaced my lost lunch with a PB&J. I probably took the event to heart too much at the time. In hindsight it was kinda funny.
I finally made it to Disney World about 22 years later when my wife and I took our kids for the first time. I’m still not very fond of ducks.
Here is a picture from that field trip. I am in the picture below as well as the girl I had the crush on.