My Earliest Memory


Clip_image002_32"The school opened infinite vistas for this six-year old."  (Pablo Neruda, in Memoirs)

Well, not for me.  I remember many of my earliest days at school, and many are not good.  To this day, I do not wish to visit my old schools or even go near them.  You would think I was traumatized, but, in actuality, I doubt it was all that bad.  Nevertheless, there were some bad experiences.

One of those humiliating experiences was in the 5th grade glee club.  "Glee" is, I suppose, the hopeful way in which they referred to the experience.  At that age, there were sopranos and altos, with a fair number of boys beginning with girls as sopranos.  All well and good.  However, by midway through the year, with voices changing, I was only one of two boys left in the sopranos -- me and a guy named Brad.  Brad was the meanest, coolest, toughest kid in school -- and he was God's grace to me.  Nobody made fun of me for being a soprano (which was a great fear of mine) -- not as long as Brad was a soprano.  Actually, nobody messed with me at all, figuring that I was friends with Brad.  You know, the guy never even said more than two words to me that whole year.  I think he said "shut up" once.  That's it.  Grace comes in some odd looking packages sometimes.

And then there was the day I got glasses and had to wear them to school.  Now, some kids wanted to wear glasses.  I haven't the slightest idea why.  I guess they thought they were cool or something.  Not me.  They used to line us up in the hall to take the eye test.  I would excuse myself to go to the restroom in advance of this, walking by the eye sign (very closely) and attempting to memorize the bottom line so I could pass the test.  Ultimately, however, I flunked.  I still would not wear my glasses.  Finally, when it became obvious that my grades were suffering because I could not see the blackboard, it happened.  My third-grade teacher, Miss Morris (who was at least a hundred years old), stopped class and told me to "Put your glasses on, son!"  I shrank about 3 feet that day.  But I did do better in class.

For these and many other reasons, I never want to go to school again.  I'll bet Miss Morris is still at it, humiliating young boys.  And Brad?  He flunked out and went into politics.  Or did I just imagine that?