Friday, December 01, 2006


I didn't write a lot of notes in high school, or very much bad poetry in middle school, but it's always fun to come across what I've saved from that time. The notes are good for nostalgia purposes, and the poetry, while horrible, was never made public, so it doesn't really bother me. There was, however, this one time in elementary school...

This is a case in which the writing itself is unimportant, because what really mattered was the subject matter. This isn't some pathetic poetry that I put into a notebook and never showed to anyone or a painful love-letter, it's something I thought was so amazing that I needed to share it with the entire 5th grade at Cool Spring Elementary.

I moved around a lot when I was little. I went to 9 elementary schools by the time my parents divorced when I was in the third grade. The combination of constantly being the new kid and my parents seeing no need to actually put me around children my own age basically made me into a social retard. I couldn't identify with other kids and was painfully shy.

I discovered early on that reading was a great way to stay busy and not talk to people (not to mention that it looked like you didn't care that they weren't talking to you). My parents loved the fact that I read a lot because it kept me out of their hair. I had no problem getting money to buy more books.

One day, in the 5th grade, I'm at a bar with my dad and I ask him for book money. He orders another beer and gives me a ten. I go around the corner to the drug store and buy a book. I go back to the bar, sit back on my stool and start reading. The book is really good.

Around the same time, we have a project in school. We have to pick a book and write a short play based on it. This was elementary school, so the "play" was only supposed to be a page or two long. My friend Steve did his on Freckle Juice.

Well, the book I was reading was so amazing that I had to use it. I started writing. And I couldn't stop. I wrote, and wrote, and wrote. I held casting sessions with confused-looking classmates during recess. I made copies of what turned into an 11-page epic and gave them their scripts. Then it was performance day.

We performed our scenes in front of not only our class, but the neighboring 5th grade class as well. I was excited. My play was amazing and I knew everyone would love it.

We started the play. The main character was Missy, a pretty, popular high schooler. She had a dreamy boyfriend and great friends with whom she had giggly sleepover parties. Then Missy was murdered.

My attention to detail in my writing meant that one of my 11-year-old classmates enacted putting a log onto another of my classmates to ensure that she would drown in five inches of water. Steve Chose a Judy Blume book. I chose Missy's Murder, a true crime book about a girl who was beaten and drowned by her best friend.

I remember looking around and seeing the uneasy, fearful looks on my teacher's and classmates faces. I got that sinking feeling in my stomach when I realized that I had been so caught up in my own head that I had completely misjudged the situation. This was clearly not my time to shine.

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