Thursday, September 3, 2009

The First Day Of School and Other Tales

Some fun topics for Mama Kat's Writer's Challenge this week!

1.) Write about a time when you were wrongly wronged.
(inspired by Mama Kat herself.)

I can think of many times when I have been wrongly wronged, but episodes from childhood stick in my mind most strongly.

When I was growing up, the local movie theater used to run a Saturday Kiddie show featuring such classic films as Hercules Returns, etc. You know, the grade C- films that only a preteen kid in the early years of television would get excited about. Since the show was connected to the down-town merchants ("Mom and Dad, let the kids come to the show while you shop unencumbered" type of thing.), there were rules on who could attend. The show was free, but you had to be under the age of 12 to get in.

Unfortunately, I was a big kid. I was 6 feet tall and 200+ lbs. by the time I hit 5th grade. In any case, I was 10 years old and big. I wanted to go to the show in the worst possible way since the feature was one with Hercules and the Three Stooges. Everything that a preteen boy could dream of - he-men and physical comedy and of course a beautiful girl to play opposite Hercules.

So at the appointed time I walked down to the theater (only about 5 blocks from our house) and got in line. When the doors opened and we headed in, the manager put his hand on my shoulder and told me I was too old to attend. My protests that I was only 10 fell on deaf ears. I never did get to see the movie. I can't express how hurt I felt. It hurt that someone had not believed me when I told the truth. It hurt that I was being singled out based simply on size.

That was my introduction to several wrongful wrongs. Three lessons I learned that painful day:
1) People don't necessarily listen to the truth and are not there to make your world better.
2) Sizism is alive and well. I don't care if you are smaller or bigger than the norm, someone will use it as a handle to try and hurt you.
3) At some point you have to put on your big boy pants and ignore the hurts.

2.) Geriatric peeping Tom neighbors? Do tell.
(inspired by Angie from Seven Clown Circus via email. And I don't know what geriatric means either. Look it up.)

I don't have any geriatric peeping Tom neighbors, but I do have geriatric neighbors. In fact, I have geriatrics living behind and across the street from me. Until recently, the neighbor on one side was in his eighties. So far as I am aware, none of them are of the peeping variety.

In another episode of small town/world experiences, the neighbor beside me, Eddie, had spent his life as a railroad engineer. In fact he had spent much of it working with my father. All those years around locomotives and whistles had left him pretty deaf. That would be neither here nor there, but he had a pair of dogs that really enjoyed barking. If he was in the house, he could not hear the dogs barking outside. Thus he suffered a number of visits from the police and animal control about the barking dogs. It reached the point that the next time they were called out would mean that Eddie would no longer be able to keep his dogs. So Eddie asked me to call him if I heard the dogs barking.

Unbeknown to me at the time, Eddie's wife was in the early stages of Alzheimer's and I think Eddie was battling to keep her at home and using the dogs to help and to battle the loneliness. A few years ago, she finally had to be institutionalized. Eddie and the dogs continued on, with Eddie spending the days at the nursing home with his wife and the afternoons with the dogs and his grandkids. Earlier this year Eddie passed away and the kids took the dogs. Somehow it just seems too silent now. I think now it would have been tragic if Eddie had been forced to give up the dogs just when he needed them most. But they sure could be annoying. {*grin*}

Geriatric neighbors can be helpful. The other day one of my sprinkler heads broke and I had a water geyser in the front yard. One of said neighbors called the house phone here and then my mom to make sure someone knew and could fix it. Of course I already had it fixed by the time mom called, but the thought still counts.

3.) Mommy play dates? What's your experience with mom dating?
(inspired by Dana from Mommy Brain)

Wrong sex for me - have at it mommies.

4.) The first day of...
(inspired by Mama Kat.)

The first day of school was different for me. We moved from a very small town that had no kindergarten and no pre-school to the (huge) town of Curtis, Nebraska (population about 350 at the time). Curtis did have a kindergarten and our move was in the middle of the school year. My kindergarten school year in fact. Talk about being scared and facing a complete change of environment.

I remember getting to school and then to the classroom with mom in hand. But all too soon, mom had to leave and I was left all alone with all these strangers. It wasn't as if I knew any of the other kids, we had just moved to town. So of course I spent much of the first hour sitting and crying by myself in a combination of fear and terror and curiosity. And then Julie came over and started talking to me. She calmly explained there was nothing to be afraid of and it was OK. Then she introduced me to her best friend Jackie and then her cousin Jimmie and Jimmie introduced me to his best friend Michael and Michael had to introduce me to his twin sister Melody and ... Before lunch, I had met every kid in the class and was over my worries. This kindergarten thing was fun and there were so many new and interesting people.

The amusing thing is that we lived in that small Nebraska town until 4th grade when we moved again. By that time Michael was my best friend along with Jimmie. We went back to visit Curtis many times through the middle of my high school years since one set of grandparents lived there until then. When I'd go back, I'd sometimes see Michael and get a chance to talk, and in my teenage years I also got to talk to Melody who grew into a beautiful young lady. But that is neither here nor there. The interesting part is that when L and I headed off to college, I went to the east coast and L went to a school in Lincoln, Nebraska. Somehow L met Julie and Jackie there at the school and via the standard "do you know" conversations, they discovered they all knew me. Thus it was through L that I learned what my long ago savior was doing - I hadn't seen or heard from her since 3rd grade.

5.) Share your friendly advice for someone you think needs it (ie your mother-in-law, other drivers, cell phone users, etc.)
(inspired by Jill from Scary Mommy)

My problem is that I've shared pieces of my mind with so many people that I can't remember anything now. So I'll constrain myself to one piece of advice to you, my friendly readers: Do it now for tomorrow may be too late!


  1. When I have time to go round reading blogs I always enjoy yours. Today was no different - great post.

  2. At the kindergarten level, kids are still so nice and friendly! That was sweet of everyone to make you feel so comfortable but that was not nice on the day you got kicked out of the movie for being tall!

  3. I agree w/ blueviolet - Kindergarten kids are genuinely good. It's when they get older the world goes to hell.

    Your theater story made me sad - can't we all identify with a time in our lives when we told the truth and someone didn't believe us?

    Geriatric neighbors are the best. I have one who is somewhat annoying, very meddlesome, but he's a total sweetheart and he always has our best interests at heart, so I won't complain too much.

  4. That totally sucks that you couldn't see the movie. As a person who was big for her age, I agree sizium is alive and well.

  5. I cried several times reading your post.
    you durn mayor man with your great writing ability.

    My eldest is now in K and I just imagined her as you.

    Fun to see a man's perspective on things. The blog scene is mommied up. ;)


  6. I enjoyed these stories, like a snapshot into your past and present. It's true that "size does matter" (cough) not meaning it that way, but you get the point.

    I have elderly neighbors as well, no peepers though. But... the lady across from me, every week- EVERY WEEK - she has a bag outside for the trashmen. When they come and pick up the one that was put out there, she places another bag out the next day! And the weird thing is, it's a box in the bag - it's a large enough box that you can see the shape, but that's all.. Greg and I have gone round and round about what's in the box!

  7. Wow, great stories. I'm so sorry you didn't get to see the movie. That's just wrong! Poor little (big) boy.

  8. I too was tall for my age. It think by age 12 I was 5'8" and that's tall for a girl in 6th grade. I blame my bad posture on that spurt and on those who had not grown faster. I should have just made friends with older people. I'm just glad I married a 6'4" tall guy who I can stand proudly next to and have a new upward kind of neck strain instead of the downward strain.


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