Some people suggest that the best way to deal with your past is to confront it head-on. So, I might as well air it all out on here by sharing the stories of the most embarassing moments of my childhood. Some of these events weren’t embarassing at the time, but are incredibly embarassing now. Other events were on the verge of stripping me of my childhood innocence, but are now worth looking back on with a sense of humor.
Besides, my therapist says this would be a very therapeutic experience.
I’m just kidding. My therapist didn’t say that. In fact, I don’t have a therapist. For the blogging world, I’m pretty level-headed.
I’m just kidding. I’m not level-headed. I’m sharing my life’s most embarassing moments on the Internet.
I moved to a new town in the middle of sixth grade. It was just after Christmas break that I started at a new elementary school. It was hard trying to make friends with classmates that had all known each other since they were in diapers, so I figured I’d have to make a statement to get noticed.
Unfortunately, the statement I wanted to make (successfully starting a school newspaper) was pre-empted by the statement I ended up making.
In early February, we had a mild spell of weather. The sun was shining, the snow was melting, and my classmates were restless. As a reward for behaving for the week, our teacher decided to take us outside on Friday afternoon to play kickball in the schoolyard.
The schoolyard had a kickball field painted on its pavement. The first base line ran alongside the school, and off towards a swingset. Right field was a little shallow, and the pavement ended only about 10 yards beyond first base. According to our school’s kickball ground rules (yes, they were this serious about kickball. And don’t get me started on their obsession with deck tennis), the grassy area beyond the pavement in left field was in play. This rule would be my eventual downfall.
I had been kicking fairly decently that day, and thought that I would be able to make some instant friends by being a good teammate – or at least the kid that didn’t get picked last in gym class. The problem came a few innings into the game. I hadn’t seen any fielding action for the whole game, hanging out on the bench, so I offered to take right field. On the first kicker of the inning, I saw action. A pop fly hovered right over first base and down the line. I jogged over into foul ground to catch the ball. As I ran off the pavement into the grass, I saw that the snowmelt had turned the grass into a mud puddle so big that it put the Everglades to shame. I couldn’t stop myself by the time I noticed this.
Before I could even put my hands out for the ball, I slipped backwards and fell into a foot-deep mud puddle. I missed the ball completely. And I became a spectacle as I slowly lifted myself out of the puddle, caked in mud from head to toe in front of all twenty-five of my classmates. Mud was everywhere. All over my clothes. In my hair. In my eyes. I was also scraped up and bruised down my entire body. With just one misstep, I had gone from hero to zero in the eyes of my classmates.
Despite probably knowing that this one incident would have implications for my brief career at this elementary school, into junior high and beyond, I did what any other scrawny, sensitive 12 year-old would do: I started to cry. I cried violently. Needless to say, I still had some maturing left to do. I ran into the school, with the teacher chasing after me. If she lost me at any point in the hallway, she didn’t have a hard time finding me; I tracked mud through the entire school. I had no idea what to do with myself. I ran down the halls, still crying, towards the nurse’s office, which was directly in front of the principal’s office.
What’s a kid to do? I’m covered in mud in an elementary school. Elementary schools don’t have locker rooms or showers. Naturally, I had no other choice: I called my mom. Other classmates, presumably following my muddy footprints, came to check on me – although it didn’t seem to be out of caring, because they immediately started laughing at me when they saw the sight of me sitting in the nurse’s room, still covered in mud except for my face, which I had been able to wipe down. My mom left work to pick me up an hour later, just as school was letting out. I obviously couldn’t ride the bus like this. I left a permanent mud stain on the cloth front passenger seat in my mom’s car, which was a constant reminder of the incident until we finally sold it eight years later.
Picture, if you will, a 5-foot-tall figure, covered from head-to-toe in mud, running around aimlessly, crying and screaming and ranting and raving. I looked like a Swamp Monster.
And for the next five months, that was my nickname: Swamp Monster.
Kids can be so cruel.