Friday, November 21, 2014

Odd Goings On…it’s elementary

When we were kids, back in elementary school, we always heard the refrain from our elders…

“Why when I was you age we didn’t have it as easy you do…why we would….”

You can fill in the blanks with whatever horror story you can recall being told.

And it was true… they did have it tougher than we, the privileged young whippersnappers of their day.

We had things like lights and heat and paper and pencils and buses and lunch and other modern conveniences.

So it should be easy for me to sit here today and say the privileged young whippersnapper school kids of today have it so much easier than we did….

But they don’t.

I mean, just the added history that they have to learn is mind boggling; 50 years or so we never had to cover.

Plus with all the social media to track, it has to be that much harder to remain relevant, let alone cool.

Back then I only had to worry about looking cool when I leaned over to get a drink of water. And, as you might imagine, it’s not easy looking cool when one is slurping water at a low hung fountain…but I had this hair flip thing, I did when I stood back up, which I finished off with a sly little wink, which most of the nuns appreciated.


But we weren’t without our tribulations.

We had some very odd goings on…going on, ourselves.

Some peculiar rituals, traditions and rites of passage.

And I don’t know where they came from or who started them, but every now and then something occurred that had you scouring your closet in fear that you might be one of the offenders.

What am I talking about?

Offender of what?

Oh…don’t pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about. 

You did it too.

In fact you might have been one of the perpetrators.

For some reason—some unknown perverse reason— if you had a little loop on the back of your shirt, it was open season for anyone to sneak up behind you and rip it off.

Yep…just grab the thing, yank on it and rip it right off.

Just why the little loopy thing was there, in the first place, is unknown…and to be honest I never knew I had one until Marybuttercup Pennyloafers snatched it right off my back…along with part of my shirt.

Of course once my initial shock had subsided, the panic set in as to how I was going to explain having my clothes torn off by the girl who perpetually sat behind me in class…not that anyone should have been surprised…if you know what I mean…wink wink….

And while I would like to say I was the prime target of this obviously veiled act of affection, I was not, as all through the halls guys were getting their loops lopped, so to speak.

So much so that it sent one of the nuns into a frenzy of prayer in an effort to save our wanton souls; an effort, while appreciated, was basically misdirected as she should have been focusing more on what was going on in the playground on Friday nights.

But I digress….mostly because I wasn’t there…mostly because I had trouble forming intelligible sentences when I tried communicating with girls, back then…and now.

However, I did optimistically buy myself a genuine ID bracelet, which was another ritual that elementary peer pressure dictated at the time.

I think the idea was to have one so on the off chance you could convince one of the girls—at least one of the ones that could make sense of your incoherent gibberish—to be your girlfriend, you could give her the ID bracelet…I guess so she would remember your name.

Not sure…along with not being sure any of them even knew I was actually in their class the previous 8 years.

So while I never had a girlfriend I did have this piece of “silver-ish” jewelry for which I had no use...until years later when I gave it to Z and last saw on her cat, just before she ran away from home—the cat, not Z.

And of course there was the final humiliation of the 7th and 8th grade “Dances” where the room was divided by gender, and while I can’t speak for everyone, I was usually terrified no one would dance with me…but even more terrified that they would.

But much to my surprise, girls did accept my graceful invitations— “Uh…you wanna dance?”

And some even invited me— “Uh…you wanna dance?”— due to what I suspected to be an extra credit list passed around by a teacher, as an incentive.

I guess the thing is, no matter what era you grow up in, the trials and tribulations, rituals and rites of passage, of elementary school—or any school—are going to seem strange to everybody else.

The good news is, years later you get to look back and laugh about it all…with the help of a good therapist, you do.

Except for the thing with the shirts…that you never get over….







  1. The elder generation had to trudge through 3 feet of snow to get to school, and they never had "snow days."
    As for history, ask today's kids if they have heard of Pearl Harbor. Of course -- it's a movie.

    1. Joan, I'm sure you were making history not reading about it....

  2. You have touched a nerve again Brian. Of course progress and prosperity change everything and never more so than in our time. I have started using the phrase "In my Day" with my grandchildren. One of them asked me "When did your day end Granddad?" It's my own fault for talking as though I died some time ago and remain as a ghost of my past.

    1. A Ghost of Dickens Sass. So can you pin point exactly what day was your actual day. Mine was a Saturday, October 27, 1979....

    2. I recently received emails from a historic friend from 64 years ago. It's amazing all I could remember from those times - and I haven't a clue as to what I saw on TV last night.


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