Roses and Ridicule This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   For me, fifth grade consisted of ugly clothes,spelling bees and low self-esteem. Constantly worrying about my image, I didwhatever it took to appear "cool." I even ruined the beauty of gettingmy first flower from a boy because when the nicest guy in the class sent me arose, I behaved horribly.

In fifth grade all the cute girls wore Umbrosand ate chip sandwiches for lunch. I sported Wal-Mart jean shorts and used alunch ticket. I also earned straight A's, but somehow "intelligent" didnot mean "popular." I was the epitome of a nerd.

The day Mrs.Love moved us into spelling groups, I recall feeling most pleased with mine. Oneof the coolest girls in the class and her boyfriend sat with me. Maybe they wouldlike me. Spencer, my best friend from kindergarten, also joined our group.Spencer regularly wore too-short, yellow sweat pants to school and earned evenbetter grades than I did. The other children surely liked him; though at thetime, for some reason, I didn't think so.

Spencer began talking to memore than usual. Sometimes he called or even came over to my house; I lived justdown the street. I never gave his behavior a second thought. Then one day Joey,Spencer's best friend, walked up to me on the playground and whispered a secretin my ear.

"Spencer likes you," Joey said.

My eyes grew wide, and I didn't know how to react. I turned and ran away. Whenwe returned to the classroom, I didn't want to sit by Spencer. I didn't know whatto say. After school, I made sure Joey knew I felt Spencer and I possessed astrictly platonic relationship.

My bratty behavior must have hurtSpencer's feelings. At the time, I thought I'd saved him the embarrassment oftelling me his feelings himself. As rude as I was, Spencer never revealed that heunderstood my awfulness.

One day the doorbell rang. I opened the door andwas faced with a Walter's Flower Shop delivery driver, holding a single whiterose in a vase. He handed it to me with a card and returned to his truck. Istared at the flower with ex-citement, imagining all the people it could be from.I opened the card and it read, "A white rose stands for friendship. Here isa sign that we are friends. Spencer."

Upon reading the card, I ranto my mother's room and shoved the vase in her closet. I didn't want any part ofit. As I exited my parents' room, my mom passed me and wanted to know why I wasacting so strangely. When I finally told her about the flower, she scolded me.

"You need to be nice to Spencer!" she exclaimed. "Somedayyou'll like him."

I stared at her and thought about the idiocy of herstatement. I never wanted to see Spencer again and I didn't possess any desire tosign the thank you card she bought for him; but she forced me to, insisting thatsomeday I'd be grateful. I thought, Whatever, Mom!

The rest of fifthgrade, and even into middle school, I ignored Spencer completely. I totallyruined a friendship I had cherished for six years. Now I realize the negativityand damage of my actions. Finally, in seventh grade, Spencer and I cultivated thesame group of friends. We began speaking again, probably due more to his maturitythan mine. Slowly, our relationship mended itself and we grew close. Thebitterness of elementary school faded, and Spencer forgave and forgot. Today, asseniors, Spencer remains one of my very closest friends. I try to imagine highschool without his support, and I cannot. His truthfulness, loyalty and kindnesshelped me through many rough spots. I almost lost this wonderful friendshipbecause of my own pettiness. From this experience I learned two importantlessons. The first revolves around my mother. Usually when she gives advice, sheknows what she's talking about, I trust her judgment. I also discovered thatfriendship is one of life's greatest gifts, and I know not to take it for grantedagain.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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