Snot-Crusted Child Goes to School

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Oh, First Grade; with your hour long recesses spent swinging on the branches of a metal forest; and the colorful rooms, with colorful furniture and walls lined with “educational posters” that seemed to resemble comic books more than textbooks; your elderly teachers who reeked of perfume and burnt hair, who taught us with a stern voice that almost seemed unreal at times; the friendships made and the play-dates that ensued, all planned to the nth degree; the wandering minds, hidden behind snot crusted faces and soft eyes, wandering into places they didn’t even know existed; you were my downfall.

I remember the days that seemed almost endless as I’d waste them, sinking into the comfort of the couch, accompanied by television and lousy programming. Days where I couldn’t be bothered to do anything, just sit as the pillows embraced me with their welcoming warmth, filled with a stench that was my own. But field day was different. It was the day we all longed for through the cold winter and rainy spring. We waited, thinking of how we'd bounce through the cruel sun from activity to activity, screaming and shouting, falling and pouting.

This field day was going to be important in a different way. This field day, I would show up to school, with no socks on my feet. This field day, the snot-crusted children would run to me. This field day was the day when those white socks, crowned with a golden circle towards the end, stayed in the dresser drawer. It was going to gain me social acceptance and possibly the attention of one fellow classmate. Who was not only the most popular girl in school, but the niece of none other than Brad Pitt. And it was the best day to reveal my bare ankles.

There wasn’t an influence; no group of adolescents, infamous for not wearing socks, that I looked up to and respected. Still, it was clear to me, that my destiny was to stroll the halls of elementary schools with my ankles bare. I was desperate for friends and I was desperate for acceptance. And field day could bring me all of that.

The day began, the excitement that was held in all year by the snot-crusted children finally escaped like the fizz oozing out of their favorite generic carbonated drink. I was no exception to this rule and certainly not when our second activity began. The game required us to remove our shoes, a perfect opportunity to reveal my feet, unburdened by the evils of socks. At that moment the idea that I might be able to hang out with Brad Pitt’s niece finally came into my mind as I started to slide off my left shoe. I had made it.

Sadly, I had been so caught up in my dreams of social-acceptance, the game had started without me. I followed the other snot-crusted children as we were instructed to throw our shoes into a black plastic bag, as they weren’t needed for the activity to come. The shoes landed in the garbage bag where they belonged, melting away in the sun, and I headed towards the crowd. My feet began to burn as the black asphalt absorbed the sun’s vicious heat. Then, the smell seemed to explode out of my feet and was inhaled by the snot-crusted children (whose ankles were clothed). I began to realize that maybe my ambitions were too high as they howled out of disgust. The smell only became heavier and thicker as the asphalt burnt away layer after layer of skin. I had failed.

They shrieked and cried, covered their noses with their shirts. I tried to do the same, but I wasn’t shrieking out of disgust, I was shrieking out of embarrassment; I wasn’t trying to avoid the smell, I was trying to hide from the world. I denied that I was the source of the foul odor, but it didn’t take a bloodhound to trace the smell back to me.

The game seemed to end more quickly then planned as the PTA members who volunteered to see their snot-crusted child’s ecstatic face, started to gossip about the ridiculousness that I embodied. I heard giggles and ew’s as I slipped my feet into the protection of my shoes. The shoes didn’t matter though, the children knew of my misfortune. They knew that Brad Pitt would never be my uncle-in-law.

The walk back from the playground was a long and painful one. Every step I took, the smell escaped, floating through the bodies of snot-crusted children and performing somersaults before their eyes. Amidst my sulk, I began to think about the “no-socks” decision. No one had ever told me that it was cool or why it was cool, for some reason I thought it might gain me acceptance or whatever else I wanted. So maybe it was just what I wanted it to be. Or maybe it was just so disgusting and resulted in such an awful odor, that it wasn’t cool anymore. I tried not to stay on the topic for too long, after all, I was just another snot-crusted child.





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