Tag Archives: friends

Simple Math

It started with Goldfish crackers.

goldfish_cracker

While the details are fuzzy, I remember that it was sometime in October and that on this particular day it was raining outside—indoor recess. Stuck to the board was Wilbur—a brown (felt) bear the first-grade class dressed each day with weather-appropriate clothes. Sporting a yellow rain slicker, boots and an umbrella under a (felt) gray cloud and a handful of raindrops, there was no question as to the conditions outside.

The conditions inside most likely included a fascinating discussion about shapes, colors and the pros and cons of multinationals and globalization in a modern society. That’s not important. What was important was the seating chart, for the stars were aligned—or grossly misinformed—and my desk at the time was conveniently located in a block of four with two of my best friends, both boys and both my neighbors.

Yes, they participated in the deterioration of Barbie’s reputation.

For the sake of their self-proclaimed innocence, let’s call them Mike and Danny. Danny was my best, best friend, but I kept Mike along for the ride—even marrying him once or twice in his basement and often skating sweaty hand in sweaty hand to couple’s skate at school skating parties in later years. He served a role.

With the polygamous nature of our playgroup, I think Mike knew and served this role well.

As for the day in question, we were doing some sort of math exercise that involved using Goldfish crackers as counting pieces. The details aren’t important, but what is important to note is that Danny had to leave for weekly speech therapy. His Goldfish crackers,  unmanned and vulnerable, would not be joining him.

I was hungry—or I just wanted them, again the details are fuzzy—and the Goldfish were consumed. Mike wanted in. I obliged.

Two for me, one for Mike. Two for me, one for Mike. Two for me, none for Mike, as our mid-math snack was cut short by the intrusive presence of the authoritative adult that has instigated this cracker caper in the first place. Apparently our behavior was being frowned upon and warranted a lecture.

Mike cried like a kindergarten baby, blubbering out promises to give our lisping buddy all the Halloween candy he anticipated hoarding in the coming days.

I was stoic, annoyed with both the interruption and the insinuation that I had done something wrong. I knew I should feel bad. The reaction from my teacher, the sobbing fool next to me, and the quiet hush that had fallen over the class were telling me as much.

But it was Danny. It was crackers.

So while the teacher was lecturing the class on what was most likely the importance of sharing and stealing, I was building a solid argument up in my head. I wasn’t a criminal. I knew right from wrong, good from bad, snacking from stealing.

There were countless times before and would be countless times in the future when Danny would take (and eat) things that were mine, when he would participate in some plot against my scheduled script of play, when he would be told to “get off my property” or kick me out of his tree fort. I failed to see the importance of a handful of crackers that could be easily replaced and forgotten.

It was Danny. It was crackers.

Emboldened by my rationalizations and oblivious to danger, I looked left. I looked right. I looked down at the remaining fish on Danny’s desk, baiting me as they were with their innocent smiles and bright orange glow.

It started with Goldfish crackers.

It ended with crumbs.

Simple math.

This post is in response to this week’s  Red Dress Club RemembeRED prompt to “Mine your memories and write about the earliest grade you can recall.” I’m sure I have others, but this one popped up first.

It’s time for show and tell. What’s the earliest memory you have of elementary school?

Reality Check, Aisle One

Last night was evidently “take your screaming child to Target night,” something I was unaware of when I set out on my journey to distract myself and find things to buy that I didn’t know I needed.

And although I set out to Target as a form of healthy distraction, it ended up being quite a workout. See, I had the unfortunate pleasure of spotting someone I knew in the store and would have preferred not to run into, therefore mandating generic conversation and awkward smiles (even the word “awkward” is awkward, no?)

I’m really not that anti-social, but to be honest, I couldn’t remember her first name for the life of me.

So while I entered the store and began browsing the clothes (sidebar: Is it just me, or do today’s “fashions” suck? I’m not into clothes, but these were ridiculous.) Where was I? While I was browsing the “clothes,” I had my first encounter with aforementioned screaming child. This particular midget was trouncing up and down a row of shirts, randomly pulling them off as she passed—and accenting each successful attempt with a delighted shriek.

I was somehow convinced that my leer towards her mother would jar her back to the sad reality that her child was a monster, but no luck. Mom was oblivious to both her child, the evil eye I was shooting her way and the fact that the clothes she was looking at were hideous.

So I journeyed on to the home department where I can spend endless minutes convincing myself that I need a new drawer organizer or Glade Plug-In just because it looks neat or smells good (this is also my criteria for dating and eating, by the way.)

That’s when I saw her—I say “her,” because I couldn’t remember her name.

Ironically enough, she had her own cart of offspring that were starting to get antsy themselves, whining in a way that would soon escalate into boredom-induced bellows. At any rate, I quickly darted to the next aisle, narrowly missing a run-in that would have my brain racing for her name and my mouth spouting generic “hey you” and other avoidance addresses.

It was like I was a magnet.

I went to the bathroom accessories, she made her way to the bathroom accessories. I scampered over to the kitchen appliances like a maniac, she calmly wheeled her brood over to the kitchen appliances. An encounter seemed inevitable, and my brain was still searching for her damn name.

It was like my brain was an anti-magnet for recollection and sanity.

So I hiked it over to the Halloween section and was greeted by not scary costumes, but scary children screeching about what they wanted to dress up as. Right then. Not at Halloween, but right there in the aisle. Harried parents were looking longingly at the prop weapons while their children ran around with pumpkin buckets on their heads.

OK. Maybe I was looking longingly at the prop weapons.

Soon enough the nameless wonder made her way towards the costumes, inciting a minor riot from the two kids in her cart. I quickly made my escape around the back and through the candy aisle—there might have been a slight diversion here—and found myself free from the ties that would bind me to social etiquette.

I grabbed my big purchase for the evening—no fun foods, cute clothes or much-needed make-up, but rather hair mousse for the few strands I have left—and breathed a sigh of relief as I made my way to the register.

My eyes scanned the scene, still on the lookout for the nameless wonder—confirmation was still negative. So I moved up to pay for my mousse and made small talk with the cashier, dropping a couple sarcastic remarks about the plethora of screaming children that were seemingly invading our precious Target on that Friday night.

She remarked that a little girl had come through her lane earlier and said nothing, just stared at her, and then proceeded to start screaming at the top of her lungs until the mother put the princess crown from the cart on her head.

I suggested the cashier keep one behind the counter to plop on the heads of subsequent screaming children (and possibly adults,) and she laughed. It was at that time I looked down at her name tag—Marie.

Yes my friends, the same name as the person I had worked so hard to avoid throughout my journey.

It was like a weight had been lifted off my bony shoulders at that moment of recognition. In fact, it felt so great I was tempted to journey back into the store and leisurely make my way through the aisles, no longer afraid of an amnesic encounter.

As a child’s size shoe zoomed past my head and a mother’s pleading warning to said footwear hurler cut through my fantasy, I grabbed my mousse and headed home.

Reality check, aisle one.

I know, I’m wild and crazy going to Target on a Friday night. How did you spend yours? Anything you go to Target for specifically, or do you randomly roam like I do?