Never entrust your sense of humor to people you don’t know.
I attended W.P. Scales Elementary from Kindergarten through the Fourth Grade. At the end of every year, each grade invited the parents to the special presentation the grade as a whole had been working on for weeks.
One year, we wowed them with a square dance in the gym. Rumor had it, Amanda B. was crushing on me, and that’s why she chose me as her partner. She was a pretty blonde girl about six inches taller than me. Holding her hands felt like digging a soda out of a cooler full of ice. “Cold hands, warm heart”? Well, her bloodpump must have been hot enough to make Satan green. With envy.
I also have hazy memories of performing on a stage of some sort—costumes made from construction paper; singing songs about American freedom or Johnny Appleseed; the tone-deaf kid causing all the songs to bottom out, bless his heart; flashes of light from the dark, gently quaking audience.
Another year, we painted a map of the United States on the playground blacktop that doubled as a basketball court. Each state was a different color. We were very proud.
On the big day, the parents met us in our respective classrooms, then we filed out in a mass of excited children and faking-it parents. I lost my parents in the tumult and ended up walking beside a girl from another homeroom.
An overweight woman was lumbering up the hill in front of us, one step at a time. We had to slow our pace to keep from bumping into her.
I turned to the girl and said under my breath, “Boy, that lady is struggling,” and chuckled to myself.
Her eyes flashed daggers as she responded, “That’s my mom.”
I slackened my pace to let my new friend walk on ahead.