I attended an eight year grade school, when I was little and I honestly don’t think I have a bad memory about that school. Well, probably if I searched and dug really deep, I could come up with a few; but for the most part, I loved my school, my teachers, and my classmates.
There are a couple of instances that took place there, though, that I treasure. I draw those memories out from the old memory bank, every now and then and I spend a few moments with a smile on my face, like I’ve just been on a feel good shopping spree.
I wouldn’t say I was one of the “popular” kids at the time; nor was I what some would call a “nerd”. I was just me. Though shy and introverted, I liked spending time with all the kids, and I made an effort to try to be nice to everyone. However, my older brother, Craig, was one of the popular kids. He was always in the starting line-up in any sports he chose to play, and he was our School President when he was in 8th grade and I in 7th. I don’t think there was anyone there that didn’t like him. He was somewhat quiet and shy, but he laughed a lot and was nice to everyone. Even recently, when he and I quite unexpectedly ran into a couple of his old friends from high school whom he hadn’t seen in more than 20 years, one friend’s comment to the other was, “Look at that! He’s still laughing!!”
Our school would host annual dances for the 7th and 8th graders, three or four times a year. It seems all my friends and classmates attended and looked forward to these dances. This time however, just prior to the dance, my brother had a friend (also one of the “popular” kids) over to our house visiting and we were sitting around the kitchen table talking about the upcoming dance.
“I think I am going to be the school wallflower.” I said to the boys. I was most likely thinking about the new eye glasses I had just acquired that were anything but flattering. I was shy, it was an awkward age, and I couldn’t imagine anyone wanting to dance with me.
But the night of the dance came, and as was typical the boys lined up on one side of the gymnasium, and the girls on the other. The music for the evening was a stack of 45 records played on a little black phonograph that all the schools had at that time. To my surprise, when the first song was played, one of the 8th grade boys started things up by coming over and asking me to dance. It was one of my brother’s friends…one of the “popular” kids. That song was no sooner over, when another boy came, and another, and another. Then my brother’s friend that had been at our house came over and asked me to dance.
“Are you having a good time?” he asked. “You don’t look like a 'wallflower' to me.”
Finally, I had danced so many times, I was very tired, I had to tell someone no. I can’t remember who that was. I always worried that I might have hurt his feelings when I didn’t dance with him. But anyway, that is how the night went. It is just another one of those times that I don’t remember anything else about it. I don’t remember what my friends said. I don’t remember what they did when they saw that I was somehow, “the belle of the ball”. I do remember looking over at my brother a time or two throughout the evening, and him looking at me…laughing. Not a malicious laugh, but an “I am happy for you and getting a kick out of it” kind of laugh.
I don’t know if I understood that night what had happened. I believe I was an adult before I looked back and remembered those words that I had said to my brother’s friend about being “the wallflower”. It was only then, that I understood that this friend had instigated the whole situation for my benefit. He had told all the boys in the 8th grade class to dance with Craig’s sister…and they did.
It’s no wonder I loved that little grade school and all the kids that went there.