I had Mrs. Stewart for 6th grade home room. She was tall and had wavy, mid 90s, blond hair. She was authoritative yet fair. Two or three kids from that class are dead. Two for sure. I’m pretty sure it’s three. Not sure that is relevant to the story, it is a mundane detail about the home room I was in.
Our home room was in the basement of Lundahl, Jr. High. on the north end of the building that was closest to South Elementary. The wall separating the classrooms was removable. It was opened once or twice. This particular time it was closed. That may have been a good thing.
Lunch was coming soon. This was the only time, besides Gym that we could go outside. Coming in from 5th grade, that is a big culture shock. Mrs. Stewart had a collection of sports equipment that we could check out. On this day, I got the football. It was always a big deal to get the football. I put it between my desk on the floor and the girl who sat next to me. I can’t remember exactly who that was, but she was not among the dead. To my current knowledge.
The clock was approaching the lunch hour. Mrs. Stewart’s voice was starting to be drowned by my personal picture show. I was already outside, throwing the ball to Jeff or Stu or Kevin or Eric. We were playing way better than the Bears were. Not a stretch back then, though. I wanted to be Jim Harbaugh and Erik Kramer. I wanted to be a quarterback. I wanted to be throw the ball to Tom Waddle and Curtis Conway. I wanted to be a Bear, nearly as much as I wanted to be a Cub.
A couple minutes closer to lunch. I was getting excited. Mrs. Stewart now sounded like a character from Charlie Brown. Distant and inaudible. She lost me. Believe it or not, my focus was not on food. It was on the ball in between my desk and the not so dead girl’s desk. I couldn’t take it anymore. I leaned over to grab the ball, a minute before the bell sounded.
Everyone laughed in unison. A couple of the dead guys pointed at me. Mrs. Stewart even laughed. The girl next to me did not laugh. She was horrified. I slowly inched my way back up. My face was red, but it was too late. I accepted my prepubescent fate. I shrugged my shoulders and started laughing myself.
I let go, the longest, loudest, clappiest, angry farts that, to this day, I have not yet been able to duplicate. I don’t really recall a nasty nickname or taunting. Possibly, because I was so quick to claim it. I learned self-deprication. It didn’t hurt my chances with girls then. I accepted my prepubescent fate and have smiled ever since. Hey, I even made some dead kids laugh.
Please to enjoy.