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We went to saint school (a school with a saint name) for the first six or so years of our education. It wasn’t the Connecticut, oxford-shirt-wearing, money-type game, it was more like oversized hunter green/blue plaid jumpers with loafers missing the pennies because someone pulled a job on your footwear when you weren’t looking. The church hall quadrupled as a gym, cafeteria, theatre and a 1st grade class room. The bell was literally a bell. And recess took place in a parking lot with a wrought iron fence separating school zone from the back doors of the projects. Years later it ended up shutting down due to too many kids freeloading on the joint.

The educational quality was shit. But I was introduced to journaling from a diamond in a rough type teacher, at the age of 8. In that first journal there’s an entry where I’m attempting to critique a story I read. A children’s book about a caterpillar. To this day I remember its popularity which fueled my predetermined disapproval. This is what I wrote:

‘I do not like that story so much. it’s ok. I never realy ingoyed that story. I tink it is sick when you sat come out. my sister siad she thowt she was going to hurle. I think she is right. Or in other words in is bescusting.’

My sister and I were irrationally judgmental children. Often trying to figure out if we were weird or if they were weird. Largely we came to the conclusion that it was them. We were fine. I guess playing that game in an alliance might allow you to draw the latter conclusion more often than not.

I remember being excited when they were painting a map of the united states on the parking lot pavement. It brought a whole new set of games. Tag you’re it, run to Mississippi – wherever the fuck that is. Mostly I liked to make ‘stew’ stirring with a stick a precise combination of sand and rock in an old puddle hole that had recently seen a drought. The best one was over Delaware. Eerily close to the great lakes. One of my classmates, Stephanie, joined me in the stirring process one day. Since it was the 80’s most things in my mind had to fit into one of two categories: cool and uncool. Stephanie was uncool but I knew her fairly well because her mom ran a daycare out of her house which is where my sister and I went everyday. There we stood, over the great lakes, feet spread, squatting in our jumpers with our knobby knees resting higher than our shoulders, stirring our stew in silence.

Stephanie’s runny nose got the best of her and in a slow but earnest fight w gravity, one solid mucus string came out of her nose, grabbed some sand out of the pavement stew pot and was sucked back in with one fast snort attempting to save herself from  humiliation. It did not work. I was not fooled. She was bescusting.

Stephanie’s backyard was all dirt. No grass. Dusty dirt that often sat in the air higher than your 8 yr. old head. They had a dog. Which upon 1st glance is pretty awesome until you realize he’s chained to a dog house and if you cross into his chain length circumference he runs at you in attack, solely with the intention of ripping your throat out. This left a thin dirt aisle, adjacent to the back deck, to occupy with play.

At some point we discovered that Stephanie and her backyard had a worm problem. A modern-day infestation, if you will. we discussed what they were doing wrong to cause such a horrid and deplorable state of chaos. Our young but mighty egos concluded that we could help these less fortunate people. The remainder of our years at daycare looked like this:

Upon arrival we would head to the backyard dust bowl, dig a hole and extract a worm. We managed to find a plastic Oshkosh wheelbarrow. We would place the worm in the wheel barrow and use a plastic shovel to cut the poor son-of-a-bitch in half. Respectfully, we would then begin his service. Starting at one end of the dirt aisle, we would slowly and methodically wheel him down the consecrated corridor and chant Pray for the Dead and the Dead will Pray for You (refrain). To this day I’m not sure if we wrote that or if we heard it. Once we got to the end, we would burry his sordid, spastic body back into the earth.

Amen.

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– JT

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