Man, the life of a fifth grader. Do you remember what that was like? For me it was hellish. All sorts of things were going on. No matter how much I wiped, my forehead was perpetually greasy and densely scattered with acne. No blotting papers or Proactiv back then. You slathered on a little Oxy 10 and prayed for the best. I had braces and glasses, and a haircut like Tootie’s from The Facts of Life. That was actually one of my more hurtful nicknames in elementary school. There were several others and thanks to technology, I’ve been able to find my name callers on Facebook, then friend and defriend them over and over. Petty but effective.
For the most part, this story was true, though I took my liberties as a writer. (I never tire of saying that; it’s my lawyer’s “I take the fifth” or my journalist’s “I’ll never reveal my sources!”) To start, the entire classroom scene is fiction. We had the usual dime-store decorations like any other classroom. I actually don’t recall there being a baby Jesus, oddly enough. I love wreaths personally, and really only added it to the story as it supported my corny wordplay in the story title. My mom was the Entenmann’s mom. She didn’t have time to bake, nor did most families. We did do gift swaps and I was pissed one year that my $40-$50 item didn’t get bought, screw the limits (usually about $10). I got a scarf pin. Of course, this was a tasteful gift, but at age 10, I wanted the Knight Rider KITT car with remote control. I was very specific with Michael, my Kris Kringle. VERY SPECIFIC.