But anyway, I digress. The reason I'm reaching way back into the first grade for my embarrassing tale is because this one has somehow stuck with me all these years as one of the most humiliating moments of my life. And as I think about it now, I realize, yes, it's not all that bad, but put in the context of a six year old's point of view, I can understand (and I hope you can too) why it's still ingrained in my memory all these countless years later. So here it goes:
In first grade, right after lunch, we had something called "quiet hour." And yes, it was exactly as it sounds. One hour of quiet time. No, we didn't have to sleep or put our heads on our desks (that was for Kinder gardeners!) but we did have to do something quiet. Now that I'm grown and have close friends who are elementary school teachers, I realize that this "quiet hour" was more for my teachers than it was for me and my classmates. But alas, there I was, drawing very quietly at my desk.
Well, for a six year old, an entire hour of doing nothing but being quiet is a very difficult task. So not surprisingly, I grew a little bored. And what does this six year old decide to do when she gets bored? She brilliantly decides she's going to try to pull one arm out the top of her shirt (as in out the neckline). Just to see if she can.
And voila! She can. So there I am, sitting at my desk with one entire arm sharing the neck hole of my shirt with my head. But it doesn't stop there. Oh no. Why would it? Because now that I've proven I can accomplish this seemingly impressive task, I think to myself, "Well, if I can put one arm through my neck hole, then how cool would it be to put two arms through?!" So I set off to conquer this new and even more impressive challenge. Maneuvering and twisting and turning and wedging and pushing (all very quietly of course) until hoorah! I've done it! I've gotten both arms through the neck hole of my poor, stretched out, abused little tee-shirt. So now I'm sitting there at my desk with the neckline of my shirt sitting just under my collar bone and my two bare arms as free as the wind.
Until I realize...hmmm...I feel a little naked right now.
And hmmm....some people are starting to look at me quite strangely.
Aren't they impressed with my accomplishment? Don't they see what an Everest I've just climbed by successfully tackling this feat?
Apparently not. Instead, they would seem to think it's rather humorous. Because they're starting to giggle. And point. And whisper to neighbors.
Fine then. If they can't appreciate this totally awesome thing that I've just done, I'll just have to put my shirt back the way it was.
And so I go to put the first arm back into its proper place. Except it won't go. I can't even get so much as a finger nail back into that neckline. The shirt has been stretched so tightly, there's no possible way I can jam my entire arm back in there. I'm totally stuck. And suddenly feeling like I'm in one of those bad dreams where you're trying to run but you're feet weigh a thousand pounds a piece and so all you can do is just stand there and struggle helplessly.
And now everyone has turned to look. The entire class has been made aware of my current predicament and they're all staring at me and laughing. And quiet hour is no longer quiet. It's now a riotous comedy hour and I'm the unwilling comedian. And still...no matter how hard I struggle, that shirt is pretty much stuck around my chest. My only option would be to pull the entire thing up over my head or down around my waist, but then I'd be sitting there completely topless and that is definitely not an option. (Never mind the fact that only two short years ago I was shamelessly running around front yards and paddling pools with no clothes on at all.)
My face is flushed red. I can feel all the blood flowing to my head. The humiliation is sinking in deep. Deep enough to linger all the way into adulthood where I can still tap into it and effortlessly reel out the shame and translate it to letters as I write this post.
Fortunately, the teacher eventually did notice my situation and escorted me to the bathroom where she kindly helped disentangle me from my mutilated shirt. Needless to say, that shirt went straight into the garbage the moment I got home. It's too bad, too. I really liked that shirt. And when my mom asked me why I was throwing away a perfectly good item of clothing, I just shrugged and tried to act completely nonchalant as I told her, "It doesn't fit anymore."