Saturday, May 14, 2011
Peter Pooper, PHD; An Epic Journey of Defication, Snot and Tears
Note: This post has little to nothing to do with Korea. Why are you writing it on a Korea themed blog, you may ask? Because I want to, and let me say, I don't appreciate your attitude. I am leaving for Korea on May 27th, at which time I will once again begin my Korea themed posts, but until then....
One of the weirdest things I have discovered about getting older is finding myself earning titles that I thought had been reserved for grownups, titles such as 'teacher.' While sharing beers and funny classroom stories with peers who also work in the field of education, I can't help but picture my grade school teachers sharing funny stories of my awkward childhood antics in years past. Though I can now say I handle every situation in the most dignified way possible, this was not always the case...
Allow me to take you back to 1993, the year of Mrs. Doubtfire and Jurassic Park, the end of the first Bush presidency, and my entry into the public school system. I was a rotund little 5 year old, eager to make friends and a big fan of the playground. I often would play a game I credited myself with inventing, entitled Swans, in which myself and several females in my kindergarten class would run around the playground squawking, and, well, pretending to be swans. Good times. This was also the year in which I admitted to the other swans that I was the only atheist in my Kindergarten class, a mistake which caused me a week long stint as the lone bird on the playground. (This is where I learned the important and lasting lesson that, for the sake of avoiding drama and evangelism amongst fellow 5 year olds, it is sometimes best to lie about your religious beliefs.) This also happened to be the year of my most publicized pant pooping experience to date.
It was a bright Saturday morning and my friend, who we will name Chingu (which just so happens to be the Korean word for friend) invited me to join him and his family at my absolute favorite location. You guessed it. The playground. Little did I know, we would not be going to the comforting Kindergarten playground I had become so familiar with. We would be playing on the middle school playground, a place not even I could feel confident enough to flap my long graceful swan wings. Enough time has passed and I now feel okay with saying this... the middle school playground sucked. There was no equipment, no tree that could play host to a gaggle of child swan humans, just a big dumb brick wall on which a bunch of thuggish looking 6th graders were playing a brutal game known to prepubescents who had yet to discover drinking, as 'wall ball.' Lost and insecure, totally out of my element, and with an uncomfortable cramping feeling in my stomach, 5 year old me felt like the end was nigh.
That's when it happened, that special, God given moment that tells you, wow, you really, really have to poop. I waddled over to Chingu's mom, asking for help in finding the middle school bathroom, a terrifying experience in and of itself. In my defense, I would have to assume that a responsible adult would walk said kindergartner to said bathroom. In her defense, she had several other children and a baby who she was responsible for. She chose to give me directions to the bathroom, which, in retrospect, were far too much for my swan brain to handle. I began to waddle/trot/flap in the direction I had been pointed in when it happened. I pooped. And not a graceful swan poop. I pooped a big, human, macaroni and cheese poop, right in my Thomas the Tank Engine overalls.
Not having the poise I now possess to handle things appropriately when I shit myself as an adult, I chose to return to the playground instead of going to the bathroom and cleaning my soiled self. I awkwardly finished the remaining rounds of wall ball, poop in pants, until it was time to leave the horrible playground of West Jefferson Middle School. On the ride back to the house, the occupants of the car began to complain about the really awful stench in the minivan. "It smells like shit in here!" they said, using language that was probably a bit more appropriate than my memory suggests. I sat in the back seat, red faced, awkwardly clenching my buttocks and beginning to sweat. We pulled over at the closest gas station so Chingu's mother could run in and change the baby. She returned to the car with a confused look on her face, "Her diaper was clean," she said. This was the first and last time I attempted to blame a baby for my mistake.
Realizing that, as the one person who had not complained about the smell wafting throughout the car, I was the most suspicious, I decided to offer, "Well, I think one of the 6th graders farted on me while we were playing wall ball." This would certainly throw them off my trail, after all, everyone knows how pungent a 6th grader's fart can be.
We finally pulled into my driveway, at which point I flung open the sliding minivan door, yelped a quick goodbye, and bolted into the house. Safe at last. There is no way they would ever know that I was the cause of the awful smell in the car. Unless they chose to smell the seat on which I had been sitting... or noticed that the smell decreased significantly once I had left the car...
This is how I got the nickname Peter Pooper. At least it distracted the other swans from the unfortunate atheist debacle of week before.
Next, we will journey ahead 4 years to 1998. I am now a proud fifth grader, and the incidents of pant pooping have long since passed. Chingu had transferred to another school, I had cool baggy jeans and an awesome t-shirt with Leonardo and Kate embracing over a doomed ship, I frequently wore some really cool, giant, lime green sunglasses which took up half of my face and complimented my bowl haircut... I was the shit. Thankfully, not literally.
This was the year that a new craze swept our school in the form of beaded lizards. These little guys could be made by any 10 year old with even partial access to basic motor skills, a bucket of beads, and dental floss, and were the coolest thing since Reading Rainbow. My fifth grade class received a formal invitation to an anti drug assembly in the gym, and we graciously chose to accept. Not wishing to flaunt my beaded lizard at an event as serious as an elementary level anti drug rally, I chose to leave the lizard in my desk. When we returned to the classroom, our heads full of newly learned drug knowledge, I skipped over to my desk, excited to impart my new wisdom to my lizard friend. The lizard was gone! GONE! You inform 5th graders of the existence of narcotics and the whole world goes to hell. I did what any macho 5th grader would do in this situation, and burst into tears. And these weren't just any tears. I am talking gut wrenching sobs mixed with big currents of snot jetting uncontrollably from my nose. I seem to recall a calm, collected, angel Peter sitting on my shoulder saying, "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?! This is humiliating! It is a beaded lizard for God's sake man, pull yourself together!"
In this moment of clarity, I realized that I had taken a step in a really humiliating direction that, depending on the outcome of the next few minutes, could be comparable to the social backlash which occurred circa the pooping incident of 1993. Everyone had seen me throwing a giant sized hissy fit, but no one yet knew the cause. Taking the opportunity to exercise my powers of embellishment, I chose to tell a little white lie to justify my clearly over the top reaction. Not ONLY had my lizard been stolen, but I decided to tell my confused classmates that a notebook, pen, and $15 had also been taken from my cubby. (Keep in mind, in 5th grade, $15 is like $200,000,000 as an adult in this economy.) Thus began the witch hunt in Mrs. Lambert's 5th grade classroom. No one was safe as we began the search for my pen, notebook, and money which did not, in fact, exist. Needless to say, an item that never existed can't be found, so the search proved fruitless, but I'd like to think that my tears were the tiniest bit justified.
These stories haunted me through my time in public education, but I have recently come to realize that the horribly embarrassing events of childhood become almost fond memories as one becomes an adult. And as I have found myself beginning to share these stories, I have been happy to learn that everyone has pant shitting, tear snotting stories of their own. This is why I invite you to share these stories in the comment box below. (How transparent is it that I just really want you to comment? Tell me about your poop, but more importantly, tell me if you are reading! Thanks Mom!)
Thanks for reading, and until next time...
Peter (in 3 weeks) Teacher