There’s always at least one in every class. You know who I’m talking about.
For me it was Debbie Albright.
Debbie, my third grade classmate, was blond and petite. I wasn’t. I was Karen with the big feet.
Debbie was popular, but she was also a bully. I can now see her popularity solely stemmed from the fact that if you weren’t her friend then you were her enemy.
From Day One I was her enemy.
She joyfully and enthusiastically took it upon herself to make each and every day of my school life miserable. It was a mission for her. A vocation of sorts, one might say.
I well remember the day Debbie and I met. It was the first day at a new school for me. Because we moved lots I always had plenty of those first-day days. I was used to them.
Those were the dreaded days when the teacher would parade you like a prized catch in front of the class.
Some of you likely know the routine.
Teacher: “Boys and girls, I would like you to meet…”
Unfortunately for me, my maiden name was Floëting (pronounced floating), a good old German name, but the kind of name which other, meaner, kids gleefully latched onto.
“Ha, ha! You’re a boat!”
“Are you going down the river?”
I’d heard them all.
Or so I thought.
The girl in the second row narrowed her eyes and with great disdain said, “Floating in pee.”
That was Debbie Albright and that’s when I knew my work was cut out for me.
I can now laugh about the floating in pee business, but back then it hurt to be the butt end of jokes.
Nonetheless, I smiled gamely and hoped for a better tomorrow.
The following day wasn’t much better. As I slipped into my desk I heard, “I smell pee.”
And so it went, unrelentingly, day after day after day.
I was taught to never throw the first punch, either physically or verbally. It was OK if I defended myself against a punch, but it was never ever okay to initiate the punch. But that was beginning to wear thin.
Debbie deserved a punch and maybe even a kick, but I couldn’t act on it.
So I hatched a plan. A plan for Debbie. A brilliant plan which would not leave the stain of blood on my hands.
That night after school I went home, tore a strip of aluminum foil off the roll and locked myself in the bathroom. Digging frantically through the medicine cabinet I found my ammunition.
It read: Ex-lax. I grinned as I grabbed several squares of Ex-lax and wrapped them in foil.
I grinned when I went to sleep and I was still grinning the following day when I went to school, the foil-wrapped goodie stuffed in my lunch bag along with my tuna sandwich.
They say timing is everything. I agree.
That day at lunch I made certain to sit near Debbie. I saw her eyeing me, waiting to verbally pounce on me. That was OK by me.
“Hey floating pee girl whatcha got there?” she asked as I unpacked my lunch.
“My lunch,” I answered, eyes averted.
“Is that chocolate?” she asked as she eyed the foil-wrapped prize.
Before I could answer she grabbed the foil, unwrapped it, and plopped the chocolaty pieces in her mouth. I smiled as she taunted me with lip-smacking noises.
And I was still smiling when, just before the end of the school day she frantically ran out the classroom door on the way to the bathroom.
Sometimes timing is everything.