Presenting: Amy Was A Weird Child; Episode One.
We moved to Colorado when I was in 7th grade. Could there be a more painful time to move and try to intergrate yourself into a new school? My 12-year-old self exemplified every meaning of "awkward phase."Let me paint a picture for you. Shoulder length hair, usually parted down the middle and clipped back on each side with the ever fashionable butterfly clips. I thought it was super neat-o to curl the bottom of my hair so that it would flip under and further my apparent goal to resemble a mushroom. I was very into Wet N' Wild sparkly powder blue eyeshadow, the only make-up my mom would let me wear at that age, and I applied it liberally. I was in that wonderful phase of tweenagehood, during which I was growing out rather than growing up. Short and stout would be an understatement. I enjoyed dressing myself in the latest Limited Too fashions, my favorite outfit being a blue glittery (are we seeing a trend here?) skirt with shorts attached, topped with a matching blue and glittery shirt-and-vest combo. I was stylin'. You may think I'm exaggerating, but just take a gander at these two beauties...
|Yikes. Awkward personified.|
|Yikes again. But look how cute widdle Joshie is!|
It should be noted that I was not entirely aware of my awkwardness. As far as I knew, I was the world's coolest 7th grader, and I was so excited to move to Colorado and have a brand new shot at finally becoming a popular girl.
After a month at my new school, I was disappointed to realize that I was still mostly invisible, and no where near the popularity status one would hope to achieve. I wasn't even certain that my teachers knew who I was, let alone the popular crowd.
One of my classes was a drama class (Side note: Why would they offer a drama class at a middle school? I think middle schoolers have it covered in the drama department.) We were doing little skits, and in one of these skits, I was supposed to be play a car mechanic. We needed props, so I brought in my baby brother's Little Tykes tools. They are neon colored toy tools that buzz and shake when you turn them on. I packed them up in a black tool box my brother had and trotted off to school.
|The box looked just like this, but black.|
I got to my next class on time and it seemed as though a crisis had been averted. About 10 minutes into class, the fire alarm went off. We all trotted out to the usual fire alarm spot, and the teachers made us keep walking. We walked all of the way to the fence, and it was clear that this was not your usual fire drill. Teachers were nervously shuffling around, making calls, and whispering to each other. But all of the students were too excited about missing class to be worried about the teacher's behaviors. A fire truck pulled up the school. Not all that unusual, for a fire drill. We began to speculate that perhaps there was a real fire somewhere in the school. And then the police came. 3 or 4 police cars pulled up and the policemen joined in on the nervous chattering. The students started to become interested in all of the happenings. A bomb squad car pulled around the corner and joined the party. Men with big vests and fancy equipment ran into the school.
Rumors started to fly through the lines of students. Being at the bottom of the popularity food chain, I only caught snippets of hushed conversations. "There's a bomb." "In the school." "A big black box" "A big box that's shaking" "In the math classroom."
My stomach dropped to the bottom of my shoes. A black vibrating box. In the math classroom. No... It couldn't be. How would the tools have turned on? I tried to ease my frantic conscience by reminding myself that I told the boy in that classroom what it was, and surely he told my teacher, so this must be an unrelated incidence. And besides my name was written on the bottom of the box on a piece of masking tape...
No sooner had that thought crossed my mind than I heard "Will Amy Reichman please come down to the principal's office?" crackle over the P.A. system. I felt like a prisoner being marched to the gallows, walking to a chorus of "Ooooooo"s and "she's in trouble"s emanating from the harsh crowd of prepubescent onlookers.
Dragging me by the hand like a misbehaving toddler, the principal and assorted other scary men escorted me to the principal's office, where they all sat and stared at me for what felt like an eternity. I stared at the floor, hoping desperately for the carpet to rise up and swallow me whole. The superintendent of the school district finally spoke: "So, do you think this is funny?" I was not expecting this question at all, and decided to answer by continuing my staring match with the carpet. "Is this your idea of a funny prank? Leaving a box of shaking tools on your teacher's desk, in a black box to look like a bomb?" He launched into what can only be described as the scolding of a lifetime, detailing exactly why what I had done was so terrible, and all of the things that could happen to me now that I had planted a fake bomb in my school. He tossed around words like "expelled" and "counseling" and I sat there in terror, tears streaming down my face. I was too scared to even point out that it was all a huge misunderstanding. I just sat there, crying and picturing the rest of my adolescent life in juvie. The thought of spending my remaining teen years in an orange jumper was beyond my capacity for grief and fear.
After what felt like hours of this, the door opened, and my hero appeared in the form of a guidance counselor. This lady came in and absolutely threw it down. She ripped into the principal, telling him off for being such a jerk and correctly stating that there was no way I did this on purpose and had he ever considered asking me how my box ended up in the math teacher's room? The principal sat there in the wake of the veritable tongue lashing and grudgingly asked me how my tool box ended up in the math classroom.
With heaving sobs and scattered breath, I told the whole story. My drama teacher was called in and had to show the script that proved I was really playing a mechanic in class that day. The principal muttered something about me being really lucky, and I spent the rest of the day hiding out in the gracious guidance counselor's office. She let me stay there all day, drinking hot chocolate and trying to recover from the humiliation that I'd just endured. And I tell you what, if it were up to me, that single event would get that woman a ticket straight to heaven.
At the end of the day, all of the kids were sent home with letters explaining the bomb incident. There was an article in the paper about the bomb scare and it was all anyone could talk about for the next month. But it wasn't as bad as I feared it would be. Sure, there were some who called me Amy Bin Laden, but there were others who high-fived me on getting them out half the day of school. There was no doubt about it; people definitely knew who I was now.
My mom snipped the article out of the paper, and I think she still has it somewhere. Over the years the story has morphed from a traumatic event to a hilarious misunderstanding, and I can finally tell the story without blushing all the way up to my ears and wanting to find a rock to live under for the rest of my life.
Wasn't that a touching story? I should write a children's book.