And I entered middle school.
I was a prospector on an untamed planet. A minuscule 6th grader, fresh out of elementary school, making my way with an oversized backpack amid a crowd of hairy 8th grade giants in their natural habitat. You don’t know the meaning of intimidation until you’re eye-level with the skull and cross-bone t-shirts on the man-boys who eat raw meat for lunch, and almost need to shave.
And whoever decided scrawny 6th graders could handle a loaded locker combination without extensive training was never eleven years old. My arms dragged on the ground for an entire month, due to the half-dozen heavy books I packed around all day, because I didn’t know how to open my locker.
If I asked a hairy stranger for help, they might steal my combination. And who knows what would happen then. They might open a discothèque in there. Or something worse. Like an oxygen bar. Then I’d get in trouble. And going to the middle school principal is like visiting a hungry lion at feeding time. It’s not pretty.
There’s one solid rule when you enter middle school. Don’t act dumb. Through my keen observations skills, I discovered hairy 8th graders shoot off sharp, sarcastic arrows, and can take down any poor kid who happens to look a bit dim-witted.
But, the worst thing you can do in the rough middle school environment is be unfashionable. You need camouflage. The more name brands you can hide behind, the better. It helps you blend into the scenery, so hairy 8th graders can’t aim their sarcastic arrows at you.
I was lucky I wasn’t eaten alive the day I showed up wearing pink elastic-waist pants and a ruffled golf shirt. The outfit accentuated my shiny braces and frizzy perm. There were enough kids looking dumb all around me, I lived to tell the tale.
You won’t find these facts in the history books, even though 1986 was a year to remember. Which is tragic. I’ve heard that “those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it.”
So I’m sorry, all you 6th graders out there. You’ll probably have to go through middle school, too.
Just leave your pink elastic-waist pants home.