Rainy days always make me miss being in 5th Grade and loving that we got to stay inside at recess and lunch. Abandoned and unsupervised, the teachers left the 28 of us to the lone television in the corner and our own devices. This being like, 1989, the teachers all hung out in the lounge chugging Diet Coke, chain-smoking and bitching about us.
And we ran rampant, like Lord of the Flies in plaid uniforms glued to The Price is Right and sticking Post-it’s on each other’s backs. I, for some reason, was always desperate to choreograph a new dance routine to a New Kids on the Block song, convinced that if Jordan or Danny saw my sick moves, they’d hire me and take me on tour.
We had these big desks that were like buckets, and you’d open the top wooden part to a space to stick all of your books and Trapper Keepers and personalized pencils. One of the highlights of my year was Clean Out Your Desk Day, which literally was allotted ALL DAY. This included a redesign the roof of the inside of one’s desk, which completely defined one’s entire personality and philosophy on life.
It’s not like anyone spent a particularly huge amount of time examining the decorated desk roofs of everyone else, but my god if I didn’t cultivate that collage as if my social status depended on it. It was very NKOTB heavy, but also included personal photos and mementos, like the mysterious love note Vita found under my desk, an apparent declaration of Spotswood love from Marc, whom it seemed at first chose to sign his name and then hastily erased it.
It turned out Vita wrote that damn note just to fuck with me, but I kept it anyway in some delusion that Marc would’ve written it if he had the balls.
Anyway, the best kind of rainy lunch was a Thursday rainy lunch. Because that meant hot lunch day. Oh my god, hot lunch day was the highlight of my week. Every month, the school would send this form to your folks and my father and I would sit down and select my order. The menu rotated, but McDonald’s and Taco Bell were included, along with cheap ass pizza and hot dogs that if you squeezed, bubbled. Jill and I started a detective agency to serve our school and our boredom and once attempted (unsuccessfully) to solve the mystery of the soapy hot dogs.
Rainy hot lunch day meant that we all got to put on our raincoats and walk across the yard to the kitchen adjoining the gym. Well, those of us that got hot lunch. There were always a couple rogue children who never got hot lunch and brought their own. These were also the same kids that still wore their uniform on free dress days because they “didn’t know.” How do you not know? Impossible. The unspoken assumption about these strange stand-outs was that they must be poor. I never really confirmed this suspicion, because the rogue kids hung out with each other and their parents never showed up to anything, but in retrospect, they could have been millionaire heirs raised by absentee nannies.
Rainy days also meant winter, which meant lots of pageantry and playing of Bingo over the loudspeaker. And in 8th grade, you didn’t get to play Bingo, which was fine with me. All you won was a stryrofoam cup filled with Halloween leftovers. In 8th grade, you got paired up and got to stand in front of a class, like the 2nd graders or whatever, and write the Bingo numbers on the blackboard. Each year, I worshiped those 8th graders, desperate to one day be the sophisticated elder with the grave responsibility that Bingo entails. Perhaps even, if I played my cards right, I’d get paired up with Marc.
Well, Marc and me standing in front of Mrs. Dowd’s 4th Grade making eyes across B12 was not in the cards for me.
Oh, just because I surpassed that piddly dream and achieved the pinnacle of 8th Grade success.
Yep. I was the one that called the Bingo numbers over the loud speaker.
Seriously, this is a major highlight of my life…