Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Every Day is Ditch Day

My blogging buddy Elisabeth did a guest post about her love of guided tours. Her obsession dates way back:

"I was the child whose heart filled with glee knowing that her fifth grade class was going on a field trip to Mrs. Baird’s Bread Factory. It wasn’t for the free cupcakes at the end; it was for the tidbits about bread making gleaned from three hours in a doughy smelling factory."
That's so adorable! I, however, was the child who was filled with glee knowing that a field trip or special assembly was the perfect excuse to skip school--with my mother's permission.

Okay, I didn't skip in fifth grade. My loathing of school didn't begin until Junior High. Back then I would PRAY to get sick--even going as far as to sneak out onto our snow-covered back porch in the dead of night hoping to catch walking pneumonia, bronchitis or even a head cold. Unfortunately, I was disgustingly healthy all winter.

So on to Plan B--malingering. This involved sitting at the edge of my parents bed, with my Mom semi-conscious, reciting a litany of symptoms that would prohibit me from attending school that day:

Scratchy throat
Scratchy eyes
Achy joints
Chapped lips
A hangnail

My mom's usual response was to go to school, I'd feel better as the day went on. I argued that I would NOT feel better and after fifteen minutes of wheedling I got what passed for approval--a mumbled "Whatever" as my mom dismissed me and went back to sleep.

Oh, joy! There's nothing better than staying home "sick" in your PJ's--watching soap operas on TV and eating my Dad's Ritz crackers with raspberry jam. Over time, I got more inspired in my malingering--first I avoided the whole waking Mom up ordeal by slipping notes detailing my symptoms under the door for her to find when she woke up. After a while I would alert her the night before that I would not be attending school the next day. Sometimes she knew I was going to be "sick" just by the fact that I stayed up past 10 pm watching a favorite show on TV. Other times I would just appear in the morning to a nonchalant reception of, "Oh--not going to school today?" And there were times when my mom asked me to take a sick day in order to babysit my little brother while she went out.

There wasn't much she could do about my skipping school--I was getting pretty much straight A's. And most times the days I picked to skip were days when I had few classes. We used to have assemblies at school that consisted of seeing a movie for four out of seven class periods. And these weren't historic or scientific or otherwise educational films. One time I skipped because they were showing What's Up Doc? starring Barbra Streisand and Ryan O'Neal for the second time. My mom got snarky about writing my excuse: "What should I put down? You missed school because you'd already seen the movie?" Most times it was a standard and vague catch-all: "Stella missed class on [insert date here] because she wasn't feeling up to par." I hated that phrase "up to par"--it made me feel like a golf course.

I didn't skip ALL the movies--there were some good ones. I saw Bridge on the River Kwai in High School. That was a worthwhile use of four class periods. But I ended up skipping 20% of my Senior year. My mom figured it was my way of making school a bit more challenging. I got almost straight A's--I even got an A in gym class! Of course, we had the world's coolest gym teacher in Senior High. If you showed up and dressed for class, you pretty much could be guaranteed at least a B. I made up missed classes by jogging around the track or, in inclement weather, the teacher let me take marketing surveys which was her side job. I only got one B thanks to a bitchy French teacher who is the reason that I despise all things French. Except for French kissing, French toast and French's mustard. And Sephora, Catherine Deneuve and Renoir...

Hmmm--where was I? Oh, skip it.

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