After a long winter, I always looked forward to those first magnificent days of spring. The weather would warm slightly and people slowly began to emerge from their houses. Neighbors would rev up their lawnmowers. I looked forward to that spring spice of freshly-cut grass. The trees and flowers would start to bloom, and soon summer would arrive bringing with her the final days of school and a nearly 3 month period of festive jubilee.
Though Kickball never suffered in popularity, it was a bit more challenging on those frigid winter days of recess when our noses ran, and our breaths puffed clouds of fog with little, or no effort. Come those first sunny and warm days of March and April, Kickball was as the springtime: full of renewal, life, and sunlit energy. And like its forefather, Baseball was more popular than ever. The ground was still hard, and sliding into bases was just a bit more fun and easy. Yes, spring was a promise of glory, of challenges not yet met, and a time when there was hope for everything.
Enter the spring field trips. In school, more field trips were planned to the great outdoors. I remember one trip in particular where we went to Forest Park for a botany outing. It was one of those day-long trips, so the most of us had geared up for it the night before. Serious things needed to be planned. You had to have enough chips in your lunch, and milk in your thermos.
What I didn't know was that the entire class had been secretly girl-and-guy "pairing up". The guys and girls in the class who actually liked each other had been plotting for the entire week before.
Where was I when all of this was happening? Was this a pre-cursor to the story of my life?
Such clandestine behavior in fellow classmates was, as Sylvester the cat might say, "de-thhpicable!" It was a secret cover up; a cloak and dagger maneuver to hide the fact that a field trip was actually to be a major 'hand holding" adventure. Every guy in class had a female counterpart.
So, let's examine what we've learned so far. Us guys, devout bachelors at heart, were now escorts into the wilds of Oregon with live girls on our sleeves! And the girls for the most part, acted as if they were doing us the favor!
So, after a bit of consideration, weighing the pluses and minuses, this wasn't entirely an evil notion; it could be interesting. If you had even the most remote attraction to a girl in class, it was time to strike before another guy did. My choice for this outing was a dark haired girl named Wendy who happened to be as quiet as myself. Because of her quiet nature, she wasn't the most popular in the class, but as it turned out, I had a much better time than I ever dreamed I would. So, what can you say when Cupid's arrow zaps you in the hind quarters?
Grate Great Spelleen Spelling Bee of 1964!
I always prided myself on my spelling, but never realized how far it would take me. In the spring of 1964, our class had a spelling bee. Everyone was all excited about this because they'd been practicing for weeks-myself included. When the great day arrived, I was nervous. There were several students in our class, and I had to compete against girls. It was a known fact that girls were always much smarter than boys. For the most part, they paid more attention.
On that great day, I was up against Cynthia, the smartest girl in the class. We'd run neck and neck, word for word. She was starting to get nervous. I could see it. I'd matched her with even the hardest words that had the whole "i before e except after c" thing. My mom had coached me really well. She taught me the "disestablishmentarianism" word to practice with. Trust me, the word was much harder to pronounce than spell. Anyway, we were getting to end. Our teacher, Miss Cheer (pronounced Sheer) announced:
"Alright class, the next word is, 'orchestra'."
I couldn't believe it. Cynthia spelled it with a "ck". I took in a breath, and when Miss Cheer looked at me, I replied:
"O-R-C-H-E-S-T-R-A, orchestra." That was the final word, and I won the spelling bee. I was so excited, not only because I'd won, but because I'd crushed an urban myth that girls were always smarter.