Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Which brings up another thing...

Having escaped from GTC, the geniuses at Stout Elementary School thought they'd take another shot at me. I was in the throes of sixth grade when I was called out of class with a group of other students. Mind you, some, but not all of the same students who had managed to hold on to their extra special GTC notebooks for the last two years. They looked at me, the defector, as I came into the very classroom where I'd first learned that I was in GTC two years ago. It was still the fourth grade classroom, but they were in P.E., so it was available for our top-secret meeting. I braced for the news that I was being put back into GTC. They weren't going to take me alive.

Since my break from GTC, I'd done that report on UFOs. It was in the fifth grade, and I even designed the folder to look like a top-secret government file, using a stencil so it looked super official. When we all handed in our reports, the other kids looked at mine nervously because it trumped their folders. This included the GTC students who had witnessed my decline and downfall with the Glass Report.

GTC Kid: God, Anne.

Me: (silent, knowing.)

Kid I had crush on: That's really cool, Hefley.

Me: (silent, blushing)

Girl: (jealously) Did your parents help you with that?

Me: (angry, advancing) No you asshole, I did it all myself.

Girl: (shrinks away before she gets punched.)

And, I had done it all myself. Not only was the cover cool, but the report was a good one. I'd hit all the major sightings, famous cases, the unexplained and tied them up neatly into a fifth grade report. I even touched on the skepticism regarding the encounters. It was all there. I'd never been so excited to receive an assignment back, and when Mrs. Daniels walked into class each morning, I'd crane my neck to see if she was bringing in what looked like 25 or so graded reports.

The day that she did, I could barely contain myself. It was torture, seeing them there and waiting for her to hand them out, knowing the answer was within that pile. Everything I had fought for, stood for, was there. Was I going to be vindicated, or was Mrs. Brown, that miserable cow, right all along? Mrs. Daniels announced that she'd hand the reports back after lunch recess and I deflated. To a fifth grader, three hours was a lifetime. I contemplated sneaking in during recess and peeking, but then involved myself in a game of kickball to pass the time.

When the bell rang, I left kids in my wake to get to the door. I was first in line, and we filed back into the school. I sat in my desk, along with the other kids who were waiting to see what they got on their big reports, and Mrs. Daniels was writing on the chalkboard. I stifled a primal scream.

Finally, she stopped writing, scooped the up reports and handed them back. I opened mine, and the first thing I saw was "nice cover!" written on a note inside the report. I scanned down some comments, then saw it. A big red circled "A". I stifled another primal scream.

Sort of.

It kind of came out like, "Unnggggghhhmmm." A couple kids turned around. I ignored them. I was having my own personal victory. I'd gotten an A on a huge report. Mrs. Brown could kiss my E.T. loving ass. And ass, as it turns out, begins with A. The rest of the day, I left my report on my desk, open, so everyone who passed by could see that big fat "A."

But back to sixth grade, standing in the fourth grade classroom, arms crossed, wondering. That's when Mrs. Daniels, who was teaching sixth grade now, along with the principal came in to the room. I uncrossed my arms, the other kids straightened. He told us to take a seat, and I sat in one that looked like it had the least chance of having dried boogers underneath it.

As Mrs. Daniels stood quietly, the principal explained that our aptitude test scores had come back, and that all of us had scored exceptionally high in the math portion.

Me: (raising hand)

Principal: Yes, Anne?

Me: Are you sure I'm on the list and not the other Ann?

Principal: (looking at Daniels, who looks at paper and nods) Yes, Anne.

Me: (floored)

The principal went on to explain that we'd all scored so high that we were to skip seventh grade math next year and go right into eighth grade math.

Math Whizzes: (communal gasp)

He also said that we were to keep this quiet so as not to upset the other kids who didn't do as well on this test, and that it was the responsibility of extra intelligent kids like us to handle this in a mature matter. We promised we would, but as soon as we got back to class, we celebrated, especially yours truly who jumped over a couple desks saying, "Alright!" with each leap. We were sixth graders. We'd just been told to keep it secret that we'd aced the IQ test. The rest of the class was instantly curious.

Class: What? What was it?

Mrs. Daniels: (sternly) Anne, sit down and be quiet.

Anne: (sits and shuts up)

By the end of the day, it got out that there was a group of us that were skipping seventh grade math next year. Mrs. Daniels pulled me and a few of the other loud revelers aside and scolded us for leaking the classified information. She told us, me in particular, that she could pull us out of the program as fast as we got in if we showed we couldn't handle it. Looking back, I don't think that was true, that she could write a letter to the school system that said Anne Hefley suffered from "public excessive happiness" at the news so she must be taken out of the program. However, the threat worked at the time. I didn't want the humiliation of being pulled out of the extra special class. Besides, I fired the advanced classes, they didn't fire me. That was just how it was done.

I was happy about the news because in my sixth grade mind it meant fewer classes for me to take. It was also another validation, of what, I don't know, but my parents were in the middle of a divorce and to a kid you think maybe something like this will make everything ok again.

It didn't, for me nor my parents. That was the last time that I'd show anything exceptional when it came to math. The thing was, I was a good test taker. I was a horrible homework doer and classroom participant. When seventh grade rolled around, I found the eighth graders resented having a few smart ass "little seventh graders" in their class. Our presence there was like we were holding a big banner calling them stupid. We were a constant target for ridicule, spit balls, chair kicks, hostile glares, walk-bys, (a walk-by is where someone drifts by your desk and does one of the following; punches your arm just enough to hurt, pinches you, thumps or shoves your head, or steps on your foot.) We had moved to a new neighborhood, therefore I was at a new school where I didn't know a soul. I fell behind in the work, and eventually, it came to this.

Me: I want to be in seventh grade math.

Principal: Ok.

And that was that. Once the pressure was off to be exceptional, I improved. Only a little it, but I was with my peers. No one knew that I'd been a chosen one again, they just saw a new face in their class and asked where I'd been since I was in their other classes.

Me: Another class.

Them: Oh.

As for the other seventh graders still in the eighth grade class, they asked me what happened.

Me: I wanted out.

Them: Oh.

In a way I'd betrayed them by diminishing the ranks of seventh graders, therefore increasing the amount of attacks per week on each of them. But hey, it's a tough world out there. I was simply doing what was best for me.

Because despite what a test or calculation of percentages said, only I knew what that was.

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