Boys – they’re trouble, plain and simple. Time and again as I was growing up, they got me into trouble.
I think that’s why I thought they were so cool. When they got into trouble, they had fun doing it – most of the time, at least. And I did, too.
It all started with The Three Stooges. As Larry, Moe and Curly messed with each other and with others, as those “boys” whipped up antics others never dreamed of, I was watching, eyes glued to the screen, thinking, “I want to do that. It looks like fun.”
Sometimes I did – like when I tried to swing from the dining room drapes – and got shooed right down—or the day I was bound and determined I could shinny up the radiator pipe – and got my leg stuck between the pipe and the wall.
For the record, I had fun both times.
By first grade, I was mesmerized by the antics of Dennis the Menace. For my first school Halloween party, I talked my mother into getting me a Dennis costume and making a yellow cap to cover my long brown hair.
I’m sure was the only girl in my class dressed in a boy’s costume. I didn’t care. I could barely breathe beneath the plastic mask, but I was sure the menace was with me in spirit. I didn’t need to behave badly to feel good about the troublemaker I’d become under my stifling one-piece plastic outfit.
I found some real trouble, too, that year. A cute boy sat behind me in school, and I always had something important to tell him.
Imagine that – me, talking.
Some say I never shut up. They’re probably right.
Back then, teachers – even good ones – used disciplinary methods they can’t use today. After way too many threats from a teacher with the patience of a saint who finally reached her limit, I got my mouth taped shut.
It was all because of that boy, I swear.
Things went along pretty well until fourth grade, when I had another teacher with an extra dose of patience. (I'm sure to this day it’s because she didn’t have any kids of her own.) She made one mistake. She put that cute boy in front of me.
“Psst, psst, [Cute Boy], know what?”
No response. (My ten year old mind: “He loves me. He’s just playing hard to get.”)
“Hey, guess what?”
Teacher: “Ann, would you please come to my desk?”
Shuffle, shuffle, head hung low.
“How many times have I told you not to bother him during class?”
“It was important.” (This really meant, “He’s so cute I can’t stop bothering him. Why do you teachers keep putting us in the same row?”)
It was his fault. It must have been. I was just an innocent girl. It was always those darned boys, making me get into trouble.
In fifth grade, I’d found new heroes in paperback books. The ones I liked most were the books about trouble-making boys like Homer Price, Rupert, and Toby Tyler. I wanted to be them.
The orneriness reached its pinnacle in junior high when a new boy joined my class. Our math teacher, also the principal, was a cool guy. He tolerated quite a lot – like pretending he didn’t see us throwing our pencils so they’d stick in the popcorn ceiling.
The study hall teacher was not so cool. People got in trouble there every day. When Cute New Boy and I got caught passing notes in a dictionary, we were lucky we only got scolded and didn’t receive corporal punishment. Yep, in the ‘60s, teachers got away with that.
My trouble-making with boys came to an abrupt halt later that year when I got called to the principal’s office. Cute New Boy was flirting with me, I guess, by wadding up pieces of bread and throwing them at me as we ate our lunch on the wooden bleachers in the big school gymnasium. I threw some back.
My one and only disciplinary visit to a school administrator’s office went something like this:
“Ann, I’m surprised at you.”
“But, the boys were throwing it first.”
“Yes, but you know better, don’t you?”
Looking at the floor, “I guess so.”
And then the line that hit the hardest, "I'm disappointed in you."
So much for orneriness – darned boys.
I wonder, though. Were they really the troublemakers , or was I?
Or, should I just blame it all on Larry, Moe, Curly and that little blonde-haired boy with the cowlick?
© Ann Tracy Mueller 2012