I'm not sure what my thought process was with that one. I actually can't even begin to explain why I thought it would be a fun idea, but then again I don't know why I did most things.
In third grade, my antics started to land me in trouble. I had a habit of disrupting class, especially during science. I couldn't be bothered to learn the difference between herbivores and carnivores, or what caused rain. In my mind, "rain is magic" was a suitable answer for weather patterns, and I spent most of the daily science lessons drawing pictures and quietly passing them to the girl who sat next to me in class, Lee Sugars.
I had a crush on Lee, but I also hated her guts, and I think the feeling was mutual. As a result, every note I passed her was either mean, or disgusting, or both.
I had a tendency to take whatever recent lesson was being taught and turn it into an inappropriate doodle: Helen Keller with giant torpedo boobs, two Martin Luther Kings making out (sometimes with torpedo boobs of their own), and so on. Because of this, my teacher Mrs. Bateson hated me. She sent me to the principal's office literally every week, and even though I usually deserved it, I still felt like a child martyr and detested Mrs. Bateson for what I deemed to be unfair prosecution.
She also looked like a thumb, which only added to my dislike of her.
Mrs. Bateson finally drew the line in October that year. The class was making jack-o-lanterns out of construction paper and she'd put on a CD of Halloween sound effects—rattling chains, crackling thunder, yowling cats and the like. When Derek Stevens got squeamish at the sound of beating hearts and nervously asked Mrs. Bateson to turn the CD off, I loudly told him to "quit being a pussy."
In my defense, I didn't even know what a pussy was. I barely knew what a vagina was, let alone its noms de guerre. Hell, I still thought girls peed out their butts. I thought "pussy" was a gently mocking term, synonymous with "wimp" or "wuss," so I was baffled when Mrs. Bateson lost her shit over it.
I wasn't sure how to respond. I truly didn't know what was so offensive about what I'd said, but Mrs. Bateson wasn't having it. At recess, she made me stay behind to discuss my behavior.
"Adam, you can't use that word," she told me. "It's not a nice word."
"Yeah, ok, sorry, I won't do it again. Now can I go? I can hear them starting foursquare and—"
"We have to discuss your punishment." I narrowed my eyes at her suspiciouly. There was a field trip scheduled that afternoon to tour the Hancock Ice Cream Factory, and everyone in class was excited for the ice cream we'd inevitably get at the end of the tour. I was nervous my punishment might involve the field trip. Mrs Bateson continued, "I think it's only fair that during the field trip this afternoon, you shouldn't be rewarded with ice cream like everyone else."
I couldn't muster any words, I could only stare at Mrs. Bateson, who herself seemed unfazed. I could almost make out the hint of a smile on her thumb-face.
I knew from experience that I couldn't argue with her. I pouted through lunch, scowled through the van ride to the ice cream factory, and lingered in the back of the group frowning while a cheery, elderly woman in an apron pandered to us about how interesting the history of ice cream was.
At the end of the tour the cheery lady handed out cones to everyone—except for me, of course. Mrs. Bateson took the ice cream lady aside and explained that I was a demon child and didn't deserve treats, so I was forced to watch everyone else enjoy ice cream around me. I was stewing in disgruntled self pity when Lee Sugars sauntered up to me, a cheshire cat grin plastered across her face.
"You can have my cone, Adam," she said sweetly." I don't even like ice cream." I gave her a cautious side-eye, but my gluttony overtook me and I accepted her offer.
My tongue had barely touched the chilly sweetness of Huckleberry ice cream when Lee turned away from me and hollered to Mrs. Bateson.
Mrs. Bateson turned and shot daggers at me with her eyes.
As the group was ushered out into the parking lot, I leaned in and whispered into Lee's ear.
During the van ride back I kept my eyes fixed on Lee, willing her to spontaneously burst into flames. I fantasized about the van crashing into a semi truck of toxic waste, which would spill on Lee and burn her skin off. The entire time, she grinned back at me like a smug weasel.
When we arrived back at school and one of the chaperones opened the van's sliding door, I unbuckled my seatbelt and angled toward Lee before hopping out of the vehicle. "This isn't over," I told her. She glared back at me, her stare icy. I shifted away and scooted across the seat but before I could hop down to the sidewalk, I felt a forceful pair of hands on my back and before I knew it I was flying out of my seat. I hardly registered that Lee had pushed me—I was falling, face first, toward the pavement. It was only a few feet, but to a child it seemed an eternity. Time seemed to slow as I careened toward the concrete.
I landed on the right side of my forehead. The sound from inside my own skull was sickening, like having your head inside ceramic vase and someone whacking it with a hammer, except my head was the vase and the earth was the hammer. After the collision I remember little. Chaperones clamored around me, kids murmured and were shooed away. The aftermath is a blur, but I recall being seated in the nurse's office, a kindly young redheaded nurse holding a bag of ice to my forehead, and myself screaming and screaming with tears running down my face.
In retrospect, I don't accurately remember the pain, just shrieking nonstop like I was dying because the pain was so severe. "Your mom will be here at 3:30," the nurse told me. "Just try to calm down until then." I glanced at the the clock. It was only 2:30. I could see the principal in his office. He was talking to someone on the phone, laughing jovially like nothing was wrong. Why was nobody worried about my injury? Why wasn't I in the hospital? I might've had a concussion, or maybe cerebral edema. There might be internal bleeding!
I thought of Mrs. Bateson, up in room 227, chuckling to herself that her least favorite student was downstairs dying from massive head trauma.
Nobody took things seriously in the 90's. Teachers didn't need to worry about their shortcomings being captured on camera phones and uploaded on YouTube. Kids were too busy huffing scented markers to notice they were being neglected by their caretakers. It was no wonder the administration couldn't care less. If they just kept me contained until the end of the school day, I'd be my mom's problem.
When my mother did arrive to pick me up, I barely noticed because I was too busy howling.
The office aide told my mom that I'd fallen out of the van, even though I'd spent the last hour screaming that Lee Sugars had shoved me.
I probably should have gone to the hospital, but like I said, it was the 90's. This was before Gwyneth Paltrow taught us that bread is poison, before we knew measles vaccinations caused children to mutate into lizard monsters.
The next day, I had a big bump on my forehead where I'd landed. The swelling went down, but the bump never disappeared completely. It actually changed the shape of my skull slightly, and the lump can still be felt.
I feel like that bears repeating. I'm 26, and I still have a bump on my head from when I fell out of a van eighteen years ago.
Is it too late to sue? What's Gloria Allred's email? I'm assuming it's xXxKoRnFan69xXx@hotmail.com.