Day Fifty: Playing Hooky

My Tina Turner days. Wanna go to the beach?

When I was in high school, I was thisclose to being a full-time "mathlete."
My only saving grace was Fran, my cool friend who taught me the ways of coffee in those blue/white Greek paper cups, big hair, Newport Lights cigarettes, and chewing minty gum at the right place and the right time. Because of her, I had (cough, cough) interesting moments that I will cherish forever.

While I tried to be as cool as Fran, there was one person who was adamant that I keep one foot firmly planted in the land of mathletes. Of course, that person was my Mom. For most of high school, I had to be home by 11pm on the weekends. Once I became a senior, she graciously added an extra half hour to my curfew which only garnered more ridicule from my friends--except Fran, of course. She was always sympathetic to my situation. And sometimes she encouraged me to break the rules for the sake of feeling like a normal kid. She never asked me to rob a bank or kill anyone. She thought my acts of rebellion shouldn't hurt anyone.

Towards the end of our junior year, the weather became incredibly distracting. One day, Fran suggested that we cut class and go to the beach. Me cut class? I had never entertained the idea before, but the sunny blue skies were shouting at us to go to the beach. So we planned to cut class the next day. I was to wait until my parents left for work, then call up the attendance office, pretend to be my Mom, and report myself absent for the day. Then I would meet Fran at her house before heading to the beach. The night before, I anxiously packed my beach bag and hid it under my bed.

The next morning, I went about my morning routine and waited in my room while my parents left for work. When I heard the front door close, I went to the kitchen to grab something quick to drink before heading out and saw (gasp!) my Dad reading the newspaper. The man--who had never missed a day of work in God knows how many years--had called in sick. The sight of him sitting at the table in his pajamas caused a mild panic attack and I slowly backed out of the kitchen hoping that he wouldn't see me.

But he did. He started to ask why I was still home when I cut him off, grabbed the phone in the hallway, and snaked it into my room. After sitting there for a few minutes, leaning against the back of the door and clutching the phone, a wave of calm came over me. And I started to ask myself some motivating questions: Didn't I deserve a day off, too? Aren't I a great kid, one that never does anything bad? Why should everyone else have fun but me? And who am I hurting, anyway? I resolved to make that phone call and set my plan in motion. Within minutes, I was on a bus with Fran and headed to the beach.

When I came home, my Dad was laying down in his room. I changed out of my clothes and and tried to discreetly dispose of anything that was sand-filled. When my Mom came home from work, I helped her in the kitchen with dinner and we made light conversation about how our days were. Of course, I was lying through my teeth, but I was so happy about my day at the beach that I just made up a bunch of nonsense about teachers and classes. Halfway through our meal, my poker-faced Mom finally spoke up.

The downside of being a good kid is that the people in the administrative office actually care about you. So the person who took attendance--a woman who remembered me even though I didn't remember her--called back to see if I was okay. She was genuinely concerned. When my Dad answered the phone, he was really confused and called my Mom. Well, my Mom called back the school and wanted to know what they were talking about. And that's when my little plan went south.

I never got yelled at like that in my entire life. The kitchen appliances vibrated with every shriek and I kept shrinking and shrinking in my seat. And in the morning, my Mom escorted me to school and spoke with the dean in person. After the two of them talked about me as if I wasn't even in the room, they decided that I deserved one week of detention, a fate worse than death to an insecure 17 year old girl.

But I lived through it. And I did have a terrific time at the beach that day. And eventually this former 17 year old girl got over the public humiliation of having her name on a detention list instead of an honor's list.

Thanks for the detention, Mom. :)