The older you get, the more difficult it is to get away with things. This is a sad fact. Another sad fact is that Maurice Sendak passed away this week, and another is that there is only one person in the entire world who has been able to get away with a giant red afro. Props to Annie.
I'm not here to give you sad facts. I'm here to tell you that as years are added to your existence, the number of escape routes is subtracted. I'm here to tell you that I miss middle school.
Yes, middle school. Yes, I went from talking about death to musical homeless children to seventh grade in a matter of seconds. You know that thing called structure? That thing called organization? Relevance? Yeah, you won't find that here. If you want that, go read the dictionary.
Middle school is the last time I can remember where I could truly get away with anything. NO, I'm not going to backtrack all the way to the days of being a drooling baby. That's just too obvious. Everyone gets away with anything when they're a slobbering one-sixth of a human being. And if you are not one of these people, if you are one of the few who got plopped down in The Naughty Highchair every time you shit your shit-holder, then I'm truly sorry. That means you got punished three times a day for the first 3 years of your life. That means you got ridiculed 1,095 times before you even learned to keep your saliva in your mouth. Not to mention the giant rash I'm sure you acquired from being in a seated position for the majority of your life. I feel for you. I can't even handle the two bug bites I currently bear that are located in the crevice of my left buttcheek and my upper thigh. Do you know what that's like? To be forced to endure an itchy crevice in a spot you can't publicly scratch? Because no, I'm not going to walk around clenching the bottom of my ass. I'd have to bend over a little bit sideways and a little bit backwards, first of all, then I'd have to inch my fingernails in between the cheek and the leg, second of all, then I'd have to clench my hand in and out repeatedly, third of all. I refuse to do that. And I refuse to continue talking about it.
Ah, middle school. When I think back to middle school, I don't think back to 5th and 6th grade. Those were the days of furry shirts and being told I needed to start shaving my legs, because my knees were apparently very hairy. One of my teachers actually started calling me "Hairy" whenever he saw me, because my friend informed him of my Bigfootesque knees. Even after I gave in and started shaving, he still called me Hairy. I don't care. Really. I don't. Nope, don't care. I'm talking about it 10 years later BECAUSE I don't care. Bigfoot ain't got nothin' on me.
There are three things I miss most about middle school: things that my friends and I could get away with it, things that I know for a fact I could NOT get away with now.
In middle school, you could get away with...
1. Pushing People Into Other People
I'm not being figurative here. I'm not talking about "pushing the envelope" or "if push comes to shove" - I'm talking about "pushing the person next to you" and "pushing and shoving are the same damn thing." I don't know how it began, but I know that it provided days and days of entertainment. I don't care if our world becomes ruled by robots and 3D life-size Tamagotchis - people getting slightly injured will always be funny. It's pretty self-explanatory, but in case it isn't, I'll self-explain it.
You're walking down the hall with a friend. You're heading to class; you're going east. Someone passes the two of you. This person is carrying books in both hands, and they just happen to be heading west. You're on the outside of your friend. You see this as a perfect opportunity. Without hesitation, without contemplation or notification, you ram your left shoulder into your friend hard enough to send your innocent and inattentive amigo directly into the person walking past the two of you. BAM! The two collide. The other person, the one who doesn't go around searching for chances to ram their buddies into other people, drops all of their things, or says "OW!" or starts crying, or gives you a dirty look, or exclaims, "I'M TELLING!" Any one of these reactions is THE reaction you were going for. You find this just hilarious that you just upset a clueless pedestrian, and even hurt them a little. Did they deserve it? Probably not. But that's part of the humor. Your friend starts cracking up, as well. "You really got me that time!" they say, knowingly dedicating the rest of their school day to getting you back. And you eagerly await it.
Of course it started with pushing each other into boys we liked. Then that became boring (cute boys in middle school aren't really a plentiful bunch), so we decided to just start pushing each other into anyone who could walk (a much larger group to pick from), then even that became mundane (they all started to walk as far away from us as possible once they caught onto our antics), and so the last group left for us to target were our teachers. We soon discovered that teachers don't react in the same way as fellow classmates. Fellow classmates can't send you to the principal's office.
That one ended fast.
In middle school, you could get away with...
2. Shoving Pillows Under Your Shirts and Making Fun of Fat People
Well, I just kind of gave that one away, didn't I? I thought of titling it "being really, really mean" - but that's not really something I wish I could get away with now. I vividly remember one specific sleepover with a bunch of girls (obviously I didn't attend sleepovers with a bunch of boys), and a certain somebody got brought up. We did not like this girl because she used to pay boys to allow her to call them things like "honey buns" and "baby poo." I'm sure if this girl made a list like this of her own, that would be on it. It's certainly a habit you cannot get away with later in life. Or ever, for that matter. It wasn't a very successful tactic.
This girl was not fat. But since she was heavier than any of us, we came to the consensus that she was a gigantic heifer. (Please remember, we were in middle school.)
Again, who started it? Who knows. What matters is that once one pillow was shoved up one shirt, it took two seconds for six different pillows to be shoved up six different shirts. Six girls, waddling around like sumo wrestlers, speaking in deep voices (which made absolutely no sense since we were making fun of a prepubescent female), rubbing our pillow-tummies and climbing up onto things like monkeys. Yes, we were climbing. One by one, we would mount ourselves up onto the back of a chair, or the back of a couch, and we would shout "I'M BETSYYYYY! BE MY HONEY BUNS!" and we'd leap off of the couch and land on our stomach, cushioned by the pillow. It really did not hold much reason at all, since "Betsy" was not known to climb up onto things and belly-flop onto the ground, but this mattered not. All we knew was we had pillows stuffed in our shirts, and the only logical thing to do was bounce around on them.
In middle school, you could get away with...
3. Not Wearing Shoes
I must admit, I never personally experienced this one. But just because I did not partake in it does not mean I did not witness it. One of my closest friends in middle school randomly started this habit of not wearing her shoes at school. She would arrive to school with them on, yes, but as soon as she stepped into that building, some ever-powerful being was telling her:
"Take off your shoes...just take 'em off...who needs shoes...the floor is so cold...it feels so good on your hot feet...socks are enough...who needs shoes when you have socks..."
One minute we'd be walking to class, and the next thing you knew, we were at a standstill.
"No, we're gonna be late! Did you forget something?"
"I forgot to take off my shoes."
"I have to go put my shoes in my locker."
"Can't it wait?"
"No. I don't want to wear my shoes."
"But you didn't want to wear your shoes yesterday!"
"Yeah, but I'm not finished."
"Not finished with what?"
"Not finished not wearing my shoes."
After weeks of playing George of the Middle School, our principal began to notice that one of us had shoes that all-too-closely resembled socks...
"Oh, hello Mr. Goose! We're just heading to class."
"Where are your shoes, Ms. Penny?"
"I took them off."
"And why did you do that?"
"I didn't want to wear them."
"Where are they?"
"In my locker."
"Go get your shoes, please, Ms. Penny, and I'll write you a tardy excuse."
As if a tardy excuse sufficed. Teachers don't take tardy excuses and not read them. This was yet another hilarious part of the whole situation: seeing our teacher's reaction after reading:
TARDY SLIP: Ms. Penny will be late to class because she was barefoot.
Even after countless tardy slips and lectures from the principal, she continued to never wear her shoes. Perhaps if this odd behavior had been ignored, she would have eventually started wearing them again. But since it got so much attention, entertaining our entire group of friends every single day, the behavior continued. Joel Goodsen ain't got nothin' on her.
At 21 years old, could I get away with this now? Could I walk around pushing humans into other humans on the street as hard as I could? No, I'd probably get shot. Could I stuff bedding into my clothes and yell at others in a deep voice? No, I'd probably get arrested. Could I go everywhere barefoot? No, I'd probably be handed money from strangers walking past me with them saying, "Spend it wisely, you poor thing." I could do those things then, but I can't do them now, even though I'm the exact same person. It's a sad fact, BUT - you know what I can do? I can write about it.