Thorny Little Thing

Thorny Little Thing

I handle the small cactus with concern, it is very fragile. I maneuver the little thorny ball into the shallow hole with a rolled up newspaper. Once I have it into position, my partner covers the hole with dry dirt. After we are done planting it, the instructions say we’re supposed to sing the Arizona state song to it, but I don’t know the tune, nobody else is singing, and that’s totally lame anyways.

Up close, the desert is noisy with life, dense with vegetation, busy with insects and animals.

I guess I like the school field trip, it sure beats being stuck in the classroom. I haven’t been at Desert Springs Elementary very long. My first day, after I was introduced to the fourth grade class, a girl looked my blank spelling test. All I had filled in was my name. She threw me a look of complete disgust. “God, like, your handwriting…is…like….SO BIG!” The other kids agreed. “Yeah, why do you write so big, moron?” I really do believe these first comments marked me, doomed me. How dumb, my handwriting wasn’t “big,” I just have good penmanship. Who knows what that little bitch meant to say.

The next year and a half at Desert Springs Elementary sucked. I had bad teachers. I had to watch a video about menstruation that used pancakes to illustrate the fallopian tubes and the uterus. I watched a little chocolate chip or blueberry egg (I forget which) migrate from the small pancakes to the large one. A group of girls sat around acting excited about being a woman in the video. Who knows what they showed the boys. And way back in 1989, there were still a lot of kids who didn’t know what sex was at that age.

Pancakes and cacti. Field trips and mean-spirited handwriting analysis. By the time we moved to Dallas eighteen months later, I vowed to become a nun to get the hell away from as much of humanity as possible. I was happy to go back to a Catholic school like I had when I was in kindergarten. I didn’t realize Catholic schools are a last refuge for children who’ve been kicked out of all the public schools in the area.


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