It was second grade. This was back in the days where my hair was down to my waist, my bangs were much too short, and my fashion statement of choice was a good pair of multicolored stretch pants. School was a source of enjoyment for me. I loved the orderliness of classes and the opportunities to learn.
I was a staunch rule-follower, with unflinching intolerance for rule-breakers. As such, I was often sat near the “naughty” kids, the kids who talked too much and sat still too little. This is why I spent part of second grade year sitting by Matt.
Matt was the worst, in my opinion. He was loud, fidgety, and despite sitting next to Taylor the Enforcer, never seemed to behave. He was always being called out by Teacher for some sort of wrongdoing. As the long days of second grade dragged by, I listened to his chatter and witnessed his evident naughtiness. He talked while I was trying to do my times tables and focusing during spelling? Forget about it. I couldn’t imagine how things could get any worse. Until Pencilgate.
Over one weekend, I’d had a playdate with my BFF. At the end of our playdate, she gave me a super-cool camouflage pencil. I couldn’t wait to take it to school and show it off. Not everyone’s BFF gives them awesome pencils, after all. I brought it to school on Monday and put it in the little pencil well in my desk, giving it a special spot apart from the other pencils. I was going to be so envied when I used it. So envied.
Unfortunately, that day never came. When I went to open my desk between classes later that day to get my language notebook, Matt spied the pencil.
“Ooh, what’s that?” he asked mischievously.
I stared daggers at him. I was not in the mood.
“It’s my awesome pencil my best friend gave me. Leave me alone.”
“That’s a pretty cool pencil. Can I see?”
I watched in horror as if it were slow motion, as he reached across and snatched my pencil from my desk.
“Give it baaaaaaack! Give it baaaaaack!” I was indignant. I couldn’t believe this kid! How could he?
This was the pencil from my BEST FRIEND FOREVER. This was no joking matter.
He held my beloved pencil far above my head as I reached for it, trying to get back what was rightfully mine. My struggle was interrupted by Teacher, who was ready to start class. We sat down and Matt slipped the pencil into his desk. Defeat.
With steadfast faith in the law, or the classroom rules, as it were, I decided the mature thing to do would be to go to Teacher at recess and explain the situation. She knew Matt was naughty. She would remedy the situation.
To my surprise, I was not only stolen from, but insulted. When I went to talk to Teacher, I was not met with the due process of rules I was expecting. I told my story, and when I’d finished, Teacher looked at me with disdain.
“You can look in his desk!” I said. The proof would be in the pudding.
After recess, Teacher went to Matt and asked him about the pencil in question.
“It’s mine!” he claimed. “I don’t know why she’s saying I stole it!”
“But Teacher!” I exclaimed. “Matt stole my favorite pencil! I saw him!
Teacher looked at me with disdain I wouldn’t soon forget.
“Taylor, it’s not okay to try to steal things from people. This is clearly Matt’s pencil. I’m disappointed in you that you’d try to take it from him. We don’t lie in this classroom.”
I was speechless and appalled. ME? A liar? Where was the justice? How would I ever get my pencil back?
It appeared that I wouldn’t, so I decided on revenge instead. Valentine’s Day was coming up, and I’d bought these valentines that had female smiley faced characters dressed up in stylish outfits with captions like “You’re cute, Valentine.”
Most were pretty gender-neutral, save the stylish and girly characters on the front, except for one, which had a smiley face character in leopard print and a boa with the caption, “You’ve got style, Valentine.” How girly! It would be super embarrassing, I thought, if a guy got one of these. Like, horrifying. Any boy in the second grade wouldn’t be caught dead holding a valentine like that. I knew who the perfect recipient of such a valentine would be.
Valentine’s Day came, and I passed out my valentines to the class, names carefully written on each. Best friends got the cutest ones (obviously) and the rest were carefully assigned based on some sort of selection process I’d decided upon. I cackled to myself in my second-grade malevolence as I handed Matt his super-embarrassing valentine. You’ve got style, I thought. HA. You’ve got some nerve is what you’ve got. But that’s no matter. I’ll show YOU not to steal my pencil again.
I’m pretty sure that Matt was not upset in the least bit by my Valentine, but at the time, I felt deeply satisfied. I’d exacted my revenge on that dirty, rotten pencil stealer. And it was a Valentine’s Day that’s stuck with me until this day. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s because I can remember how scandalized I was by being called a liar or by having my favorite pencil stolen. Or maybe it’s because it’s a great demonstration of my complete inability to be truly mean. The lesson here is that it’s not wise to double-cross me, because I’ll give you the most complimentary Valentine ever.
Inspired by the WordPress Daily Post prompt My Funny Valentine.
Some other great writings on the topic: