I didn’t always think things through when I was a child. You might find that hard to believe, considering all the wise choices I’ve told you about on my blog. Third grade was a special time of my life. I blossomed into a model student. When the school bell rang, that special place in my brain was closed and put away until the next day. Under no circumstances should that school box in my mind be reopened until the next day. The only exception to the rule was report card day.
Never in my life did I skip home to eagerly show my parents a report card. Somehow my mom got wind of the report cards before I showed it to them. I had to show it because it had to be signed. “Did you get a report card today?” Mom asked when my feet crossed the threshold.
I stopped and thought long and hard. Oh yeah, I do seem to remember getting something with letters on it.
One year a classmate came up with an ingenious idea. When we came back with our signed report cards, he had changed all his grades from C’s and D’s to A’s and B’s. The card was heavily smudged, but somehow he managed to fool his parents. Either that or he signed for his parents – but then, what would be the value of changing the grades?
The teacher, however, wasn’t so easily swayed. She noticed immediately and held the card out for him to observe. “Why did you change your grades?” she demanded.
“It was like that when I got it,” he said with the confidence of a third-grader caught in the act.
“Do you think I’m stupid?” The teacher let him have it. He feebly tried to defend his honor, but he was no match for a teacher well-trained in the art of student humiliation. As I watched the consequences unfold before my eyes, I realized that his brilliant plan was more flawed than we had expected. Then I was glad I hadn’t thought of such a tactic. Plus, I seriously doubt my parents would have overlooked the smudged eraser marks. Instead, I would have to resign myself to handing over the evidence of my lack of academic effort every three months. I saw no way around this quarterly fate.
One day I had an ingenious plan of my own. It was a plan to make my classmate Terry Ballew laugh. Terry was a nut. And he always asked me for my pat of butter. When he asked for my butter this time, I’d be ready. I took a pea, put it up my nose, and when he asked, I turned to him.
“Ms. Severts!” he yelled. Then he pointed at me and said, “Eddie put a pea up his nose.”
That wasn’t the reaction I had desired. I quickly disposed of the pea in a napkin and acted like I didn’t know what he was talking about. But it didn’t work. All panic broke out. The next thing I knew, a lunch lady was attacking my face with a dishrag and saying, “Where is it? It didn’t go up in there did it?” I assured her it wasn’t up there. Then my teacher sent me back to the class.
I sat their wondering what could be worse than going back to class hungry. But I found out. Outside the classroom my teacher said, “Since Eddie wants attention, let me tell you what he did in the lunch room.” Every gossip-hungry ear perked up.
I don’t know exactly what she told them, but suddenly everyone was calling me the green pea man. Rumor had it, I put a green pea up my nose and then ate it. Oh the humanity! I didn’t eat it. And it wasn’t even green. It was a black-eyed pea. For the next five years I lived under the black cloud of being the boy who ate the green pea. In the eighth grade, my parents sent me to a private school for a year. I thought I’d heard the last of the green pea. But in the ninth grade I returned. Terry was the first to greet me in high school.
“Hey, it’s the green pea man.” He turned to some people and said, “Let me tell you about the time Eddie put a green pea in his nose and ate it.”
Good grief! The past haunts me!
I did learn a valuable lesson from Terry. I got several nicknames I didn’t appreciate, but one day I decided I didn’t want these names. Complaining only encouraged the teasing, so I devised a new plan. We were playing football and someone said, “Hey, Green pea.” I casually walked by. “Hey, Green pea,” he said with a hint of frustration. I kept walking. He called out again, but I didn’t hear. Finally, he said, “Eddie!”
I turned and said, “What?” Thus began my strategy to wean people off any nickname I didn’t like. A short time later, no one remembered the green pea man. That is until now.
Eddie Snipes 2013
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