grown up: part uno

When i was 8, i wanted to be a chiropractor.

In truth, i was just proud that i knew what a chiropractor WAS. I remember sitting in Mrs. Sigmon’s 3rd grade classroom as she stood by the chalkboard asking the class, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I remember several boys answering: Doctor, Fireman, and cigarette maker (Thank you, Phillip Morris, for your positive influence on the children of Cabarrus County, NC). Girls responded with: Nurse, Teacher, and, the really ambitious ones who later turned to drugs and eating disorders, Dancer. As Mrs. Sigmon noted each of these answers in chalk, i shouted out with pride, “CHIROPRACTOR!” She was delightfully startled… until she turned back to the board to document my answer.

“C…”, she began with trepidation, “I…”

“It starts with a CH!”, i bellowed.

When the youngest kid in your class, from the lowest reading group possible, tells you how to spell something…. there is a problem.

I’d like to thank you, Mrs. Sigmon the Seamonster, for lowing the bar in our public education system.

After years had passed and i spent a short time in private school and i was held back a year (we’ll address THAT at some point in time when i’m NOT still beaming over being able to spell chiropractor), i found myself back in the public education system in Mrs. Rose’s 5th grade class. I loved Mrs. Rose. She was the first stereotypically sassy black woman in my life (Little did i know my future would hold so many sassy black women in the form of gay men). After i toooootally nailed a creative writing assignment, Mrs. Rose suggested i be included in a program, known as A.G., that would cater to some creative elements not covered in a standard classroom. That’s ACADEMICALLY GIFTED, yo. As a straight D student with little motivation, i feel CREATIVELY GIFTED would have suited me best, but that option was not available. And since my murder mystery writing skills also won me the 5th grade BEST WRITER award, i felt it was pretty obvious that being an author was my destiny. Watch out, Christopher Pike and V.C. Andrews… who i definitely should not have been exposed to so young in life. The 6th grade and Mrs. Kelsey (a far less-than-sassy black woman) were humbling to my aspirations.

“Carrie, you’re in the 6th grade and you don’t know that a new paragraph requires indenting? Furthermore, one does not begin sentences with ‘and’ or ‘but’. “

INDENT THIS, MRS. KELSEY!!!!! Also, your claim that i should “stop making words up”, because the English language has “already been decided upon”, is the reason i’m CREATIVELY GIFTED and YOU’RE NOT. It’s not the Academically Gifted making up the new words. They already have their future as Grammar Nazis pretty well mapped out. If i tried to follow rules of grammar here, i’d never make it past that first paragraph indentation. And, YES, i DID just spell that “indention”, until i googled it!

My junior high years were a blur. I was horrible at every subject. I was still anti-homework. I was, however, teacher’s pet in chorus. Thank God for Mr. Keesler, who liked younger women.

In high school, i sucked at life. Subjects like POLITICAL SCIENCE and FRENCH II still haunt me to this day. The fact that i don’t vote OR live in Paris is nothing that should take my teachers by surprise. I excelled in 2 subjects only: DRAMA and BIBLE. At public high schools in North Carolina, there can be an elective of Bible History, as long as it is completely funded by private organizations. Back then, i thought that was really cool. Now, i find that TERRIFYING. Don’t get me wrong, reading the Bible in a secular setting was the best thing that ever happened to me, but if the class is privately funded, who is really controlling what gets covered in this course??? Perhaps i’m lucky that my teacher was fairly moderate… aaaand questionably butch. I loved that class so much. By the time i was in Bible III: The Study of Revelation, the students had really grown together as a family… albeit a terrified-of-the-apocalypse family. We all had different religious backgrounds, including none at all, and it was a far more enlightening way to consider scripture than the completely well-meaning, yet often-incorrect, lessons i received from my Sunday School teacher. The Bible club also presented a musical each spring and yours truly got to sing her heart out as Jezebel. I once had a VHS of that performance, but i loaned it to another student who claims that he “lost” it. I’d like to think that he just couldn’t bear to part with me and that he kept that tape as a reminder of how stunning i was. But, in truth, he probably taped over it with the network premiere of Boomerang.

All that Bible class hoopla led to me entering college with a major in Christian Education. How does one get from being a Christian Education major at a Southern Baptist university to being a stage manager at a contemporary theatre company that often shows penis???? I’m glad you asked…..


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