The first and only time I was summoned to the principal’s office I was in 6th grade and eleven years old. Hearing my name called out in science class sent an electric jolt through me. I felt the sting of every eyeball on me as I slunk out of the room toward Mr. Simmons’ office, a place very familiar to my older brother David but previously unseen by me.
Mr. Simmons kept a paddle hanging outside his door as an ominous warning to Not. Mess. With. Him. It was a flat, rectangular shaped hunk of varnished wood with a handle and holes drilled into the paddle to reduce air resistance and increase velocity. Ouch. David was BFFs with that paddle.
I got hotter and clammier with each step toward THE OFFICE wondering if my rear-end would become intimate with a hunk of wood for the first time. I quickly scanned the inventory of my life in search of what I could’ve done wrong to deserve this. But I had not broken a rule since I was five years old when my brother busted me stealing Cherry Smash flavored roll-on lip gloss called Kissing Potion made by Maybelline. I was a good girl.
When I entered the office, I was relieved to see a few other girls in attendance. I would not suffer this fate alone. Mr. Simmons launched into a speech that started with school bus safety. That’s when I realized the other girls also rode Bus #9 driven by Mrs. Buttercase.
I audibly exhaled and turned about five shades of pink. “That’s what this is about?” Relief swept over me even though I knew my brother was one of “the boys”. He’d thrown one of the tampons at me, nailing me in the left eye. It landed at my feet where I gawked at it wondering what everyone was so freaked out about. It was just a white hunk of cotton with a string coming out of it. What was the big deal?
“This mornin’, Mrs. Buttercase told me some of the boys were throwing feminine hygiene products.”
I’d never seen a real tampon before in or out of its applicator, but the older kids were in hysterics. They winced, convulsed and heaved like they might puke if the flying cotton came within an inch of them. Chaos reigned. Mr. Simmons was right when he yelled, “It’s a miracle Mrs. Buttercase didn’t run off into a ditch and kill all y’all.”
David was sure to get paddled again for this infraction, but I hadn’t thrown anything. I had only kicked the offending cotton under the seat in front of me.
Mr. Simmons continued, “But what I wanna know is where did the boys get such a thing? Which one of you girls knows something about this?” I could swear he was looking at me. Someone supplied the ammunition and they were going to be in as much trouble as the boys who’d begun throwing them around. My brother was usually the instigator of trouble on Bus #9. By the look in Mr. Simmons’ eyes, David had already been convicted and I was the likely accomplice. Never mind that any boy could’ve raided his mother’s or sister’s stash. Duh.
Anxious to distance myself from my brother, I shot my hand in the air. Mr. Simmons looked surprised, like he’d caught a fish without using any bait; it jumped into his boat. “Yes, Kambri, what do you have to say about this?”
“Sir, it wasn’t me. I haven’t even had my first period!”
Mr. Simmons turned a shade of scarlet worthy of its own letter. “Oh, well, umm…okay, you can go on back to class then.”
And thus began my lifelong habit of sharing Too. Much. Information.
I never ever got Kissing Potion by stealing or purchasing. The slick, yummy gloss was forever ruined for me by the shame of stealing it once in a moment of selfish passion.