I have spent much of my life playing by the rules. Now I come to think of it, I’m not writing this blog post from prison, or from any radical den of iniquity so I guess I’m still playing by the rules.
When I was a child, though, I took this to extreme measures. I was an obsessive goody two shoes and I could not bear to partake in any activity that was in any way less than scrupulous. This made me an overwhelming mixture of boring, whiny and conscientious. Well, today I’ve decided to let it all out and to confess a few of my more ridiculous goody two shoe hijinks to you, dear reader.
Confession number 1 – I paid for a magazine
Doesn’t seem like anything out of the ordinary? Well, it makes more sense when you know that I had accidentally stolen the magazine, having wrapped it around something else I was carrying, left the store and gotten a block away when I realised. Knowing the cops were probably already after me, or would be once the non-existent CCTV footage was viewed on a ‘just in case’ basis that very night, I fled back to the store and paid immediately. I was around 13 years old.
Confession number 2 – I wanted to avoid Santa
My mother used to take me caroling on Christmas Eve. Not the weird kind of caroling that you see in movies where people just turn up at your door and start singing (has this ever actually happened to anyone?) but to a church across town that did a caroling service. It ended around 9pm, so was a better option than a midnight mass. As we weren’t religious we weren’t fussy about the church denomination.
However, as we drove home around 9pm it always seemed really late, and I used to beg my mother to hurry up. Why? I was terrified of being out too late on Christmas Eve, in case we saw Santa. We all know that if you catch Santa, he won’t give you any presents.
Confession number 3 – I used multiplication instead of addition
Remember when you were about eight and learning the times tables? Well, at my school we frequently did actual tables of times tables. You had to draw a 12 x 12 grid and you’d put the numbers from 1-12 along the left hand side and across the top, and then fill in all the multiplications in the grid. The teacher would time us and it was a game to see who could fill it in correctly the fastest.
One day our usual teacher was a was unavailable for that short period between interval and lunch, so we had the principal taking us for a maths lesson. I don’t think he had anything planned, so eventually he fobbed us off with a table. I copied it down in my book and went to work. When the time was up the principal decided we would mark it together as a class. He called on a person to read out the correct answers for the top row. They did. My answers were wrong. He called on someone else to read the second row. My answers were wrong. I was panicking because I didn’t know what had happened to my ability to multiply. You know what comes next.
The split second I realised that he’d actually given us an addition table instead of a multiplication table he called on me to read out the third row of answers. Did I have the wherewithal just to add up the row in my head as I went along? No. Instead I cried and tried to hide under my desk, ashamed at having not followed directions. The principal did the obvious thing and yelled at me.
Confession number 4 – I had a Cinderella crisis
When I was about seven we had a costume day at school. You had to come dressed up as your favourite book character. I went as Cinderella, in her ball gown of course. When it came to lunch time our teacher decided to try something ‘fun’.
Instead of just telling the class they could leave for lunch, she let people go in groups based on their costumes. So she’d say things like, “you can go to lunch if you’re dressed as a monster” and the Frankenstein kid would go, or, “you can go if you’re covered in glitter” and so on and so forth. Eventually she said, “you can go if you’re dressed as a princess”.
Panic. What do I do? While Cinderella technically becomes a princess, she wasn’t a princess to begin with. She wasn’t blood royalty. She definitely wasn’t a princess when she went to the ball. Bitch was employing mice to drive her, for god’s sake. So I sat there, like a muppet, unable to go because I wasn’t a bonafide princess (yet). People were looking at me, but it was the right thing to do.
Confession number 5 – I had to check my lunch for frogs
There was a rule at my school: No lollies at school. I’m not sure why this happened, or how it came about, but everyone had it drummed into them. It was drummed into me in my first week, when I innocently pulled out my lunchbox and a crowd of screaming pigtails gathered around me and started chanting “NO LOLLIES AT SCHOOL”. For those of you who aren’t Kiwi, ‘lollies’ means any kind of sweets, confectionery or candy.
My mother had put a couple of Freddo frogs in my lunch as a treat, and all hell was breaking loose. I ate quickly, terrified that a teacher would see my contraband and expel me. From that day on I was forever vigilant. I was even suspicious of chocolate biscuits, though they never sparked a chanting episode so I ate them quickly and quietly hoping no one would notice.