Saturday, May 26, 2007

Deep, Dark Secret

I bought a Swiffer yesterday and I must say: it is an EXCELLENT invention! I have been wanting one for a while but I just never got around to it. I needed to clean my floors for Lulu's birthday party and my mop mysteriously disappeared - I have no idea where it went! I sort of wonder if I threw it away last time I mopped, thinking, "I hate mopping! I'm going to throw this mop away so next time I want to clean the floors I will HAVE to go buy a Swiffer." Pretty pathetic - it's been so long since I mopped I can't even remember if that's actually what I did. I would like to think I am so shrewd ... the less glamorous truth is it's probably stuck back in some closet where I will find it 6 months from now.

I don't listen to music or watch TV when I clean - I listen to the voices in my head. I do the same thing when I am trying to go to sleep: I just start thinking random things. It's very organized random thinking, not just thoughts that zip through my head like cars on the freeway. No, this is more like the neverending train that you didn't have the good fortune to beat when you are in a hurry to get somewhere.

Guess I know where Plato gets it.

Whilst Swiff-ing (Swiffer-ing?) I began thinking about my sixth-grade teacher, Ms. W.; specifically, the "Deep, Dark Secret" incident:

Ms. W was my sixth grade teacher and also my neighbor. Her eldest son was one year older than me. Her twin boys were 2 years younger than me - my sister T2K's age. While the older brother wanted nothing to do with us, we sometimes played with the twins. They had a swimming pool at their house, and we sometimes got to swim.

One day in class we talked about deep dark secrets. I don't remember why; probably it had some relevance to a book we were reading or a film we saw. Ms. W gave us the assignment of writing a paper about our "deepest, darkest secret." She assured us that this paper would not be shared with the class. She promised that at the end of the week, she would share her own deep dark secret with the class. We were tantalized, and all week were buzzing and speculating about what her secret could be. What kind of skeletons might be in her closet?

I had my own deep dark secret. It was horrible and I agonized over whether to share it with her. You see, when I was in first grade, I was certain that I had bought myself a one-way ticket to Hell.

When I was 6, my family moved across town and I started a new school halfway through the year. I didn't really like my teacher that much, probably because I wasn't her pet like I had been at my old school. I remember her making me do lots and lots of "catch-up assignments," and I wasn't making friends very quickly. One day for show-and-tell, a boy in my class brought a few neat rocks to share. They were many different colors: all of them smooth and polished and shiny.

It is imperative at this point in the story that you understand my fascination - nay, obsession with rocks. I had boxes and boxes of rocks at home, collected largely from the gravel road we lived on but also from various places I had visited. Rocks can be found almost everywhere, and I spent many an outing with my eyes riveted on the ground. My Grandma S's farm yielded arrowheads, fossils, and an occasional geode, and was my favorite destination for "rock-hounding." I had several books about rocks. I would spend hours just looking over my collection: washing them till they sparkled, trying to identify the kinds of rocks I had using my books, planning what types of rocks I would really like to add to my collection.

So this boy, Steve (my sister's friend married him) brought some polished stones for show-and-tell. He passed them around, and I ogled them. One of the stones was obsidian - also called "volcanic glass." It looks black but you can actually see through it. This rock was only about the size of an olive, but I was captivated. I just had to have it. At some point I managed to pocket the rock. I took it home, feeling my actions were justified since I was planning to give it back; I just needed more time with the stone to ponder and study it.

Steve must have noticed his missing obsidian, because the next day our teacher asked the class if anyone had found it. I just sat there innocently, not wanting to give up the stone and not wanting to get caught. I wasn't done with it yet...

After a few days the novelty was wearing off and the guilt was taking over, made worse by the fact that the teacher was still mentioning it every day. I decided to take the stone back, figuring I would just casually put the stone where it would be found by someone in the class, and no one would ever suspect that I had actually taken it.

That's when I realized I had lost the rock.

I looked everywhere, and I couldn't find it anywhere. The stone had been my nearly-constant companion ever since I brought it home. It had been in every room of my house, in the car, in stores, at restaurants. Retracing my steps to find it wasn't exactly an option.

I was sure that I was going straight to Hell. I had coveted. I had stolen. I had broken two of the ten commandments in one fell swoop. I agonized for months, and remained distraught over my actions for much longer. Indeed, by sixth grade the incident was still the first thing in my mind when the subject of deep, dark secrets was proposed.

It was with heavy heart and leaden pen that I put into writing my deepest, darkest secret. I am certain my hand was trembling when I handed it in. I waited for the backlash - surely, this was the worst secret in the whole class! Steve was still in my class. I had nightmares in which I was forced to stand in front of the whole class and confess.

I waited. Nothing happened.

At the end of the week, Ms. W went up to the blackboard and wrote in all capital letters: "MY DEEP DARK SECRET." She then slowly turned to the class and gave us a sly smile. There was a mass inhale, and we all held our collective breath. She turned back to the board and wrote one word: "SMITH." She proceeded to explain that her deep dark secret was her maiden name.

My jaw dropped. Maiden name? What kind of a secret was that? Heck, that wasn't a secret at all, since her parents were also my neighbors! I had bared my soul to her, opened a window into the blackest recesses of my conscience, and her idea of a "deep dark secret" was telling us her MAIDEN NAME?? I felt completely deceived. What had I expected her to disclose? Certainly something more sordid.

A few years later, we went to her house to swim with the boys. We went into the house to get some towels, and ended up having to get them from the master bathroom. Imagine my surprise when I saw Playboy and Playgirl magazines strewn all over the bedroom! I was at once both titillated and shocked.

That would have made a much better secret.

6 comments:

T2K said...

That WAS a deep, dark secret. I don't think I even knew that one!

But I did know Ms. W's better secret.

And I know a few about her sons...

Monnik said...

Oh, man. That's great!! Too bad you didn't discover those before writing the paper, because that might have made her seriously itchy reading about you seeing some magazines in her house...

Which Steve did you steal the rock from, G?

Mom In Scrubs said...

VanDyke...

Monnik said...

Nice picture!!!

Ah, Steve V. was hot. I can't believe you'd steal a rock from him. :)

krobzoo said...

that was an excellent post. And Steve V was pretty cute.

Monnik said...

I remember mooning after Steve in Mr. Pollastrini's science class when we dissected a frog.

Brie just dissected a frog last week. Can you believe she's old enough to do that?!?