Monday, January 18, 2021

The perfect plan, or, how to make friends in 5th grade

It was 1994.

My family had just moved to California and I was joining my 5th grade classroom halfway through the school year.

So, there I was, timidly trying to fit into the class of about 25 other kids who'd known each other for at least half a year.

But, it was an uphill battle.

I was scrawny. I was shy. I wasn't particularly good looking and I didn't have any sweet skills.

But you know what I did have?

A plan.

A plan that would make me cool. And that would make everyone want to be my friend.

The plan was simple.

I was going to bring football cards to school.

Never mind that I'd never held a football in my life, let alone watched an episode on TV.

That didn't matter.

Football's cool, and so are sports cards.

All I had to do was get the other kids see me with the cards and I'd be minting friends.

So, the day came.

There I stood, waiting in the long, long lunch line, beside my classmates. We hugged the shade as the California sun warmed the sidewalk beneath us.

Slowly, nonchalantly, I pulled the football cards out of my pocket and began casually shuffling through them.

I'll never forget the words I heard next.

"Hey, you got those from underwears, right?"

Wait... what?

How did he know?!

It must've been the "Fruit of the Loom" prominently stamped on the front of each card.

My thoughts raced.

Was this a moment of solidarity? Did his parents buy him the same underwear, complete with bonus football cards?

Was this a moment of embarrassment? I mean... underwear!


And just as casually as they came out, the cards found their way back into my pocket. Out of sight, and out of mind, alongside the garments they came packaged with.