Note: This story is more or less true, though events have been conflated and condensed due to my having a very bad memory for exact dates and times. Also, I am very sarcastic about what happened. Those involved, particularly my parents and other individuals will claim that I made this up. Sadly, they are mistaken.
When I was in grade school, I had many problems, due to being a little too smart and a little too dumb–at the same time. I had few if any social skills, an inability to communicate coherently and in general, very easily confused by very simple things. I may or may not have any of a number of learning disabilities. (I was in “Special Ed” from I think third grade, until my first year in high school. According to my parents and teachers, I was “emotionally disturbed” which is not a diagnosis. You would be emotionally disturbed too, if everything confused the heck out of you, were surrounded by often hostile people, and it took you forever to learn everything.)
I had a strong interest in animals and eventually acquired an interest in reading once I learned how–which did nothing to make me popular. Because of my various difficulties, I got a lot of grief in school from both teachers and other students. (Who then gave the same amount of grief to my poor brother and sister. Apparently, I just was that incredibly horrible as a child.)
I was I think in second grade. I was an avid fan of several nature programs on PBS (one of the few channels I was allowed to watch as a small child) and one of my favorite animals was a tiny antelope called a dik dik. (I bet you can tell where this is going all ready. I sure as hell didn’t.) It was small, probably a little bigger than a Chihuahua, with huge eyes, an adorable schnozzle and thin stick legs. Pocket herbivores! With schnozzles! What could be more amazing than that?
So at lunch, I butted into a conversation about animals in the cafeteria. I was not aware of butting in at the time, but I’m pretty sure that was the case given the retaliation. I don’t remember what animals they were talking about. I was too busy talking about the teeny antelope in question. I did not know what the name sounded like. I did not start picking up words like “dick”–which I thought was a name–until at least fourth grade. (It’s amazing what you learn from boys with potty mouths on the *short bus! I don’t recommend repeating anything you learn though!)
So my fellow students wove a fascinating story about how I liked dick. It was very inventive, and the teachers believed every word of it. The next thing I know, a teacher is yanking me away from the table demanding to know what I’m talking about. Since angry loud people are scary, I wasn’t able to talk, but eventually managed to stammer out something about an antelope. Cue the other students saying “no she said dick!” I protested but was not believed.
From there I was taken to the principal, who demanded to know what I was talking about. I said “an antelope.”
The teacher said some variation of, “she was saying she liked dick!”
So I got yelled at for saying bad words.
I said I was talking about an antelope.
I was told that I was being disrespectful for arguing. I was also told there was no such antelope, and lectured that I shouldn’t use dirty language.
I said it was an antelope again.
I was told I was lying and lying badly because obviously there was not such animal. (I believe an old dictionary was referenced at one point, but I don’t have a clear memory. The antelope in question was not in the dictionary therefore it didn’t exist) I said I’d seen it on tv, and I was again called a liar and told not to make things up because making things up was bad. I continued arguing, because they were wrong and not bothering to listen to me. (I told you I was dumb.)
Since I was obviously a liar, disruptive, and generally evil, I was sent to the principals’ office, which was place I frequently ended up in because I was a horrible liar. And disruptive. And evil. I was paddled for arguing, and then my parents were called, and if I recall correctly, I got expelled from school. (I know I was expelled at least twice in grade school and I’m pretty sure the Antelope Incident was one of the straws that broke the camel’s back. Faculty of G. Elementary circa 1980-something? DIAF) My parents also didn’t believe me about the antelope due to the entire “Rena is unable to explain herself, and therefore she must be lying. And stupid.”
*Note: Not being derogatory here. I was in fact riding the short bus to school, from fourth grade onward and most of the kids on the bus and in my Special Ed class were hyperactive boys with potty mouths. Sean, I’m still mad at you for ruining the book I gave you for 3 dollars. I hope you’ve learned to take care of books better since then. Joe, cleaning up the crap you wrote about me in the darn spelling book is something I am never forgiving you for, just FYI. Billy–I still can’t believe you climbed a tree and did whatever it is you did to the bus driver, WTF.