But I am ok, everyone – don’t panic.
He was only 8 years old at the time, so, take a deep breath. It’s ok. I have lived to tell the story.
I recently reconnected with a school-friend from the Wallace Elementary days in Des Moines. You have heard me moan about growing up there and skipping the 4 blocks to school, happily running along with my cousin, who lived nearby, or stopping by the grandparents’ house, which was also in the neighborhood.
Then suddenly, we up and moved to another city. And I never got a chance to say goodbye to the kids I’d attended grades K-4 with…and I just always wondered What the heck happened to all of those people???
Now, my old friend, Marilee Jo, is filling in the details because she went all the way through from Wallace Elementary to Amos Hyatt Junior High to East Des Moines High School in the neighborhood.
She sent me this picture recently and there he was: the stabber!
Some of my classmates after I’d moved away
It is really all very unexciting, truly. Kenny and I had been classmates since Kindergarten, where he, rosy-cheeked and wavy-haired in his brown terrycloth shirt, sat near the paint easel. I can’t recall us ever playing tag or being friendly, necessarily, but in Kindergarten, I do admit I thought he was very cute…until Danny Sutherland swept me off my feet and started walking me home. That, however, is another story.
But in the third grade, in Miss Petrie’s class, there was a time when the desks were lined up in very precise rows and I sat behind him that it happened: he stabbed me with a pencil.
Me, so sweet and innocent.
What led to such violence at Wallace Elementary, you wonder?
Well, I was teasing him. Of course. I was teasing him about a girl. I cannot recall which one and I don’t know if I had a reason to or not, but I just was. “OOOoooooohhhhh-you like her,” I was saying.
“No, I don’t!” he was bent on convincing me through clenched teeth, his already-pink-cheeks erupting into deep-red flames.
I felt the power I had. “Yes you do, Kenny, you like [whatever her name was]!”
“I. do. not!” he continued to protest.
Upon on my third needle into his very soul, he just turned around and stabbed my wrist with his pencil and broke the freshly sharpened lead into it, just missing the visible vein on the inside of my wrist near my hand.
It must have been shock and a shot of adrenalin, because I remember my eyes getting wide as I took a gasp of air and having to work with all my might to suppress a giggle. It was hilarious. He looked mortified and I was in stitches. Kenny “B” stabbed me!
But instead of laughing like I wanted to, I elevated the wound and grabbed it with my other hand and said, “Kenny! Your lead is in my arm.”
And some other student dutifully and hastily informed the teacher that such a wrong had occurred.
Miss Petrie hurried me out of the room towards the nurse’s office where the nurse extracted the lead and asked me why on earth I thought Kenny “B”might have stabbed me with his pencil?
Again, I suppressed the giggling urge, shrugging with, “I don’t know. I was just sitting there and he turned around and did it.”
The school nurse cleaned it with alcohol on gauze, put a bandage on it and sent me straight back to class.
I am not sure what the teacher may have said to Kenny “B” in my absence, but his entire face and ears still beamed bright red and his head hung low as he slouched in his seat when I returned. He was truly mournful and I am sure they made him say sorry.
I felt bad because I knew I had antagonized him. But he didn’t bring that up. If he had, I am certain I’d have faced repercussions as well. But he didn’t. So, I felt b-a-d.
But – he did stab me, people! So – whatever!
Dear Kenny “B”-
You once stabbed me with a pencil. And I am sorry I provoked you. And I am thankful I had a story to tell our classmates (with great fervor) afterwards: “I could have died from lead-poisoning!” Yes, it was worth it for that fact alone.
Your dad called me to make sure I was OK, which I thought was very nice because your dad was an important man in the community. I told him it didn’t hurt a bit. I did not tell him it made me want to laugh.
I have the teeny-tiniest scar where it happened. I just hope you don’t have one in your heart from being yelled at about it or anything. No permanent damage here, school-mate. I hope you are living a wonderful, happy life somewhere (and are not in prison because I turned you in to a stabber).
Can you even imagine what would happen in a school if something like this occurred now?
Now then…have I ever told you about the time Punky Perry pushed me down the church stairs???