Spit wads & lies


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  1. #1

    Spit wads & lies

    Spit Wads and Lies

    I learned one of life's most important lessons in first grade.


    It was early May in 1949. The outside temperature was maybe 78 degrees so most of the windows in Central School were wide open. I had been working on a spit wad for the last ten minutes and it was just about ready. In my mouth were two whole sheets of that wide-lined, green paper with the little wood chips sometimes showing. I had my target all picked out. Bobby Berrie. It was perfect. I had nothing against Bobby but he sat by the window and there were three rows of empty seats between us and the open window beyond him. If I missed, the spit wad would go out the window. Mrs. Snyder, our first grade teacher, was walking up and down the rows of seats checking our work. Said work being printing the alphabet on one of the aforementioned sheets of green paper. I waited until she had passed Bobby and leaned down at Danny’s desk. Then I struck.

    Even today, as back then, the scene plays out in slow motion. I spat out the spit wad and rolled it quickly into a ball. With one smooth motion I threw it at Bobby. I knew at once that I had aimed too high. Then I saw that Mrs. Snyder was standing back up. I didn’t know geometry then, but I could see what was going to happen. Like I said, it was moving in slow motion.

    Mrs. Snyder stood just in time to take the spit wad full on her upper right cheek. It hit solidly and with an audible splat. Her glasses, which were linked by a thin gold chain around her neck, were knocked off. The whole side of her face was covered with spit wad. And, since it had been a big spit wad, it spattered so she had bits of paper on her shoulder and in her hair.

    Everyone in the room froze. Slowly, and with what dignity she could muster with a giant spit wad on her face, Mrs. Snyder walked to the front of the room. First she peeled the main mass of the spit wad off of her face. Then she pulled a tissue from a knitted tissue box and dabbed at her cheek. A second tissue was used to clean her glasses which she then put back on.

    During this whole time no one in the class moved or talked. Mrs. Snyder looked up and asked, in a quiet voice that somehow rolled like thunder, “Who threw that thing at me?” There was no reply. 24 didn’t answer because they hadn’t done it. One didn’t answer because he was incapable of speech. My vocal cords were petrified.

    Again came that quiet thundering voice. “I’ll ask one more time. Who threw it?” There was a long pause as she looked at each of us. We sat, small birds mesmerized by a cobra.

    Then a very small voice spoke out. “Joe did it. I saw his arm move.” It was Kathy McKinley. She was pointing at me. Every eye in the room turned to me.

    My heart stopped. Mrs. Snyder looked at me and then at Kathy. Kathy repeated, “I saw him. His arm moved.” Mrs. Snyder walked towards me. I wanted to run but she was between me and the door. I wanted to scream but my throat was still petrified. All I could do was sit there watching my doom approach.

    Mrs. Snyder stopped at my desk. She looked down at me and said, "Did you throw that at me?” She still had bits of spit wad stuck in her hair and a small bit on her forehead. I couldn’t say a word. She asked again, “Joseph, did you throw that at me?”

    I had to force the words out. “No Mrs. Snyder.” I was telling the truth, I’d thrown it at Bobby Berrie. She looked at me for what seemed like forever. Kathy tried to talk again but Mrs. Snyder just raised a hand and Kathy stopped.

    She looked at me for a long time. Then she said, "I’ll ask just once more Joseph. Did you throw that at me?”

    I looked right in the eye and said again, “No Mrs. Snyder.” Inside my head a light bulb went off. She didn’t know. and, she had asked the wrong question. I’d like to think that if she had just asked if I’d thrown it I would have said yes. but she didn’t so I'll never know for sure.

    Mrs. Snyder looked at me after I answered for what seemed a year. Then she turned and walked back to the front of the room. She stood looking at the class. Finally she said “Well, I want whoever did throw that thing to think about it tonight and I expect that person to tell me tomorrow how sorry he is.”

    No way in Hell lady. I had gotten away with it. I’d also learned a very valuable lesson. You can sometimes lie by telling the truth. It was maybe the most important thing I learned in elementary school.

    I never told anyone I'd been the one who threw the spit wad. I also began to think about what I could do to Kathy McKinley. I knew I’d have to get even, and I would, even if it took years. It did. By our senior year in high school Kathy McKinley was one of the best-looking girls in the school. Locker room jokes about wanting to Mount McKinley were common. But not me, I still was looking for a way to pay her back.

    I still am. “Just you wait Kathy McKinley; someday I’ll find a way. Just you wait.
    The sooner you fall behind, the more time you have to catch up.

  2. #2
    Although it didn't make me laugh out loud, overall I did enjoy this and I'd be interested to know if it was a true story. I would also like to know if you did eventually get your own back on Kathy.
    I write to get it right

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  3. #3
    i was enjoying the story but forgot that i was in the humour section, no real laughs here. On the contrary it was bit suspenseful. I'd like to see you craft more of an ending with Kathy McKinley and just make this a short story. Well written and very good read.

  4. #4
    Thanks for the comments. Yes Bruce, it is a true story. ChicagoHeart, I do think this belongs in the humor section. I don't think any other site fit. Nogt all humor causes laughs, sometimes all you get is a smile.

    Oh, to answer the Kathy McKinley question, yes, I did finally get even. At our 50th class reunion I told the story and of course Kathy was there. Several of my classmates remembered the event. In reality, Kathy and I became good friends. She was even my prom date.
    The sooner you fall behind, the more time you have to catch up.

  5. #5
    I agree with Chicagoheart that the story could have benefited from a funny finish involving Kathy McKinley. Otherwise, I liked it.

  6. #6
    Although it wasn't completely funny it was still a good read and I would like to read more.

  7. #7
    Banned
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    Wonderful! Bravo! Works for me!

    Just one tiny complaint. End with "I still am," and dump the dialog thought bubble after it. It's anticlimactic.

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