Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Short bus, long jacket

par - a - dox: (noun) any person, thing, or situation exhibiting an apparently contradictory nature.

I've always been a bit of a keener, that bookish girl in the back of the classroom with her nose shoved into the latest Nancy Drew mystery, the one who almost cried if she got less that 98% on a test, the one who never spoke, not even when spoken to. Some people are athletes, some are the popular crowd, some are the band geeks; I was the academic bookworm. And I took the short bus.

In grade two, I was tested. No one told me what it was for; I was simply taken out of class and given a bunch of reading, writing and word puzzle things to do. And I was graded. And from that, it was determined I should attend Extended Enrichment Class, or EEC. I was eight. The teacher told me to. So I went.

To get to EEC, I was subjected to a commute much longer than a girl who always walked to school had ever known. The most horrible, terrifying, dreadful part of the journey was taking the HIGH SCHOOL BUS. I mean, I was eight years old and taking the bus with some of my baby-sitters. When you're on the HIGH SCHOOL BUS, you don't want to have to deal with the kid you took care of the other night. So I would just stand off to the side and hope no one noticed me and wait for the bus. (This was not the short bus; that comes later.)

I have two vivid memories while waiting for the HIGH SCHOOL BUS. The first one, I can't remember how old I was, but I was young. A girl who lived down the street from me, Diane, had walked up to the bus stop, drinking coffee and wearing a green wool jacket that came all the way to her ankles. I was amazed because only my mom drank coffee and she certainly wasn't in high school. And only my grandma wore coats that long and she certainly wasn't in high school. This was in the early nineties so the coat was a brighter green, with black dashes and pleated-not-quite-shoulder-pads shoulders. In retrospect, Diane was probably one of the smartest high school kids because she certainly wasn't cold while waiting for the bus.

The second memory is from when I was in grade four. This I'm certain about because it involved Mr. Warby, my grade four teacher. Mr. Warby was driving to my elementary school, which was across the street from the HIGH SCHOOL BUS stop and he stopped his truck in front of me and all the high school kids and rolled down his window and said, "Take care of my daughter!" His daughter, Meagan, was also attending EEC and me being in his class, he now knew someone who could "take care" of his daughter. But what I really remember is wishing the ground had just swallowed me on the spot.

Once I was on the HIGH SCHOOL BUS, things weren't that bad because I usually pulled out a Nancy Drew or Baby-Sitters Club book and hid behind that. But once we got to the high school, I had to transfer to the...short bus. Herein lies the paradox: the short bus took both the ever-so-bright EEC kids and the special needs kids to the same school. Of course, there was nothing wrong with this, but I wonder now what the older kids thought of this. I mean, it was just a shuttle bus.

I also remember being in the playground at EEC and this kid Ryan standing there with a stick and poking a pair of tightie whities around in the dirt. Still don't know who's underwear it was.

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