It’s high time we all started remembering again! For the first Remember the Time installment of 2014, write a post about the time you received a piece of news that impacted the entire world or just your world. Maybe you’ll want to talk about hearing the news of the Kennedy assassination or 9/11. Your post certainly doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom, though. Kelly and I always love to see how you interpret these prompts.
We all filed into the social studies teacher’s classroom when we would have ordinarily been eating lunch. The Magnavox that stood in front of the room looked like a mobile shrine to VHS, tethered with vinyl cords to the hulking steel tower. Below the set on gaping shelves sat a VCR that no one ever knew how to work and a Laserdisc player which was incremental in playing the one Laserdisc that our school owned – a college-level program about the human brain. There were a whole fleet of these things at our school, ready to be wheeled into classrooms whenever a filmstrip from 1974 couldn’t convey the news of the day.
There were only about 25 desks in the room so we all had to make due to accommodate the overflow of students. The new science lab across the hall – complete with an eyewash station, four top-of-the-lineish microscopes, and room for a pony – would have fit us all more comfortably, but since the nature of the news we were about to watch fit more neatly within the category of the study of the society than the study of micrometers and elements, we would all have to double up at the desks and bask in the warmth of each others’ bodies. Eighth graders never mind getting a whiff of each other so this wouldn’t be a problem.
We had been following the case at home since it began. Everyone had. It was the king of all freak shows in a year of freak shows. Seventh grade had primed us for it, though. That year some ice skater had been accosted and a woman had cut off her husband’s thing and tossed it into a field. Some kids had claimed to have seen a thing before but they were probably lying. We all secretly pictured hotdogs lying around sadly in a corn field and snickered at the thought of adults looking for them.
We watched these dramas play out on TV at home and then were surprised when we came to school and heard our friends mentioning them in the same breathe that they mentioned Rachel hair. We thought that our fascination with the perverse was private, or at least that the channel where these events were televised was buried so far in the back of the cable listings that no one else would see them. But it was not so, so when a new girl whose name was Lorena transferred to our class midway through the year, the teachers warned us that if anyone made any jokes about her name, we could count on a visit to the principal’s office. When Lorena finally came, she had big boobs. That seemed related somehow.
We were completely prepared for the criminal trial of some football player. His relevance had already expired by the time we were out of diapers. He was accused of killing his wife and her friend, and Entertainment Tonight had been talking about it since the fall dance of seventh grade, a lifetime ago. It was really the best show ever because we all knew what was going to happen at the end but we still got to go through the farce of the trial. At the finale of the show, the swift hand of justice would come down on the football player and his menagerie of dramatic counsel. That’s what happens when you do things so obviously bad and then actually hire people to convince the world otherwise: you get what you deserve. Then the story of your downfall is filed away within the annals of all good storytelling. Cinderella gets her shoe back along with a key to the kingdom, the candidate with the most gilded intentions wins, and OJ goes to prison for doing a very, very bad thing.
We were the only ones on our kindergarten through eighth grade campus watching this verdict. The babies were too busy learning to count their fingers and singing in a circle. Seventh grade life went on as normal, navigating fractions and diagramming sentences. But our lives were in sync with the events 2,500 miles away in California, the breaths we took nearly as shallow as those of the family members sitting in the courtroom. We were big as we sat there in the social studies room pretending to wonder what was going to happen. Our finely-tuned stomachs were growling, but whenever the TV got pulled into the classroom and classes were combined, you knew to ignore your base instincts. We smiled stoically and waited to hear what we already knew: guilty.
All in a moment, everything was wrong. We heard “not guilty” and screamed out on behalf of ourselves and all the little kids in the school, blissfully unaware as they fingerpainted and took naps. We hated feeling so sure of something, only to be told that we were wrong by the adults we had trusted. This was the very first time that they had included us into their world, and they had intentionally made fools of us.
We walked out of the classroom and into the lunchroom, disgusted and embarrassed for this adult world that we had wanted so much for ourselves. Over rectangles of pizza and peaches in light syrup, we shook our heads in disgust at this bit of news and waited for the bell to ring.
Link up with us! Here’s how to do it:
1. Write your post. Remember, it can be ANYTHING about receiving big news. Interpret the prompt as you will; we love seeing how they can be explored. Just stick with the whole “back in the day” vibe ;D
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