(Another October Memory)
"Kelly, do you have something to share with the class?" Mrs. Henrickson asked.
I stopped talking to the kids at my table and looked up at this four foot nine, hundred year old monster who made my third grade hell, or maybe I made her year hell. Either way our feelings for each other were mutual, kind of. She hated me and I felt like she was always interrupting my conversations.
"Yes. My birthday is coming up and I'm going to have a ballerina cake." I said.
After I made this declaration, the class laughed because I was the biggest tomboy ever and Mrs. Henrickson was plain ol' disgusted with yet another interruption to her rigid classroom.
"Kelly, do you just talk to hear yourself talk?" she asked.
These words were repeated daily my entire third grade year. I thought it was the stupidest question anyone could ask. One day I voiced this opinion while I was at the blackboard. She became so enraged she grabbed my arm to swing me around and one at a time her Lee Press On Nails popped off her gnarly wrinkled hand. Now, she's hit my hand before with a ruler but this was the first time I pushed her over the edge and ruined a perfectly good dime store manicure with my puny little arm.
This was a preview to my future. Not necessarily that blunt, but the message was the same.
Not, now Kelly.
What did you say?
Is this relevant to the class?
Can we talk about this later?
I do like to talk, I'll be the first to admit it. I will talk to anyone who will carry on a conversation with me, even after all the years of being hushed, ignored, tolerated and the thing I hated most of all, being shushed.
Please don't shush, me. Tell me to be quiet, shut up, gag me, but DO NOT shush me. That was the line that I would not tolerate being crossed. If the line was crossed my talking turned to yelling, yapping,ranting, raving, squawking, hollering and jibber-jabbering.
Enough of this, my point is when I would talk sometimes people would listen or pretend to listen, but I was never really heard, until I met my husband.
When I turned eight, that long third grade year, my birthday cake was a Halloween cake, not a ballerina cake like I announced to the class. Every year after that, my birthday cake was chocolate with orange icing decorated with ghosts, pumpkins, black cats and skeletons since it was a few days before Halloween. I don't know if my mom forgot to order a cake or just picked up a holiday cake the day of my birthday and had them scribble my name on it. But I never, ever got a girlie cake.
This is the story I relayed to my husband when we first met when I went on one of my tangents. When I would tell this story to him or anyone who would listen it was half-joking and half-sadness. Why didn't I get the princess cake?
My first birthday with my husband he invited my family over to the house. He decorated it with balloons, streamers, party hats, plates and napkins. When it was time to sing Happy Birthday he came out of the kitchen carrying a quarter sheet cake which seemed to be on fire because of the millions of candles. Underneath the wild fire was Barbie. The ugliest Barbie I ever saw. There wasn't any ballerinas so he chose Barbie.
You see the cake was chocolate with chocolate icing, but decorated with a pink Barbie surrounded by hair ties, ribbons and rings. It wasn't the pretty pink and brown like today's fashionable color duo. It was, I don't know, not right. It was the best cake I ever had in my whole life. He heard me.
After that year, I told him no more girlie cakes I wanted a Halloween cake. It was my comfort zone and now I could embrace it because all my wounds were healed. The best gifts in life are chocolate, Barbie and somebody who really listens to you.