Tight Pants, a Full Moon, and a Shining Starr
In first grade, my mom liked to dress me in skirts and tights. I never had a choice in the matter. Skirts. Tights. In the cooler autumn days, Mom would put a pair of regular pants in my school bag to wear over my tights during recess. Most of the time I braved the chilly weather, and didn’t wear the extra layer. But one day, it really was cold, and my teacher insisted that I couldn’t go outside wearing only tights; I had to put on the pants I brought from home. I didn’t want to wear them. They were too small, and I told her so. She didn’t believe me and so, under her gaze, I wriggled into the too-small pants… reluctantly.
At the end of recess the teachers blew their whistles and everyone ran inside. Kids flooded the hallways, yelling and laughing, whipping off their coats, and putting mittens and scarves into cubbies. I did all of those same things… and then I tried to take off the pants. They wouldn’t budge. I pulled at the waistband a little harder, and the pants peeled off of my legs, along with my tights… and underwear. I crumpled onto the wooden bench under the coat hooks in the hall, trying desperately to hide my backside. Kids laughed and pointed at me. I wanted to disappear, but couldn’t.
That’s when my friend (I’ll call her Starr) sprang into action. Starr and I had everything in common, and did everything together in class (who knows if we really did, but hey – that’s how my five year old self remembers it). Starr took charge of the situation, ordering everyone to stop laughing at me. She told our classmates to think about what THEY would feel like if they had just pulled down their pants in front of everyone. Some kids didn’t stop laughing, but many did. I stared at Starr. She was so brave! She sat down next to me and said it was going to be ok. I believed her.
Our teacher, Miss Anderson, came out into the hallway to corral everyone back to their desks, and Starr told her what had happened. Miss Anderson sat down on the other side of me, and kindly said that I could take my time and come to class when I was ready. Then they both got up and walked into the classroom together, leaving me by myself to think. I was pretty sure I would never be ready to face the class again, and I definitely knew I didn’t want to stand up. But, after a little while, I realized that I couldn’t sit on that bench forever with my undies around my ankles. So, I got up, pulled my underwear and tights back on, and marched into the room like nothing had happened. That was the end of it.
Toward the end of the school year, Starr told me that she was moving away. She wrote her address on a piece of paper for me to keep – it said “Sun Valley, Idaho”. Idaho? IDAHO? We promised we’d write to each other and stay friends. I tried. I wrote letters to her, addressing each one just as she had told me to, but I never heard from Starr again. In retrospect, I don’t think my mail ever got to her with the address “Starr, Sun Valley, Idaho”.
I think about Starr often. Did she stay in Idaho? Did she move elsewhere? Did she go to college? What did she study? Does she have a family? Most importantly, though, if her family hadn’t moved away, would we would still be friends? In the hopes of answering some of these questions, I recently did what all forty-somethings do when they want to find a long lost someone… I looked on Facebook. Miraculously, I found a woman with a similar name to Starr, and sent a personal message, asking if she was the girl I remembered from first grade. I heard nothing back in reply.
Until last week!
In my inbox was a message from this woman saying that she WAS Starr! We exchanged a few messages back and forth, and quickly agreed that yes, Miss Anderson WAS the most wonderful first grade teacher in existence. I learned that Starr lives far from Minneapolis, but visits here occasionally to see her parents who moved back at some point in time. I gave her my email and phone number, in the hopes that she might contact me whenever she flies in, but I won’t hold my breath.
For now, I’m content to know that Starr is still is out there, doing well. But, if she ever DOES contact me, I will ask if she remembers this moment. I hope she does because I’d like to hear her version of the event. It is by far one of my most vivid memories from elementary school, probably because it was so horribly embarrassing. I still feel icky thinking about it. But, I also think the story stays in my brain because of the way Starr came to my rescue so forcefully and without hesitation. At the age of five, I saw what true friendship looked like, and learned the value of personal integrity – two concepts that Starr modeled effortlessly at exactly the right time.
Messages of the Day
Number One: Don’t wear tight pants. EVER.
Number Two: If your kid doesn’t want to wear something, ACCEPT IT.
Number Three: True friends can teach each other valuable lessons at any age.