This morning in the shower I was thinking about The Hater's big speech today at one of the local men-type social groups who give money to charities. He worked on it last night when I went to bed.
And, lo, a memory--
I was active in 4H in elementary school. Probably because it was the only school-related activity from which I could choose. I worked hard on my entries and liked the ribbons. I never won a ribbon for cornbread. But my Nana and I worked really hard on it, and Big Daddy said that it was almost perfect, which was the highest honor he bestowed on such hallowed things.
My best 4H event was public speaking. I won the county competetion and went to districts every year. I only won a green ribbon at districts, which just means that I was good enough to show up, but not win anything else.
One year, and I think this was when I was in the 5th grade, the middle of my three-year 4H reign, the county 4H ag guy, who we'll call Chad for his lack of personality, took all of the county 4H winners to Davy Crockett State Park to give our speeches to the Kiwanis Club. It was a big event because I was missing school and wore Sunday clothes.
I never really liked the buffet at the park. Sometimes on Sunday afternoons after church we'd go eat there, and I can never really remember liking it. Everything tasted yellow to me. And I was a picky eater. So I went through the line and returned to the table with a small spoonful of apples, a small slice of turkey breast, and two rolls. They had great rolls.
After everybody had started eating and talking, Chad made some comment about if I wanted some other food to go along with my rolls. Everybody at the table laughed.
I was hurt and angry and excused myself to the women's restroom. I cried. It was the one single time that I would have rather been in Mr. Shedd's math and science class.
Then it dawned on me.
Chad couldn't get me in the women's restroom.
So in Ghandi-like defiance I refused to leave the women's restroom. I would not give my speech to the man who embarassed me in front of a whole table of people.
He sent some female students who were older than me to come talk to me. He sent some ladys to come talk to me. He came and talked to me from the other side of the door.
I told him that it wasn't nice to be mean to people and then ask them to do him a favor. It was my speech and he couldn't make me give it. And I didn't. I waited in the women's room for an hour during the rest of the meeting. That's a really long time to be bored in the bathroom.
Chad dropped all of the other kids off before taking me back to LPS. He apologized. I repeated the same thing I had said to him earlier as I shut the door to the van. I was hurt and excited -- and looking back it could have been my first moral victory.
I told The Hater my story. I also told him that he could hide in the women's restroom if they made fun of the food on his plate. He thought it was good advice.
Next time: My very short stent as a 4H chicken judge in middle school, also known as "You want me to touch it where?"
North Carolina Part 2
3 hours ago