“I have a head start! I’m going to beat you!” shouted Paul. Unfortunately, I knew this to be true. His classroom was nearest the bike racks. I had the further impediment of being unable to resist the siren’s call of teacher flattery / compliments. If my teacher wanted to say something to me, I immediately brightened and stopped. It was almost always on my excellent work in reading and science. There was only one nine week period in which I earned “Needs Improvement” on behavior. I think it was for sketching and writing in my diary instead of paying attention to student presentations.
On the days my mother volunteered at Bethel Baptist Church library, my brother and I had a bit of freedom to raid the refrigerator and eat whatever we wanted. The winner would run inside and lock the other out of the house.
“You lost!” Raspberry PopTarts are my favorite!” He taunted me through bay windows and patio doors.
“You are slow!” laughed Paul as he opened a second pack.
“I need to eat! We have swim practice in 2 hours!”
“Mother will be back in an hour. You can eat then,” he said.
“I’ll get stomach cramps!”
“Haha – isn’t that too bad,” he continued. “Now I’m going to eat my Chef Boyardee macaroni and cheese.”
Like 99% of the other times, I lost. I finally learned to bring money with me and to simply ride my bike down to the Li’l Red convenience store on the corner, where I would buy Butterfingers and Chick-o-Sticks.
Salad and fish fillets were better fuel for swim practice, but I did what I could.