Posted by: Kristy | April 16, 2009

Writer’s Workshop: “Entourage,” elementary school style

I have a feeling Mama Kat’s weekly Writer’s Workshop will become a regular fixture around here. I like it. Therefore, y’all had better like it. Since you’re the ones reading it. Thanks for the love, by the way. 😉

The prompt: Tell us about that time at the playground when that thing happened. (Thanks to Heather at Chasing Butterfly’s who unknowingly inspired this last prompt.)

“He Chased, We Ran. We Start Young in Ohio.”
By Kristin

Remember that time in fourth grade?

Sure you do. Picture, if you will.

Our squeals rang hallow in the sniffles-inducing January air, mingling with the shouts of the big sixth-grade boys playing football on the other side of the playground. Our peers blissfully swung or teeter-tottered or played Four Square in peace while our teachers gossiped by the school doors and watched the clock until recess was finished.

The sounds coming from our group of five spoke less of childish laughter and more of, well, terror.

We were about to be Boogey Man-ed.

Rachel. Jane. Stacey. Me. And Beth. Beth, my then-best-friend, our unofficial ringleader, the one who attracted this situation in the first place.

Tall, statuesque Beth, whose long dark hair, lankiness and ability to look at least two grades older than her 10-year-old counterparts overshadowed the rest of us, mostly due to the fact she began developing physically long before my chest even realized it existed. My ability to look like a first-grade student due to my diminutive stature and wide eyes that reeked of innocence helped cement our roles in our little elementary school clique. She led. I assisted. Followed by the others. This would even out eventually but for now, she was the first to suggest activities, make plans.

Right now the plan was run. Ruuuuuuuuuuun.

The little devil chasing us cackled in glee, his weapon of choice streaming behind him in a bacteria-covered net of disgusting knitted yarn. A tow-headed third-grade student, Jonathan had a reputation to uphold, one he strove to maintain by terrorizing us. He was The Booger Man.

Apparently The Booger Man had a yet-undiagnosed sinus problem that his mother chose to treat not with antibiotics or by tucking tissues in his coat pocket, but by winding a poly-blend knit tissue three-feet long around his neck. One he used frequently to smear his nasal outpourings across his face before holding it before him like an offering to the lucky lady of his choosing.

He set his sights on Beth around the first week of December, which means he ended up pursuing the rest of us by proxy. For two months. We raced up the ladder and down the slide, darting around the swing set before finding ourselves trapped on the swinging bridge on the jungle gym — Booger Man with his chapped, green-smeared cheeks stalking stealthily from one side, while his little henchman hemmed us in from the other side.

This is where being built like a 7-year-old came in handy. I was able to twist and turn and cower behind my friends, thus remaining snot free. I think one time he made me vomit. That helped, too.

Eventually the weather warmed, ending runny nose season and bringing sanitation back to our world. Our admirer and his posse grew tired of the game and our entourage moved on to a new cardio activity — the world of Double Dutch. (A world where little girls excel, by the way. I was a 4-foot-2-inch ball of rope jumping dynamite, let me tell you.)

Years later, Beth is a married mother with an adorable 1-year-old girl and a developing fetus preparing to make an appearance in a few months. I lost track of Rachel, Jane and Stacey pretty much after I moved the summer following fifth grade.

You all know where I am. What I’m doing to stay out of trouble — or create trouble, whichever way you look at it. The fact that I still haven’t had that growth spurt I’m holding out for. Think at 25 I have any hope of springing past my current 5-feet? Yeah, me neither.

I’ve upgraded men from the days of old. At least I’ve been able to find ones who invest in Kleenex. And by whom I have enjoyed being “chased.” I’d like to think I’ve gotten better at the entire process since playground antics.

Wishful thinking. I guess we never grow past the awkwardness of the playground, whether we enjoy the chase or desperately wish it to end. I believe it’s safe to say we’ve all been there in some form, especially if we’ve suddenly looked in the eyes of someone who before was “just a buddy” and shockingly found our insides in a melt-y puddle at our stilettoed feet. Those of you who have found yourself in your living room one night engaged in a wicked game of tonsil hockey with your brain screaming, “Holy crap, I’m kissing my best friend — and I like it,” you’ve totally been there. (Such a delicious moment, no?) Note that the limit of pre-pubescentesque angst and hesitation as pre-relationship status approaches best friends equals infinity. (Yes, I just made a calculus joke. It is decidedly too late to be writing.) Those remnants of elementary school courtship, the hesitation and careful steps, though potentially confusing and frustrating, translate to sweetness and adorable awkwardness fueled by a desire not to mess up what is already an exceptional friendship. We women are OK with that (for a time, as long as they don’t become a cover for passivity).

On the opposite end of the spectrum from the above are the adult versions of Jonathan. The ones who will do anything just to draw female attention. Who smear their grodiness on a scarf and chase a girl even while she runs faster simply because they don’t know how to ask if they can push you on the swings. I hope Jonathan grew out of the not-so-adorable, immature aspects of playground courtship.

I wonder what happened to that kid. More importantly, what happened to his scarf. I hope Mama Boogermeister burned it. After pouring bleach on it. While wearing a Haz-Mat suit.



  1. Eew…a boogie scarf? That poor kid. His mom ruined him.

  2. loved it! write more, write more!

  3. Cute story. The good old days of being a kid huh?

    Stopping by from MamaKats (where I am a Writers Workshop addict 🙂

  4. That. Was. So. Gross.

    I totally could picture that booger-smeared face and the way he’d terrorize you with that weapon of mass destruction that he carried with him.

    I bet he’s a hermit in a cabin in the wood, plotting ultimate boogeriness for the world.

  5. That was one gross playground encounter. As for boogie boy, he’s probably a senator or something. LOL

  6. He probably has his own little booger now. 🙂

  7. Visiting from Mama Kats…

    Wow. ..this was some good writing! I loved it … although the concept of a booger scarf gave me the heebie jeebies. Very well done … I certainly hope you continue to do Writer’s Workshops. you are very good at it! Bravo!

  8. So glad to see you back at it! I missed your posts.

  9. Yarn….what was she thinking? That is disgusting but very well written!

  10. Yuck, the Booger man. Gross! Nice Post.

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