Tuesday, February 24, 2015

McDonald's, broken legs, Vienna, and people who need to check Snopes....

Last night, I looked up a woman I haven't seen or heard of since fifth grade.  I was surprised by how easy it was to find her.  I just typed her maiden name and the name of the town where we grew up.  I was surprised to find her living in a town not far from our old hometown.  I also found out that she attended the same high school my former boyfriend did.  He may even know her because they probably graduated in the same class.

This woman's name was very common in the year of our birth.  Indeed, I share her first name, but here I'll just call her "Joni".  Like me, Joni was socially awkward and considered weird.  Actually, she made me look like a social genius because she was even louder and odder than I ever was.  Joni was outgoing and smart enough, but she was strangely dressed and kind of homely.  She had very crooked teeth that didn't appear to be very well cared for and an unfortunate habit of picking her nose in class and eating her boogers in front of everyone.  When we were kids, she was very skinny, had stringy blonde hair, and a face that could be best described as interesting.  

When we were in the fourth grade, I remember playing kickball with Joni.  Our teacher at the time, Mr. A , was big on taking us out for recess if time allowed.  These were the glorious days before the No Child Left Behind Act.  One day, we were playing kickball and Joni, being kind of gangly and uncoordinated, stepped up to the plate.  The ball rolled toward her.  She kicked at it, missed entirely, and fell to the ground with a solid thud.  On impact with the dirt, Joni's leg made a sickening cracking sound and she started howling in agony.  At the time back in 1981, there was a McDonald's commercial that used the voice talents of Frank Nelson, a guy who would say "Yeeeeeees...." all time time.  That's what Joni sounded like when she hit the ground and started screaming.

Frank Nelson does a 1981 McDonald's ad...  

At the very end of this ad, you can hear Nelson say "Yes" in the same manner Joni screamed that day when her leg broke.

Poor thing.  I actually remember people laughing and saying that Joni sounded like the McDonald's guy at the scene of her injury.  She was not well-regarded by our classmates.  I don't remember being especially unkind to her, though I also don't remember being her buddy.  People were mean to me too, though, and I think I might have had a smidge of empathy... though I probably also felt relief that someone other than me was being picked on.

Anyway, Mr. A got help for her and, after about a week, she came back to school with a canvas cast that covered her whole leg.  She used crutches for months and I remember her wearing what she called a "rocking shoe".  I even remember her spiritedly telling someone about the rocking shoe when he was teasing her about it.  She was a girl with a surprising amount of pluck and resilience, especially for her age.

I might have felt snarky toward Joni the way our classmates did, but I too suffered an accident while in Mr. A's class.  In my case, it just involved being knocked unconscious by a soccer ball kicked by Mr. A.  That was a very embarrassing incident, but at least I recovered from it quickly.

The following year, Joni was in my fifth grade class.  That year, I witnessed another classmate getting hurt, though this time, it wasn't Joni.  It was another person who, at the time, was a friend of mine.  We were in PE class and she was climbing the bleachers when her leg slipped between the seat and the foot board.  She tore a huge gash in her leg, right by her knee.  I remember all the blood and our gym teacher (not Mr. A, though he did become a gym teacher at that school that year) picking her up in his arms and rushing her to the office where someone called an ambulance.  This girl's bleacher accident also happened right in front of me and it reminded of me of when Joni broke her leg.  My other injured classmate screamed, but she didn't sound like Frank Nelson.  She, too, used crutches for weeks afterwards.

One of my last clear memories of Joni was at Christmas time.  We had a gift exchange and Joni drew my name.  On the day of the gift exchange, the teacher asked me to come speak with her out in the hall.  While we were out there, she handed me a present, which turned out to be a little Smurf pin.  I think it depicted Papa Smurf grinning and holding a flower.  She said she had bought it for me because Joni had drawn my name and she knew the present Joni was going to give me would suck.  She didn't phrase it that way, of course, but that was the basic gist of what she was saying.  I think I remember her telling me that Joni's family didn't have any money or something to that effect.  I believed it, having been in school with Joni for a couple of years.

Sure enough, when it came time for gift exchanges, I got Joni's gift wrapped in rumpled notebook paper.  It was a Christmas ornament that we'd all made in class and hers was painted several different non-complementary colors.  Since the teacher had prepared me, I managed to accept the gift gracefully.  And though I was never a fan of the Smurfs, it took many years before I could bring myself to get rid of that little Smurf pin that my teacher had bought for me.  To this day, I still have the same luck when it comes to secret gift exchanges.  I always get the person who buys me booze and then drinks it all before they present it to me (yes, this did actually happen to me once when I worked at a country club).

After fifth grade, Joni moved away.  I didn't know where she went and, in time, even forgot all about her.  But then someone on Facebook posted one of those class pictures and I saw her in it, again reminding me that she was part of my childhood.  I looked up Joni because I was curious about where she is and how she's doing.  It looks like she's doing fine.  I was a little dismayed to find out that she's already a grandmother.  Since we are the same age, I hate the idea that I'm old enough to have grandchildren... but hell, I guess I am.  I see that she's still awkward looking, but apparently has a lot of friends, a loving family, and a good sense of humor.

I even saw that she was brave enough to post photos from her early childhood.  I actually remembered some of the photos because they were of a scholastic nature and I was around for them.  She even had one that had the full on face shot with the heavenly profile side shot above it, ever popular in the early 80s.  She had on a very frumpy looking dress that looked like it might have belonged to her mother.  One friend asked if she was Amish and her reply was a light-hearted, matter-of-fact response that that was how her parents dressed her.  I was glad to see that she looks happy enough as an adult despite our miserable elementary school days.

In other news...    

Yet another person shared George Carlin's "Paradox of our Time" on my Facebook wall.  This time, it was my former English professor.  I started to write her a note to tell her that George didn't write "Paradox of our Time", but then I decided it wasn't worth my getting upset about it.  So I hid the post...  but then I was left sitting there thinking about all the English papers she had graded over the years.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little disappointed that she, of all people, didn't take a minute to check Snopes.  Then I was left marveling about how something like a misattributed essay can get my blood pressure to spiking.  I probably ought to get a life.

Bill and I had another champagne bucket drawing.  We will be taking our next trip to Vienna.  When we will do this, I don't know.  Maybe we will go in April.  We probably should save the money for my tooth, but I need regular trips to keep my spirits up.  Besides, I have been dying to see Vienna with Bill.  It's a really beautiful city.

And finally, Alexis, I discovered this Christian singer yesterday.  Her name is Candy Hemphill Christmas.  Christmas is her married name.  Can you imagine going by the name Candy Christmas when you're a gospel singer?  Will have to research more about her because I am certain a blog post will ensue.  For now, click here for info on how to book Candy Christmas for your next event. 

Check out the hair and dress!  That brings back memories.  She has a really pretty voice, though.  


  1. i actually read this earlier and left a comment, but I've had trouble recently with my comments being lost in the ether. It's been recommended to all of us that we use our school computers only for school use. Even though they're our own that we bought with our own finds and can technically do as we please with them, i'm a rule follower when it comes to school. So I use my old sucky computer for personal use and save my Imac for school use.

    I';m glad the girl seems to have carved out a decent life for herself. I understand the mentality of those who picked on her. i was never an active participant in picking on anyone except in retaliation (I learned early to use words as weapons when needed in self-defense, wahich was oprimarily the reason i myself wasn't picked on. i may not have been able to defend myself physically, but i could make others look so stupid in front of their peers than most (not all, though, unfortunately0 feared me in a way. i wish now I'd more often used my words to stand up for others. I, as you expressed, felt, even with the gift of psychological warfare, that I was only one victim away from being the next one to be picked on, so didn't stand up for others often enough.

    Where i cannot believe the other kids didn't draw the line was in the face of an obviously severe fracture. It should have seemed obvious even to fourth-graders that her injury is the real deal. I cannot understand their collective mentality of being amused by it all. I could understand them being either grossed out or afraid, and maybe they were and were covering by laughing, burt i can't even kids understand thinking a serious injury is funny.

    The only time I was present when people were unsympathetic to an injury was when i was attacked in the restroom. My attackers were obviously unsympathetic, but even they didn't think it was particularly funny. Maybe if i'd cried out for my mom they would have laughed. i don't know. but at the time they were to angry at me to be amused by anything about the situation. Then when security followed by admin followed by law enforcement came busting in because I'd pushed the 911 button on the kiddie phone in my pocket that had a GPS attached, they were REALLY angry with me. One girl actually spat on me as she was being led away in cuffs. Or, i should say she tried to. A police officer actually got in the way, so she was charged with assault on an officer of the peace. Too bad, huh?

    In any event, I''m glad the girl found happiness. I worry that today's misfits (of which I was right on the edge of being) might not find their respective niches because of the pervasiveness of social media and its power to ruin lives to the point that even time can't heal everything, in addition to, partly because of social media in my opinion, the fact that kids are meaner and crueler than they've ever been in the past..

    I hope I'm wrong. My aunt would say that the more things change, the more they stay the same, and that kids are kids just as they've always been, and that adults have been lamenting the downfall of society and the moral degradation of the day's youth since the times of Aristotle and Socrates. I hope she is right.

    1. In fairness to my classmates, I think it was only a couple of them who made jokes. Most of us were really shocked.

  2. I vaguely remember the Hemphills, though I'm not sure from where. were they on Trinity Broadcasting with the Crouches?

    1. Probably. Apparently, Candy suffered depression which lifted after she started feeding jambalaya to the homeless.

  3. I'll need to remember that trick in case I'm ever overcome with depression.


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