It's a frog eat frog world out there

She was the bane of my existence, my nemesis, my arch enemy. I hated her with a passion heretofore untapped. She fully returned the disdain.

After living in our hometown for 13 years, my parents moved the family, including me, to a new city.  I lobbied hard to get left behind at my best girlfriend’s house. After all, Kathy had all the perks of only-child-dom. A canopy bed and a pink turntable to play her large stack of 45 rpm records. Heck, she even had her very own bedroom. Her parents let her play her Beatles records because they didn’t know John had proclaimed a greater popularity than God. She had access to a huge tin of Charles Chips potato chips that was mostly un-inhaled by other family members.

It would have been perfect: I would have been the second child they always wanted…the obedient, faithful companion to their first daughter. I think they were seriously close to giving it a go. Incredibly, my parents insisted that they wanted me to live with them and my two “real” sisters, even though the weak  reason they gave me was, but we would miss you.

So off we went, far away to the oh-so-tacky new house  and a new school filled with three types of kids. Greasers, who wore leather jackets and slicked their hair back with what looked like either Vaseline or motor oil. Jocks, who were unbelievably hunky (read: cute) yet also a bit snobby.  Smart kids, instantly recognizable by their pale skin and the awkward  pile of books they lugged from class to class.

All the 8th graders had to take Biology, where we were exposed to the yellow slime guts of earthworms  and expected to locate frog kidneys the size of BB’s. I figured this class was an opportunity to make a name for myself as a wild child, or at least a smart-aleck.  This was a golden opportunity to reinvent  myself. At the very least I figured I’d get noticed.

Mrs. Philyaw. How easily her name pops to mind all these decades later. As I said, she must have been quite frustrated with me . She made me sit in the hall for talking. I talked more. I made faces and mocked her behind my notebook. Parents were called in. Grounding happened. Pouting ensued.

My mother encouraged me mightily to give Mrs. P. a gift and apologize for disrupting her class. Every cell in my adolescent body screamed NO!!! On a hot Spring day, I reluctantly trudged into our yard and picked a fistful of tiny pink roses. I think my hands shook the next morning as I handed her the bouquet tied with a satin ribbon. Even though there were thorns on the roses, a truce was declared.

It’s funny, I don’t remember one thing she was trying to teach me. Yet, in spite of myself,  I learned a lesson about the power of a wordless apology.

Have you been on either side of a wordless apology? Did it make a difference?

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