Tin Can Alley

At my small Catholic grade school, we had a more or less yearly event called "Pioneer Day." The boys put on flannel, suspenders, and straw hats, and the girls got dressed up in their mothers' skirts (so they would be long enough) and old baby bonnets. During the day, we rotated through such pioneer-themed activities as candle making, leather tooling, square dancing, and taffy pulling. It was at least more interesting than class.

We had almost this much fun.

In second grade, one of the educational activities was playing kick-the-can with an actual tin coffee can. Now, I've never been athletically inclined, so I'm half-running rather aimlessly and occasionally waving my foot in the direction of the scuffle (to make it look like I was participating, see) in the midst of a bunch of rambunctious kids hyped up on taffy, trying to hit their feet against a hard metal object with sharp edges. Great idea, right, Parent-Faculty Association?

So I'm shuffling around, growing a bit excited as the can comes close. I make my move to kick the can and proceed to trip on my mother's long skirt. I fall flat on my face as the can-kicking continues around me. As I lift my head to get up from the ground, Brent Rayford kicks the can right into my forehead.

Did it hurt? A little. But the shocker came once I stood up: I felt sweat pouring down my face, so I go to wipe it with my hand, but it's not sweat -- it's blood. I faint.

I wake up in the nurse's office. They've called my dad and are having him come get me. He takes me to the hospital, where I get three stitches. Dad doesn't think I should go back to school, but I want to -- to show everyone how tough I am and how they are all pansies for switching from a can to a soccer ball as soon as I was injured and also to receive the apology I knew Brent Rayford would give.

That apology never came. We spent six more years at that school together before parting ways, and although we were on civil terms, I still have not forgiven Brent Rayford. If I ever see him again, I'll show him my small scar and then punch him in the face.



  1. What would be even greater would be if I randomly met Brent Rayford and socked him one for you. He'd be like, "Who are you and what the heck was that for?"

  2. Hahaha! Yeah, that'd be pretty awesome. I wonder if I should try to Facebook him.

  3. I was totally going to leave a comment that said, "Harbinger is a really great word." And then I saw that was your label. Peas in a pod, we are.


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