It was a great day back in elementary school, when the older kids, tip-top the ladder on the 4th and 5th grade rung, got to go to the Environmental Room and touch the fossils and the stuffed dead things and the lizards and run outside and play with earth worms. I enjoyed the smells of the outside world more so than the inside one. And after a day in a stuffy classroom, Environmental Room was a the blissful end to the endless purgatory of mating and divorcing numbers and conjunction-junctions.
And there was one day, we were led there, single-file past the 3rd graders and the other kids, heads held high. We were proud. We had our markers and our trapper keepers (you know, for notes) and we marched our eager butts to the Environmental Room. Little did I know that that day would prove to be different, a starting line in the eventual anxiety-ridden human life I had before me; Thrusted full force, headlong into the holy crap! what will I find this time behind velvet door number 3? (Little did I know then that door number 3 will (one day) take on future forms of bill cradled envelopes, corners on familiar streets, medical test results, and black toilets).
There were about 7 boxes placed next to one another on the 3 foot high, red topped tables. Each box had a hole large enough for an arm. Each hole had velvet lining the opening. The exercise was to guess what might be in each box, using only your sense of touch as a guide.
I’m so going to win this!
And then the screams began. First it was nothing. A few jumps, a few hisses, a few yelps. I was probably number 17 or so in line. As I got closer, my tummy started churning (you know that uneasy feeling you get right before you get found during a game of hide and go seek). I felt nervous. My head filled with massive question marks.
WHAT’S INSIDE THOSE BOXES!
My turn. My hand felt around. The first one, a very soft, cuddly bunch of animal fur. Not so bad for me, not so good for the animal. The second box, something feathery. Hmmmm ok. What’s with all the yelps? I moved on like this. But then I reached the fourth box.
WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?! Is it a human HEAD?! Is it a monster brain?! Is it Tracy? She didn’t really move! OH MY GOD! TRACY’S HEAD IS IN BOX NUMBER 4!
And that was when a few changes took place.
1). My imagination came on like a blinding light, (much like the 140 watt bulb that same imagination would make me sleep with)
2). Environmental Room is not always nice and easy and it’s much worse than that heart-stopping game “Operation”
3). Putting an animal skull into a box for 4th and 5th graders to “guess upon” is not always a good idea.