Dustin was his name. He had a crush on me since the first day of second grade.
To him, I had no cooties or girlish stink.
The sticky goo leftover in my bangs from too much hairspray (thanks, mom) and splotches of spaghettios on my Bongos only added to my beauty. Nothing could convince him I was anything less than angelic. Until it was time for the test that every public school kid in Florida has come to cringe at the name of. The Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test. Bitterly known as “The FCAT.”
I wasn’t popular. I played no sports and favored the library over recess. I donned a fuzzy brown unibrow and my last name rhymed with “booby.” Life had dealt me an awkward (and hairy) deck of cards. And as if these darling details weren’t enough to denounce me into a social inferno, I had a bladder problem. When I had pee, I peed. There was no such thing as “holding it” for me. It was all about getting to the potty in time before my juice box from lunchtime gave me the tingle.
On a breezy blue Tuesday in my second grade class, my juice box digested faster than usual. And I felt the tingle.
“Mrs. Blair” was my teacher. She smelled like mothballs and had the hunchback of a witch.
The day began like any other. Per usual, Dustin sat next beside me and I pretended to ignore him.
“I like the beads on your shirt,” he cooed.
“Shut up,” my typical retort.
I could feel his slimy brown eyes moving over me as he drooled on his desk.
It was time for the “Mathematics” portion of the FCAT.
My Beauty and The Beast number two pencil was perfectly sharpened and my desk was bare before me. As I poised myself in my seat, my belly full of fruit gushers and juicy juice from lunch, I realized, I had to pee.
“No one will be allowed to get up or talk during the test, if you need something, raise your hand. You will not be able to use the bathroom, so do not ask.”
My eyes widened like an owl and my little heart beat madly beneath my bosom.
“No…Bathroom?” I thought.
“But I just drank a juice box and didn’t have time to go after lunch…what if I…I can’t wait until the end of the test…”
Mrs. Blair handed out the scantrons.
This wasn’t good. I had to hold it. I had no other option.
The popular girls in the row behind me appeared so perfect, like little tinkerbells with their dainty ponytails and denim jumpers.
Girls like that didn’t have bladder problems like me.
And so the test began. Mrs. Blair scribbled the word “Quiet,” on the blackboard. The test would end in one hour. That wasn’t so bad. I could make it to 2:00, couldn’t I?
Multiplication and division. 12 divided by 3, piece of cake. If Sally had five apples how many times would she need to multiply her five apple to make fifteen?
“Focus on the numbers,” I repeated in my head “focus on Sally and her apples.”
My pencil lead had dulled down to the wood and I needed another one. I raised my hand.
Mrs. Blair motioned me toward her desk and I went up for a new yellow #2.
On my way back to my seat I suddenly felt a peculiar sensation. A tingly, earnest feeling.
I got nervous. Like the way I felt when I watched Flatsum and Jetsum in The Little Mermaid.
This wasn’t good.
I crossed my legs and sucked in my belly. The shuffle of my Keds below my desk attracted Dustin’s attention.
He smiled at me as if it were romantic to catch one anther’s gaze in a classroom of silence.
I wanted to yell for help.
Every kid had their eyes on the test. All as quiet as mice feeding on a slice of cheese.
I closed my eyes and went to my happy place.
But it was too late. Game Over.
“EEEWWWWWW!!” A little yellow haired girl screamed from behind.
“Mrs. Blair! Jamie peed all over the floor!!” The little darling yelled.
Every head whipped over in my direction. Every set of eyes gaped in wonder as they looked first at me, then to floor below me. From the seat of my chair, a small yellow stream of what once was a juicy juice, trickled onto the floor. My bottoms were soaked and all I could think to do was cry.
Mrs. Blair waddled over and without the slightest sentiment of pity, commanded me to go to the front office.
“Dustin, would you please walk Jamie to the principal?”
Fantastic. Ask the pasty boy who thinks he’s in love with me to escort me, in my pee soaked glory, to the principal.
I trotted away in shame.
On the walk to the principal, I heard a giggle escape Dustin’s mouth.
“Don’t laugh at me you jerk, you made me do it…you’re always looking at me!”
I left him in the dust and scrambled to the front office alone.
“I n–n-n-n-eeed to c-c-c-all my mom,” I spit out between tears.
The doe eyed secretary looked me up and down with a most pitiful glare. I could hear her thoughts “Oh that poor little girl…she wet her pants…how sad.”
She walked me to a back room and put a big box of mix matched clothes in front of me.
“It’s going to be all right, just find something dry to wear and I’ll call your mom.”
I stifled back a tear and attempted to sober myself up but as I rummaged through the clothes, I realized they were wrinkly and used.
The box had “lost and found” scribbled in black marker on the front.
What had my precious prepubescent life come to?
On that breezy blue Tuesday, this is what my life came to: a frilly pink church dress dug up from the abyss of the lost and found.
I can’t forget to mention it was covered in big orange giraffes. Yes, giraffes.
Mom walked in and I let it all out. Tears. Slimy, sloppy sobs of shame.
“Oh honey, its going to be okay, I’m sure the other kids didn’t even notice,” mom brushed my bangs aside and wiped a tear away.
She was wrong.
From that day forward I swore off juicy juice at lunch time. There are just some risks a furry eyed second grader shouldn’t take.