Thursday, January 05, 2006

Cat Tails: Hot Dog Day at Holy Cross School!

This one’s going out to my old roommate and friend Lindsey, a real peach of a girl. It’s her favourite story. I hope the text version will not disappoint, and I’m uber excited to attend your nuptials in March…

Everyone remembers hot dog day from their elementary school years. Ours was every second Thursday. A group of benevolent mums would arrive mid morning and slave away in the school kitchen, lovingly boiling hundreds of dogs and warming an equal number of, enriched white bread, buns in the oven.

For obvious reasons, cats love eating hot dogs, and we don’t turn up our whiskers at chocolate milk either. My mom, God bless her, did not make very good lunches (the all time worst was a spam sandwich once), and so I really looked forward to hotdog day. I always ordered two hot dogs and two chocolate milks (cost 2,25$).

Sometimes the milk came way before the dogs, which created problems. In the interest of fairness, the teachers would start milk dispensing at one end of the class list and dog dispensing at the opposite end. This system, though well-intentioned, really sucked because you’d either have your milk gone before your dogs even came, or the reverse. Either way, you often found yourself choking down dry dogs.

My most memorable hot dog day took place in the winter of grade three. The teacher I had that year was not a particularly kind woman, and she didn’t think all that highly of me. It’s hard being a newcomer in a small town school, especially when you are French and your mother is a no-nonsense, opinionated, fireball, with a highly sensitive bullshit detector.

My desk was at the back of the room. Last row. I sat beside Kyle Murdock, one of the taller kids in our class, who in retrospect might’ve suffered from selective mutism. Either that, or he was extremely shy. Dude did not speak. It’s funny actually, because he was in school with me until at least grade 8 but, aside from this incident in grade 3, I have no memories of which he is a part – not even a cameo.

This hot dog day started out like any other. We all placed our orders, waited patiently all morning, and then enjoyed our dogs at lunch time. Then we went out for recess and probably rolled around in the snow, or tried pushing each other off the monkey bars, or whatever.

After lunch was over we all strode back in (in boy and girl lines) and took our seats. Everything was fine. The class was quiet. It was those 10 minutes after recess where you pretend to read quietly at your desk. Then, completely without warning, Kyle leaned over and vomited the entire contents of his lunch on to the floor between our two desks.

Good Lord! I’ve never been very good with vomit. The smell really gets to me.

So there we were. Kyle had just puked up 2 chocolate milks, 3 hot dogs, and all the fixins that had adorned them. A wave of excitement began to push through the class, with curious 8 year-old voices speculating on what was going on.

The teacher, mortified and irritated, sent little Kyle to the bathroom to clean himself up and ordered the class to be quiet and get to work.

I didn’t care about any of this, because I had my own problems to deal with. The vomitous odour had really begun to spread and I was fighting hard to hold it together. I don’t know what pants I had on that day, but up top I was wearing a white, thinly-ribbed rayon turtleneck. There is a story about the turtleneck, but I won’t share it here…

So, in an effort to keep from starting a full on puke-orama, I pulled the neck part of my shirt up over my mouth and nose to try and filter out some of the smell. It was working more or less well, and I was averting my eyes and actively gagging into the turtleneck when the teacher caught a glimpse of me out of the corner of her Cyclops eyeball. Apparently she thought I was laughing uncontrollably and hiding in my shirt. I guess in her spiteful way, she decided she’d make an example of me. So, she stated loudly “oh, Tabby thinks this is funny.”

To which, I panic-strickenly replied “no I do not think this is funny at all. I’m not laughing.”

She hadn’t even heard me. She came back at me immediately with “well, since you think this is so funny, you can clean it up.” I begged her to reconsider, but she was having no part of it. She ordered me to get some paper towels and start working. I was 8 years old, frightened, and humiliated.

I laid one or two paper towels on the puke; but, by then had turned sufficiently green, and was heaving enough that she was probably worried that I would throw up too. So she told me to sit down and scolded me loudly for laughing at someone else’s misfortune.

It was the first time in my life I really remember feeling like a grave injustice was being committed against me. It's a funny story now, but she had really terrorized me. I can’t imagine any teacher pulling a stunt like that now, but back then things like that still happened.

I’ve never been one to laugh at someone else’s misfortune, but can I say with absolute certainty that the hot dog day incident didn’t teach me anything about respect for others. It taught me that even grown ups could be complete turkeys.

To this day, I have no idea what impelled Kyle to throw up his lunch. I also have no idea where he is, or what he is up to. I wonder if he still eats hot dogs once in a while, or if that event turned him off of them completely.

- tabby


Anonymous Lindsey said...

First, let me just say that I am thrilled beyond words to have "Hot Dog Day at Holy Cross School" (great title, BTW) be the first blog I've ever had dedicated to me.

Second, I think it was an excellent choice to share that story with the world. That being said, although your written account of that fateful day's events is highly entertaining, there is absolutely no substitute on the planet for a real-life story hour with your tabby-self.

Third, I'm going to phone you in about 3 minutes to tell you how fantastic I think you are.


7:02 PM  
Blogger telltale tabby said...

Thank you Lindsey, my favourite fair-haired kitten. I'm happy to have entertained you. You're right, there's just no substitute for our face to face interaction - me telling stories, while you rub my head endlessly. I was the real winner in that scenario. I miss you.


10:51 AM  

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