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Don’t Worry, Kid; It’ll Hit You One Day

, , , , , , | Learning | June 27, 2022

I was a fairly unpopular fifth-grader — good academically, bad socially. I somehow got the idea that I could solve my popularity problem with advice from books.

This was pre-Internet, so my book selection was not only limited but difficult to search for. I felt embarrassed looking for books about how to make friends, so my only hope was to find a book at the school library during our weekly visit, check it out, and read it in secret. I searched and searched, and the closest resource I could find was a book called “Male Manners.” I don’t know what I was thinking.

Sure enough, the book turned out to be irrelevant. I don’t remember most of what I read, only that if I was ever eating at a place where I’d finished my meal but wished to keep enjoying a rich sauce, I should gently drop bits of bread into the sauce, then eat them with my fork — not exactly the kind of advice I was looking for.

The next week, when it was time to return the book to the library, I didn’t want anyone to see me with it, so I tried to quickly slide it across the counter of the Returns desk on my way in and then hustle off into the library.

Unfortunately, in my haste to get away from the book, I slid it a little too vigorously, and it slid off the other end of the counter and hit the librarian.

Librarian: “HEY!”

Me: “Oh… uh, sorry.”

Librarian: “Do we throw books?”

Me: “No, sorry, I wasn’t throwing it, I just pushed it too hard… but sorry.”

The librarian looked at the book cover.

Librarian: *Extremely loud* “And it’s a book about manners!”

She showed it to the other librarian.

Librarian: *Still extremely loud* “Look at this! It’s a book about manners! He threw it at me, and it’s a book about manners!”

I wanted to crawl under a desk. Fifth grade is awful.

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