I have always been badly behaved. My mom told me when I was little, I was a prickly little beast. An attempt at a hug ended with me shrugging off the offender with the growl of a disgruntled badger. I find that even now, I am constantly reacting to things in an unconventional, dare I say it, badly behaved way. And if I’m not reacting that way, I’ve internalized it so I often think of how I would have reacted had I the opportunity to be a disgruntled badger again.
When I was in third grade, I remember a situation which defines my bad behavior, the pinnacle to which all future bad behavior would be held. I was in art class, my favorite class of the day. My teacher, Mrs. Carlton, always appreciated the creations I made and held a soft spot for me (she once gave me a pencil with a rubber crocodile on top). I’m not sure what transpired with my fellow student— Ryan. What I do recall is we were standing, and he had done or said something I didn’t like. No hesitation or thought, I spit in his face. Full on spit. I remember the spit bubbles trickling down his face, as vividly if it were yesterday. I have no idea why I did it, even as I was doing it.
Ryan was sent to the bathroom to clean off, while I was sentenced to the boys table until I learned to behave myself. I remember even though I was ashamed, a part of me was secretly pleased to be sitting next to Geoffrey Caruso, for whom I had long harbored a crush.
I recall I wasn’t moved back to the previous table until Mrs. Carlton brought it up. And even then I was disappointed. Perhaps this is why I still harbor that streak of bad behavior, that inner creature whose smile slowly spreads into a toothy grin at the thought of doing something bad. The creature, who for so many was beaten into submission when they were young, was rewarded at such a young age for me. And for that, I am eternally grateful.