September 1972: RICK NELSON - Garden Party

It’s time to start First Grade!

I was so happy to finally start real, official school. Even though by dint of birth date I could’t do kindergarten on schedule, I was already a voracious reader and had honed my writing skills with ballpoint pen all over my album jackets. Now it was time to fine-tune these skills and experience the pleasure of carrying a thermos of soup and Tupperware full of peaches in my very own lunch box.

The anticipated joys of 1st grade were quickly squelched by the cutest boy in the 2nd grade telling me I looked like the Jack-in-the-Box clown. At nursery school, we only insulted each other because we were friends, but I didn’t know this kid at all and he instantly hated me? This is what the big leagues are like?

But that was nothing compared to my teacher, Mrs. Brown, dressing me down in front of the entire class for turning in my writing assignment in cursive, rather than the wobbly, uncertain block print my classmates were struggling with. I was used to stern words for bad behavior, but this confused me because I didn’t understand what was bad about cursive and what I did wrong.

That night, in tears, I told Mom about this, and we struck a deal: I’d play along with what they wanted at school, but at home I was free to cursive all I wanted.

“You can’t please everyone so you got to please yourself.”

"Garden Party" by Rick Nelson.

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