A Little White Lie

Summer had finally begun, and like rising 7th graders across the country I was blasting my favorite Alice Cooper song and looking forward to three whole months with "no more pencils, no more books, no more teacher's dirty looks."

Sixth grade had been my first year at Devon Preparatory School for Boys. Devon Prep is an all-boys school for grades six through twelve with a well-deserved reputation for its difficulty. My sixth grade class had started out with eighteen students but finished with fourteen after three students dropped out (another was expelled for a bizarre incident involving liquor, lighters, theft and knives at school.) Plenty of my other classmates were struggling and were near that dropout point as well. I, on the other hand, was doing great. I had sailed through my first three quarters as an honor-roll student. While I had decided to take it a little easier in the fourth quarter taking into account my MENSA-worthy IQ, I made the fairly safe assumption that I had done just as well in the fourth quarter.

Now that it was summer, I planned to enjoy my well-deserved break from the kids-puke-in-the-bathroom-before-tests atmosphere that was Devon Prep's Middle School. I knew that later in the summer, as a reward for my good grades, my parents were going to let me go to visit my best friend in Chicago, but until then I planned to just relax. I spent the first week of glorious freedom lounging around the house, playing PlayStation, staying up late and sleeping later. I enjoyed staying in my pajamas all day, watching Judge Judy on my family's crystal clear sixty-five inch TV while enjoying the smell of new leather, flinging myself on our La-Z-Boy recliner. A week of that and I knew that life was good…and that I was really bored.

To assure that my eyes didn't forget how to adjust to the sunlight, I decided to put an end to my week indoors by tossing on a pair of shorts and pulling my favorite DARE T-Shirt over my head. I kicked open my front door, stepped bare-foot onto the thick plush warm grass which pushed its way between my toes. I decided to head to the park, but on the way I checked the mail. I turned through the usual pile of junk mail, bills, and junk mail disguised as bills, deciding that there was nothing interesting when the Devon Prep emblem caught the corner of my eye. I wondered what my school could be sending me now.

The envelope seemed to find its own way into my fidgety hands. After hesitating, wondering what kind of trouble the envelope might contain, my hands tore open the mysterious piece of mail. I peered into the envelope. Relief flooded through me as I saw a bunch of folded pieces of paper of all sorts of bright colors. It appeared to be another one of the usual inane school mailings. I read the slightly obtuse letter from my rather goofy headmaster and checked the calendar for the next September, finding to my relief that we went back to school pretty late. Paging through the remaining sheets of paper I discovered that our school was having a summer basketball camp, that there was going to be construction on the cafeteria, etc. I went another page further and my heart started pounding. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.

It was my final report card. My usual relaxed nonchalant nature vanished and my heart began to pound. Quickly calm settled back over me. I had done well so far, after all. Why should I be worried about a report card? I unfolded the piece of paper. Instinctively my eyes jumped to the bottom right corner of the page, where an entire two and a half months of my life were synthesized into three simple digits. 2.83. I checked again. That couldn't be correct! I was an A student! I looked over my grades and ran the GPA calculation (which all Devon Middle Schoolers had memorized by the end of the first semester) through my head. It kept coming up with the same wrong answer, though. 2.83. I ran inside and grabbed a calculator. Sure enough, I thought, the calculator was as broken as my brain. 2.83.

The number echoed through my head. What was I going to do? If my parents saw this report card, they were sure to rescind their permission for my escapade to Chicago. Then I remembered to apply the logic my math teacher had taught me to my situation. I rephrased my dilemma. My parents will rescind their permission for my escapade to Chicago if and only if they see my report card. It was suddenly clear what I needed to do.

I continued my walk to the park, report card in hand. I plotted my route to the park's trashcan, placed the damaging report card in the trash, and walked over to the basketball courts for some pick-up b-ball. That night, I slept peacefully, knowing that my secret was safely kept between the trashcan at the park and me.

Soon, my parents were calling my school. "Excuse us but we were wondering why we hadn't received our son's report card yet." My school sent another copy of it, but this time I knew it was coming and, once again, I intercepted the mail and removed the report card. This time I went to Palermo's Pizza to throw it away. Two weeks later, the mailman delivered another copy of the report card to my house and I delivered another copy of my report card to a local public trashcan.

Soon, I was off to Chicago. My parents, not knowing about the report card, were more than happy to let me go. I called my parents each night I stayed with my friend, recapping the day's events.

"Today we hung out on Lake Michigan!"

"We went to a Cubs game tonight! I had forgotten how much I love Wrigley Field"

My parents were glad I was having fun, they told me. "But, we got your report card in the mail today, and we are not at all happy about that. In fact, we're shocked and disappointed," they told me. "Your dad's been having a fit all day" my mom added. I was terrified at first, but always one to look on the bright side of things, I realized the beauty of the whole situation. My parents were mad about my report card, but I was halfway across the country from them, and they couldn't punish me from there. Plus, by the time I got home, their anger was bound to have cooled off. I enjoyed my remaining week and a half in Chicago without worrying.

On my flight back, I began to worry, though. What if my parents hadn't forgotten? Maybe their anger had only brewed. Then I wouldn't survive the car ride home!

"You look nervous," the man sitting next to me on the plane informed me.

"No kiddin'," I thought. I opted for lying that I was just nervous for landing.

My plane landed smoothly, taxied to the gate and I got off the plane. My parents were waiting for me at the gate; they were allowed to do so in that pre-9/11 age. I walked over to them, trying to hide my nervousness in case that might remind them why I should be nervous. When I reached my parents, my dad stretched out his arms. Was he going to beat me? In the airport? He wrapped them around me and gave me a big bear hug. "We've missed you," he added. My mom hugged me next and kissed me on the top of my head. All was well. "By the way, you're grounded for a week."