When I went to first grade I wore a uniform.
Everyone did. We were all equally dressed and depressed in brown and black. A student could roll up in a Rolls Royce(or Chaika in my case) to the school, but inside the school he or she was supposed to be on the same footing as the kid who took the metro.
On our first day of school, a symbolic September 1st ( I can still remember the panic that swept all over me), we wore our celebratory outfits with white aprons.
Everyone looked like they knew exactly what they were doing and where they were going. I wasn’t even sure what class, A or B, I was supposed to be in. My parents had to help me figure that one out. I was in A.
Everyone was holding flowers – carnations. I was engrossed in counting out the petals of my carnations in order to avoid eye contact with other humans, but my gaze wavered and I happened to notice in a not so far distance a blindingly blonde head with the most gorgeous multicolored bow attached to the ponytail. I fell in love right away.
I wanted that bow like nothing else. It was my first and only time I have ever been jealous of another person’s possession. ( Gina Lollobrigida’s legs do not count.)
I begged my mother to get me that synthetic bow from the one and only supermarket store, where we had to have a government coupon to buy things with. There had to be a coupon for a Bow! Pretty please!
My mother finally relented and said she’d get me one for the week after.
I dreamt of my Red (for I had decided it had to be red with sprinkle of yellow and orange in it) bow. It was as if life depended on that one hair accessory. Over the coming week, as I waiting impatiently for my mother to deliver on her promise, I had convinced myself that once I had my red puffy bow in my hair, the world would become my oyster!
I could not wait to put it in my hair. I was going to look spectacular! Everyone would Ooo and Aaaa my flowy hair and my big Red bow and I’d be Queen. “I’d surely get a sweetheart, a prince or a king, a palace home where I could have everything.” ( If I had a Ribbon Bow by Maxine Sullivan https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YP9HWEblm4M )
Instead I got this.
A tiny green ribbon. The world didn’t turn out to be an oyster, but rather a very disappointing brussels sprout. And this is how my school life started.
But the bow, or lack of one was the least of my problems.
Stay tuned to Part 2 of First Grade A.