Until Today, I've Only Told This Story To Three People In The Entire World
You may remember that I said a few weeks ago that I'm not a Halloween fan. I'm not, and I'm not going to post today about werewolves or serial killers. However, today's blog is about my most frightening experience--the one time in my life when I was completely, utterly mortified.
In the seventh grade I was by no means part of the In Crowd. And while I wish I could say I was counter-culture and comfortable in my own skin, that was definitely not the case. I was nerdy and awkward, and I desperately wanted to be one of Them. I wanted them to like me, and I wanted them to talk to me. I wanted the girls to think I was handsome and I wanted the boys to think I was good at sports. I wasn't, in either case, but I would do anything if it meant I could be.
I ran for student government--not because I was interested in it, but it seemed like the popular thing to do. All of Them were running, so I figured I might as well. I imagine I garnered about four votes. However, shortly after the elections, the school counselor approached me about an appointed position in the government--happily meaning that no one would have to vote for me. I jumped at the chance, of course, and was officially dubbed the Seventh Grade Representative of the Steering Committee.
I didn't even know what that was. All I knew was that it meant that I'd go to meetings with teachers and parents every couple of weeks, and once a week I'd meet with student government--I was finally hanging out with the cool kids. All the popular boys and all the pretty girls were there--and they associated with me. They'd ask me questions, and I'd ask them questions. It was only during lunch period on Wednesdays, of course, and they'd rarely glance in my direction the other 167 hours of the week, but at least I had my foot in the door.
Well, time moved on and winter came, and a Student Government Retreat was planned. I was ecstatic. Not only would I be hanging out with the cool kids, but it was at one of their cabins, and we'd be skiing. (I had never skied in my life, but I was sure it was going to be awesome--They talked about it all time.)
The day came and we all carpooled up into the mountains. There was joking and laughing and general rowdiness. We were, after all, in the seventh and eight grades and rambunctiousness ran rampant. I was still an outsider so mostly ended up laughing with the group instead of telling my own jokes, but that was more than enough for me. I was sitting next to Adrian--the kid who had been Mr. Popularity Number One since the moment he'd moved in during the fourth grade. He was taller than the rest of us, with blond spiky hair, and he'd grown up in California so we all knew he must be a surfer. All the girls liked him. He was the best basketball player in the school. He's who I wanted to be.
When we got to the cabin, we immediately set off to explore the place. The guys claimed their bedrooms and the girls claimed theirs. As the school counselor was coming up the stairs Adrian quickly stepped into a linen closet. It was the first door she opened when she reached the landing, and he jumped out to surprise her.
It was perfect. He'd hopped right in, she'd opened it up, and he scared the wits out of her.
Plus, it was Adrian. Now we all had to do it.
Someone hid in the bathroom, waiting for anyone to open the door. When someone did, he jumped and shouted, and we all thought it was hilarious. Another kid waited behind a corner of the hallway, just standing there until someone came along -- eventually someone did, and the joke continued. Sure, it wasn't the height of wit, but we were in the seventh grade. Plus, Adrian had started it.
So I had to try it. I was on the upper floor of the house, and I heard someone coming down the hall. Not only would I scare someone, but it sounded like a couple of girls. They were sure to shriek!
I ducked into the nearest hiding spot, which was a dark, empty bedroom. In a flash of brilliance, I leapt under the bed--the girls would walk in, I'd grab one of their ankles, and they'd scream. It was the perfect plan.
They walked in.
But in my scramble to get under the bed I ended up facing the wrong direction and couldn't reach their ankles. Instead, I heard the door close.
And there I was, in what I instantly realized was one of the girl bedrooms, with two girls in it, and the door was closed. And I was under the bed. Terrified.
I didn't know what to do. I could hear them talking, but there was a blanket dangling down and I couldn't see their feet--I didn't know where they were. But I knew their voices: popular girls. One was the class vice-president. And I was nobody, and I suddenly realized that jumping out and scaring people isn't all that funny even if you get the timing right. By that point they'd been in the room for a couple of minutes--jumping out then would be...weird.
So I waited. I don't know what I was waiting for. A miracle, I guess. I was completely mortified. I was paralyzed. I was afraid to breathe for fear they'd hear me. I was so stupid. I was the nerdy, unpopular kid. And I was under the girls' bed.
I have never, never been so scared.
I wish I could say that I was able to sneak out of the room, or that the girls eventually left. But I can't. I laid under that bed, on the verge of tears, for over an hour. I listened to them talking as they got ready for bed, and I listened to them talking as they laid there awake. I said more than a few desperate, frantic prayers under that bed. I'd gotten myself into a situation that couldn't possibly end well.
And it didn't.