I Really Wish I Had Done It First

By Jerry D. Haight

Have you ever seen something someone else did and remarked either to yourself or others “Gee I really wish I had done it first?” While there is always the hula hoop, the paper clip, post-it notes and etc. my first one came in the sixth grade. First, let me tell you about Norman Covey.

Norman was a slender boy who seemed to always have a big smile and his arm around someone. Of course, now days, he would be given time out, suspended expelled or otherwise molded into automatonic normalcy. Norman was the class monitor, the class milkman and the teacher’s gopher. Norman was always the first one to greet the girl with a cast on her wrist, the boy with a broken foot or to pick up dropped books. Norman was my best friend and when he had his arm around me, I felt love all over. But, looking back I know that Norman Covey was everyone’s best friend.

Then there was Carol Bossleman who was absolutely the best thing that could ever happen to a sixth grade class, or a sixth grade boy for that matter. She was a petite brunette, always groomed to a tee, wore the brightest red dresses, with a pink bow in the middle matching the one in her hair. She wore shoes that I am sure had to have just fallen off of Princess Cinderella. But the most striking thing about Carol was her huge brown eyes with long black eye lashes. I was in love with her from the moment I first laid eyes on her. But there was another part of Carol that was even more beautiful. She had a way of absorbing everyone with whom she came into contact. First, she captivated with her eyes but engaged with her focus then captured with her rapt attention.  

The classroom held about thirty students each in half desks at the side and in front of them with a hole that supposedly held an ink bottle. I believe long ago they determined ink bottles were a bad idea for a sixth grade class. The teacher’s desk, a dark oak monstrosity that undoubtedly served in the civil war was in front of the classroom next to the flag with 48 stars. Across the front of the room was the chalkboard that spanned the entire width. A strip of celotex sheathing trimmed the top of the chalkboard holding letters of the alphabet and a corresponding phrase to help in memorization. On the west side was the wall of windows with book shelves underneath. On the top of a book shelve was a fish tank with a dopey looking goldfish and a cage containing the animal of the day, a white mouse. At the rear of the classroom was a long black counter with a sink in it. This was used to conduct scientific experiments which usually failed. It was also the dissection site of miles and miles of worms and hoards of frogs and crayfish. The faucets were bright silver tubes rising high over the sink like  shepherd’s staff and the whole apparatus was mostly used to quench the thirst of students because of the never ending supply of paper cups.

My desk was in the row next to the window about six desks back. Norman sat in front of me and Carol set adjacent to me, just about causing me to flunk sixth grade. The day came. Norman and I were seated when Carol came down the isle causing every boy en route to hyperventilate. She was wearing that pretty red dress that day. She took her seat.

About half way through class, Norman left his chair and went back to the table to get a drink of water. Instead of walking back by way of the window isle, he walked by Carol’s desk instead. That in itself was not unusual because every trip always warranted a detour by Carol’s desk.  It appeared that Norman momentarily stumbled as he spilled a very small amount water on her dress. Deeply apologetic and gaining the attention of the whole class as well as the teacher, he moved his desk into the isle and sat down with a most satisfied look on his face. The teacher excused Carol and Just as she left for the bathroom, Norman whispered, “Don’t worry about it, I’ve done it too”. It was then I noticed a large puddle underneath Carol’s chair.  Norman did a wonderful thing, but gee I really wish I had done it first.