Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mikey and the Bionator

Describe a typical day in elementary school.

It seemed that the Life cereal commercial that followed “Mikey” around his entire life did the same for me, as we shared our name. A typical elementary school day produced multiple reenactments of the bit, either in part or in whole, with the intent of getting a rise out of the targeted Mikey. I was able to stay fairly low to the ground. But to this day I’m affected in a tenderly annoying fashion by the name Mikey.

But this is about the day in elementary school. Typically. Can I summarize elementary school? My experience wasn’t typical, I think. I went to five different elementary schools. Two of them for single years only. One was a private school. So I guess in the context of the school year, there was a “typical” day, but a different typical for each school attended. So where do we go from here?

Well, I remember more atypical stuff than typical. So maybe we’ll just go with that.

I was pulled out of class fairly early on—3rd grade, I think—to test for accelerated learning abilities. It was somewhat typical that I was disrupted from the regular schedule of my classmates, either for testing or for other learning programs. In 3rd grade, I left the classroom and went over to read with the “big kids”—4th and 5th graders. In 4th grade, I would spend a time with other gifted children from around the district, and of varied grade levels, in the Mentally Gifted Minors program. In 7th grade, I was identified as a G.A.T.E. student (Gifted and Talented Education) and earned the opportunity to travel to England and Scotland with my teacher and other students.

But those things were definitely not typical. There are some interesting stories around my dental work—I had a retainer, or a “bionator” that I had to wear inside my mouth to correct a severe overbite. I wore it for about a year, I think. It made my speech kind of slurred, as it was a mass of plastic and wires inside my mouth that didn’t allow me to enunciate. This may have contributed to my quiet demeanor, but I doubt it. I was very shy for the most part until halfway through high school, when I somehow found my sense of humor. But that’s another story for another day.

The bionator had to be taken out so I could eat at lunch. My mom would pack me a lunch, usually a brown bag with a sandwich of some sort, maybe some fruit and something snacky, like cheez-its or the like. Embarrassed by the site of the bionator (it smelled horrible, too, no matter how much mouthwash I soaked it in), I would wrap it in a napkin or paper towel while I ate lunch. Well, many a time I accidentally threw that wad of paper away when I was cleaning up after eating. I had to dig the bionator out of the trash and then give it a good cleaning before sticking it back in my mouth. Yeesh. The things adults use to torture their children. And within the law!

One time, I forgot my bionator on the table after eating, wrapped politely in a paper napkin. I was at a friend’s house, and everything got swept up off the table after the meal. I of course went off to continue playing, not giving another thought to my dental health. When I remembered a few hours later... I learned about a kitchen appliance that was new to me—the trash compactor. My bionator had been crushed! And I knew that I was on the hook for it—it was my responsibility! And it was expensive! What was going to happen to me? My parents surely would harvest my organs or place me in solitary confinement for the next 20 years. My life was over.

Truth be told, those exaggerated thoughts of disaster and ruin were probably the most typical thing in elementary school.


Deb said...

Interesting that you posted it twice within the same blog. Confused me for a minute, de ja vu if you will. Anyway, I am still amazed sometimes that we grew up in the same house. Being in five different elementary schools affected you quite differently than being in four did for me. I've never thought much about the changes-- just took them on as new adventures while I was going through them.

But I do remember the bionator. It does seem horrible that Mom and Dad would do that to you, but at the time, it was status quo. Normal. Of course, Dad found a few ways to torture your psyche when we were young. The bionator was the physical manifestation I guess. I'd have thrown it away too.

Miclaundry said...

I kept getting an error last night, so it published twice. I think I fixed it now. Sorry about that, Deb!

Gerri said...

I apologize for putting you through seemed like a good idea at the time and it was highly recommended. Oh well, live and learn. Again, I am sorry.
On the brighter side, it did give you a great topic to write about!
Love you, buddy.

Miclaundry said...

No worries, Mom. A little suffering is good for the soul. And the drama is exaggerated by the limited adolescent perspective. Not to mention for the effect on the story...