Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

What Grade Five Taught Me

Yep. That's me. Heart-breaker extraordinary.
It was 1965.
And I had just realized that boys didn't have (as I had always suspected) cooties.
I also discovered that I was capable of being a two-faced non-friend.
The two went together.
Perhaps I should explain.
Grade five.
The year when math problems became more . . . problematic.
Times tables proved important.
Story writing, more intense and personal.
Mrs. Herbst officially turned into Oh-Teacher-of-the-Blue-Hair.
And boys became . . . interesting.
The latter started with a note, passed to me during free reading.
“Will you go to the movie with me on Saturday?”
It was signed, 'Paul'.
A boy?!
Wanted to go to a movie with me?!
What should I say?
What should I do?
What should I wear?!
Shakily I wrote, “okay” on the note and passed it back.
He unfolded it, read it and smiled at me.
And that was it.
My feet didn't touch the ground for the rest of the day.
For the rest of the week, actually.
Saturday was a long time coming.
I should mention, here, that Paul was one of the cool boys.
The popular, cool boys.
And way out of my league.
But his group adopted me as one of their own.
For the first time in my life, I was hanging with the cool crowd.
Back to my story . . .
I don't remember much about the movie, other than it was an Audie Murphy and involved something called 'cactus torture' which made me, quite literally, sick to my stomach.
And that Paul held my hand through the whole thing.
After that, we met every day on the playground and on Saturday afternoons at the movies.
For about a month.
Suddenly, Paul had his eye on someone else.
And I was no longer one of the cool crowd.
Bitter and angry, I rejoined my old group.
Who took me back in without so much as a frown.
For half a morning, I complained bitingly.
Making acid comments about 'the cool kids' and how fickle they were. And mean. And nasty. And . . .
You can see where this is going.
“Well, you're with your old friends now and that's all that matters,” one of my group said.
“Yes,” I said. “I wouldn't go back with them if they begged me!”
Just then, three of the cool girls came over to us. “Diane. Lloyd likes you. Do you want to come back to our group?”
I sprinted to join them.
Didn't even look back.
Now I met Lloyd every day on the playground and held hands with him at the Saturday afternoon movies.
I know what you are thinking.
Fickle non-friend.
And you're not wrong.
Ahem . . .
This went on for some time.
Throughout the rest of Grade five in fact.
Then my popularity waned.
And died.
And do you know what?
My old group again took me back.
Without even a sideways glance.
This time, I stayed.
We went through grade six together.
Then Junior High.
Then Senior high.
And we had fun.
I discovered that it all comes back to math.
♀ + ♀♀♀ = ☼♥♫.
♀+ = brain-dead non-friend.
I learned my lesson.

P.S. At our class reunions, I've discovered that we are no longer divided into the 'cool' kids and the 'dweebs'. The 'cool' kids have had just as many challenges in life as me and my group. The same heartaches. The same joys and reasons to celebrate.
Life is the true leveller.


  1. Yeah...we all tape our glasses together the same way..oh wait...maybe that's just me lol.

    1. No. No. I'm quite sure I taped my glasses exactly the same as you . . .

  2. Fifth grade. What a confusing time that was!


  3. Diane, this post was such a good read! You had me smiling--first with Paul, and then with Lloyd. Ah, first love...I remember it well. I was in love with a boy named Johnny in the fifth grade and he was quite sweet. Don't you love how these sweet memories make us sigh, smile, and dream? :)

  4. I didn't discover boys until sixth grade and then only because the girls no longer wanted to climb trees or jump off the high diving board with me. They were too busy with lipstick and nail polish suddenly. And hair rollers, for heavens sakes!

  5. Growing older teaches us that we are truly so much more alike than we ever thought:)


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