6th Grade Again

When I started my second time through the sixth grade, I was sure it was the end of the world. I had failed. All my friends had moved on to Junior high, while I was left in elementary school one more year. What could possibly be worse?

The first day I wanted to crawl under a rock. Everyone was staring at me it seemed.

“Are you Rosa?” I heard as I was getting out my notebook. It came from a pretty brown haired girl that was sitting across the table from me. She was very smiley. All the kids around her watched for my answer as if she had been the designated “asker”.

“No, my name’s Carole”

“Your name isn’t Rosa?” she said again while continuing to smile.

“No, it’s Carole” I said again. I guess she and the other kids that she was asking for, thought I looked like a girl named Rosa or something.

“Did you fail?” She said, she asked very directly, like it never occurred to her that her question might embarrass me. “Yes” I said and looked away. I was embarrassed.

“Oh my gosh! We thought your name was Rosa! We used to watch you out on the playground last year! Skip and Roddy kept calling you Rosa. We thought that was your name. Isn’t that funny?” she said through her smile.

By this time I was beyond sad, embarrassed and humiliated but I wasn’t mad at her. For some reason I could tell she wasn’t being mean, she was innocently asking questions. And she kept smiling.

Her name was Kay. One day I would name my first-born child after her.

Kay and I continued to talk that first day of school, every chance we got. She was very friendly. By the end of the day, I felt a little better about having to be in 6th grade again. By the end of the week she had asked me to go with her to a blue grass festival.

“What kind of music do you like?” she asked one day while we swung on the swings at recess.

“Rock” I replied.

“I only listen to country and blue grass,” she said.

“I don’t like Country at all! Gross” I said while scrunching up my nose.

“You don’t listen to Loretta Lynn and Tanya Tucker? I sing ‘when I die I may not go to heaven, I don’t know if they let Cowboys in..” she sang it to me. She was a good singer. “I sing at Blue Grass festivals. I love blue grass.” She spoke that, didn’t sing it thank God. “You wanna come with me Friday night to a Blue Grass festival?” she asked.

“I’ll ask my mom,” I told her. I really didn’t want to go to the blue grass festival but I did want to stay the night at her house. We were already close friends.

We went to the blue grass festival in Kay’s older sisters white work van. We sat on paint cans in the back since there were only two seats up front.

When we arrived at the blue grass I could hear the music when we pulled into the gravel parking lot. It was awful! By the time we were up near the stage, Kay was clapping and singing, and smiling as always. The bad was singing and playing the theme song from The Beverly Hillbillies TV show.

“Come on Kay, I don’t like this music. Can we go out to the van and listen to the radio?” I said while holding my hands over my ears.

I was much happier once we arrived at the van and turned on the rock station. Van Helen’s “And the Cradle Will Rock” was playing. I started singing really loud, making sure other people walking around the parking lot heard me. Kay laughed.

Kay and I were inseparable that year. She became my best friend. And I also soon discovered that being in 6th grade again wasn’t as bad as I thought. I had great teachers and a friend who sang, just like me, only she sang Tanya tucker songs and I sang Stevie Nicks. No matter, we both loved to sing and we both loved to listen to music. Eventually I started liking some of her music.

Kay and I started singing at school any time the opportunity arose. We even entered a local talent contest. One of our teachers, Mrs. Jordan, helped us make our music with kid’s musical instruments. One of our instruments was one of those things that's two blocks of wood covered with sand paper, type things that you rub together. That is what we played as background music for the song Dreams by Fleetwood Mac. I remember being so nervous that I didn’t even move a muscle while I was singing. All I could see were the people, all the people, like, a 1000 or so, were watching us sing. Kay on the other hand was snapping her fingers and acting like she had been in front of a thousand people a hundred times. She was a natural. I was petrified. But we won the contest. And afterward my sister cried when she came to congratulate us. I remember that. It was so sweet.

So of course after winning that contest, Kay and I were quite certain that our poop did not stink. We were IT at our little elementary school. We had 4th and 5th graders asking us for autographs! We had hit the big time.

By the end of the school year I was ready to sing a solo, well kinda, I sang over Pat Benatars vocals on “Heartbreaker” because back then there were no Karaoke CD’s and I couldn’t afford an accompaniment cassette tape. But even though I sang basically WITH Pat Benatar, everyone thought it was great. I had teachers tell me how much I sounded like her. I was a super star of elementary school.

It felt nice to be famous.

What I thought would be the worst year of my life thus far became the best year.

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