My affinity for school supplies
Sometimes I stroll past the school supplies aisle and look at different notebooks, pens and related accoutrements.
I never understood why kids ate paste.
Playing with glue? Totally got — squeezing tiny bits from the Elmer’s bottle onto your fingertips and letting it dry before peeling it off like zombie flesh. Good times.
Each August, right before school started, Mamaw would usually bring up the story about how some snotty kid in grade school ate her paste and how it traumatized her. Reliving the moment with Mamaw via storytelling was traumatizing for me, too, quite frankly.
Anyway, I wasn’t the biggest fan of school, but I did love procuring new school supplies — more than once on the night before the first day of school along with other procrastinating families on the school supply aisle of the K&B. Through sixth grade, the list always seemed to be the same: crayons, pencils, colored pencils, colored markers, loose-leaf paper, notebooks, a compass and a protractor. In all my years of buying a protractor, I can’t recall ever using it — which may be the root of the reason I reach for a calculator when dividing anything other than the numbers 1 or 2 into any other number that doesn’t end in 0.
Finding the appropriate Trapper Keeper was stressful, as I was more concerned with finding one that other kids found cool than I was with actually liking it myself. The problem was I didn’t know what was cool — hence the purple-edged Trapper Keeper with a tropical sunset on the cover. It was less “This kid is awesome!” and more “Would you like to retire here when you turn 65 next week?” It wasn’t well received.
Neither was my Voltron lunchbox in sixth grade at Immaculate Conception School. I vetoed buying a school lunch because I’d rather eat something my mom made me than stand in line with other kids and have food slopped on a slotted plastic tray. It was just all too reminiscent of a prison movie I saw as a kid.
School supplies weren’t nearly as fun in high school, as it was mostly just pens, pencils and a notebook for each class. But college was cooler because I at least got to pick out my backpack — hunter green, which matched my late ’80s/early ’90s decorating palette of navy, burgundy and — surprise! — hunter green.
My affinity for school supplies hasn’t waned as an adult. Sometimes I stroll past the school supplies aisle and look at different notebooks, pens and related accoutrements.
“Awww, are you shopping for your little one?” one woman asked at Walgreens.
“Umm … Yes, ma’am,” I lied. So if you hear a rumor that I have a child somewhere in Tulsa, don’t freak out. Or laugh too hard in the person’s face, although I’d probably be tempted to do that myself.
I’ve even slipped up at work and called office supplies school supplies. We have a little supply closet with legal pads, pens and Post-it notes, which I’ve been known to steal off people’s desks. Not like pens, which I take completely by mistake. No, I deliberately thieve sticky pads from people’s desks because I want them. I’m not proud of it. This is more of an admission of guilt to assuage my conscience.
I also have an inordinate fondness for multi-colored pushpins, paperclips and stress balls. My current collection includes a squishy planet Earth, an airplane, a bus and a hard hat. Oh! And those black clippy things, which is a stupid school sup- … I mean office supply to collect considering I don’t know the names for them. Not paper clips but … Words fail me. Apparently, dictionaries weren’t as important as protractors on my teachers’ back-to-school lists.