I can now tell this story—anyone who would be mad at my actions is dead. I do not sing “School’s out for summer,” although I do chant it in my head every June. This is why.
When I was in sixth grade, the song was popular. I heard it over and over again as I rode home on the bus, clutching my lunch box and library book. I even sang along. On the last day of sixth grade, I hopped off the bus, hauling all of my papers and books from my desk homeward. I climbed a couple of backyard fences, dropping over, shouting “School’s Out For Summer!” as I went. The neighborhood dog pack followed along. I stopped to pat the ponies that lived in my backyard, wandered into the house, dropped my stuff in my room, and changed clothes before heading to the back yard once more. The ponies called. I had been slowly building up a relationship with them from months, patting, feeding, combing…I knew ponies. I’d had one a few years before. The owners didn’t mind. They even encouraged me. That was probably the big mistake.
On this afternoon, I watched them peacefully grazing in the field, still humming. “School’s out FOREVER!” It felt good to be done with mindless worksheets and struggling through math, rather than reading a book under the desk. The ponies called. “I could ride one,” I thought. “I have ridden ponies before.” I convinced one to come over to the fence, climbed up, and dropped down on her back. For a few moments, everything was fine. Then she spooked and started to run. I grabbed for the mane, missed, and slid off, landing on my wrist and butt. It hurt. Feeling guilty, I left the field.
I spent the rest of the afternoon on the couch with a book. When my parents came home, they put ice on my arm and decided to wait until the next day to take me to the doctor. “Maybe it’s another sprain, “ my mother muttered. I told them that I had “tripped over the dog,” which had happened before, so they believed me.
The next morning, it still hurt, so we headed to the hospital. I had a broken arm. They put it in a full plaster cast and sling and I spent the next six weeks of summer unable to swim, ride a bike, or wrestle with my cousins. Although it was an excellent weapon—I bonked by cousin on the head one day after he broke something of mine—it did put a damper on my summer plans.
And so, even though I may be thinking of Alice Cooper’s song, you will not find me singing it in the last few days. Too risky.