I peed my pants in first grade under the tutelage of one “Mrs. Yamoshita,” whom to this day I maintain was the cruelest schoolteacher ever to roam–no, stalk— the halls of a public institution. We were not allowed to speak or get out of our chairs (in first grade!), so I sat with my legs crossed and my hand raised one morning for what seemed like hours. She was grading papers at her desk (giving us all Fs, no doubt) and never looked up. Since I wasn’t allowed to stand up or call out to her, few alternatives presented themselves. I peed all over the tiled floor so naturally a huge, clear puddle ensued (kids these days don’t know how lucky they are with carpeted classrooms.) When the students shuffled out for recess, I sat stuck, quite literally, to my seat. A rugged blond hottie I’d been eyeing all year stopped on his way out to ask me what “that water” was under my chair. I quietly told him that I’d spilled 7-Up. He gave me a weird look, which did not surprise me, seeing that a) this was the 1970s and kids hardly drank soda, let alone brought it to school, and b) we were all barely surviving together under a Stalinist regime.
Upon my dreaded discovery, the Great Mrs. Y’s solution did not disappoint. Rather than phoning my mom to come rescue me, she marched me straight down to the nurse’s office wherein she promptly fished out an old pair of black-and-red plaid bell-bottoms that must have once belonged to a waifish kindergarten boy, seeing as they were criminally short and tight on my own 41-pound body. In all her mercy, she also rummaged around the Lost and Found until acquiring a pair of thick, white asexual underpants. (Remember these–circa 1979?) I was instructed to remove my wet, smelly clothing and put on the aforementioned garb. Apparently questioning the hygenic properties of wearing anonymously used underpants was out of the question. I was six; she was six-hundred. And mean. What could I do? I dressed—with a deep shudder resulting from post-urination chills and a stab of soul-damning fear. What would the other kids say? And how much longer would I have to be alone in a small room with this woman?
In sum: Rather than leaving early to spend a cozy afternoon at home, I crept down the school hallway Spidey-style–with my back and legs plastered against the wall–hoping that this would somehow cover up my new flashy pants, along with my newfound shame. It did not.
It did not, Mrs. Yamoshita. And I know you’re still out there. People like you don’t die.