The Pomegranate war of 1983

red pomegranate seeds
Photo by Jessica Lewis on

When I was in grade 6, we had two teachers. We had one teacher in the morning, and then the French teacher took over in the afternoon (after her French obligation was complete). I went to school with children of European parents, so our lunches consisted of “sangwiches” made on big crusty buns layered with breaded veal cutlet or mortadella and provolone. Our thermoses contained spaghetti and red sauce (or maybe even Puttanesca), or zucchini and eggplant ragu. It didn’t seem weird if someone had an artichoke or figs or wedges of fennel. One fateful day, though, a pomegranate arrived in Mrs. Cole/Mme  Minardi’s classroom.

The short story is that over lunch, there was a pomegranate war. Thing was, it all started innocently enough – likely with an un-anticipated spurt of juice. Like when you get lime juice in your friend’s eye because it wanted to be liberated from the Margarita (albeit not in your Grade 6 lunchbox). And then, it spiraled out of control. We probably thought it was hysterically funny. We pointed and pinched those ruby red arils at each other, and we didn’t consider the splash zone on walls or desks. We though nothing of the person who did our laundry.  We all caught hell thrice – once from Mme Minardi when she arrived in class for the afternoon, then from our parents when we got home freckled with juice, then from Mrs. Cole when she got back in the next day.  We had to re-staple construction paper to the bulletin boards. There was probably more punishment than that, but I don’t recall it.

We were total surburban hooligans, though, even beyond the pomegranate war. I’m pretty sure the reason why they paved the whole playground was because we decided to throw gravel at each other. We couldn’t be trusted. It’s easy for things to get out of hand and you don’t even realize it’s happening. It probably started with an unfortunate hopscotch or Four Square toss, and then it exploded like a Claymore. We couldn’t have afternoon class because there were, like, 20 of us lined up outside the principal’s office.

Fun fact: During my interrogation, I kicked Mr. Barrett’s shin the entire time, thinking it was the leg of his desk. He didn’t move at all so that I wasn’t mortified. I didn’t realize this until later. That, friends, is the mark of an excellent educator.

But I digress.

Of all the shenanigans that we got into, I wonder why these two stick so vividly in my head. I mean, if we could orchestrate these two youth uprisings, there were undoubtedly more, right?

Almost 18 years ago I had a grand mal seizure, and then I had another one scarcely a year later. Those two events have left some holes in my memory. A while ago, a high school friend told me that a boy I (briefly) dated in high school had a massive heart attack and died. She said that a guy she works with (and friend of the deceased) told her to tell me – because he thought I’d want to know. I have absolutely no memory of this guy. Like, not even when my friend tried to help me remember. Nothing. But he knew me enough to know who I dated, and that she was my friend and could deliver the message.  This has happened a few times when someone tries to friend me on Facebook, as well. Based on our common friends, I know someone knows me, but I have nothing to connect to them. It’s kinda disconcerting. It doesn’t feel like the kind of thing that you just don’t remember because it didn’t provide any sufficiently strong sensory/emotional imprint, so you tossed that bit of fluff away. It feels like a hole.

Still, I can sing any* (well, 95%+) of the 80’s songs that turn up in my Spotify queue. Sometimes I give myself a weird ear-worm (I’m lookin’ at you, Olivia Newton John. You too, Pia Zadora), but then I sing a few bars of an ABBA song, and there’s no more Xanaduuuuu. I really wish that I could just throw stuff into the holes in my memory. I need a brain-bleach equivalent for other things too. My brain is furiously, madly writing scripts to provide me with the most salient and compelling information I’ll need for a meeting I have in 2 weeks. I mean, being prepared is good, and all, but man, can we just shelve this for a bit, brain, please?

I may need to pull out the big guns for this one. Yep, I’m talkin’ Harry Potter marathon.

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