BY HOLLY LEE
Fourth grade was a big year for me. I had finally shaken the reputation of the girl that threw all the plastic play kitchen food out the window to feed the squirrels. I was regularly checking Shakespeare out of the library to impress my friends. I had found where in the world, was, Carmen Sandiego. My friends all marveled at how well I could draw the cartoon 7-up character, little did they know it was the only thing i could draw, and that it took me all summer to perfect it. Yep, things were good. I was a fourth grade It-girl.
One day while at lunch, I was regaling all my fans with a story about my trip to see the latest Disney movie, when Hayley announces that she is leaving in 2 weeks to go to Disney World with her parents. As all of the attention swiftly went from me to her, she then went on to say that she was staying for a week, and would not be in school. I was furious. It was bad enough that the girl possessed my dream name, but now she had more impressive stories than I did! She had to be stopped. I didn't have much time, the recess bell would be ringing any moment. So I did what any child in my position would do, I blurted out "Well I wont be in school at all next year, I'm moving back to Ukraine, I'm Ukrainian."
During recess I would lay on the swing and twirl around on the ice below pretending to be the eventual gold medal winner. In these moments my story didn't seem all that implausible, to me anyway.
The 1994 Winter Olympics were huge. Everyone was watching the story about Tonya Harding, who was in trouble for clubbing Nancy Kerrigan in the knee. I had my sights set on Oksana Baiul. She had a super cool name and her bangs were out of this world. During recess I would lay on the swing and twirl around on the ice below pretending to be the eventual gold medal winner. In these moments my story didn't seem all that implausible, to me anyway.
Naturally after my outburst, I was catapulted into a pr nightmare. Everyone wanted to know more, and so I dug myself deeper. By the end of that week I was Oksana Baiul's cousin, she saw that I had potential and wanted me to return to the homeland so she could train me.
I soon came to see that this lie had perks. A brand new friend of mine invited me to go to Beauty and the Beast on ice at the Joe Louis Arena in a box seat! While we watched the show, sipping daintily our tonic water out of the mini bar from our "Chip" souvenir mugs, she started asking me questions about ice skating. Little did I know, but this was the beginning of the end. Her dad upon hearing me talk about the hard life in Ukraine, where skating is the only way to keep warm, and that my family had invented skating for just that purpose, threw me under the bus. Apparently, he worked at Jacobsons in the shoe department, right next to where my grams worked in the Stationary Department. They on occasion ate lunch together, so he knew full well that I was not from Ukraine, nor was any of my family.
Nothing worked, I was back to being the girl that feeds the squirrels plastic hamburgers.
I had the weekend to try and think of a recovery strategy. I knew most of my friends would know by Monday morning, so I figured I had to find a way to prove my story. I spent the better part of the weekend pestering my grams to vouch for me being Ukrainian in some way. I asked her to drop me off 5 minutes late to my classroom and then casually mention that I was on the phone with my cousin Oksana. Then as she left, she was to say goodbye to me in a way that could pass for Ukrainian. She refused. I even tried a hunger strike, but she was serving lamb with mint jelly for supper, and you just can't turn down mint jelly.
Monday was doomsday. I had nothing! I just kept saying, "Who's going to be laughing when I'm not in school next year? You'll find out then that I am telling the truth." Nothing worked, I was back to being the girl that feeds the squirrels plastic hamburgers.
As soon as I got the chance, I told everyone about my brush with death, and how I didn't even cry. It felt great to be back on top. I was once again a fourth grade It-girl.
At recess a few weeks later, I was outside twirling on the swings again, feeling betrayed by my bosom buddies, when I slipped and cracked my head on the ice. I ended up being fine, but any false hopes of becoming a figure skater were extinguished at that moment. Falling on the ice isn't very fun.
When I came back from recess a half an hour late with an ice pack on my head I was all of a sudden the center of attention again. As soon as I got the chance, I told everyone about my brush with death, and how I didn't even cry. It felt great to be back on top. I was once again a fourth grade It-girl.
After that school year I ended up moving to Canada. I didn't tell my friends, I wanted them to think that I moved back to Ukraine. I bet that Hayley looked for me in the 1998 Olympics.