Siberia, A Limousine, and the Cool Factor

There was this time? In seventh grade? On Valentine’s Day? When my dad picked me up from school in a limousine? And in the spirit of all things seventh grade? I’m speaking in questions? Like we used to do?

And now I’ll return to being a grown-up who knows other voice inflections.

My dad was a limousine driver on the weekends, but nobody at my middle school knew that. All they knew was that right there, lined up among the yellow buses, and certainly as long as a bus, was a limousine and a tuxedoed driver who waited patiently and answered, “I’m here for Tricia Lott.”

It caused quite a commotion. I remember it well. There was a buzz: who could it be? Perhaps someone had won a school visit from NKOTB, and we would all be summoned to the gym for a public concert that would be featured on the news that night as a happening at our local middle school. Someone who is a big deal must be coming. Or leaving. But who could be leaving in a limousine?

My class had our very own Alex P. Keaton, an 11-year-old who wore a suit and tie to school. While the rest of us carried a backpack with our homework, he carried a brief case containing his files. I’m frankly surprised I’ve never seen him at a board room table on The Apprentice. He was definitely our most likely classmate to earn a million dollars.

He claimed the limousine was for him. “Oh! My ride is here!” he said, putting on his size 12 trench coat.

When you’re in sixth grade and you really want to be somebody whom anybody wants to be, this kind of attention is epic. Frankly, I was pretty excited to go back to school the next day and bask in the notoriety.

But the next day, it was some ridiculous, extreme, minus temperature outside. It was just stupid cold. My mom stood in the doorway of my dark bedroom, long before the sun came up – because I caught the bus at 6:45 AM, which to this day is ludicrous to me – and she said, “Tricia, they should have cancelled school today. It’s too cold for anyone to be outside at all, let alone to wait for a bus and then ride it. You can go to school if you want to, but you have my permission to stay home. If it were up to me, this would be a snow day.”

When – in the history of ever – had I been faced with such a joyous proposition? I didn’t even have to fake being sick. I had been authorized to sleep in, watch TV, and doing not-school things all day.

Or, I could brave the elements and go to school, where everyone was talking and asking about this limousine recipient, and I could clarify all the rumors: the ride was for Tricia Lott, not Alex P. Keaton.

When you’re in sixth grade and you really want to be somebody whom anybody wants to be, this is a lot of notoriety to sacrifice.

In my pre-adolescent wisdom, I knew that there would be something bright and shiny and glittery to talk about in just a couple of days, that my limousine escort would fizzle like a burned out sparkler.

But how could I not reward my mom for her brilliant judgment? How could I not take her up on this offer to stay home and create a day without a schedule or a menu? Even then, part of me knew that positive behavior can be reinforced with affirmation. And I sure wanted the possibility that she might offer this to me again, ever, in my life.

I stayed home. And for the record, that offer never surfaced again. I made the right choice.

All of this went through my mind this morning, when we faced yet another day of dropping temperatures that are in fact colder than Siberia. And not even a delayed start? Really? I should call my own snow day, I thought.

And then I remembered that a sixth grade girl can entertain herself for a day, unlike two boys who would be begging me to go sledding, build a snowman, make hot chocolate, go to a movie, watch a movie, make a movie, have a pillow fight, a punching contest, a stare down, bake cookies, muffins, pancakes, watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, battle like the Turtles, talk like the Turtles, dress like the Turtles, and be their one and only source of joy and entertainment for all the livelong day.

“Well, guys, dress warm. It’s cold out there and school isn’t cancelled.”

All of this to say: My mom was officially cooler than I am.

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