Another blast from the past, another summer re-run, which was first posted on Red Room a few years ago (oh, how I miss Red Room, but I digress).
Like most mothers at the time, Annie’s mom always told her, “If you can’t say anything nice about someone, don’t say anything at all.” For the most part, Annie tried to follow this advice, but Annie wasn’t always very tactful. Although she was a quiet, but impetuous, young girl, she often spoke up before she thought of the consequences and how it may be perceived by others until it was too late.
Moreover, Annie had an active imagination. This basically meant that Annie would notice things that other people would not. She saw animals like pigs and dragons in the clouds, and she imagined inanimate objects like buttons to have faces.
It was this combination of thinking before speaking and her active imagination that sometimes got Annie into trouble, embarrassed, or both.
Like most of the kids at Annie’s school, she and her sisters rode the bus to school. For the most part, it was a time to catch up with friends or just “people watch” although Annie didn’t call it that back then.
Annie’s bus was packed with students from kindergarten to sixth grade. Among the kids who rode on Annie’s bus was a family of boys. Scott was in Annie’s year, but he had an older brother and a younger brother as well. Annie knew they were brothers just by looking at them. They all wore their hair the same way for one thing; it was shorn close to the scalp, but then that was the style for all the boys. More than that, and possibly because of the close cut of their hair, the shape of their heads was more pronounced. Scott had the most “normal” shaped head of the three, but all of them, especially his younger brother Stan, had what Annie thought looked like a bullet or football on the top of his neck. Their heads weren’t particularly round at all, not like most people, that is.
Because they had stepped out of the bus one after the other, Annie really noticed them one day. Without thinking, she said, “Wow! Their heads look like footballs.”
“What did you say?” an older girl named Susan asked.
Now, Annie didn’t know what to do. Her face flushed red because Susan persisted as they made their way off the bus. “I said, what did you say?”
“Nothing,” Annie said as her face turned an even deeper red.
“You said something. I heard you,” Susan said. “Tell me.”
Annie wished she could come up with something, but she wasn’t adept at making stuff up on the spot. Although those thoughts had crossed her mind in the first place, especially if she had remembered her mom’s words, Annie knew she wouldn’t have said anything at all. Susan grabbed Annie’s arm, and repeated, “Tell me what you said.”
When Annie finally gave in and told her, Susan gasped and said, “You are so mean, Annie! I can’t believe you said that.” Unfortunately, Susan said it loud enough so that everyone including Scott and his brothers heard her and swiveled around to look at Annie. Whether or not the Smith brothers heard what Annie had originally said, she never knew, but for several days, none of her friends wanted to sit with Annie on the school bus. Nor did they talk to her.
Annie learned to keep her wilder thoughts to herself, eventually. She learned to think before she spoke, mostly. She learned tact, slowly. But to Annie’s way of thinking, there were far too many slips and embarrassments along the way.