Waldo Church Choir: The View from the Backseat

Here’s a fun write-up of my experiences of third grade. In third grade I was very concerned with being in the cool crowd. I generally look back on it as the worst year of my life, for that very reason. But this made me laugh, looking back on it:) I hope you enjoy it.

Even from the backseat of the worn out church van I could hear Brother Johnny Mason singing “The Old Rugged Cross” as he slowly but surely drove all ten of us home from choir practice. I could see everything from that backseat: Brother Johnny and his wife in the very front; their son Cody just behind, fidgeting awkwardly by himself. No one ever sat near Cody, except for that one time when my brother Tim, for reasons unfathomable to me, had calmly risen and made his way forward, plopping himself down in the most uncool seat in the whole van.  That was the same day that Brother Johnny, peering into the rear-view mirror, had asked whom he should let off next. “Last!” I had shouted, waving my hand enthusiastically. “Let me off last, please!” I hadn’t caught or understood Tim’s glare until after the hour-long tour of Waldo and its surrounding communities. We were late for church, he scolded me later, because of my silly desire to impress the popular fifth-grade girls.

Today, however, Tim was in his usual place toward the middle of the van, with Alex and Serena, friends of ours who, while nice, were by no means popular. Scanning the seat directly in front of me, I watched Hunter Aiken pick his nose and smear the contents on the grimy window. Hunter, I thought, was well-liked throughout the choir, even if he did have a tendency to brag about his father’s possessions. He started up again, shouting at the top of his lungs to his seatmate, Julia. I had begun mentally referring to Julia as the “roly-poly,” as she almost always wore a horizontally-striped shirt, which inevitably stretched snugly over her rotund stomach. She sat stolidly while Hunter, spewing saliva, told her about the eagle his daddy kept in their backyard, and the whale there, and the badger.

Bored, I glanced out the window and glimpsed a small animal scurrying out of the rusty trees toward the road. Whatever it was (possibly Hunter’s father’s badger, for all I knew) hesitated directly in the path of the lumbering van. In the rear-view mirror I saw Brother Johnny’s eyes twinkle as he revved the old van across the railroad tracks. Hunter stood up in place as Brother Johnny pushed the gas pedal to the floor. Hunter lurched; after a pause Brother Johnny looked up and asked quickly, “Did I get him?” Hunter practically crowed. “Oh, you got him, Brother Johnny! You sure got that varmint!” Hoots and hollers erupted, and the Waldo Church Choir collectively turned its head to immortalize the fresh road kill.

Suddenly, however, the chaos in the van became background static as a shrill squeal of terror pierced the stale air. It was Brittany Mayberry, hands-down the most popular girl in Waldo choir—probably in all of Waldo, Arkansas. She gathered my two other seatmates around the discolored cup-holder; I braced myself for the twin shrieks, then peeked hesitantly into the cup-holder. There I saw a dead, decaying fly and several chewed wads of gum. Feeling sick, I retreated to the other side of the bench, while Brittany and the girls giggled hysterically. Even in my disgust I felt satisfied at having made it to the backseat. I was one of them—and in just third grade, too!


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