There's no doubt this is a huge one for me. Let me tell you a story from kindergarten. We were at recess, and I was running around the way speedy little 5-year-olds do. I was probably pretending to be Spider-Man or Han Solo, because apart from my family, those were the two defining archetypes of my boyhood. (Also because Superman and Luke Skywalker are boring.) So anyway, I was running around, head down, and I ran right into a boy I'll call John (because that's totally his name). I looked up and saw John rubbing his face. My running fist had apparently contacted his chin. I asked John if he was OK, he said yes, I apologized, he said OK, and I went on my way.
Five minutes later, while I was busy spinning webs or shooting lasers, some busybody little girls came over to tell me I was in big trouble and our teacher, Mrs. Steir, wanted to see me. I was pretty surprised, but also pretty confident I could explain myself. So Mrs. Steir asked me if I punched John, and I told her the whole story. Do you know what she did?
She looked down at me and said, "Have you ever heard the story of the boy who cried wolf?" I protested and she was insistent, even though I'd never lied to her before. Even though I'd never been in trouble in class. Even though she'd only had John's (totally lame) word against mine. It was decided, and I lost the rest of recess for punching John.
"Gladstone totally never called me."
I have never recovered from that incident. To this day, I get disproportionately angry if I'm falsely accused of lying -- especially because I tend to be a fairly truthful, heart-on-his-sleeve kind of guy. When it happens, I try to be objective. I try to take myself out of it, but I feel that irrational twinge of childhood injustice. How deep did this silly little incident cut? Well, let me tell you a story from sixth grade.
See, I forgot to mention Mrs. Steir was about 903 years old. We were her last class before she retired. And six years later, when she was 909, she came to visit us before we graduated elementary school. A last goodbye. She recognized us all, and remembered all our names. Oh, except for me. So do you know what I did? I stood up in front of my sixth grade class and spoke directly to the worst teacher I've ever had: "Don't you remember me?" I said. "I'm the little boy who cried wolf." I then told her the whole story and how wrong she was. I'd love to tell you she felt awful and apologized, but instead, she had a good laugh that I still remembered such a silly thing. And even after that nearly vindicating experience, I still feel compelled to tell this story to all of you. Yep, broken.