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#78. I always believed that people were essentially good. Until kindergarten, that is.

Now, you might interpret that in one of two ways. You might think that I believed that people were good until I attended kindergarten. Or, you might believe that I'm saying that people are essentially good, until they reach the age where they're eligible for kindergarten themselves. And frankly, I think I mean a little bit of both. But I'll let you be the judge; I'll tell you the story of how my faith in humankind was first shaken. And you can decide what I mean, and just how right I am.

So, the story begins, of course, in my kindergarten class. I'd been in school maybe a month or two. I'm an only child, and hadn't been around kids too much before attending school, so I was a tad shy. Where 'a tad' means 'horrendously, morbidly, clinically'. So. I made friends pretty slowly, but I was getting along. I had a couple of kids that I would talk to every day, and hang out with at recess, and life was pretty cool overall.

That's when the 'Carrie Wallace Incident' occurred.

Like I mentioned, I was pretty shy. So, I didn't start many conversations with people I didn't know -- and certainly not with a girl -- but I secretly wished that people would talk to me and be my friend. Yes, folks, neurotic and conflicted at the age of five. I like to think I was an early bloomer, getting a really early start on teenage awkwardness. As opposed to just being a friggin' jackass, which is the alternative explanation. But I digress.

Anyway, I was pretty jazzed when this Carrie girl came over to talk to me one day. Now, we'd probably spoken before. It wasn't like we were complete strangers or anything. We'd been finger-painting and duck-duck-goose-ing together for a few weeks, after all. And nothing brings people closer together than running around in circles together like a gaggle of idiots at a joggers' convention. But we hadn't really talked too much. So, I thought it was pretty cool that she came over to chat, and -- even better -- to tell me about this way cool magical drawer over by the paint supplies. Here's pretty much how it went:

Carrie: Hey there.
Me: Um, hi.
Carrie: Wanna know something cool?
Me: Sure, I guess so.
Carrie: Okay, come over here. Bring that pencil you've got there.
Me: Uh, okay.
Carrie: Okay, see this empty drawer?
Me: Yeah.
Carrie: Well, guess what? This is a magic drawer. It copies stuff.
Me: Copies?
Carrie: Yeah, it copies stuff. You should try it. Like, with that pencil.
Me: What do you mean?
Carrie: Well, you like that pencil, right?
Me: Yeah.
Carrie: Well, if you leave that pencil in this drawer overnight, then when you come in tomorrow, there'll be two pencils in there. It'll get copied.
Me: Really?
Carrie: Yeah, sure. Here, just put it in.
Me: Are you sure about this?
Carrie: Hey, have I ever lied to you before?
Me: Um, well, no. I guess not.
Carrie: Right. Just trust me.
Me: Well, okay. This is gonna be so cool.
Carrie: Uh, yeah. Cool. Remember, just don't look in there until tomorrow morning, okay?
Me: Okay. Hey, and thanks! Cool beans!

So, of course, I go in there the next morning, and there aren't two goddamned pencils in the drawer. You knew that already. There isn't even one fuckin' pencil in there. Bitch played me! Played me, at the tender young age of five. I ask you, how the fuck does someone get that devious at so young an age? (Or more to the point, how could I still be so naive after five years on the planet? I'm not sure which question is more mystifying, frankly.)

Needless to say, my new 'friend' was no friend at all, and I decided I didn't want anything to do with her for a while. Which turned into, um, about twelve years, actually. (Yeah, you might get one over on me, but I will kick your ass in the grudge department, buddy. Step off!) Our social circles overlapped again around our junior year of high school, and I finally told her why I never liked her all those years. Not that I was sabotaging her the whole time or anything; nothing so crazy and over-reactionary as all that. I just didn't speak to her for a dozen years because she tricked me out of a pencil. (See? Very normal.)

Anyway, we eventually made up, and even hung around a little bit. We were never 'best buds' or anything, but she ended up being all right. By that time, I knew loads of other people more deserving of my venom than her. She was just a precocious little fuck, I guess, back in kindergarten, who could spot an easy mark and con him out of his goods. Or maybe I just had that deer-in-headlights look back then, and I was lucky she taught me a lesson before I got taken for something really valuable. Like my spaceship-shaped eraser, or my Speed Racer lunchbox. So really, I guess she did me a favor. She opened my eyes to the cruel, manipulating realities of the world, and taught me that people are basically just mean little pricks, at least by the time they make it to school age. So thanks, Carrie; you probably helped me avoid lots of costly disasters over the years, with one simple lesson in human nature. All is forgiven, after all these years.

Of course, we're not exactly square yet, there, honey. You still owe me the pencil I gave you, plus the one you promised. And interest, to be paid in wood shavings, or the current monetary equivalent. So pay up, and make it snappy. Bitch.

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