Passing Notes

C and I had been friends from the beginning. When the other girls went to the far side of the playground for recess and the athletic boys took over the field, leaving a handful of us boys to play Star Trek with her on the jungle gym, we were friends. When we used to talk for hours about Tolkien and D&D on the phone, we were friends. And in seventh grade, in math class, we were friends.

The teacher, whom I’ll call T, had a strict rule in his class about passing notes: if you were caught doing it, your note would be posted on his bulletin board for the entire class to see. The prospect of humiliation was sufficient threat to keep the cool kids from even trying it. To me, it was a challenge.

T had organized the desks in his class alphabetically: seven columns of three desks each, with a fourth desk in the back of the first and last columns.  Because C’s name was near the start of the alphabet, she ended up in the back of the lefthand column. My name, at the end of the alphabet, placed me all the way in the back of the righthand column. Since I was a math geek, and C was well-behaved, T must have thought he had it all figured out. He was wrong.

Separated by five rows of empty desks, C and I couldn’t pass notes by any traditional method. Even folding the paper into a tight triangular football wouldn’t work; If T saw either of us pick up a piece of paper from the floor, he’d know something was amiss.  My solution?  A ball-point pen with its guts removed.

One day, when T had given us desk work to do, I saw my chance. I had disassembled a pen that was large enough to hold a fairly large note, provided the note was folded carefully and rolled up into a small cylinder. To test my theory, I wrote a brief note to C, inserted it into the pen, and slid it across the floor to C when T was looking away. So far, so good.

C wrote me a reply, and passed it back. T didn’t even look up, and I became bold. I wrote her a second note, inserted it into the pen, and shot it towards C’s desk. The pen banged loudly against her three-ring binder, and T looked up. C picked up the pen from the floor, and no one seemed the wiser. When C passed me her second reply, and I stepped on the pen to stop its progress, I was sure I would be caught, but T went back to his work after a brief glare towards my desk.a-note

At this point, I knew the jig was up. There was no chance I could possibly get another note past him, even with my innovative concealment methods. Knowing this, I fashioned one last, special note, waited for T to glance my way, and tossed it across the floor.

“Miss C,” T said. “Give me that note.” T and I had been challenging each other all year, and he seemed smugly satisfied to have finally caught me in the act.

C, who hadn’t even had enough time to look at the note herself, handed it over, a look of sheer terror on her face. T unfolded the note, glanced at it, and his face fell. Still, he had an official policy–no exceptions allowed–and he posted it on his bulletin board.

“THIS IS A NOTE” it read, in letters large enough that the whole class could read it without leaving their desks.

I feel somewhat sorry about doing that to the poor man, but I probably feel more guilty about the fact that I’m proud I pulled it off.


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