I went to one of the most expensive private schools in the South called Country Day. It was located in Old Metairie, a suburb adjacent to New Orleans where all the rich, white people lived…the ones that voted for David Duke. We also lived in Old Metairie, walking distance from school. Or as I preferred, a 7 minute bike ride.
The k-12 private school itself was beautiful. It looked like a college university with an open campus lined with big charming oak trees. Their huge playground sat between the football field and tennis courts which were bordered with trees and bushes with berries. There was a sky-high, black tube slide that felt like you could see the other side of the world when you were on top or at least the railroad tracks which were at the end of the football field. There were other less scary types of slides, swings, a tree house like climbing structure, a zip line and more. It was a magical combination of nature and manmade configurations. The type of place where your imagination could soar. It was a child’s dream. Well, any other child but me.
I hated school so much. I got bullied everyday for being fat when I wasn’t even fat and for being weird when…fine, I’ll grant them that one. I was too self-aware to go down the tube slide. See, I slid down it once, and jackass Jack in 5th grade yelled, “here comes Shamu!” I was never able to go down the slide after that. I decided the pangs of humiliation weren’t worth the cheap five second thrill. Sure, I could swing on the swing set. But then I would have to plan on leaving the playground last because normally my legs would be sweaty, and I would stick to the seat, and then I’d have two big red marks on the back of my thighs. I imagined they would use that as evidence to confirm my fatness.
I had a best friend, Laura. She wasn’t popular either. Although, she didn’t get ridiculed as much as me. We would play “make believe” in the shrubs next to the tennis courts and the berries. Perhaps we extended our youth a little bit longer than others. But we had no interest in socializing with the other mean kids and their tag playing games. Or perhaps they were playing truth or dare and kissing each other. Whatever. They never invited us anyway.
The only reason I was able to attend Country Day in the first place was because we were all living off my murdered mother’s inheritance. My mother got mysteriously killed when I was 14 months. We were living in the house she bought. My dad didn’t go to work like other dads. He was cashing in on me and my brother’s inheritance too. (I didn’t realize this until I was an adult). My dad spent his days running six miles everyday, watching the news and digesting as much information as ammunition for future debates that he would get into with all our Christian, conservative neighbors. (We were “liberal” atheists. I’m putting quotes around liberal because my dad is very misogynistic and has never paid taxes). Oh, and he would have sex with a plethora of women: white, black, english speaking, non-english speaking, overweight prostitutes with drooping breasts and no front teeth, to skinny rich women with fake breasts and that had all their teeth, and even married ones too. He was liberal in that manner I suppose. There was the usual parade of women coming in and out of our home. So, I didn’t like being inside the house either.
Consequently, my favorite thing was riding my bike at night to Country Day where I would have the whole school to myself. The school was wide open. There were no gates or anything. Well, the classrooms were locked, but I had no interest in going inside the classrooms. Since we were in such a rich neighborhood, I felt safe. I had no fear what-so-ever being out at night.
I biked along the school bricked pavement, down the wheelchair ramps and then back to the red bricks that would eventually lead to the empty playground. It was my secret. I mean, my dad probably knew where I was, but it felt secretive in another way. Sure the asshole kids had perfect lives with perfect mothers, but they didn’t have Country Day to themselves at night. And I did.
I didn’t go there to play. I was too scared to climb the tube slide in the dark. I’d swing, but you could only swing for so long without getting eaten alive by mosquitoes at night. Perhaps I went to escape. Perhaps I went because I simply could (since my dad let me do whatever I wanted). But I think I went because it made me feel special. And I really liked feeling special.