The first time that I can remember this happening for me was when I was 7. The elementary school I went to sent me home with a note one day because I had worn culottes. The school had a no-pants on girls dress code. My Mother read the note and made a little phone call to the school the next morning, and I wore culottes any day of the week. Next thing you know other girls were too. And shorts, and pants. . . . we almost burned our training bras. Thus I began my 2nd grade year feeling very empowered. (Way to go Mom!) It made me feel like anything was possible.
M. Bascaglia was in 3rd, his little sister was in my grade I think, and he wasn’t very nice to her. She was really sweet too. I didn’t get that at all. I loved my little brothers to pieces and they were ornery as hell. Bascaglia was the marble boss, he ruled the 2 long, brick flowerbeds up against the wall of the auditorium that nothing (not even weeds) would grow in. (We were most likely playing in a pesticide infested batch of dead soil.) (We’re lucky to be alive.) It was the hub of the playground. Which seemed as big as a city block to a kid that age, but was empty except for the ones in the flowerbeds, and their observers.
No girls dared even ask to play in the flowerbeds until the day I so boldly did. There were gasps and giggles, as Bascaglia turned his little, black eyes on me. “You can’t play,” he sqawked, “you ain’t got no marbles”. Then all the boys laughed at the innuendo. I squinted and smiled. Then I focused on how to get what I needed to get in the game.
My birthday was too far away and Christmas was even farther, so that left only one option. I needed the angels to drop them. Of course I knew they would. For days on my way home from school I looked everywhere. I knew they were coming I just needed a clue as to where to look so I could get there before Bascaglia found them. Then one day I was all by myself, walking home lost in the beauty of the world. I had forgotten to even look that day when I saw it. There it was shining in the sun, peeking out from a leaf pile. The most beautiful “boulder puree” in the world. I was holding it up in the sun after I wiped it off on my culottes, telling God thank-you when I remembered my mission. I was supposed to beat Bascaglia, the marble boss. I definately needed more than one marble. This was going to be tough, even with a Divine Boulder Puree. (insert angel song here)
The next day at recess, I pulled her out. Bascaglia’s greedy little eyes opened from their usual squint of meaness. He wanted that puree so much, he broke his own rule and let a girl play in the flowerbeds. The kids gave us plenty of room. The playground grew silent. I adjusted my culottes, and put my knee in the dirt. I looked him dead in his face and took every marble he had. He called “do-overs” on some, so I did him over. Then the next boy tried to take me, and the next, and the next. I had so many marbles I started giving them away to the other girls and they were challenging each other in the newly liberated flowerbeds. Then I suddenly got bored with it all and stopped playing. It was too hard to keep the dirt off my clothes, I had some nice culottes. I kept that big marble though for years and years. It reminded me to believe. It still does.