For me, eighth grade was:
1. Rolling my underpants down four times so they’d fall below my bellybutton.
2. Stuffing my pits with tissues so sweat wouldn’t soak through my shirts.
3. Getting asked out over AIM, and getting dumped over AIM the next day.
4. Being called fat in the locker room.
5. Rocking oversized Ecko Red sweatshirts.
6. Popping infected blackheads in the girls’ bathroom.
7. Eating lunch at the teachers’ table.
8. Parting my hair down the middle and tucking it behind my Aaron Spelling ears (no disrespect, Aaron. I like my ears and I like yours too).
It was my favorite year of school by far.
And I don’t mean that sarcastically at all. I, in all honesty, loved eighth grade.
As an eighth grader, I got to be the cool upperclassmen while still being a weird little kid with no inhibitions. My days were filled with competitions with my weird little kid friend Kara, spitball fights, and bragging about how long I could chew the same piece of gum.
As chubby and sweaty and underpantsy as I felt in eighth grade, it was the last year before I began the physical and mental ascent into adulthood. By ninth grade I was learning about syphilis in health class and worrying that my maxi pad looked like a diaper. I didn’t even know syphilis and maxi pads existed when I was in eighth grade.**
Seriously. I was totally clueless about all things reproductive.
In eighth grade science my teacher asked everyone in the class to partner up and build a model rocket out of a paper towel tube. My weird little friend Kara (who I’m glad to say is still my weird little friend) and I worked together.
We spent the class constructing and designing our rocket. By the end of the period it looked pretty good: sick fins, aerodynamic nose — it had it all. We were so proud of it we decided it should bear our names.
Finding it hard to combine “Allie” and “Kara”, we took our initials, A.C. and K.L., to come up with a name for our rocket. After a few different arrangements, we decided “C-A-L-K” was the best use of our letters. It was our initials, backwards, arranged in descending order by their namesakes’ heights. I took a marker and wrote “CALK” in big letters down the rocket’s… shaft.
As every good model rocket builder knows, a model rocket needs a catchy slogan. Lovers of fine poetry, Kara and I opted for “A rocket in your pocket”. We liked it because 1) It rhymed and 2) It was accurate: our rocket was small enough to fit inside a large pocket. Our slogan was catchy, descriptive, and — as we came to find out later — very suggestive.
Before taking our rockets outside to launch, each pair had to present their rocket in front of the class. Though Kara and I were both quiet and shy, we were excited to show off our
“Here’s our rocket! It’s super lightweight, probably gonna fly awesome. It has a parachute that’ll open when it reaches a certain height. We painted it this sick flesh color because we wanted to. Oh AND WE CALL IT CALK THE ROCKET IN YOUR POCKET.”
It wasn’t until after we got yelled at that we realized our oversight.
**I wish I still didn’t know that maxi pads existed.