I was not a remarkable kid. Most of the other Fifth Grade girls were prettier than I was. I was an ugly duckling who didn’t turn into a swan (or at least a pigeon) until I was in my late teens. Other kids could skate, play volleyball, run, turn summersaults, climb the monkey bars and stand on their heads better than I could. Although I was smart, my academic achievements were borderline dismal. Even my younger sister, who could burp on command, and my little brother, who could climb kitchen cabinets like a monkey, were more accomplished than I was.
I had one trick, however, that I had developed and patented on my own. I could hold an empty glass or tumbler on my face with no hands.
My mother was not impressed, but I was. It was the one thing I could do that no other kid in his right mind would even think of doing.
Did I mention that I was not in my right mind? Well, yeah, I wasn’t.
It was a simple trick. I would place the empty glass or tumbler over my mouth and chin and suck out enough air to create a vacuum. Then I would take my hands away and walk around with the thing stuck to my face. It was fun, even though it continued to weird my mother out.
I kept this up until one day, when I took a glass off my face and found that my chin had turned blue. Either my mother’s constant warnings had created some kind of cosmic curse, or I had managed to cut off my circulation. At any rate, I had a blue chin that wouldn’t go away, and the next day was a school day.
In an effort to hide my colorful chin, I put a big Band-Aid over it. Instead of deflecting questions, this had the opposite effect. Kids wanted to know why I had a Band-Aid on my chin. So did Sr. M., the teacher. I could have made up a credible accident story, but I have never been any good at telling direct lies, and I was in a Catholic school, where telling lies was a sin. Everybody looked at me like I was from another universe when I told them I had turned my chin blue by putting a glass over my face. Fortunately for me, Sr. M. was pretty cool (unlike Sr. L., my Eighth Grade teacher, whose specialty was embarrassing me in front of the class). She didn’t laugh at me or cause the kids to laugh at me. This was great, because I felt like crawling under my desk and not coming out for twenty years.
The blue color gradually faded from my chin. Never again did I attempt to hold a glass with my face. My brother grew too big to climb the kitchen cabinets and my sister grew too mature to make herself burp. All three of us lost our special gifts, but we will always have the memories.