In second grade, I got my picture in the paper for Pioneer Days (I'm the squinty one on the far left). Ironically, I was one of the few Catholics in my school. If you couldn't already tell by the fact that there is one boy to three girls, the pioneers in question, were Mormons.
When I was in fourth grade, I started to wonder if all the Mormon girls had it in for me. Marcia, who lived across the street, delivered me some shattering news.
"You might be interested to know that you didn't get lice by accident, " she said. I contracted a case of head lice the week before and I was so embarrassed that I wouldn't even go into the store with my mom to buy the special shampoo.
"I don't get it."
"Diana Noble brushed your hair with her brush when she knew she had lice. She did it on purpose."
"Why would she do that?" I asked. I didn't believe Marcia since she was usually full of shit.
"Because you're a stinky hippie and you don't take a bath ever and she wanted to show you what happened when you didn't take a bath."
"I take baths, I just have curly hair so it looks like this...And anyway, she had lice first."
"Yeah, but she's Mormon and her family has a lot of kids so they're bound to get it at some point. Besides, her dad's a Bishop and there's a statue of him in the park." Diana Noble's dad was also a teacher at my sister's high school.
"My sister said he's full of himself."
"He's allowed to be, he's a Bishop. Plus, your mom is really old and she's not married and that's bad. You shouldn't be so loud and happy all the time. My mom says that you need to be taken down a notch."
"Why would your mom say that about a kid? My mom would never say that about any of the neighbors."
"That's because she's old. She acts like an older person should, except she should have a husband." The Mormons in our neighborhood were continually sending their brothers, cousins and uncles over to ask my Mom out and to offer us another copy of The Book of Mormon.
"So, your mom hurts you. You said it yourself."
"She doesn't mean it. She tells me she's sorry sometimes. I'm just saying this for your own good. All the other girls from our church think the same thing. You know Linetti? She wants to beat you up and you should be scared because she's big and she's from Tonga. If you don't start acting different, you will have all of us girls to worry about." Just last week, Linetti was my best friend, but she must have given me up for my own good and the good of the Mormon Church.
"Well, maybe all you girls should start worrying about me too."
"Why, would we worry about you? There's only one of you and you're a hippie and a Catholic. You can't hurt us."
"I'm not a hippie. But all of us Catholics know magic and if you don't get those other girls to stop, I'm going to use it on you."
"You don't know magic."
"Yes, I do. We all do. What do you think we do with all those candles and saint statues and incense? We make spells. That's why the Mormons hate us so much. They know we have special powers."
"Nuh uh. You're kidding, right?" Marcia asked.
"No. I'm dead serious. In fact, I'm going home right now to light a candle just for you." I started to walk away and Marcia followed behind me. "You better get going," I warned. "You have to talk to all those girls by tomorrow. I'm bringing my Rosary to school, so if any of them say even one mean thing to me, I'm going to start rubbing the beads and you can tell me if I'm kidding."
I'm not sure what Marcia said to the other girls, I just know that none of them ever offered to brush my hair again.