Kentucky Man Was Forced to Read ‘Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret’ in Elementary School
When I was a kid, I attended school at Thruston Elementary in East Daviess County. I have lots of wonderful and fond memories from that school and some that are hilariously wrong. For example- Thruston is where some of my friends and I played Crossfire in the bathroom. Do you have any idea what Crossfire is? You're probably thinking that you know what it sounds like and I can assure you that's EXACTLY what it is. Basically, the goal of Crossfire is this. You stand with your friends at the urinal and pee across each other like you're part of a fountain show on the Las Vegas strip. The higher the arch of the stream, the more praise you get from your fellow competitors. Yes. We did that. Yes. It's gross. Yes there were occasional misfires. For the record, I would never even dream of doing that as an adult, but there we were.
Another memory I have of Thruston is one I was slightly embarrassed about at the time, but have since come to appreciate the importance (and hilarity) of it. Imagine a 3rd or 4th grade boy walking up into school carrying a copy of Judy Blume's Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret? The big screen adaptation hits movie theatres this week.
I was that boy, lugging a copy of that book around. Yes! The book featuring the 'Preteen Sensations' who talk about bras and breasts and menstruation and sanitary napkins. Yes! That was Lil Chad carrying around the book that contained the chant- "We must. We must. We must increase our bust."
Now you're probably wondering why this bright young man (a.k.a. me) was forced to read THIS particular Judy Blume book. Well, my friends, I will tell you. The reason is quite simple. My mother caught me outside repeatedly calling my neighbor- who lived across the street- a "tampon" and a "douche."
Picture it. My house sat on a hill. The neighbor's house sat on a hill too directly across from us on Roy Clark Road right off Hwy 1389. I was on my hill screaming at him on his hill. At the top of my elementary school lungs, I was yelling, "YOU'RE A TAMPON!!!" Now, it's important to note that I wasn't angry with my neighbor. I just thought it was really funny to yell the word "TAMPON" at him.
My mother was furious. And, because she knew I didn't have a clue what that even was, she decided to teach me in the most humiliating way possible.
We had a collection of Judy Blume books in the house. I specifically remember owning a copy of Blubber.
I think I even read Blubber on my own free will and actually liked it. What I did not read on my own accord was Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. No, ma'am. That I was forced to read because I thought it was a good idea to stand outside in the neighborhood and start screaming the names of various feminine hygiene products at the neighbor at the top of my lungs. I must have looked (and sounded) like a parrot with Tourette Syndrome. "TAMPON! TAMPON!"
Here's my mom recounting that not so beautiful day in the neighborhood.
As it turns out, as an adult, I still remember that book and I remember everything I learned from it. It amuses me that there are people in this world who "challenge" the book because of its frank discussions about female biology and the manner in which religion is discussed in the book. In case you don't remember, Margaret is raised by interfaith parents. Her mom is Christian and her dad is Jewish, but her parents haven't assigned her a particular faith. That's a topic the book explores throughout and fuels Margaret's conversations with God. I remember those themes in the book as much as I do learning what a "period" is.
But, it seems there are some adults today that can't deal with that (or anything for that matter). You know, I suppose there's some irony here. I was forced to read Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. because my mom thought it would make me a smarter child. It did. That child's all grown up now and wise enough to realize that mom should have made some adults read it too.