When I was in third grade my mom was pregnant with my littlest brother. Being the oldest and already jilted from hogging all the attention by my middle brother, I enjoyed the audience of my peers at school. I think it was the first time I worried about being cool or belonging to a clique. Plus there was a new girl in class who was uber cool with her carmel blond hair and tan skin, she was bilingual and super tall, and everyone wanted to hang out with her. Suzie didn't like me. I don't know why, maybe because I was bossy and bull headed and a bit of a rough and tumble kid, maybe I talked too much or maybe I was just annoying, or maybe she just didn't. I actually got into a fight with her once during recess. I cried. Mostly because she wouldn't stand close enough for me to do some karate punches on her face, instead she stood far away from me and kicked with her long legs. Pretty much she was the coolest person in class.
I loved show and tell that school year. It was a chance to stand in front of the class and star in your own show about whatever you wanted to tell about. I signed up every week. But pretty soon after a few months I was out of stuff to show or tell about, the show got stale as I was standing in front of twenty-five of my beloved peers trying to make my yellow number two pencil sound interesting. Finally the teacher stepped in and very diplomatically announced to everyone "If you don't have something extraordinary to share, please don't sign up for Show and Tell." I signed up anyway. It came to my turn and I had nothing. My mind raced. I walked to the front of class and blurted out, "My Mom is having a baby."... I meant in general. She was about eight and a half months pregnant and she was going to have a baby but how it was interpreted was she was having a baby that day, that morning, right then. The kids in my class went nuts. The teacher hugged me. I went with it. It was exciting. Everyone was all smiles thinking about little babies. I felt like a million bucks.
The following day people wanted to know if I had a little brother or a little sister. I had a fifty-fifty shot at guessing right so I wished my baby sister right into existence. Then I wished my baby into the Hall of Cool by telling everyone we had named her Suzie. Then I changed the subject. We went on Christmas break and my brother Joe was born just before the new year. In January I forgot about baby Suzie until Anita confronted me at lunch, "My little sister is in your younger brother's class, and he told her your mom had baby boy and his name is Joseph." I denied my brother Joe. I denied my brother Andy's story. I may have even made out like my middle brother Andy was kookoo. I pretty much betrayed my whole family right then and there to keep face.
The rest of the school year was followed by me spinning stories about pink frilly baby things and begging my parents to not come to school events. This all culminated in a parent teacher conference my mother had to bring the baby to. I was in knots thinking about being busted. I may have even cried while begging for us to please leave that baby at home. I imagined my teacher taking one look at that cherry-cheeked baby, dressed in corduroy blue overalls, and marching me in front of the class the next day to spill my guts. I was dying inside.
It never happened. Mom went to the conference, with my baby brother Joe. I sat in the hallway trying to stretch my ears into the room to see what was said and to my astonishment, they just talked about school stuff. I waited for Mom to bring it up in the car on the way home, she didn't. I waited for my teacher to pull me aside the next day for questioning, she didn't. In later years whenever somebody mentioned Suzie again, I remember throwing out random little lies to keep up that first whopper and somewhere in maybe sixth grade I started saying I had another brother named Joe and soon people didn't care anymore. I was relieved to go off to junior high in a different district and reinvent myself; a cool kid with long bangs, lots of eye-liner and a family who was none of your business.