And That is Why Heads is Better than Tails
Back in 3rd grade, they made us do the dreaded Mile Run in school as part of physical training.
Do they still make kids do The Mile? Or has that gone the way of Red Rover and those plastic things we used to use to corral our giant t-shirts into a fashionable dangling cloth tail on the side of our hip?
Anyway. They made us run a mile, then they would herd us back inside the school and make us stand in those double lines — do you remember the double lines? I guess they did that because single lines were too long, and they worried kids might start falling off the back or that the end would get pinched off like the tail of a lizard and then they’d have to explain to parents that their children are missing because line length got way out of control and no one wants that job, so it was best to double up the lines to keep everyone together yet still encourage a little healthy competition and line placement envy among classmates.
My BFFTTILIM (Best Friend For The Time I Lived In Minnesota) ended up in line A, while I was in line B. And, via careful eye judgment (I was so good, I didn’t even have to count to measure someone’s line placement), I could tell that she was effectively 2 spots ahead of me.
It was a known fact that ideally, BFs would be in the exact same spot if they found themselves in separate lines, so they could walk directly next to each other down the hallway.
No hierarchy in a healthy friendship, nosiree.
But, if they were in the same line, then one needed to be directly in front of the other. There could be no intruders between them in the friendship bubble.
So the fact that I was in a separate line and approximately 2 spaces back served up a bit of a predicament. In third grade, this was the kind of thing that could ruin a whole day. Something had to be done.
I decided to employ Heads or Tails.
In case you’re unfamiliar, this isn’t the heads or tails of a coin flip. No, it’s much more elementary with a decidedly higher risk factor because the outcome is not based on chance, but on a person’s decision. See, any good kid knew that you couldn’t just cut in line. But, if you had the permission of the person in front of whom you wanted to cut, it was acceptable. The rest of the line just had to deal with it.
Pensively, I glanced over at my BFFTTILIM. She knew what I was thinking. I smiled, knowingly, and asked, “Heads?” just loud enough for the students in close proximity to hear. The girl behind me perked up, knowing this could potentially lead to a line promotion for her.
My BFFTTILIM thought for a second, then, to my slight dismay and embarrassment, smiled and said, “Tails.”
I sighed. Tails was acceptable, meaning I could come over and stand behind her, rather than in front, but the public slight introduced that hierarchy thing back into the sitch, and no one is comfortable when that happens. Everyone knew that Heads was better, because it showed true faith in the friendship. Heads was about loyalty. Heads was about trust.
A boy named Jason was standing behind my BF, and he did not look pleased about the fact that I would be cutting in front of him. But them’s the rules in Heads or Tails, and there was no logic in arguing with that.
He had a slight frown, and looked a little upset. I shot him a sheepish smile and sauntered over to the spot directly behind my friend. “Everyone face forward!” directed the teacher, and that we did, but not before exchanging a quick BF high-five.
Then it hit me.
A powerful blow of projectile vomit all over my back and in my hair and down my shirt.
It was red.
The smell was not pleasant.
I was right. Jason had been upset. But not about me cutting in line. More likely, he was regretting the apparent gallon of Kool-aid he’d decided to drink before running the mile. So he expelled it.
A small drop got onto BF’s shirt, and she was quite distraught.
I’m pretty sure that’s the first time I ever wanted to punch someone in the face.
I don’t remember much of what happened after that — riding home in a garbage bag, a very long shower, then cheerily walking back to school with BF and homemade ice-tray popsicles.
They were orange.
I didn’t know it at the time, but I had learned 2 valuable lessons that day:
Heads isn’t better because it represents loyalty and trust. Heads is better because you know the person standing behind you.
Also, if you’re going to screw someone over, make sure that what you get out of the deal is worth it.
In most cases, it’s probably not.
P.S. My first post got published on Re-Nest — check it out!