Sandbox Of Gravel (A Description Of Middle School Life)

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In the midst of a buzzing cafeteria of practically carnivorous sixth graders chomping savagely on their mysterious brown glob of cafeteria food, stands a bony middle-aged lady with wild graying brown hair and a white megaphone dangling from her thin shoulders. The lunch line resembles a fat gourd, wider at the top where numerous impatient people have decided to "cut," and thinner at the end. I turn my head for a second and feel my classmate Ross clumsily slip into the spot ahead of me. "Hey, you cut me," I said bluntly. "Pffft, what are you talking about? I was here first!" Ross yells back dramatically. With her crimson lips pursed and hands on her hips, the bony lady marches over with her unappealing scowl, towering over us with her eyebrows all scrunched up together and walks quickly back to the center of the lunchroom bellowing "the school yahd iz opeen!"

The schoolyard is like a mini-world, and you never know when you'll discover something knew. A crowd of guys would crowd around the basketball courts worshipping the orange hoop as their idol, while another cult would worship the almighty concrete handball wall. On the outskirts, by the rusting gray fences would be the girls, gossiping about the hottest celebrity, emitting phrases ranging from "oh my God! Orlando Bloom!" to "let's try and kill the innocent bee on the floor." The fences used to be my favorite spot, sitting on the cool black gravel and carelessly rocking back and forth on the rusty ol' fence. During the summertime, the short and stubby red-bricked school shielded this area of the yard, like an oasis in the middle of a desert. At some point in seventh grade, I stuck my hand into the fence I loved so much and unsuspectingly pulled out a stringy mess of spider webs. It was horrible, the thin white strips floating in the air like a flag of surrender. Now I can thank middle school for every time I cringe when I see a slimy spider.

Four 20-foot fences wall off the handball courts that serve as my "country" in the mini-world. Every time the blue handball hits the concrete wall, you can hear a 'pop' usually followed by the grunt of a player. In the dark shadowed corners lay a bright red bag of Fritos, a bag of baked chips, and an empty Snapple juice can (the kind you buy at a school vending machine because they don't let students buy soda). In eighth grade, my friend Brian decided it was time to give the handball wall a distinct smell...

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