Saturday, November 28, 2009
Once upon a time, in a hard and snowy landscape, there was a girl who owned an audacious green hat. Her mother and father had tried to talk her out of the hat; it was brazen, impractical. But the girl needed the hat, and had a habit of being so stubborn and so mean that, in the end, her parents were no match for her.
Every afternoon, after the lunch boxes were shut and the tables wiped down, a little war waged on a North Dakota playground. Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School, red brick and mortar, sported a fabulous hill just right of the playground. And every day after lunch, that hill was the grammar-school version of Braveheart, I kid you not.
I think a lot of kids played King of the Hill when they were young. But, truly, King of the Hill in North Dakota was not far from Survivor:Antarctica. Good Luck trying to fight your way to the top of a snowy peak against strapping Swedes, Norwegians, Danes. Those Angelic looking cretins, with their white-blond-hair and sky-blue eyes and chapped lips and stocky, impenetrable bodies...well, let's just say that some scrawny-legged European hybrid was no match for them.
Every day, the little girl in the green hat would stumble and claw her way up the hill and every day, she got knocked to the ground, mouth bitter with dirt and snow and defeat. Hill: 246. Little Girl: 0.
She'd trudge home, slumped with defeat, sulk over her snack and complain to her mother about how unfair it was, how cruel. How much would it cost the cretins, just once, to let her stand at the top of that hill?
"Not everyone gets to be the winner," her mother said.
One day, on a frigid winter afternoon, a man decided to surprise his wife and come home for lunch. He put on his heavy coat and scarf, cringing as he opened the door. He hurried to his car, feet already halfway frozen, cursing the wind and the ice that slowed his progress.
He drove home slowly, wary of ice patches, and as he passed Theodore Roosevelt Elementary School, he noticed the playground was empty. It was too miserable a day for even seasoned North Dakota Scandinavians.
But as he drove, a flash of color caught his eye. There, on top of a lonely hill, stood a small figure. Standing tall, right there at the top, frozen half to death. But smiling all the same. Green pom-pommed hat waving in the wind.
This is not my story. I've always wished that it was.
This story belongs to someone far more ferocious than I. Happy Birthday, sis.