Grade five we all knew what a slut was: Tammy Stevens. Tammy was in grade six. She'd sit all angelic-like in assembly, cross-legged on the gym floor. She was sitting on Ricky Sutherland's hand. I'm serious. We were grossed out and fascinated. I went home and practiced sitting on my hand. It didn't seem worth it, somehow. Ricky Sutherland went around talking like having a girl sit on his hand meant he wasn't a virgin anymore.

For half the day I joined Mrs. Mackenzie's grade six class. Sometimes I was in love with Mrs. Mackenzie and sometimes I thought Mrs. Mackenzie was disgusting. On the plus side, she arranged special Lord of the Flies brunches for the grade six class -- and me. I got to make a papier-maché pig head and stick it to a ruler. Mrs. Mackenzie said "be-al-ze-bub" and her mouth looked like she was kissing. When the grade six class went to Toronto on a field trip I had to sleep with Mrs.Mackenzie in the Holiday Inn bed, because I was younger, and from the French class and was good at math. Mrs. Mackenzie would sometimes put her hands on my shoulders in the hallway outside the grade six classroom and say things like "it's ok to be smart and be a girl." Well, duh! I always looked at my shoes, embarrassed for both of us, and Mrs. Mackenzie would give my shoulders a hard squeeze.

The grade sixes were so different from the kids I knew. I hardly said anything when I was around them. Mostly they talked about making out on the senior playground equipment -- dedicated to the memory of two classmates run over by a chicken-licken delivery truck. It was so sad. I remember the day they dedicated the playground equipment: “Now children, this equipment should remind us all of Ben and Thérèse who are now angels. Our principal wondered why no one wanted to play there much.

Grade five girls would pin boys down on the
baseball diamond
and French kiss them. Tammy Stevens saw me once and told me I knew nothing about love. Mostly the grade sixes dared each other to go to the little house at the top of the slide and make out. Making out really meant lifting up your shirt, if you were a girl, and letting Michael Sutherland feel your breasts. Many long-standing grade six couples broke up. The bad thing about Mrs. Mackenzie was she led the choir and saliva would gather at the sides of her mouth. She just opened her mouth wider... it was a cavern of spit and reminded me of the time I swallowed Robert Wellington's saliva during a force kiss. It was like lemons, but thick and bubbly. It didn't mix with mine. I could detect each foreign particle. I wanted to throw up. When Mrs. Mackenzie showed me her spit I did not want to kiss her. Sometimes she'd play the piano -- stuff like music box dancer -- and would be crying a bit by the time she finished. I worried for her.

Tammy Stevens went all the way. In February. In the snow. Ricky Sutherland and Tammy broke up -- she was way too slutty even for him. Pierre Gitor, the guy she'd done it with, didn't want to go out with her either. Tammy cried in class and Mrs. Mackenzie put her arm around her.

My friend Maggie had been on the playground that Saturday, she hadn't seen Tammy, she got there after Tammy had gone all the way. Maggie told me there were tracks all over our playground where no one ever played... two sets of boots running. One set falling.