A Principal, A Fourth-Grade Practical Joke, and a Lesson I’ll Never Forget

In this true tale from the Moth, America's premier storytelling group, a woman recalls an elementary school prank gone wrong and the unexpected way it changed her life.

We have partnered with the Moth on storytelling events in 19 cities, with the best stories appearing in a special issue of Reader’s Digest next summer. To learn more, subscribe to the Moth’s critically acclaimed podcast, and to get tickets to a show, visit themoth.org. To win tickets to a show, click here

the moth fourth grade jokeiStock/shironosov

In the fourth grade, I am accepted into the advanced and gifted program, and I am convinced life is going to be all Doogie Howser and Harvard from now on. As the only girl, I spend most of my year trying to win the approval of a dozen boys who think that an XX chromosome always indicates a terminal diagnosis of stupid with cooties.

Trying to be cool, I play a practical joke, slipping the leftovers from a salt rock crystal experiment into four milks at lunch. The boys really enjoy the disgusted looks on the faces of the drinkers as they recoil, and I am in.

An hour later, I am in the principal’s office.

He informs me that there are four boys in the hospital having their stomachs pumped. They are near death. There could be manslaughter charges. Little do I know, the boys have momentary tummy aches and go back to class.

The principal is trying to teach me a lesson.

Then my mother arrives, meets with the principal, calls him out on his total BS, and takes me out for ice cream and to see the The Aristocats.

Originally Published in Reader's Digest

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