by Erin Deer
I am seven years old and I am standing in the shade of our playground out in the school yard, holding a fat, rainbow colored pen. You know, those chunky plastic pens that were really popular in the 90’s, the ones that had 6 different color ballpoint tips inside. I am standing in the shade and it is hot and I am bored, so I click through the colors really quickly, and practice tucking it in the waistband of my shorts like it’s my secret weapon, but I don’t dare leave my post.
Because I have a very important job, you see. Or so they tell me… the crew of boys running around the open field in front of me, while I wait. We are playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and I am “April”. I’m actually not allowed to watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so I have no idea who April is, but the boys fill me in. There are four turtles, and a rat, and everyone lives in a sewer, and fights warthogs. I’m not really sure, exactly. I don’t care. April is the only girl in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and she delivers important messages to the turtles, so they need a girl to play with them today, and I consider myself lucky.
Second grade is a weird time, suddenly full of strange paper things called “fortune tellers” and frequent cootie outbreaks, and it is suddenly harder for me, a tomboy, to find my place in the school yard at recess. I do not want to trade Lisa Frank stickers by the monkey bars with the girls, and I am not welcome on the jungle gym half dome where the boys play army base. There are two rare times I get to play with the boys, and that is when we are playing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or when we are playing Ghostbusters (another movie I have never actually seen).
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is the best, because April has a name. Nobody cared to remember the name of the receptionist in Ghostbusters, so I just get called “Hey!”. It doesn’t matter. Both roles are the same. I wait under this playground structure, holding my prized possession — — the rainbow pen I snuck outside to make myself feel cooler — — til I get a “message” I can deliver. I pretend to scrawl the message on my hand, then I run across the playground to the intended turtle/ghostbuster, and frantically shout my message before the bad guys get there, when I usually am captured and spend the rest of recess under another yet playground structure, in “jail”.
Sometime during the school year we had all been invited to a birthday party at a roller rink. There’s not a lot of things I can say this about in my life, but I can remember the first time I heard the Ghostbusters theme song. Kids started screaming and clamoring to get in the rink as soon as they heard the opening bars. The exhilaration was palpable. The overhead lights went down and neon laser lights were shooting all around us as we rocketed faster and faster around the rink, hopped up on pixie sticks and pop rocks and pizza, my hair blowing out behind me and my face flushed as we all screamed “WHO YOU GONNA CALL?!” and the triumphant answer: “GHOSTBUSTERS!”.
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