In seventh grade we had exchanged names to give five-dollar gifts. I got the name of the poor new kid and he got mine. Perfect. Great. Superb. Awesome. I do not remember who got what, but one of us or both of us got a model car kit. I think one of them was a level one kit. I think I insulted him. I think I said I was sorry. He said we should be friends. A popular girl I liked asked me if he and I were friends. I think I said yes. My life was never the same. I was a big fan of Guns and Roses. In seventh grade I sang their songs in the lunch line. A friend told me I was a good singer and should try to sing like someone who was not Axl Rose because Axl Rose is not a very good singer. I said, “I know,” before I had time to say anything else. That was part of my personality then, to just agree with something if it hurt me to hear it just to keep from being thought of as stupid. I liked Axl’s singing very much then, but did not sing much in public after that. If I am able to sing in public after today, it will be a minor accomplishment. My voice is often flat. In a grade I don’t remember other than it being while we were in middle school, now that I think of it, it might have been eighth grade, a kid broke into the pencil dispenser that sold pencils and stole all the pencils and sold them cheap to everybody in the school. He said he would kill you if you told on him. The principle took every kid in the entire school off to the side to interview about who had stolen the pencils. I was the only kid out of the entire school who lied and said it was not the kid the principle thought it was. I found this out when, after lining up every student shoulder-to-shoulder in the cafeteria, myself and the thief were called out by first and last name and told to step forward. The principle told the students that unless every other kid except me in the whole school was a liar, the other boy was the one who had stolen the pencils. Then, he asked me in front of everybody who stole the pencils. He said if I did not say it was the same guy everybody else said it was, I would be blamed and the other guy would go free. I said it was me. The other boy spoke up and said it was him, that I was innocent, but lying. The principle said to the students that if I were willing to take the blame for someone else just because I did not want to go against my word that I would not tell, and if the other boy was unwilling to let me take the fall, that I and the other boy had just proven ourselves to be of more character than the rest of the school’s students put together. He said that pencils were not important, not like trust. He said that there may come a time when the whole nation will have to learn to keep their word or the world would fall into chaos. He said that the betrayal of the other boy was also greater a sin than the theft the boy had done because many of the kids had willingly purchased some of the stolen merchandise, and in so doing, were guilty, and because of being guilty but being wiling to tell on the boy in order to escape responsibility in the matter it proved them all of worse criminal elements of mind than either I myself or the thief. He said that he wanted the entire school to know it and that their punishment would be living the rest of their lives knowing it. My punishment and the other boy’s punishment was the same. We all went back to class.

In seventh grade we had exchanged names to give five-dollar gifts. I got the name of the poor new kid and he got mine. Perfect. Great. Superb. Awesome. I do not remember who got what, but one of us or both of us got a model car kit. I think one of them was a level one kit. I think I insulted him. I think I said I was sorry. He said we should be friends. A popular girl I liked asked me if he and I were friends. I think I said yes. My life was never the same. I was a big fan of Guns and Roses. In seventh grade I sang their songs in the lunch line. A friend told me I was a good singer and should try to sing like someone who was not Axl Rose because Axl Rose is not a very good singer. I said, “I know,” before I had time to say anything else. That was part of my personality then, to just agree with something if it hurt me to hear it just to keep from being thought of as stupid. I liked Axl’s singing very much then, but did not sing much in public after that. If I am able to sing in public after today, it will be a minor accomplishment. My voice is often flat. In a grade I don’t remember other than it being while we were in middle school, now that I think of it, it might have been eighth grade, a kid broke into the pencil dispenser that sold pencils and stole all the pencils and sold them cheap to everybody in the school. He said he would kill you if you told on him. The principle took every kid in the entire school off to the side to interview about who had stolen the pencils. I was the only kid out of the entire school who lied and said it was not the kid the principle thought it was. I found this out when, after lining up every student shoulder-to-shoulder in the cafeteria, myself and the thief were called out by first and last name and told to step forward. The principle told the students that unless every other kid except me in the whole school was a liar, the other boy was the one who had stolen the pencils. Then, he asked me in front of everybody who stole the pencils. He said if I did not say it was the same guy everybody else said it was, I would be blamed and the other guy would go free. I said it was me. The other boy spoke up and said it was him, that I was innocent, but lying. The principle said to the students that if I were willing to take the blame for someone else just because I did not want to go against my word that I would not tell, and if the other boy was unwilling to let me take the fall, that I and the other boy had just proven ourselves to be of more character than the rest of the school’s students put together. He said that pencils were not important, not like trust. He said that there may come a time when the whole nation will have to learn to keep their word or the world would fall into chaos. He said that the betrayal of the other boy was also greater a sin than the theft the boy had done because many of the kids had willingly purchased some of the stolen merchandise, and in so doing, were guilty, and because of being guilty but being wiling to tell on the boy in order to escape responsibility in the matter it proved them all of worse criminal elements of mind than either I myself or the thief. He said that he wanted the entire school to know it and that their punishment would be living the rest of their lives knowing it. My punishment and the other boy’s punishment was the same. We all went back to class.

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