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.

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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.

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