If you want some pre-story to the one I'm about to tell, click here.

Sometime in my 6th grade year my mom bought me a violin. Oh how I let the people around me know it!! Never mind that it was purchased at a garage sale and probably wasn't worth more than about 500.00 (which is a depressingly paltry sum in the violin world. The one I just got for my daughter was 800, and it's a 3/4 size.) I stuck myself up on my little arrogant high horse and held it over people's heads (figuratively speaking of course) that I owned my own violin. I didn't have to use one of those pathetic school rental things. It wasn't enough that I was the best player in class, only kept from being concert master because I was a 6th grader in our combined class and not a 7th grader, I had my own violin! I was self-righteously proud of that fact.

As you can see from the previous post, Mr. Treebeard and I had a few issues, but he solved every one's problems by retiring.

In 7th grade our new teacher's name was Mrs. Lufa. (I really can't think of a good book character that fits her.) She was big. Large. Impatient. And had very little control of our class. She was known to throw pencils at offending students. She only lasted a year and a half.

However, 7th grade was going to be a very different year for me, because a girl walked into the classroom.


Short, a little on the large-ish side, with huge dark glasses and long dark hair.

The first pangs of jealousy hit when I saw her violin case. It was beautiful. She had the shiny type of violin case that told me my status as top dog was in jeopardy. Not only did she bring her own violin, but her case was better than mine. I was jealous. I instantly hated her. Based upon her case alone I assumed she was better than me and she was the enemy. And, unfortunately, my assumption was correct. While I had been playing the violin since I was 7, she had been playing since she was three. She obliterated me in an instant. And she wasn't even cute! (Hey! What can I say, I was in 7th grade.)

It was hate.

The feeling was mutual.

Then Mrs. Lufa put us next to each other on first stand, and I was not in the concert master position.

Did I mention that I hated her and the feeling was mutual?

So I did what any normal 7th grader upon being forced to put up with her worst enemy would do. I stopped sitting beside her. I refused to smudge my name by sitting by her. I moved around the orchestra at will. (Did I also mention that Mrs. Lufa had no control of this class? I happen to know that I was one of her worst students that year.) Most days I'd just sit in an empty chair somewhere else in the violin section, but I remember distinctly days when I'd be sitting with the violas or cellos, happily playing my violin and my part--usually memorized. Sometimes I tried to play the viola or cello parts. I drove Mrs. Lufa nuts! I think most of the time I sat with one of my best friends, J-dub. He was not a great violin player. He sat in the second violin section. He was the person who held the distinction of having the most pencils thrown at him that year. Together we were probably an holy terror to poor Mrs. Lufa.

I have no memory of what we did for concerts with Mrs. Lufa. I must have sat in my assigned place, seething the whole time. I really can't remember. Selective memory, maybe? I can't remember any songs that we played. Nothing. Just me sitting in between the violas and cellos because I did not want to sit next to Shayla.

The year eventually ended and I left for the Jr. High and Shayla was left behind. I had Mrs. Lufa for another 1/2 year before she gave up and Mr. Tsunami was put in. I was much better behaved in 8th grade because Shayla wasn't there and by the time 9th grade rolled around I had matured enough that I could be put next to Shayla without incident. Of course, it helped that I was concert master--because Shayla, while being able to play better than I could, couldn't sight-read worth diddley--And Mr. Tsunami needed a better sight-reader for the leader.

I was smug.

Eventually Shayla and I became close friends. In fact, I think I'm supposed to have lunch with her tomorrow. She's still a better violinist than I am. She gives my daughter lessons because while I can still probably best her in sight-reading, she's a much better violin teacher than I will ever be.
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8 Responses
  1. I love it that you're friends! Such competition! But it appears you learned to appreciate each other's brilliance :)

  2. EEEEMommy Says:

    I love when you write like this!

    How much better this story is because you're now friends! There are so many times I look back on my immaturity and wish I could...reconcile(?). I hate the thought that there are people who still think of me as the obnoxious, prideful, goody-goody I once was, and wish they could know me now and that we could laugh over it. As corny as it sounds, I'm optimistic that Facebook of all things might give me that opportunity...

  3. Such a great story! Isn't it amazing how immature we were as youngsters? It makes me shudder somtimes.

  4. I loved this post! You are a fabulous writer! And I adore you honesty :) !!

  5. I love this post because the "competition" thing still happens in the adult world, even though we like to think we act better when we mature. So this post is a reminder to me how "childish" I can be sometimes. Hence, I will keep visiting your blog even though I hate that you are a brilliant writer and I am not. I am trying NOT to mind "sitting next" to you :-)

  6. Kimberly Says:

    I love that you're still friends with her - what a lovely resolution to the silliness of youth!

  7. Linda Says:

    Why the name Shayla? I love this story. Tell Shayla hello from me. And how is Mr. Tsunami? Did he end up leaving or is he still teaching?

  8. charrette Says:

    Great story. I love your honesty about all the superficial seventh grade shenanigans, coupled with the perspective of a few years' time and the fact that you are still friends.

    Oh, yeah, and I still can't sight-read worth diddly! :)
    I envy you there...