On the corner of Cambridge Way sat my family’s house. We had a large lot, and every holiday season, we lined our curb with over 100 paper lunch bags and candles to light the way for Santa. That’s what my mom told me every year, so when December rolled around, we routinely picked up our ration of supplies for “the big night.” On December 24th, you could see all of us on our street donning our curbsides with so much pride and joy for Ole Saint Nick.
Besides this tradition, I had a special bond with each of the kids on Cambridge Way. Raj lived next door to me, and up the street in order was Eric, Chesney, the mystery family, and Nicole. I never saw the mystery family... or even inside their garage. Us other four though? We were like glue to paper. For years, I carpooled with Eric and Nicole to swim practice, played with Chesney at least twice a week, and idolized Raj for how focused he was on his schoolwork. I wanted to be him!
I liked the first four houses very much, even the mystery house. The fifth house. I despised it for all that it was worth.
If you’ve seen Mean Girls, Nicole was Regina George. I was every other girl beneath Nicole staring up at her as if she were the queen. The only time she was nice to me was in the car ride to swim practice because a mom was there with us. That is, if you consider silence nice.
Fortunately for me, my fellow band geeks became scared of my right foot. So the new hot spot was swim practice. Nicole preyed on me like a vulture because I walked on my tippy toes in my speedo on the pool deck. She thought it was funny to embarrass me every time she saw me. Pointing fingers. Laughing under her breath. Gossiping to her girlfriends. She made my life a living hell.
I didn’t have the courage to confront her face to face. I could barely stand on my feet according to her. So, I devised a plan to play an evil prank on her.
Every day around 3:30, the bus dropped me off at my house after school. I knew Nicole got off two stops after me, so I would wait about ten minutes before I called her house to initiate my plan. At 3:40 on the dot, I dialed her number slowly, listened to it ring three or four times, and hung up the phone as soon as someone answered. With each dropped phone call, I could sense growing frustration. This was payback.
I called her everyday like this for a month at exactly 3:40. Nicole’s family finally bought a caller ID, and the prank was on me.
One Wednesday after school, I followed my routine as usual. I called. Nicole answered. Hello? I hung up immediately. A minute went by, and I got an unexpected call back. We had a caller ID, so I knew it was her right away.
Nicole’s mom: Jeffrey, did you just call our house and hang up?
Nicole’s mom: Have you been calling our house every day and hanging up?
Nicole’s mom: Don’t ever do it again. We had to buy a caller ID because of you. Let me talk to your mom.
Clearly, I'm not a fan of lying. I called for my mom right away, and she came to the phone. That’s when the carpool niceties went out the window. Nicole’s mom yelled at my mom about my strange behavior and blamed me for having to get a caller ID. I heard it all. She screamed into the phone like the day my dad screamed at me for breaking my arm. I just stood there in embarrassment. I was caught for something so silly, and this whole time, I just wanted revenge on Nicole.
I believed in Santa until I was 13. I know, right? I was extremely naive, but I trusted what other people said about me without actually thinking about their words. Little Jeffrey didn’t get his groove back until much later, but seeking revenge is not the way to solve any issue. This joke was on me.