There is still a stubborn mark on our Ping Pong Table, caused by a fateful summer day when I was six. I had spent my day foraging through my book of “Science Experiments for Kids.” Finally finding a manageable procedure, I searched the pantry for our box of Plaster for Paris, stopping only to gobble down two pieces of chocolate. Unfortunately, when I asked my mom if I could use the Plaster of Paris on the kitchen table, she replied with a “No,” before returning to her conversation on the phone. I found it only reasonable, therefore, to conduct the experiment in the basement on the Ping Pong table. The partially dried Plaster of Paris, I realized to my horror a few minutes later, would not relinquish its clutch on the black surface of the table, and by the time my dad found me – well, the rest is history. But as an eighth grader in Fayetteville, the Plaster of Paris incident reenters my thoughts much too often. How long, I wonder, has it been since I embarked on an adventure, riding a ship on a sea of tape, a few Legos making up the mast? It’s been too long, I know, as my ears catch remnants of slang echoing down the lockers of my school. Students these days, my friends and my classmates, are mature now. Recess is a lost fantasy, playing a board game a waste of time. I’m still riding on my lonely ship on K’nex while they’ve reached the sandy coasts of adulthood. It’s hard to give up the ocean where Plaster of Paris is always just beneath the waves. But I only have a few years left, and I believe in books for kids, lazy scientific afternoons, and experiments on the Ping Pong table. I stare blankly at my friends as they talk in curses or about adult topics. I pitch in a word, a comment, or a laugh. But I’m bursting out to run back to six years old and a pantry full of potential. I only have a few years of Plaster of Paris left, and I believe that by the time they’re done I’ll have completed every experiment in “Science Experiments for Kids.”
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