The One Time My Name Got Me Out Of Trouble
It didn’t stay that way, though.
“You’re Kristen Roley? Can you wait in the office for a moment?” Dr. Hanna gave me a strange look and looked down at his desk as I shut the door.
As I took a seat on a bench in the office, I still had no idea why I had been called to Dr. Hanna’s office. With just days to go in my Senior year, I was not a person who found himself in the office regularly. I smiled at the clerk behind the counter. “He said to…er, Dr. Hanna said to wait here.” She nodded in approval, and it was then that I realized why I was there. In a typical example of the Roley luck, I had managed to do something that rarely happens to Seniors: I had been tagged for participating in Senior Skip Day.
Senior Skip Day was historically the Friday of the last full week of school, just before the 4 day Exam Week. The general idea was to go to school and be counted as there for Homeroom, and then make a break for it. With two friends in tow, we met at the lobby right outside the cafeteria and sprinted across the street to my car. Denise, Elizabeth, and I started at the beach, but at some point we ended up going skinny dipping in our pool at home. The weekend was also spent at the beach. By Monday I was very sunburned as you might imagine, but I had a fantastic weekend.
Monday was the last full day of school, and I was in the second bell English class when a school page knocked at the door. I had been summoned.
Dr. Hanna’s voice came over the intercom “You can send Mr. Roley back to class.” I looked up, confused. The clerk shrugged. “I guess you can go,” she said. I left, went on back to English class, and got on with my day. I was sure I had been tagged for skipping school. I hadn’t gotten myself in trouble for anything the two years I was at this school. Skip Day HAD to be it. Did I just get away with it?
My Dad, a Navy Chief who was never home when I came home from school, was waiting for me in the driveway. “So…” he said in that somewhat exasperated way he had.
“Dr. Hanna called you?”
“Yes, but something funny. You’ll appreciate this.” He cracked a very rare grin. “Dr. Hanna calls and says, ‘Mr. Roley, I’d like to talk to you about your daughter.’”
Dear reader, as I wrote at the beginning, my full first name is Kristen. Generally, that’s accepted to be a girl’s name in the US. My Mom had told me that it’s Danish masculine. “If it ends in I-N, it’s female, but E-N is male.”. All of this is fine except for the fact that we’re Irish, and I question to this day what drugs they used when delivering babies in 1970 and whether they gave Mom too much of it.
“Daughter,” I said. “That’s…”
“Do they actually know you at that school?” Dad asked.
“I don’t really try to stand out.”
“Clearly. So anyway, I asked Dr. Hanna if he had talked to my daughter. I said to him ‘I don’t think you’ve talked to my daughter. So you go talk to my daughter and call me back.’”
I just stood there, not believing what I had just heard. After years of this name of mine being the bane of my existence, of being teased and bullied, of being ostracized because I was different from the gate because of this name, I couldn’t believe that name had just saved my ass.
“He asked me if I was me, and sent me out to wait a minute. Then he said I could go.”
“No shit? Well, then…” he trailed off.
“So, I’m not in trouble?
“Well…yeah. You’re in trouble. Not for school, though.” He took a deep breath and pointed to the house to the right of ours, across the street. “I guess you didn’t really think about that window upstairs that faces the pool.”
So, it turned out I didn’t get away with it after all.