When I was a child, I was obsessed with the song, “How Much Is That Doggy In The Window?” And so when I was four, my parents happily rescued the cutest dog ever, Scruffy. Scruffy was with us for about a year before he ran away and never returned. Living in the country, this was the first of many reoccurring animal heartbreaks.
At Christmastime, my Great Aunt (although she was not truly my aunt. But that is a long story), would gift the children of my family a Christmas present until they reached the age of ten. Once they were ten, they were deemed too old for gifts. Being the oldest of the nieces and nephews by many years meant I reached that dreaded platform first and would watch with envy the other younger children receive their gifts. Whether this is true or not, in my mind, the gift was always the same. A brand new purse in the shape of a puppy dog’s head.
In kindergarten, I would take my purse to school with me. And whilst Scruffy was white and looked like a, well, scruffy sheepdog, my purse was soft and brown.
The thing was, I don’t even remember liking the purse that much.
It did not look like Scruffy.
But I knew it was special.
And so that is why, one day after school in kindergarten, I almost died for it.
My friend, Lizzie, and I were bus kids. And what that would mean, is that we would have to stay later than everyone else in kindergarten to ride the bus an hour and a half home. An hour and a half? We were mountain kids, too, this entailed that we wait to drop everyone in town off first before the bus could make its trek up the hill to our homes.
On the fateful day, I was loaded up with my backpack and my puppy dog purse, waiting in a clamoring line with Lizzie to get on the school bus. It was hot and everyone was pushing. Somehow, probably because I have always been graceful, I was pushed under the bus.
I remember laying under the bus, blood trickling, starting to well out of my knees, and sticking to my nylons. My hands were encrusted and embedded with gravel. I was sprawled there and when I looked up my puppy dog purse was laying beneath one of the bus’s wheels. I could almost reach it. So, because I was five, and because it was not in my head that this could be dangerous, I dragged myself so that I lay between the front tire and the back tire of the bus. And just as I grabbed my puppy dog purse, the bus started.
Yes, the kids had pushed me under the bus and then had gotten on the bus without a backwards glance.
The whole “thrown under the bus” saying has always had a special meaning in my heart. Meaning I never use that term.
I remember a brief moment of panic, but I was still too young to understand the danger I was in.
I was more afraid the bus was going to leave me. I was also overtaken with my first memories of pain as my hands and knees had begun to sting from the injuries that had occurred.
I could hear Lizzie screaming, “Jenni is under the bus! Jenni is under the bus!”
The bus continued to idle but I heard the bus doors open.
And then a white-faced bus driver was peering down at me. I cannot imagine what that woman must have been thinking. I do remember her berating me as she pulled me out from under the cavernous vehicle, but I was crying too hard to hear the words that her brusque mouth was making.
I clutched my puppy dog purse all of the way home.
That was not the worst of it.
Do you know what happens when you bleed into tights and the wound sits there for an hour and a half?
Over the tights.
So, when I got home, I faced a whole new ordeal.
They had to peel the crusted tights off of my bloody knees.
I remember my grandfather very sternly telling me that he had to do this, there was no other way and I just had to be brave.
I probably wasn’t.
I hated tights after that.
I hated the bus.
And I loathed that puppy dog purse.
Rather than blaming the children who had pushed me, or recognizing that the incident was an accident, I put all of the blame for the mishap on that purse. That adorable. Sweet. Fluffy. Deadly. Purse. It was innocent, but so was I. There was no one to blame. No guilty party. But the purse took the fall, literally.
And it, and its subsequent Christmas descendants, were never used again.