Science Bucks

Every Winter Break I had in college I spent at home. It was a leisurely three week break that I typically maximized by bumming around and eating Christmas cookies. My sweet friend Hel hooked me up by fobbing me into her mom’s apartment complex gym since it was too cold to run outside. And besides, the last time I had attempted to get a temporary membership at the local I’ve-got-so-much-plastic-surgery-I-need-a-trainer-to-help-me-work-out megacenters, it had ended in an escalating argument, culminating with my mother yelling ‘YOU people are nuts!’

So one morning, old gypsy jazz pants on and all, Hel picked me up so the both of us could go sweat off those cookies at the mini-gym. Just as we were pulling down the hill, my brother called. It was early morning, and he was at school, so I decided I had better pick up. My normally (almost narcotic-like) relaxed brother had a zip to his voice. In a verbal shuffle that lasted no more than fifteen seconds, he had explained that he had left his very important ‘science bucks’ – I regret that I do not recall their actual catchy title- on his desk. He desperately needed those for the extra credit on the final exam he was about to perform so-so on. He had worked all year to earn those bucks, and mom wasn’t waking up to her phone. He had class in ten minutes. I knew I couldn’t even get there in ten minutes, but we decided to give it a go.

I located the bucks and we drove as quickly as possible to the high school lot. Hel and I both ran in, no doubt looking like hard-core trainers, and politely explained the situation to the ladies at the front desk. “I’m sorry, the period has already started, we can’t deliver anything to the classrooms because of finals. He’ll just have to pick it up when he is finished.” Narrowing my eyes and attempting to level with the panel of old ladies behind the fake-floral desk, I let them know that clearly, that wouldn’t work. He needed these at the beginning of class, not the end. “No can do.” We were alumni for crying out loud.

They watched as we walked back through the double doors, somewhat pleased that we had actually accepted their scowling words as final. But we weren’t finished. Our school was in the shape of a giant arc. The offices were central, and behind the only ‘unlocked doors.’ A set of doors existed on each end of the arc, but those were locked from the outside. We schemed for a moment in the frigid air before doing what anyone who has two cents would do- sneak back in. Hel walked casually through the front doors again and slipped by the office; I walked to the side locked doors and waited. Within a minute she let me in. I remember the halls being vacant and the cold tile floors made a familiar tap underneath our rubber soles. Buzzing with anxiety and excitement, we made our way about fifty feet before nearly giving ourselves away to the masculine health teacher who enjoyed herself a pair of cargo shorts and polos, if you get my drift. I ducked behind a pole and Hel followed suit. We were crazy. We rounded the corner to the first level of classrooms, ultimately realizing we didn’t even know where his room was. A brisk run/walk in front of each door and a lot of glazed faces from students who didn’t know the answers to their finals eventually led us to the right door. I could see my brother. Inappropriately in the same sense of urgency, we knocked on the door. The teacher opened it, perplexed. I waved to my brother and I passed off the tickets. Then we ran the heck out of there as fast as we could.

All I know is that I felt a thrill unlike any other- of committing some kind of minor delinquency that could have landed me where- in detention? The points, to my surprise, were valid for my brother that day. And Hel and I got a pretty good workout.

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