Which is just basically a bunch of kids packed together with no adult supervision.
But it was fine. We had assigned seats, which was sad because I wanted to sit next to Kim.
In retrospect, it is entirely possible that Kim just didn't want to sit next to me and made up my "assigned" seat.
Nope, thinking about it some more she totally would have just said, "Beth, I'm not going to sit next to you, because you are annoying and nobody likes you. Sit here instead."
Either way, I sat next this hippie girl who seemed about 25 at the time but must not have, by definition (i.e., riding the elementary school bus), been much over 11.
Anyway, she made me a braided bracelet out of a single string - a feat I still find impressive.
And then one day, she announced she was starting a cult. She said we could get on TV if enough of us joined.
"What do you do in a cult?" I asked.
"Oh. Well . . . you don't cut your hair and you let it grow really long . . "
As a side note, I was recently recovering from a bob haircut that my mom tricked me into.
My Mom: "Beth, do you want to cut your hair into a bob?"
Beth: What the hell is a bob? "Sure, mom."
"SUPER!" I said, referencing the refusing to cut your hair idea. Unfortunately for me, she interpreted it as being on-board for culting.
"She's in!" My seatmate said to the guy behind her. I think they were co-starting this cult?
Shit. Even my five year old self knew I didn't want to be in a cult. But my five year old self was also already a people pleaser. I was wracked with anxiety. I couldn't disappoint this 25-year-old, magic-braiding cult leader!
Oddly, I was also self aware enough to know that, whatever a cult was, I CERTAINLY wanted no part of it. Not because I didn't want to lose my identity, but because I just wanted to go home to my family and play with Barbies. To hell with hanging out with other people. A cult was almost certainly going to cut into my Barbie-playing time. I worried about who else was going to be in this cult, and, to be very honest, I wasn't even sure I wanted to hang out with this girl outside of the school bus. Single-strand braiding aside, she wasn't a very good listener and didn't follow directions, and that made me uncomfortable. She often didn't raise her hand in the peace sign the way we were supposed to when asked to quite down and listen, and sometimes she would raise her hand in a peace sign, but then whisper to me that she was raising it for PEACE but not for SILENCE.
Another aside: what was with the raising of our hands in the peace sign in order to indicate compliance with a quite down request? I mean, at this point, it was the 80s. Hippies were over. Also, that kind of seems antithetical to what the peace sign was supposed to represent, right?
Anyway, I went home and confessed to my mom that I had joined a cult and she totally didn't care. When pressed, she suggested that I write a resignation letter, which I did. Hand printed it myself. Not sure what I said, given that I was five and I'm not sure five-year-olds can actually write, but I handed it in the next day.
I have no distinct memory of what happened after that, except for being immensely relieved.