Pine Nuts: The most immature person in the class

McAvoy Layne
Pine Nuts

Seventh grade was unequivocally the worst year of my life, and I don’t believe I stand alone in that assessment.

My mother shuffled me off to kindergarten early to get me out of the house, making me the youngest person in the class. I would remain the most immature person in the school for the next 12 years, graduating with distinction in that department.

Classmates remind me even today of the moment in seventh grade when Mrs. Blumberger stopped the class in the Oakland Museum of Modern Art to announce, “Just because McAvoy does not appreciate Mr. de Kooning’s art form does not necessarily mean, ‘It stinks.’”

Nor has it been forgotten that when we were introduced to a performance of ballet, also in Oakland, that I happened to notice a male dancer had a hole in his leotard in a most compromising place. Nobody else might have noticed had I not called attention to this prominent piece of circumstantial evidence by whispering, “Oh my God! He’s got a hole in his underpants!” Well, at first there was a tittering from the few who heard my whisper and took notice of this wardrobe malfunction. Then a murmur of suppressed amusement rose in the auditorium until it burst into a tsunami of uncontrollable laughter.

I was under house arrest for pretty much the entire 13th year of my existence.

At our 20th high school reunion I was greeted by, “Oh, man, the only thing I remember about seventh grade is, “He’s got a hole in his underpants!”

Riding my bike was my favorite thing to do when I was 13. One Saturday afternoon in 1952 I saw a movie, “Ivanhoe” I think it was, where a guy on a boat, who was about to lose his life to a drunk with a knife, leaped up, grabbed the branch of a tree they were passing under, and hauled himself to safety. I really liked that scene and determined to reenact it on my bike.

Pretending to be threatened by a drunk with a knife, I rode my bike at full speed beneath a tree in our yard, reached up, grabbed a branch, and hauled myself to safety. My bike, meanwhile, continued on its way, gaining in speed until it crashed through a wall of windows in our atrium and sent my mother pawing for the kitchen, frantic out of her mind.

I was under house arrest for pretty much the entire 13th year of my existence. I did get to go swimming once, and was even able to get into trouble there. In a desperate attempt to impress my girlfriend (she did not know she was my girlfriend) I managed to carry a small amount of cold water between my cupped hands and squirted it onto her back.

Well, she let out a yelp that could be heard in Albuquerque and the lifeguard ordered me to sit on a bench until my parents could come collect me.

There were other instances of immaturity to confess to, but I see I am running out of space …

Learn more about McAvoy Layne at

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