Most of my really crazy memories are from the lower grades. After the VIIs, there were not as many materials to cause insanity. I was in the VIsB, for Brigitte, who was the teacher at the time. She was really nice, but she left that year and got replaced by Tara, who is still in that same room.
It was a pretty normal day. We were doing a project where we built buildings from all around New York—things like the Chrysler Building and Penn Station. I was working on the Intrepid Museum with a couple of other kids. The thing is, we made it massive. It was the tallest building and by far the largest, taking up, like, a quarter of the Block Room. We had finished it the day before, and since we got to show our parents that morning, it was time to pick up.
Now, one of the biggest rules of building with blocks is picking them up from the top down, a simple rule. But, I had this thing where I liked to just kind of go from the middle and watch it topple. I did this a few times before, but never with something this large. It was the end of the period too, so there were only one or two other kids in the room. Brigitte and the assistant teacher were in the other room, too, so I was all alone.
I knew what I was doing was not really allowed, but seven-year-old me was too curious to resist the urge to just completely destroy my work. I started demolishing it. First I took out one of the corner columns on the fifth floor, then another corner column, then a floor piece, et cetera… It was not coming down. I kept taking pieces out, but it just was not coming down. I got a bit frustrated, then made the terrible decision to get on all fours on the ground and take out middle columns on the bottom floor of the building. Little did I know, that column was holding up the entire front half of the structure.
In a flash, a tidal wave of blocks was on top of me. It smashed into me, and I fell into another tall building that fell into another building. The teacher came running, and actually stopped in shock when she saw what happened. There were blocks everywhere, and both my legs were stuck underneath a pile of blocks. Of course, I sprang up like nothing happened, even though my legs were covered in bruises and I hurt my wrist. Six-year-olds are completely indestructible. Brigitte just stood there with her hands on her hips. She gave me a cold stare and said, “Marco, what did I tell you about deconstructing your buildings?” I did not know what to say. I had just single-handedly destroyed three large block buildings. I stood there, speechless, as VIs started coming to see what had happened. I was fine, of course, but after that, it goes without saying that I started to be much more careful with blocks.
Another memory with some more block-toppling happened in the VIIs. We were in the process of building the Brooklyn Bridge, and I was in charge of making the Caissons, or the foundation of the towers. But I had already finished, and because it was such a small job, I was helping out with the towers of the bridge too. It was right after Lunch, and we had a chunk of free time to work on the bridge. We were running a bit late, so we had to rush the tower building process.
I was working with William McCusker and maybe one other VII whose I can’t really remember. We were building the tower like normal when something went wrong. I can’t remember what actually happened, whether somebody fell into it or a block caused some sort of chain reaction. Whatever it was, the entire tower fell down. This time, nobody was physically hurt, but emotionally, we were broken. We had been working on it for something like three days, and it had toppled in three seconds.
There were blocks everywhere, and the tower itself had been completely destroyed. Even the foundation for the bridge was damaged. But, there was nothing we could do but pull through. We were determined to rebuild what we had destroyed. By the end of the day, we had actually finished the tower and started on the second. We ended up finishing the bridge a day or two before it was supposed to be done.
My last memory is from the big XIIIs trip. One thing you should know, I forget things. A lot. I am pretty disorganized. If you didn’t already know, the XIIIs trip is probably the biggest trip at C&C. It might even be bigger than the Country Trip. This year, we went to Chicago. We got to LaGuardia Airport at around 5:30 in the morning. Everybody was super tired because we all had to wake up at 4:00 or 4:30. Anyways, we got to the airport, checked in, and walked over to security. Security hadn’t opened yet, so we had to wait in line. While we were waiting there, they gave us our boarding passes.
We got through security, and on the other side, I checked just to make sure I had my boarding pass. It wasn’t in my pocket. I checked my bag, my suitcase, even my boot, looking for it. I couldn’t find it. When I told the teachers on the other side of security, they couldn’t find it either. I managed to lose my boarding pass, my one ticket to Chicago. It was a nightmare.
I was ashamed. I had lost my pass within two minutes of getting it. When we got to the gate they had to print me a new ticket. But what happened next was better than I thought possible. Instead of getting the normal economy seat I had in the back row, I got upgraded to economy+, which was basically economy, but with more legroom and situated closer to the front of the plane. It was great. Plus, my friend Cade also got upgraded, because he ripped his pass so badly that they couldn’t scan it. So I wasn’t alone.
When we got on the flight, Michele Bloom, the Director of the Middle and Upper school, tried to get us back with the rest of the XIIIs, but by the time we were allowed to get up, we were asleep. When we got to Chicago, it turned out that my other classmates didn’t have the best flight. Apparently, there was a crying baby in the back. So losing that ticket might have not actually been the worst mistake.