Okay so straight-up the weirdest thing that happened to me in middle school was this:
In history class, our teacher would read from the memoirs of a guy who traveled America on his motorcycle, making observations on what was going on in the world, including mundane things like the change of the shape of the Coca Cola bottle in 1916. His name was Harmon and he liked to drink coke paired with chocolate bars.
This wasn’t the weird part. It made sense, enough, that someone would have decided that we kids needed to get a more individual sense of history.
However, then we were told that this Harmon guy was actually still alive.
Cool, we thought. He’d be over a hundred, but whatever. That can happen.
And then we were told that we would be having a “Harmon Days” event in which Harmon would visit our school and give a talk and blah blah you know I don’t even remember it that clearly? There were supposed to be other events and activities and we would all get coke and chocolate.
Also. We were supposed to dress up in our best costumes of the era of his memoirs
SHOUTOUT TO MY MOM who made me a skirt and matching jacket w/puffed sleeves for this event I had a great costume and I even used it again before I totally grew out of it. But she put in so much effort for something that REALLY DIDN’T DESERVE IT.
Because during Harmon’s talk, he revealed that he was…not real.
So picture this: you have a bunch of middle school kids sort of dressed up like they were from the 19-teens, and this really, really old dude takes the podium to talk to them. And his talk is going along, blah blah blah, and then he PEELS OFF HIS FACE. And it doesn’t come off all at once, so he keeps PICKING AT the extremely professional old-man latex makeup he was wearing.
And I think, I think, because I cannot recall exactly through the haze of betrayal, that he kept talking about how he was the creator of the FICTIONAL Harmon (who we had all grown attached to while thinking of him as a REAL person) and you know what? I don’t recall anything else. I just remembered being PISSED OFF because I had been digging getting a personal view of history but now how could I trust than anything we had heard was really how it had been? I had already faced the deceptions of the American Diaries series or whatever. WHY had we been given a FAKE in history class??? Why? And why had it been such an ELABORATE fake?????
I remembered most of the other kids being disgusted, but most of the adults were really pleased? One of them actually referred to the whole thing as “giving them [aka us] Santa Claus again” WRONG. You gave us a guy who was moderately interesting because he was real and had really seen history. As a fiction, it was unutterably dull. Santa Claus is magic and brings presents and has a whole huge cultural persona. Who the fuck was Harmon? No one.
Was this a local author? Did this happen in any other middle schools? Why couldn’t we have read a real memoir? WHO AUTHORIZED THIS?
There was more historical accuracy in the making of my simplicity-pattern costume than Harmon’s entire existence.
And the thing is, lots of other weird things happened to me in middle school, but they all have context–maybe not the best context, but it’s there. Except for Harmon. Fucking Harmon. It’s like every teacher was replaced with a space alien that thought this would be a great idea for a month or two, and then switched back to being their mostly good selves.
So, anyway, that’s my experience with Harmon Days, which was a load of bullshit, except for the costume my mom made, go mom, you are the real MVP.