The Trapper Keeper Incident

An elementary school bully steals another boy's precious Trapper Keeper.
August 31, 2009

Dear M---,

It's been a while, huh? How have you been? I'm fine. I graduated from college a couple of years back. I work as an editor now. It's OK. I mean, it pays the bills, you know? I live in C------ now with my girlfriend, A-----, and a dog named A-----. We're all happy and healthy, so I've got no real complaints on either of those fronts. What else? Oh, right. I'm entirely over that whole Trapper Keeper thing now. What's that? You don't recall the infamous Trapper Keeper Incident of 1990? Well, here then. Let me refresh your memory.

We were in second grade at the time. Ms. T-------'s class. You remember Ms. T-------, right? Yeah. The woman who resembled Albert Einstein. She was insane! Remember when she used to let us grab one handful of Teddy Grahams and another handful of Marshmallow Fluff and just let us stuff our faces? "Plates?" she'd say, outraged if anybody asked. "Who needs plates?!"

Well, in second grade, as I'm sure you can recall, the coolest material possession a kid could have had was a Mead Trapper Keeper. With their sliding plastic rings, folders, pockets, wraparound flaps with Velcro closures, and unique designs, these organizational devices became the envy of children everywhere. While I normally didn't subscribe to the latest trends (I thought British Knights were god-awful.), I continually pleaded with my mother until she bought me one. Eventually, she relented, and I became the proud owner of my very own "Designer Series" Trapper Keeper, which featured an abstract design of a skateboarder doing a trick I'd never dream of attempting.

Within days, a number of our classmates became enamored with my Trapper Keeper, but you in particular, M---, were especially fond of it. I remember that even in the briefest moments of downtime, you'd ask to just see it; a request I was happy to oblige, as I, too, would often relish the opportunity to fawn over the Trapper Keeper's bright colors and sleek vinyl as it lay on my desk.

But one day, on a seemingly unassuming afternoon, Ms. T------- informed the class that we were going to take a bathroom break. As was her policy, she asked for a volunteer to stay behind and tidy up the classroom while she and the students walked to the lavatory. It didn't seem peculiar at the time, but looking back, you were quite eager to vie for the position as classroom janitor, M---; especially considering that students normally avoided those duties in favor of a respite from the classroom.

In any event, Ms. T------- chose you to stay behind and tend to the classroom while the rest of us visited the bathroom. A few minutes later, when we returned, I took a seat behind my desk. You immediately turned around from your seat in front of me and asked to see my Trapper Keeper, a request I didn't find the least bit suspicious considering I was well aware of your affinity for admiring it. However, when I reached inside my desk, it wasn't there. To make certain it was gone, I removed every belonging I had in my desk, from the tiniest erasers to the thickest text books, and, without a doubt, my Trapper Keeper had indeed disappeared.

When I informed you of this, you appeared concerned.

"It's gone?" you asked.
I nodded.

Next, you became consoling.

"Don't worry about it, man."

Finally, you became protective.

"I got two bulldogs at home. We'll sick 'em on the robbers!"

Perhaps you became a little too protective, because I suddenly became suspicious.

Without a word, I got up and went to Ms. T-------'s desk, told her that I misplaced my Trapper Keeper, and asked her if I could check the coat closet to see whether I left it in my backpack. I knew I hadn't, but by going into the closet, I could inspect your backpack to see if you had taken it. As soon as I located your bag, I reached out to grope it, and my fingers were met by a large, hard, rectangular object inside. I immediately unzipped your backpack to reveal what I had already suspected: You had stolen my Trapper Keeper.

In a perfect world, I would have taken the Trapper Keeper out of your bag, returned to my seat with it in hand, and called you out on it. Instead, I left it in your backpack and never brought it up again.

So, here I am, 19 years later, confronting you on an Internet blog for stealing my Trapper Keeper in second grade. And to think, you've completely forgotten about the incident altogether. I guess it didn't mean all that much to you, huh? Well, it apparently meant a lot to me. I got over it, of course (Seriously.), but after all these years, I can't help wondering how different things may have been had I confronted you that day. Perhaps I'd be the more aggressive type; the assertive patron in a restaurant who'd return his soda if it was flat, or the self-confident customer who'd confront a person cutting in front of him in a line at the DMV. Instead, I remained passive, timid, and meek; the type of guy who refuses to speak up when opinions are sought or leadership is required. Perhaps it wouldn't have made a difference either way. Besides, how much can a person change by confronting an elementary school bully over a Trapper Keeper? Well, I'll guess we'll never know.

Best Regards,


P.S. At least you returned the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Nintendo game that I let you borrow. I mean, it only took a threatening call from my father to your father to get it back, but still.

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