In California, I was this Mormon minority, usually the only one in my grade, and I felt like a freak for having so many brothers and sisters and not being able to play outside on Sundays. The worst year was when Halloween fell on a Sunday and I just watched the other kids trick or treat. I can still remember sitting out on the bumper of our motor home in my church clothes, watching costumed kids prowl up and down our extremely steep street.
There were lots of genius Jewish kids in my school, and there were lots of Asians—in fact, today Vista Grande Elementary is 55% Asian and 40% white, the Internet tells me. I really wanted to be accepted by the Jews because they were so smart and funny and sophisticated, but I didn’t have the social skills and I could tell they always looked down on me. However, they did put me on the Jewish foursquare team when we played Jews against Christians, because no one knew what else to do with a Mormon. I used to be jealous of their dreidels and Hanukkah and stuff—in fact, I even told some kids that Mormons celebrated Hanukkah too.
On the other hand, I got to be close friends with several Asian kids, and a Japanese guy named Joseph Hiraoka was my best friend for a couple of years. I did a report on Japan in fourth grade, and ever since then I've been somewhat fascinated by Japan. I don’t remember knowing or even seeing any Hispanics in my neighborhood or school, but I remember one black girl named Natalie who seemed to be much more mature than everyone, and she had the coolest handwriting that I tried to imitate.
Then I got to Utah and everyone was white and Mormon. Our seaside town of Rancho Palos Verdes was upper middle class, even downright wealthy in some areas, but my Utah elementary drew on lots of middle and lower income areas, including some farms, and some of the kids were pretty rough around the edges, if not downright white trashy. I remember how weird it was to hear a kid talk about raising pigs—again, I didn’t know people still actually did that in the modern days. And my sixth-grade class included Charlie Kingston, a cross-eyed kid from an inbreeding polygamous group who never said much and seemed to wear the same dirty plaid shirt every day.
Well, that concludes this round of memories. I’m sure Bountiful was backwoodsier than Salt Lake back then, and I’m sure things have changed a lot since then. And I admit that due to boundary shifts, I went to rougher, lower-class elementary and junior-high schools than my siblings did, although I got to go to upper-class Bountiful High, which was mostly a relief. I'm sorry, but it does make a difference in the caliber of people you hang out with, although of course there's also a snobby downside to it.