By Sophia Yakumithis

Playing hooky used to be so much fun. 

When I was in elementary school, I was a huge proponent of pretending to be sick to avoid serious responsibilities. You know, like math tests. 

My mom claims that she saw through it, but there’s no way she knew I was faking given the amount of times I did it. Either that, or she’s an irresponsible mother.

One hot day in April 2005, I was just not feeling it. I woke up with an intense inclination to read “Wayside School is Falling Down” instead of going to my stupid little un-airconditioned school, so I committed to skipping and hacked up the most pathetic cough I could muster. 

My mom, a landscape architect and resident non-idiot, had big plans to trek out to a wholesale place in the boondocks that morning and could tell I was faking my illness. She gave me two choices: go to school, or, if I was really sick, go with her to the wholesale place, “which could take hours,” with the stipulation that I had to wait in the car. 

Before she even finished presenting the ultimatum, I was practically at the door, paperback copy of “Wayside” and juice box in hands. 

The car ride there was tense, but I really did not care. I got what I wanted, was strapped into my car seat and ready to read. 

Although she generously cracked a window, my mom turned the car off and went alone on her journey of selecting rock installations. The radio was still playing, and a Joni Mitchell marathon played ambiently in the background. 

I was suddenly intrigued not by the plot development in the fictional book series I was balls deep into, but by the Joni Mitchell music. I didn’t know who this woman was; I was more into the “Shrek 2” soundtrack in those days. 

However, the DJ mentioned a ticket giveaway to the person who could keep track of the songs played over the course of the time being. The competitive first grader manifested inside of me wanted to win — for myself. 

By the end of the marathon, I did it. I named every track played. I became Joni Mitchell’s number one fan. And I won nothing but internal satisfaction and pride. 

In the same breath, my mom finished gathering her materials and returned to the driver’s seat. “Oh, I love Joni Mitchell,” she said as one last song played. 

“Me too, mom,” I thought. “Me too.”

All was well.