Sunday, January 28, 2007

High School

I had a far less than stellar high school career. My Mom was very fond, for some perverse reason I still do not grasp, of telling people and reminding me that I graduated something like 255 out of 256 people in my class. This is only a slight exaggeration. My Mom sometimes said stuff I thought she said just to be mean. I also got an academic achievement scholarship to college because I blew the SAT out of the water. Whatever, it is all bullshit now, isn’t it? In retrospect I know and understand everyone felt weird and everyone had things that felt earth shattering to them going on. I was overwhelmed by older sister getting continually knocked up, and dumping her babies at my parents house where my parents failed to arrange child care, so I stayed home and took care of one or more of them quite often. My Dad was out of work for the first half of my high school career. When I was a junior, my brother took a break from beating the crap out of his wife long enough for her to pick up the kid and run, among other things. Plus I was a teenager, and had that whole do boys like me, puberty, and social retardation thing going on.

I had no interest whatsoever in appeasing idiot adults with tenure and red pen. I did not give a fuck about their attendance rules, or spitting back their pap to get an A. I very easily aced every class where attendance did not count, though my grades were hurt by my failure to feel the need to actually do homework. I was never suspended, I suspect because they figured that would not be much of a punishment for a child who had so artfully mastered the fine art of being absent. I failed US history the first time because even back then I liked to write, but got too excited, and forgot to cross T's and dot I's. I have always been able to think significantly faster than I can either talk or write. So, it tended to come out in a jumble. The teacher was a middle-aged milquetoast with tenure who hated obnoxious little girls who were much smarter than him. He deducted points for each iand t, and I ended up with a negative grade for the final exam. I understand the importance of literally and figuratively dotting and crossing, I even did then, but even then I felt it was the English teacher’s job to hold my failures in that area against me. If I obviously comprehend nationalism, and grasp the finer points of the nuances of the constitution, know the gravity of the Gettysburg Address, who gives a fuck if I can spell and punctuate? Asscock! Anyway, that dude is in my asshole hall of fame for my life thus far. Considering the assholes I have had to deal with in my life, that is quite an accomplishment. I hope his pedantic flat balding loser ass is proud.

I was in the band and jazz band because I really liked to play music, but I really hated band geeks. It was a terrible conundrum. My parents were heavily involved in being band supporters to my utter mortification. I was mystified by those boys who were allegedly attractive who were in the band. I could not comprehend their allure. They seemed like misogynistic twits with minimal musical talent to me. As an adult I have the smug superiority of knowing I was right about that. Also, the girls in the band had a worshipful puppy dog like adulation for the band teacher that I did not share. I kinda thought he was a perv and a geezer dork. He also put the biggest suck ups in charge of each section of the band, and the insane nutwich he put in charge of the flutes really hated my guts. She was always telling on me for not putting my music on the stand the way she said, and not counting the rests how she said, and not bowing down to her authority. I find the occasions when I bump into her in the grocery store these days quite gratifying, I confess.

I had a few good teachers in high school. I was recently absolutely crushed to bump into the English teacher who had a great impact on my life. She not only did not remember me, but also did remember my cootie laden annoying little sister. I was crestfallen. I was a pretty bad kid in high school, but also intensely funny, and very smart. I was bummed I was neither bad enough nor good enough to be memorable. My ninth grade English teacher retired when I was a junior. I suspect we drove her to it. She was what at the time seemed to be an old lady, but I am sure she was in her 50’s, if that. She deftly handled all the hormonal vagaries and insanities of the freshmen students she taught, and managed to get us to work, and learn in spite of ourselves. The teacher I had the second time I took U.S. History was the first adult other than my parents who every expressed an admiration and appreciation for not only my intelligence, but my smartassedness. He was the first person in my life who ever told me I was killer smart, and that was a very good thing. I actually really liked my Algebra teacher, who was great with kids, but I hated Algebra. My freshman Spanish teacher was a slut, and her indiscretions were a great source of amusement, she was also a good teacher.

I really liked three of my history teachers. Two were intriguing for their personal lives alone as they both had much younger wives who were once students. One of those was a genius about the eastern bloc, which did and still does interest me. He was also very enthusiastic about the subjects he taught, and was a very kind and decent man. He always gave very thoughtful advice to my friend and me who were often in his classes together. The other history teacher was really not that great of a teacher in the classroom, but was one of the nicest people I have ever met in my life. He was one of the chaperones on a school trip to Washington D.C. I ended up with all roommates who I never met before. One of them was really bitchy and nasty and made me cry. We had to share a bed, and a dresser. She told me I could have one of the four drawers, and sleep on the floor since she got there first. So I, never having been away from home before, had no idea what to do. My teacher told me: "You worked very hard to get here, and you paid for that room. If that bitch doesn’t want to share with you she can sleep on the floor and keep her stuff in her suitcase." Go back to the room and tell her that." Some of the best advice I ever received. I called home crying like a loser all day that day, but my parents didn’t hear a peep from again after that until it was time to pick me up at the train station.

On the rare occasions I felt the urge to grace the school with my presence, I actually made some friends who are still my friends now. So, it was of course not all bad. It never is. I also took driver’s ed. in high school. My guidance counselor was the teacher. Since I have very naughty parents, I had been permitted to drive on occasion for years by the time I took driver’s ed. So I knew the basics from the get go. I had all my driver’s ed. driving lessons at night, or on the highway, or in the rain or snow, or some combination of the four. I had a freaking good time. I still hear his voice in my head giving instructions every time I parallel park, which I do damn well by the way, thank you very much. I am always happy to see him when I see him in the grocery store. I was one of his "bad" kids, but he genuinely liked me anyway. I will appreciate that until I die.

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