September

2000

Teachers

Three weeks remained until I graduated from high school. I barely squeezed out of the all-consuming maw of high school intact; a number of forces conspired to bar my exit from the grinding gears that reduced most of my compatriots to grease and clothes. I didn’t come out with all my parts, doubtless, but I think that I received the minimal amount of skullwash.

If I had to catalogue the teachers who did me the most damage, I’d be here all day, but I’m going through my yearbooks looking at the faces that I hated enough to eradicate with a cheap gum eraser the summer after my Freshman year, and a few stand out. Their empty picture frames are still filled with the ghost of my contempt for them, and the memories I have of my humiliation at their hands will last me a long, long time.

The first blank photograph was Susan Adkins, a hideous mountain of an English teacher who kept us under her lardulent thumb for a whole year. At the beginning of my Freshman year, because I had been in a private school for the last three years, I didn’t have the official academic record necessary to place me into Honors classes where I apparently belonged. So I had to start out in the slow-jams remedial moron classes just like everybody else and attempt to prove that I didn’t belong there because of my super-huge brainbox. Getting out of Math was easy due to the geniality of Mr. Starcevich, History was eventually accomplished, but English was another story. Adkins was lord of her eraser-dust kingdom, and she refused to let anyone leave. No matter how much extra credit I churned out, she refused to even consider my pleas for escape, content in keeping me trapped in 5th period with a crew of retards, jocks and spitball-flinging mooks. Eventually, I stopped trying.

It’s not like Honors was any better, though; after three weeks in Mr. Anderson’s AP History class, I was resoundingly booted back to the minor leagues. I suppose this one could be at least partially blamed on me, though, as I had begun the electric academic slide that would carry my GPA ever-lower over the next seasons. But it’s not like this bald, smug asshole gave me any reason to stay; his constant ogling of female students and ignoring of male ones made his class forty-five minutes of irritants and torture. I was more than pleased to learn of his eventual dismissal from the school; the reason I invented for his pink slip read simply “asshole.”

Oh, and of course, gym class. Coach Beckwith. People I talked to who had attended the school a decade before me remember him as a dedicated, competent gym teacher and track coach, but all I saw during my merciful one-semester stay under his tutelage was a grizzled disciplinarian who roused himself enough to take attendance and then retreated into his office to ignore the cries of pain coming from my head while having weights bashed against it. I endured nearly a month of torture, people stealing my clothes, being pushed around and kicked like a dog, before I simply stopped attending his class. Did he care that my failing grade came from a refusal to accept asskickings like a good boy? Nope, of course not, he just sat back in his office and let anarchy run rampant.

Later on in the book is Richard Williams, the Honors Math teacher who took me in for first-year Algebra. This calcified wrinkle-bag seemed like he’d just stepped out of a cryogenic chamber from the 1950s. Every class, he would deliver a perfunctory overview of whatever it was that we were allegedly supposed to be learning that day, and then step outside the classroom for several cigarettes. In the interim, we were pretty much left to our own devices, our only guide to the complex world of algebra a completely outdated textbook covered with the marks of decades of equally bewildered students. This behavior continued despite whatever the events of the class were; he even excused himself during the final exam.

Who else? I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the immense waste of life that was Clarence Acox. An immensely talented jazz musician and bandleader, Acox was well out of his element as vice principal of a high school. And for whatever reason, the man had a severe mad on for me throughout four years of school. After sentencing me to several days cleaning the lunchroom for an imagined offense, he physically dragged my by the ear out of my Ecology class because he hadn’t been around at the end of the lunch slavery period to excuse me. He also vigorously censored writing by White writers for the school newspaper while letting African-American work pass unmolested. Nice racism, you fucker.

So fuck you all, burn in hell, fuck you all, burn in hell. Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach. Teach on. Maybe I should have gone to college after all.