Adventures in High School – Part 3

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This is part 3 in a multi-part series.  Click here to read the beginning of the story, and Part 2 here.

Note: While I have kept as many details as possible completely honest, I have changed all of the names of the people in these stories.  I didn’t think it would be fair to write about them in the way that I have if I hadn’t protected the real people a bit.  In the case of one particular person, I don’t remember his real name anyway.  Also, please don’t take anything I say in this story to be tacit approval for the way I or anyone else acted.  I was in High School, and sometimes acted like quite a punk.

Mr. Grady was a Christian.  This was well known at school.  His nephew, Sterling, was an outspoken Christian student-athlete, and I found out he later became a youth minister.  Although I was a pretty popular kid, I just never had much of a desire to hang out with the preppy crowd.  It seemed to me that they were a little too shallow for my tastes, although I was on pretty decent terms with most of the preppy kids.

People generally respected The Grady family’s strong Christian faith.  I don’t recall ever hearing anyone teasing any of them for that.  It probably happened at some point, but not in my circles.  I was of course, a pretty dedicated Christian too.

We liked to do our best to get Mr. Grady off his script during lecture by asking him questions that had nothing to do with class.  We did this for two reasons.  First, the lecture was always boring and never included any information that the book hadn’t already said.  It was a far more valuable use of time to read the book while he lectured, finish, and then read something more enjoyable.  He would never notice.  But the second reason was that Mr. Grady always had a unique way of putting his foot in his mouth.

One time Mr. Grady got himself in trouble in our class by making statements about “hearing voices.”  The way he said it, it seemed clear that he was referring to hearing God’s voice in his head or in the spirit.  His wording was very strange though, and made him sound like he was somehow schizophrenic.  After that we would periodically ask him what the voices were telling him at that particular moment.

A short time after this, one of the students in our class brought a portable mini-tape recorder to class.  He turned it on for a while, recording Mr. Grady’s lecture, then every time Mr. Grady turned around to write on the chalkboard, the student would play back a piece of the tape, lowering the volume when Mr. Grady would turn back around.

His hearing must have been suffering, because he would not notice until the volume was pretty loud.  He’d then turn around and ask us what the noise was.  We’d tell him that we didn’t hear anything at all, and ask him if he was “hearing the voices again.”  This continued for well over an hour.

We eventually got bored and stopped. -Ryan

Stay posted for further episodes.


Adventures in High School – Part 2

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This is part 2 in a multi-part series.  Click here to read the beginning of the story.

Note: While I have kept as many details as possible completely honest, I have changed all of the names of the people in these stories.  I didn’t think it would be fair to write about them in the way that I have if I hadn’t protected the real people a bit.  In the case of one particular person, I don’t remember his real name anyway.  Also, please don’t take anything I say in this story to be tacit approval for the way I or anyone else acted.  I was in High School, and sometimes acted like quite a punk.

Mr. Grady fixated at the back wall each day apparently in order to spare him from staring at faces who would mostly be populating our city’s jails in the near future.  We did not have to guess at this fact.  He told us this once toward the beginning of the semester.

This did have a benefit for some of these very students he was trying to avoid.  About mid-point in the summer, one of the students, Shane, discovered that he could belly-crawl out of class below Mr. Grady’s field of vision shortly after he took roll in the morning, and then spend the rest of the day doing whatever he wished.  Shane was getting valuable experience, in something that would soon be of greater help to him in prison than his knowledge of supply and demand.

Shane and his friend Eduardo were my second source of entertainment during the summer.  Eduardo was the older brother of a classmate of mine since the sixth grade.  Truthfully, I had never liked either of them.   They were never nice to me.  In fact, his little brother Paco was probably one of the worst bullies I had ever encountered.  I didn’t have to put up with Paco for too many years, as he disappeared from school early in our Freshman year, which probably meant he got expelled.

Eduardo remained in school though.  He played trumpet in band, and made rude comments at me whenever I was near.  I mostly ignored him, not out of fear, but because I felt him to be somewhat insignificant.  I had enough friends who wouldn’t let him bother me seriously, anyway.

Eduardo showed up to band camp the summer before his Senior Year* with his shirt off sporting an entire chest tattoo of a bull’s head.  To complete the look, his nipple was in the middle of the bull’s nose, and he had pierced it, giving the bull a sort of 3-D look.  It was the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen.

So, Eduardo had failed Economics the first time through, and was in class with me that particular summer as his last chance to graduate High School without having to get a GED.  Fortunately for him, this Econ class was a guarantee.  I got over 100% without ever doing any homework or studying, not because I didn’t care, but because I could do it all in class each day.  People passed simply by proximity to the classroom.

One day before class Shane and Eduardo were in the back talking about some caper that they were about to embark on, when Shane got up to go to the bathroom.  Shane always kept a bottle of water on his desk, the kind with a big plastic bendy-straw in a neon color than stuck through the lid.  I always had assumed that he just had a high value for hydration.

Eduardo reached across to Shane’s desk, deciding that he would sneak a sip of Shane’s water before he returned.  I saw the liquid move up the straw, into his mouth, and then seconds later comes spewing out, like he was some surfacing whale.  Eduardo started gasping and choking, and ran out the door.  Whatever was in that bottle was not water, for sure.  No one ever touched Shane’s bottle again.

Epilogue: Shortly after these events, Eduardo missed his third day of class.  In Summer School that means that you are given an automatic F in the class.  Since I knew that this was his last chance to actually graduate High School, I was able to argue and plead with Mr. Grady to not count him as absent.  Mr. Grady finally reluctantly agreed to do that.  That afternoon I was able to track down Eduardo’s phone number and tell him that he wasn’t counted as absent, and would be able to finish and graduate.  He said “OK,” nonchalantly, and never came back to class.  -Ryan

Stay posted for further episodes.

*This was the year prior to the Economics class.

Adventures in High School – Part 1

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I have often thought that real life stories are much funnier than sitcoms or jokes most of the time.  This seems to be mainly because the bizarre events of our lives are too strange to be funny if it weren’t for the fact that they actually happened.  The following is a true story from my days in High School, many years ago.  Well, it is true to the best of my memory. This is the first in series of posts about the events of the summer prior to my Senior year.  Stay tuned for more posts in the series.

Note: While I have kept as many details as possible completely honest, I have changed all of the names of the people in these stories.  I didn’t think it would be fair to write about them in the way that I have if I hadn’t protected the real people a bit.  In the case of one particular person, I don’t remember his real name anyway.  Also, please don’t take anything I say in this story to be tacit approval for the way I or anyone else acted.  I was in High School, and sometimes acted like quite a punk.

In High School I was really, ridiculously into music.  I was in Marching and Concert Band (Fall/Spring) and Jazz Band.  These 2 classes justified the energy it took for me to drag my teenaged self out of bed each morning, do homework for classes like Physics, and navigate the intricate social workings of High School society.

Also added to the mix was choir, which I didn’t really particularly enjoy, but it did succeed in getting me closer to the band room for one more hour of the day.  It also had other benefits.  For one, I could secretly laugh at the egos of the choir divas,* ninety-nine percent of whom all band members considered to be pretend musicians.  Also, I had the opportunity to continually enjoy the mannerisms of our choir director, Mr. Saxton, who seemed to be one of the few people I’ve met who are complete caricatures of themselves.  Finally, this class allowed me to have half of my entire schedule comprised of music classes.

The downside to this arrangement was that it required me to take some of the non-music classes that were required during the summer.  At that time and place there were two types of people who took Summer School classes: students who were far more concerned with building up their disciplinary record in order to give them street cred than they were in actually holding a High School Diploma, and students like me who were taking core classes in advance in order to free up their schedule.  These classes were about 70% full of the hooligans, and therefore were staffed by teachers who had somehow left certain sins un-atoned for, landing them in pedagogic purgatory.

One particular summer, prior to my Senior year, I took Economics, a class that I passed easily with a 102%.  I was never a super-genius student, but I did take advanced classes and could always get high marks if I decided that I wanted to actually apply myself.  I was however, friends with all of the super-geniuses, which made me feel slightly less brilliant than I suppose I could have felt.

The teacher of Economics was Mr. Grady, who had been teaching Economics since before printed currency.  He once told me that when he first started, the class was called Collecting Shells and Pretty Beads.  His brother was a Math teacher at my High School, as well.  Their nephew was the High School quarterback, who was dating the head cheerleader and prettiest girl in school.   Her dad was the Football coach.  Basically, it was Mayberry, or some perfect setting for a Friday Night Lights episode.

Mr. Grady was a nice enough man I suppose, but undoubtedly past the point of being able to handle a class of High School students.  We tortured him mercilessly.  First of all, since he had been teaching the same class for the last 50 or so years, his lectures were completely memorized.  He would begin the morning by standing up from his desk, finding a point on the back wall to stare at, and then launching into his talk in a flat monotone.

Unfortunately, the years of practice did not help him to speak this memorized lecture quickly.  Instead, every word was labored, and offset by an uhhh.  Sometimes his uhhh’s were offset by their own uhhh’s.  We soon began to count these over the course of his lecture.

Each day a new student would be assigned to tally the day’s uhhh’s.  It was determined by vote prior to his arrival (always at the exact moment of the bell) and no student could be handed the position twice.  Double uhhh’s were celebrated by the students out loud by lightly slapping our desks for a few moments.  His record for the summer was 243 uhhh’s and 81 double-uhhh’s during a single class.  The class erupted in applause at the end of that lecture.  -Ryan

Stay posted for further episodes.

*If there is a male form of diva I don’t know what it is, or if it matters.  But I secretly laughed at the male divas even more than the female ones.