I guess I'm stuck on a school theme, because here comes another story.
When I was in the sixth grade, my friend Frank and I invented our own religion. It was called "The Order of the Wombists," and it was heavily influenced by Dungeons and Dragons, "The Exorcist" and our desire to punish our enemies.
Our chief enemy was Melanie, Frank's 9-year-old sister, and her lieutenant was Mrs. Ferguson, the typing teacher who thought anyone who coughed was doing it on purpose (like in "Animal House," when the frat guys say, "Blowjob!" as they cough). Frank had a bad cold that year and spent a lot of time in the office because of it.
The Wombist tools in battling evil consisted of several items:
1. The Wombas, which were clay figures Frank made in art class. He hollowed out little digestive systems for them so you cut put one on a clay toilet, insert a clay ball in its mouth and hear it the ball plink into the toilet.
2. Womblish, our laguage. We only got around to creating three words: Ium Kay Si, which meant, "Melanie Be Gone."
3. Our sacred number, nine and a half.
Other people were added to our list of Melanie enemies, including a kid named Keith. I can't remember what he did wrong, but we spent a lot of time drawing pictures of him driving complicated cars powered by his own farts.
We then declared Keith had neutron-bomb-like farts that killed humans but left buildings standing. Only one man had ever survived a Keith nano fart (one billionth of a normal Keith fart). That guy was was a former Mr. Universe, but now his most strenuous activity was lifting paperbacks.
I started work on a Wombist illuminated manuscript, but my handwriting is terrible and the felt-tips pens I used bled through the paper.
Our Wombist activities evolved into other hobbies, such as making Womba Juice (hard cider) in the refrigerator. (Actually, it was a two-stage process: fermentation on the water heater and clarification/aging in the refrigerator). The end result was like either paint thinner or darned good hootch, and there was only a two day different between the two.
Frank went on to study music in college so he could live his dream of drumming with the tribes in Africa. But his dream didn't pay the bills, so he got a degree in computer science.
My wife occasionally brings home CDs from her kindergarten class. Yesterday she was listening to "Greg and Steve's Big Fun," with tunes such as "Silly Willies," "In My Backyard," "The Movement Medley," "What Will We Do?"
Am I just dirty-minded, or do all those sound suggestive?
My wife keeps wanting me to come to school to read to her class, but any time I go in that building, I feel like I'm 8 years old again and counting the minutes until I can get out and watch the Three Stooges at home. That's because the school I attended then was pretty strict. The principal said a crack in the wall contained a secret camera he used to monitor our behavior. He claimed he had an electric paddle with spikes to better drive the current into your ass.
Outside the principal's office was a bronze plaque commemorating the students (the building was a high school in the early 1900s) who died in World War I. There was no air conditioning in the building, so if you got sent to the principal's office, you had to sit on a bench and sweat (literally and figuratively) while reflecting on a bunch of guys who probably sat where you were now but were dead now and monitoring you through that same crack in the wall.
You'd think, "I wonder how William R. Johnson, PFC, U.S. Army, would handle getting in trouble for making the opening of his paper lunch bag into an anus and squishing out a brownie?" Probably better than I did.
Our playground was a slab of asphalt with a white line down the middle; the girls had one side and the boys had the other. You couldn't cross the line or there would be paddling.
Talking in class? Paddling. Playing with paper footballs? Paddling. Some of the guys got paddled so much, they took to folding up several sheets of paper and putting them in back pockets to absorb the blows.
The teachers had holes drilled in their paddles to make them more aerodynamic. If you were a frequent spankee, you could sign the paddle.
Some guys perfected a method of fake spanking: if you cup your hand and slap the side of your butt, it sounds like a loud smack. Do that five or six times, cry for mercy, and people start poking their heads out the door to see which teacher lost it and and was going overboard on a student.
Fun consisted of dumbass stuff like seeing how far you could stand from the wall and get your pee in the urinal. It was best to start close to the urinal and move backwards, rather than starting far away. Otherwise, you're bound to pee on the floor.
I keep in my dresser drawer an odd collection of doo-dads I can't seem to throw out: rolls of undeveloped film from 10 years ago (could be something interesting on them), a cat license tag (you wouldn't want to be found guilty of operating a cat without a license) and my pizza delivery guy name tag from the job I had the summer after high school and before college.
The tag doesn't have my name on it. It reads "El Bastardo." Peel that name away and you'll find "Cindy." And so on. I used lots of aliases at that job.
The place I worked for served a town called "Flatwoods," whose claim to fame is that's where Billy Ray Cyrus is from--the guy who sang "Achy Breaky Heart" in the early 90s. Note that the mullet haircut is also known as "The Achy Breaky Mistakey."
Anyway, I wanted lots of hours, so that meant I'd work the least popular schedule--from around 6 p.m. to 2 a.m.--especially on weekends.
Weekends were tough. Customers had been at their own jobs all week, workin' for "the man," taking crap from people, and the weekend was their turn to dish it out. They'd call drunk. They'd swear. They'd complain the pizza you just delivered had too many toppings on it. They'd want specials they'd seen on TV ads that quit running years ago. One guy, a well-paid lawyer, thought our prices were too high, so he'd order a plain cheese pizza and add his own toppings.
By far the most challenging aspect of the job was delivering to the boonies. You knew when you were in trouble when someone described their address as, "There ain't no street sign up, and we don't got no number on the house."
This was back when pizza places were still running their delivery in under 30 minutes guarantee. People really hold you to that, so we had to drive pretty fast. The restaurant's car was an early 80s Chevette with one turn signal out, it always smelled like cheese and yeast (an old, dank funky smell) and the lights worked only on bright. Other people honked and gave me the finger because of the blinding lights, but I couldn't help it.
Most of the delivery guys had stories about attractive women coming to the door naked, but I never saw any. Either the guys were lying or the women saw me coming and thought, "No tip for this guy." I'm going with option one.
Because I worked the late shift, I got to close the place, and that consisted of using the DustBuster to vacuum up the dead bugs from below our neon sign in the window, mopping the floor (generally a half-assed job, because the manager wanted to get the hell out of there) and washing the food prep stuff by hand.
The whole time I worked there, the men's room never had any soap. I always washed my hands at the kitchen sink, but I wonder how many other guys didn't. Must have given the pizzas the taste of a different kind of pepperoni.
It was the seventh grade, and Mrs. Baker wanted the class to organize teams and write ads. Trevor, Jay and I decided to put ours on film (8 millimeter--this was 1980, before camcorders were in the hands of the average American).
Our product was "Kapow Cereal," which was fortified with lead, radium and arsenic. It was billed as just what you needed to get over your hangover.
The scenes were as follows.
Scene one: Guy wakes up and tosses bra and empty beer bottles aside. He looks disoriented. He gets out of bed, scratches his ass and heads down the hall.
Scene two: Guy pours a bowl of cereal. He eats some. The cereal bowl explodes (result of the firecrackers). Guy's head falls into bowl.
Scene three:Cheesy special effects involving someone holding a giant poster with the word KAPOW! written on it.
Scene four: Clean-cut announcer has closing remarks.
The class's favorite part was when we rewound the film, which it made it look like our star was carefully puking cereal into the spoon and adding it to the bowl.