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Friday, August 16, 2002

I Know All the Bones in the Body
Just Call Me "Boner"

When I was in the sixth grade, our science teacher made us learn the names of all the bones in the body...and recite them in order.

He had various wacky contests to see who could say them (properly enunciated) the fastest. Sometimes he'd blindfold you, hand you a bone and ask you to name it. Other times he'd make the whole class recite the bones, one bone per person, all around the room until we did the whole body. This was a problem for my table mate and me, because we could never decide who should go first. Should he say, "radius" and I say "ulna," or should I say "radius" first?

To make matters even more complicated, you couldn't talk to other students in class. That was against the rules. I mean REALLY against the rules, and you just didn't do it. You also couldn't pass notes. So, there was no way to communicate with my table mate in class about who should go first.

We never got it right, which caused a crucial two-second delay in our bone recitation. So, the teacher made my table mate and me do pushups. The teacher would say, "Give me 10!" But he didn't count right. You'd do two pushups, and he'd only count one. He'd say, "One...one..." Sometimes he'd intentionally lose count and have to start over. You'd wind up doing 20 or 30 pushups, then collapse.

Another teacher would put kids in his closet, turn out the light, tell them to do pushups until further notice, close the door and go back to teaching. Occasionally he'd pop open the closet to make sure the kid was still doing pushups. (Of course, he wasn't. But he'd hear the doorknob turn and start again.)

"How many you got?" the teacher would ask.

"Uh, 75, sir," the kid would say.

Other infractions punishable by pushup were:
1. Clock watching (which indicated you were more interested in the class being over than in learning)
2. "Giving up ship" which involved gathering up your books and things at the end of class and preparing to leave for your next class (see number 1. above for an explanation). You HAD to wait until the bell rang to gather up your things.
3. Saying "I can't."
4. Not being in your seat when the bell rang to begin class. (Merely being in the room or near your seat didn't count.)

Public school has damaged my psyche.

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