Tuesday, October 26, 2010

If he knew what he wants

Shelly is pondering the possibility of hibernating this winter, and she asked me to cover for her while she makes up that small, cerebral cortex-less mind of hers. Yep, it's me. Derick William Dalton.

What, you think I would miss a chance to insult her back?

A kid walked into the clinic the other day. Wait, that's a start of a lame joke. And that's not how Shelly would say it anyway. Can I start over?

I saw a juvenile Homo sapiens today who was seeking care for being whiny and unfit to perpetuate the species due to genetic defects in her immune system.

No, too harsh, needs more subtlety.

This teenager came for help with a sinus infection. That's better. So, while examining her (Work. Did you all notice? I was doing work? Take THAT, Shelly!) we talked about school. She enjoys her junior high and seems to be doing well. I joked to her mother that if a biblical Hell exists, and my actions so merit my eternal presence there (I said it in a less stuffy fashion, though) I will spend it forever repeating grades six through eight. Yes, I know that's technically middle school, but this is Hell, remember?

Over lunch I tried to remember something good about those years.

Principal's office with Sean and Jimmy? Only half good, and that half ended when we actually got there. How about girls-whose-names-I-will-change-to Autumn, Monique, Mary, and Marina? Nope: played with my feelings, 'just a friend', too shy to connect, and maestro of me, the Stradivarius Fool.

Garbage Pail Kids! Those were great! They were – discontinued due to a lawsuit from some uptight male doll-maker who wrote his name on tiny fake butts. If THAT'S not a weirdo...

My grades were top-notch. Academics? I must have liked them and so perhaps HERE is the good to be found in junior high. Well, maybe not since most of my learning was from reading at home. In school I mostly remember being taught incorrect outdated science for two minutes a day from Mr. Washed-Up as an intro to his tangents. So I ignored his lessons and read my textbook instead. In Mr. Liverspot's science class we learned he read page one of six-page reports and no more. Yep. I got away with it. And no, that wasn't a good thing, even though it was fun at the time. His PE class was the best since we ALL liked running laps and doing sit-ups until Jimmy (yep, same one) puked his Hawaiian Punch all over his white PE uniform. To make things worse and take away what little joy we all had, Jimmy and Sean both moved away soon after that.

Going to the office with the new principal, perhaps? No. He had an ego like an overripe peach that went three rounds with Ali. And he held it out in front of people on purpose. Maybe the math teacher who suffered from depression and narcolepsy and was verbally abusive to students and made them feel like they were about to be physically abused. Maybe I should have left him out. Now I'm having horrible flashbacks and I've crossed the line from humor to sarcasm to sincere revulsion. He later shot himself, by the way. (Proceeding on to macabre...)

That's how it all seemed at thirteen. Now I think about how miserable Washed-Up and Liverspot must have been, trapped in a job that gave them no satisfaction, with a rotten retirement even if they DID stick it out to sixty-five. New Principal must have taken some wicked shots from parents and school boards and who knows who else over the years to feel threatened by a thirteen year old. I feel badly for them. But worst of all, how could Math Teacher's fellow faculty not know he was in such bad shape? Didn't they care at all about him? He was a human being! Even if they thought he was the poster boy for so-called failing public schools (a good description, actually) he was also their co-worker. Someone's father and husband.

Then again, this was Hell. Maybe everyone was so internalized by displeasure they didn't notice. Or maybe Math Teacher was careful to hide it.

Coming up with something good from junior high is harder than I thought. Think, man! There has to be something. Or maybe even somethingS. Or a group of somethings.


That's it! The one good thing about junior high! It brings me joy to this very day. In fact, I was just listening to their rhythmic and aesthetic perfection.

Micki and Vicki and Debbi and Susanna? I can STILL walk like an Egyptian and STILL have warm fuzzy innocent age thirteen fantasies about when I'm gone they like to try on all my clothes. Not that they would have fit. Not even for Susanna who's barely over five feet.

They ALL sang, they wrote much of their own stuff as opposed to none, and they were talented instead of shocking. Take that, Madonna. They didn't party like frat boys, either. Talking to you, Go Gos. Debbi and Susanna had kids and are still married to their same guys, and Susanna told the nudy magazines to forget it. And now they are back together for another album. I'm shouting 'bell jar' in two different octaves. With no vocal crack, though. It's harmony. It's junior high, and it's good.

The angels who rescued me from Hell.

Thanks, Bangles.

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