Odd that school was where shit was normal and fucking logical. Five days a week, I morphed into a routine. Sure, I fucking hated going, but I didn’t have to deal with Chris, I didn’t have to deal with B, I can just do my thing.
This high school is huge and dank and old as shit. Voices echo off the walls, which are cinderblock and cheap-ass aluminum siding. Rows and rows of classrooms, a gym, a huge ass field. I suppose it’s not unlike those schools in any high school movie, appearance-wise. A bit of space, cramped classrooms, a shitty library, and plenty of places to hide out and smoke weed or make out or whatever.
Under the surface, I suppose, is where the rep comes in. I think I’ve mentioned before that a lot of the kids that go here aren’t really the richest kids in the world. Some of them are pretty balanced, in spite of what’s going on at home. Some are dicks who aren’t gonna make it to graduation. Some are fucking psycho, some are the nicest people I’ve ever met. Some gangbang and do volunteer work on the weekends, a couple are straight-A kids who torture small animals. I don’t think this kinda shit is any different than most any other school, but somehow we got to be the “urban, inner-city, run-down” school where teachers go home and drink their sorrow and pain away as yet another generation of Americans go astray despite their best efforts.
I won’t lie, some of these kids are fucking nuts. Kids get jumped. Girls get pregnant. Shit is rough, no doubt. But isn't this same shit happening in the burbs, too?
Math and science are pretty much the same bullshit class, really. SOme people get numbers really well; I am not one of them. There are some that get this shit right off the top, and it’s sad to watch them cower when tests are being passed out and graded and shit, because the teachers are so used to fuckups, almost WAITING for people not to be able to square some numbers, that some kid who scores 80 percent or something get a LOUD ASS proclamation of how good they did. Instead of writing some shit on the paper, like “good job, I didn’t think your dumb ass was understanding this shit, but you proved me wrong!”, they have to proclaim this in front of forty motherfuckers who think octagons are just funny looking squares. Do adults ever fucking think?
And science is a whole nother bucket of shit. I’m down with the types of rocks, how the respiratory system works, how dams work, what happens when water gets heated, you know, shit like that. I’m even down for dissection and the kids with no toughness at all get notes from home that basically say “My kid’s a pussy and can’t watch froggies being cut open,” which makes them a target for ridicule.
What I can’t stand is the science fair and how the kids who go and do well are held up as examples to the rest of us as smart kids and shit, like we’re stupid, while we’re thinking, hey, that fuck copied my tests for two years, or, that bitch was making out with my boy when she was supposed to be in the library, and she let him get to second base and he just about passed out telling us about it.
Before you start thinking that we’d find it easier if no one was pointed out as special, well, that’s true. Mom says that people who get attention at work due to good work can get promotions and more money, depending on who’s looking, but you can’t get a promotion in high school. All that attention gives you is a big ass “THIS KID’S SMARTER THAN YOU” target, and most people can’t take that.
That’s why my theory worked. Stay with the crowd for the first part of the year. The dumb ones haven’t eaten through their new pencils yet; the smart ones haven’t cracked open the new pens. Over the year, though, everything balanced. The dumb started lagging, the smart kids got ahead. Sad for the kids who worked hard but were into other things, like gangs or ball or whatever, but all the smart kids normally had to do was go home after school, or find ways to avoid going home, like staying in the library until the school closed.
My theory had worked, for the most part. It also helped that I got lucky; if there was more than one smart kid, then it wasn’t so bad. If there was more than two or three, you could band up and shit would be cool. I was lucky enough to have B or Chris in one or more of these classes; they both liked math, and B was great at science, so it also helped that my dumb ass got to bask in the shit they did, as we often got paired up.
For the artsy shit, though, I was pretty good, I thought. I did a little singing, drew a little bit, and faked my way through making clay sculpture at a extra-credit class at the local community college. But what I loved was English.
I may have already talked about Mrs. Mick, who was my English teacher last year. She was one of the few teachers that didn’t draw attention to your work unless you asked for it. Some kid who just figured out English a year or two ago would dig being held up as an example of good writing if they hit on that magic combo of subject and predicate agreement that made sense and was pretty decent. But she always made you think you could do better.
We didn’t read a lot of specific authors before this class. I imagine that there are people who write for magazines and shit that kids at other schools read, that write with their own styles and shit. I have no clue how in the hell that could be; the magazines I read don’t really have authors, just random-ass stories. She gave us time to look at the old dead white dudes and what they did and what their style was. That may have gone over the heads of some other kids, but I ate that shit up. That shit was fun! Some of the old dead white guys were clearly overrated. But what she did, which I gotta give her mad points for, was giving us the writings of black and brown people when it wasn’t even “Minority Month.” Unfortunately, that caused the entire class to go to our school library and start a run on copies of Richard Wright and One Hundred Years of Solitude.
And because no one thought that we’d give a shit about books and reading, they had no copies. Poor Ms. Ingot, carekeeper for a pile of 20 old-ass, dusty-ass books, did the best she could. When I was in there to read or hang out with B or CHris, she liked the fact that I liked to read. It was sad asking her for books, though.
“Ms. Ingot, do you have [insert book name]?” She’d shake her head.
Our library’s centerpiece was thirty year old National Geographic magazines, complete with the naked African natives. The pages were fucking weatherbeaten, creased and, if the weather was just right, felt a bit moist. Needless to say, I kept away from those. After all, I could get to the Internet.
The books weren’t much better. Graffiti from the 70s and 80s were scratched into them. Due date stamps from 1994. I think that Ms. Ingot took it personally, I gotta think that it would suck for anyone to be responsible for such a pile of crap. She had class enough to run a brand new library who got new books every few weeks, where happy ass kids would come in, ask for a book, and she would happily show them how to use the Dewey Decimal system and find it for their own. Fuck, that would be awesome.
All the stuff I ever wrote for Mrs. Mick sucked, but she had this way of letting me know it sucked, but I could always make it better. I would write all sorts of dumb shit, but she’d always look at it and write little notes on it and shit. I was never exposed as a wannabe writer, but she helped me in simple, small ways. I appreciated that.
But I needed her help to do this big story I had planned. Maybe she could help get me out of my red Kool-Aid funk. Lord knows this year’s teacher, old man Novacs, wasn't gonna help much. I made myself a mental note to ask B what his brother knew what was coming next. Maybe it was Stephen King novel “fun” time...