Americaphiles

The Story Of My Fucking Life

Seventy-eight

Posted by ilbebe on January 27, 2012

Anger is natural, and it can evolve to rage, but what do you when yr rage outgrows the box you’ve put it in? Yr body can’t always hold it all in. Be it a cage, you hold the key.

 

In eighth grade I had an English teacher named Mrs. Dembizack. She was a crotchety old bitch, and she hated me because I would correct her sometimes. I sat next to my friend Seth in her class, and our friend Morgan sat behind him. Once Seth turned to stab Morgan with a pencil and accidentally stabbed me instead when his swing went wide. I yelled, and I got in trouble.

 

In the middle of October, we got a student teacher named Ms. Price, and for the most part, this drastically relieved the growing tension between Mrs. Dembizack and the class. Ms. Price instantly set about trying to be friends with the students instead of establishing herself as an authority figure, an approach in which I’d seen little success in prior experiences. One day Mrs. Dembizack wasn’t there, and then wasn’t there the next day, and then we got word she’d be out until after Christmas. This was when we all first heard that she had a brain tumor. This was also when we first found out that Ms. Price was engaged to a cop named Slay.

 

Whether or not anyone else in the class felt like I did, the next few weeks were clouded by uncertainty for me. I felt really guilty for hating Mrs. Dembizack in light of the knowledge of her cancer. I was also starting to really hate Ms. Price, primarily because one of her juvenile strategies to endear herself to the majority of the class was to ostracize the nerds. I was perhaps the most visible member of this undesirable non-clique; I was six-foot one, with a ridiculous parted-down-the-middle dickhead haircut, big plastic modified-aviator-frame glasses, and braces, which were ever more frequently adorned with colored rubber bands that connected my upper and lower teeth in an uncomfortable and humiliating manner. I felt like a freak taking the rubber bands out of my mouth to eat at lunch, and it didn’t seem fair that kids thought that C. Rodrig’s braces were cool, yet passed no comment on mine other than the occasional insult hurled while passing in the hall. Maybe I should have changed up the colors of the tiny bands that secured the tooth anchors to the brace every month, like C. Rodrig did. Red and gold in the winter, orange and black the rest of the year, with occasional variations like red white and blue for the Fourth of July.

 

It was the casual condescension that really stoked my temper, and by eighth grade, I had a reputation as a real head case with hair-trigger fury at my disposal. Many were the times I would strike out while playing baseball and start crying on the bench. After the first time I stared down a teammate after they made fun of me and made them cry, even the coaches learned to let me cry rather than risk the unknown. One time in sixth grade, I got upset about being roughhoused on the playground basketball court and rebelled by lying down in the middle of the court so that I would have to be played around. Kids kicked me and taunted me, and finally the yard duty teacher intervened. The kids who had been kicking me were terrified when I stood up and told the yard duty teacher in an eerily calm and mannered voice that everything was fine, and I would just like to continue playing. My totals for the next ten minutes that concluded the recess were no points, three broken teeth taken out of one kid whose head I slammed into the steel backboard post, and a forfeit victory, claimed when everyone else quit after I rocked that little fuck’s head into the pole.

 

When Ms. Price deliberately ignored me and the three or four other nerds in my eighth-grade English class, it was the first exposure I’d yet had to prolonged institutional abuse, and it made me increasingly angry. The incidents of being passed over to provide an answer regarding the previous day’s reading segued into outright mocking, perhaps coincidentally as we began reading Harper Lee’s only novel. Things came to a head one beautiful Friday towards the end of Indian Summer in late October 1994. We were performing brief group skits based on different scenes from To Kill A Mockingbird, and Mrs. Price had brought her camcorder from home to record them.

 

After all the skits had been performed, she let us turn on MTV and goof around for the last ten minutes before lunch recess. Coolio’s ‘I Remember’ came on, and everyone sang along, and a few brave or careless souls danced, and as long as I stayed still and didn’t sing too loud or mess up the lyrics, I was part of the gang, a feeling I’d been increasingly desperate to experience more often. I was fucking thirteen, is it any wonder I just fucking wanted people to like me? Basketball season was starting soon, and this would be my year to prove myself on the court, which would inevitably lead to acceptance, party invitations, and a girlfriend who would at least kiss me if not let me all the way to second base.

 

My good times were laid to ruin when Ms. Price abruptly stormed up to me and asked “Where’s the back-up camcorder battery?”

 

I was caught completely off-guard for such a baseless accusation, and I was baffled. “Uhhhh…?”

 

“Where’s the back-up battery? It was in the camera case, and now it’s not.”

 

“Well, I, I don’t know where it is?”

 

“Well I saw you near the case, and if you don’t find it, you have to pay for it.”

 

I had and have to this day no idea what the actual retail price of a camcorder battery would have been in 1994; I would guess it would have been in the neighborhood of seventy-eight bucks. But the actual cost was irrelevant, what was immediately relevant was that I was being falsely accused of a theft I did not commit, and given our track record, I could assume I would be guilty without a trial before a jury of my peers. There was to be no Atticus for my Boo, and my parents would fucking kill me if I were convicted of stealing something. Worse still would be having to pay for the replacement; I could see the next several years of birthday and Hannukah presents evaporating before my increasingly blurry vision. I had to blow the anger out.

 

I kicked a small metal trash can, and it collapsed and flew about fifteen feet across the room. It didn’t hit anybody, but it almost hit Taryn Gindt.

 

Ms. Price came up to me a few minutes later, while I was still stewing, and, for all I know, on the verge of an aneurysm.

 

“I found the battery.”

 

I leveled a wrathful gaze her way.

 

“Oh?”

 

“Yeah, I’m sorry about that.”

 

“Oh, you’re sorry?”

 

She got defensive, and took a step back to be able to put a finger into my shoulder.

 

“Look, I’m sorry. But you can’t go breaking things when you’re angry.”

 

That may have been the birth of my hatred of the spelling you’re. Now I say yr in control.

 

The moment died away, and I was standing around talking to some friends during lunch recess when the Vice Principal, Mr. Ralph Soler, came up to me. When I say came up, I must emphasize the strange dynamic in the disparity between our adult and junior-adult heights. Mr. Soler was not much taller than Ms. Future-Slay, about five-seven. A half-foot shorter than me. So he came up to me.

 

“Can I talk to you, Mr. Phillips?”

 

“Uhhhh…” At that moment, I honestly had no idea why he would want to talk to me. I suppose I had already subliminated the rage from fourth period. That recent rage was already forming allegiances with the cadre of other rages lounging about in the rumpus room of my teenaged psyche.

 

“Come with me.”

 

“Okay.”

 

I walked with him back to his office. En route, I realized this had to be about the theft. I felt an odd calm come over me as I became certain that I was soon to be exonerated, and perhaps even rewarded for my patience with the useless middle school disciplinary system.

 

“Do you know why we’re going to my office?”

 

[You are very short. I will crush you] “Yep.”

 

“Do you have anything to say about it?”

 

[I will crush you, and I want to] “I’d rather say what I have to say in your office.” [Little man]

 

We got back to his office, and he offered me a seat across the desk from his. We sat there awkwardly for a moment, and he folded his hands into the universally recognized pyramid which symbolizes “I am a compleat asshole. C-O-M-P-L-E-A-T. Complete assholes I eat for breakfast. Subject verb I FEAR YOU.”

 

He picked up the collapsed metal trash can I had kicked. The bottom had busted out.

 

“Does this look familiar?”

 

What the fuck is anyone supposed to say to that? No? It Will Get More Familiar Little Fucker?

 

“Uh, yeah.”

 

“Ms. Price says you kicked this across the room, and that it almost hit somebody.”

 

“Ms. Price is not telling you the whole story.”

 

“Oh my God, you’re right.” [You’re=being told what you are] “There is no way this is what I actually said. What I actually said in response to you saying ‘Uhhh’ for the umpteenth time since this interrogation began is that You Have To Learn To Control Yourself. Then what you did was stand up and intimidate me. You began to stand up on the desk and I told you to calm down, perhaps we could work this out. You stared directly over my left shoulder as I told you to go back to class when the bell rang. You walked home and intercepted the message I had left on your parent’s answering machine saying you were suspended, and to call me. You wished there was some way I could have known you wished your parents didn’t both have to work. You wished your Dad didn’t work so far away, and that he didn’t come home drunk some nights. You wished he hadn’t crashed his truck last month. You wish you could tell someone that you were worried he was dead for a few hours after you got a static-y cell phone call from somewhere off of Vasco Road and all it was just him moaning “Son…….son…….”

 

You got suspended. You served your suspension with your Mom, helping her out at the day care she worked at. You hated the kids she was paid to care about, sheer jealousy. You hated that she seemed disappointed in you. You hated having to be quiet during nap time. You hated everything about it, but you loved playing with the little kids. You were so glad you were serving your suspension with your Mom, and not your Dad. You didn’t want to go back to Eighth Grade. You wanted to hang out with your Mom, and teach songs to children. You were thirteen. Fuck.

 

You went back to school.

 

You started writing yr.

 

Yr still angry, but yr still writing, and yr Mom and Dad are still alive, and y can still make right with them, and with yrself.

 

Yr lucky.

 

You are lucky. You.

 

-12:29AM, 1/27/12, home, angry, lucky, duh

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4 Responses to “Seventy-eight”

  1. Bethany said

    I know that saying I liked this is a useless comment, but I did. Anger like you described here happens for me often, and you spoke my heart. Thanks.

    • ilbebe said

      Hey, there is nothing that isn’t worth writing down. There are some mean comments better left unsaid, but when we take the time to write down our ideas and feelings, there’s usually enough distance to say what you mean without being agitating. I always appreciate yr feedback, B. Yr like my counterpart in the Capital:)

  2. Yes, let’s talk about all those things you wrote down…. Do you still have that BINDER FULL OF FUNNY CARTOONS OF ALL THE BOYSCOUTS AND THEIR PARENTS MAKING FUN OF THEM ALL?

    • ilbebe said

      Oh yes, the binder is safe and sound in my private vault, i.e. closet at my Mom’s house. It’s being kept company by all sorts of other odd shit I don’t need to have in my apartment, but can’t seem to bear to get rid of. Perhaps I’m more materialistic than I’d like to think. Or maybe I’m just saving all of these bizarre and varied artifacts from my past for the day when they turn my childhood home in New Hampshire into a museum.

      Jeez, am I materialistic and egomaniacal? Too much coffee…

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