Tuesday, November 27, 2007

I'm the Reason God Made Oklahoma

Last night I was giving the kids a bath when I realized one of the kids had not flushed the toilet. This is really not that big of a deal, but still, after you stock the pond with brown trout, could you just flush it, please? It's just kind of an unpleasant thing to discover.

Sorry I had to tell you about that, but that jarred the words, "That's nasty" in my head, which in turn reminded me of being in 6th grade in Elgin, Oklahoma.

I went to most of my grade school in Iowa. Half of Kindergarten was spent in Pueblo, Colorado, then Davenport through 5th grade. We then moved to just outside of Lawton, where my parents heard that Elgin had good schools. I didn't live in Elgin, but more just north of Lawton. We ended up in the Elgin school district. First day of class, we're doing reading. In Iowa, I had been in an advanced reading class. As we're reading the book, I realize that I read the same story two years ago in Iowa. Right there in the middle of class, I go up to the teacher, and tell her this. Her reply was, "What do you want me to do about it?" I was pretty shocked. But then, I guess I had disrupted the class. What I wanted her to do was to send me to the class that was 2 years ahead, like they did in Iowa. I didn't tell her this, but instead sat down and basically, for the first time in my educational life, said "fuck it."

The powers that be decided that 6th grade was too big for just 2 classrooms, so they had this fabbed "mobile" that I thought was pretty decent that had an extra room, and they moved a third class of 6th graders into it. On the other end of the mobile was a classroom full of "mentally challenged" kids. There was a single-hole bathroom in the hallway between the two classrooms.

I've got allergies pretty bad, and have had them most my life. So I blow my nose a lot. I might have had allergies this one day, or just a cold, and I had run out of kleenex, so I was going down the hall and using the toilet paper in the bathroom to blow my nose. I would simply go into the bathroom and fetch some toilet paper. I was in and out, so I didn't close the door. One of the kids from down the hall was getting a drink at the water fountain and saw me as I was blowing my nose and said, "You should close the door when you go to the bathroom." I looked at him and said, "I was just blowing my nose." He said, "You should close the door, that's nasty. That's nasty."

I tried to explain to him again that I was just blowing my nose but he just kept looking at me saying, "That's nasty. That's nasty." I just moved it on down the hall back into my classroom.

I think that Oklahoma was one of the first times I became aware that there were two sides in this country. That is, the conservative and the other side. In Iowa, we probably had conservative teachers, but the cool teachers are the ones I remember. One in particular was Mr. McGarry. He was the science teacher. He made sulphur volcanos and did other cool shit, like giving us all an ice cube and seeing who could make theirs melt first. My friend, Sam, beat the shit out of his and we laughed at this violence. Sam won, though. Break it up into smaller pieces. I also remember we had to do some kind of science poster, and my friend Dan Cahoy and I drew this hippy with a broken acoustic guitar. We put this huge monologue next to him saying that since he broke his guitar it was important to pay attention to science or something. I don't even remember what it was about. Mr. McGarry thought it was hilarious though. I was surprised. But Mr. McGarry got it.

In Oklahoma, we had a music teacher who I thought was cool. She talked about going to rock concerts and told us about one she went to. I think she went to see the headliner, The Doobie Brothers, but she got to also see Pat Benatar, and Van Halen (and she thought David Lee Roth's name was Van Halen). Then we had to draw a poster for something. I immediately went back to the idea that got me accolades in Iowa, the dirty hippy poster, with the guy using "Man" and such in his dialogue. She was kind of shocked at this. I don't think she wanted a longhair hanging from the school hallway.

I remember that at least Scott, and maybe one other mentally challeged kid from the other end of the building got to go to music class with us. On Halloween, Scott wore a trucker baseball cap (mesh back) and that was his costume. I asked what he was supposed to be and he said, "A mechanic." All the kids got to wear their masks and such, but the teacher made him take off his hat, because you weren't supposed to wear hats in class. I thought that was very uncool. I thought she was picking on the mentally challenged.

I can't say it was all bad, though. She had us put on the play "Tom Sawyer." I got to be Huck Finn, and at the end of the year, the kid who played Tom Sawyer and me got an award for "best actor."

What can I say, it was definitely a unique experience.

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