After 37 years, I am still in high school. It is a mystery to me how this has become my life. After all I do not know if being stuck in high school is the epitome of the American dream or a nightmare. Maybe I am repaying a karmic debt from a past life or maybe I am paying penance for the things I have done in this life- what ever the case may be, I am still stuck in high school.
I am currently sitting in a history class while students are taking a written examination that I designed with the intention of making test taking entertaining. Occasionally I hear small explosions of laughter as students read some of the more comical questions that I have inserted in between the more serious ones- “how many times a day did Abe Lincoln masturbate?” For the most part the room is so silent that I can hear the hum of the freeway which sits just behind the school. I am the Teacher of these students but at the moment I feel like them- stuck in a place that I do not belong. I am always perplexed by the similarities that I find between myself and my 15 and 16 year old students. It is true- I am twenty years older than most of my students but like them I am still pre-occupied with sex and what I am going to do with my life. It is as if a large part of me is yet to grow into this thing I often hear referred to as maturity. I feel as if I have never left high school, my body has aged but my spirit or soul is still stuck at 16. It is a difficult phenomena to explain- but as I sit here writing in my notebook and my students are taking their examination- I feel strangly equal to them. It is as if we should all just be friends and ditch school.
When I was in high school, the first time, I was an apparition. You could see my physical body but my soul was some place else. I was stoned most of the time and Teachers only knew my name because I was the tall lanky guy in the back who never spoke and was seen by all as being weird. At school dances I would get drunk on liquor that I stole from my fathers bar and stand in a corner trying to spy on couples who were making out. Sometimes I could be found lying in the school hallways, broken down into an agitated state of tears crying out “get me out of here!” I did not read a single book nor did I do more than was asked of me. I was preoccupied with blow jobs and death and not once did I get a grade that was higher than a C. My father had to pay off the principle to let me graduate after 6 years of high school.
Now some 20 years later I am still stuck in high school. Somehow the fury of the fates or divine consciousness has managed to transform me into a Teacher. It is like a great magic trick that has been performed in front of my eyes. The trick is on me and I stand there trying to figure out how the magician has created the desired effect. I am perplexed and can not seem to come up with an answer. I am in a state of absolute dis-belief. How did they do it? It just makes no sense.
“Do you like to sing in the shower?” one of my students asked me in the middle of class. It was an innocent question and little did I know that my reply might cost me my job. The class was being observed by three education bureaucrats, who sat in the corner of the classroom with laptops on their legs, into which they took notes about my class and my teaching abilities. The school I work at is trying to receive more funding from the state so the bureaucrats came to evaluate the school and see if it was worthy of extra funding.
“Of course I do,” I said. “What song?” she asked. “Beat It,” I innocently replied with out thinking first how my response would be interpreted. It was an honest reply after all- I have been singing “Beat It” in the shower for most of my adult life. I did not realize that I may have made a fatal mistake until I noticed the hanging jaws and the looks of dismay on all three of the state bureaucrat’s faces. They looked like three people who had just seen a ghost.
“The song by Micheal Jackson, you know beat it, beat it…no one wants to be defeated,” I sang as the class laughed and made all kinds of comments like “I’ll bet you beat it it in the shower” and “do you have a thriller after you beat it?” Trying to silence the class while digging myself out of the hole that I had unintentionally dug for myself I continued to explain that it gave me great pleasure to sing Micheal Jackson songs in the shower. ”They are just songs!!!” I said trying to imply that the thought of masturbation in the shower never occurred to me. One of my students, of course had to shout out- “I’ll bet it brings you great pleasure…… Teacher.”
For the rest of the class period I was terribly uncomfortable. The three bureaucrats in the corner did not look at me once and seemed to be no longer writing things in their laptop computers. I tried every which I knew how to prove that I was an exemplary Teacher- rather than some perverted pedophile- but I am afraid that the hole was to deep to dig my way out of. Students continued to heckle me about beating it in the shower while I lectured about the bad luck that seemed to bring about Romeo and Juliet’s death. Little did I know that I was also talking about the bad luck which might just cost me my job.
After school I was called into the Principle’s office where he sat me down with an abrupt and angry gesture of his hand. Immediately he looked into my eyes and said, “the state administrators told me about the sexually suggestive remark you made in class today and the ensuing inappropriate remarks that your comments provoked in the students. The administrators are very concerned about the level of Teachers that I hire at this school because of your suggestive comment. Now we may not receive the money that we need from the state unless you are willing to be subjected to investigation by the state to guarantee that you are suitable to be teaching our children.” I tried to explain to him that Micheal Jackson was one of my favorite performers and that I really did sing Micheal Jackson songs in the shower. I tried to tell him that my reply had nothing to do with masturbation- which was the farthest thing from my mind. He replied, “as a Teacher I expect you to be able to draw the boundaries between appropriate things to say and inappropriate things to say. You are a role model for the students and I trust that you have the skill to think before you speak.” I wanted to say that we should be able to be open and honest about everything rather than walking around on egg shells and deciding what is appropriate or inappropriate for others- instead I put my head down and apologized for my lack of tact.
While walking to my car I could hear students singing “beat it, just beat it,” while they made suggestive sexual motions with their bodies. One of my students yelled at me, “hey Teacher don’t beat it in the shower too much- you might grow hair on your palms.” And then there was a loud sound of group laughter. I got into my car and wanted to get away from the school as soon as possible. In my head were the final words of the principle who said, “Myself and the board of directors are going to re-evaluate whether or not you are going to be kept on as a Teacher or given a suspension until the investigation. I know that you are a good man but I question your ability to be a role model.” As I left the school property and turned onto the main road heading in the direction of my house- I started to cry. “Why was I always the one???” I repeated over and over as if I was seeking an answer from the universe. Then to calm my nerves I turned on the radio, which ironically enough was playing a cover version of Micheal Jackson’s “Beat It.” It was being performed by a high school choir from Nebraska.