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The Long Road To Fifty: 13

June 24th, 2014

I won’t pretend that my junior high experience was in any way unique. I’m sure that many others suffered as much if not more of the bullying and humiliation I felt.

And, as I suggested a couple of posts back, in hindsight I can see that I was at least in part responsible for my alienation. If I had only one opportunity to give my younger self advice, I would say this: “At least try to give a damn about the way you dress.” No, it wouldn’t have solved everything, but I think that not showing up in garage sale cast-offs would’ve given me more confidence.

8thgrade

Gym class was predictably traumatic, providing a showcase for both my lack of coordination and Ed Asner-ian thicket of body hair. My classmates dubbed me “Captain Caveman.”

The smaller of the two gyms at HJHS was a sunken pit covered in rubber wrestling mats and surrounded by several levels of concrete seats. It had all the character of a gladiatorial arena, though if lions were ever released, I was absent that day.

But even the institutionalized abuse of P.E. paled to the absolute nadir of my junior high school days: Mrs. Schuster’s 8th grade science class. It wasn’t so much that she was a terrible teacher. (Though it’s telling that she appears in neither my 7th grade nor 9th grade yearbooks.) It’s that she had no control over her classroom. At least gym class came with a certain expectation of discipline, but every hour spent with Mrs. Schuster was like Fresh Banana Day in the monkey house.

Ironically, the one time I received corporal punishment was over an incident in her class. A classmate was kicking me under the lab table, and when I kicked back, we were both sent to the Vice Principal’s office for a paddling. Where was the justice, I ask you. WHERE WAS THE JUSTICE?!?

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