Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Giving Up the Ship

My 40 Year High School Reunion apparently produced much in the way of fellowship and reminiscence, to the extent that one incorrigible troublemaker volunteered to compile a set of "High School Memories," noting that the class after ours has done so, but it was lame. This, of course, sends me back to the memory bin, trying to locate some non-lame memories, but I find the pickings pretty slender.

Partly this is due to my multiple lives during high school. I have lifeguard memories that occurred at that time, but those were from the Downtown Nashville YMCA. There were girls I dated, primarily from distant high schools, possibly owing to a fear of gossip, or the instinct of self-preservation that realizes that breaking up with someone who is in your English class is Very Rough on the System. There are a number of Forensic Club memories, but I can categorically attest to the basic lameness thereof.

Besides, the best memories are about mischief made, and I was such a sweet kid, really I was.

Still, I believe that I held some sort of record for being tossed out of Mr. R's 8th Grade class, which was either technically in High School because it was in the same building, or technically not, since it was still Jr. High School. Whatever. Mr. R was an ignorant twit, and 40+ years has not dimmed that assessment.

I will leave aside the times when he said foolish things like "Rock and Roll is a Communist Plot." I seldom bothered to call him on things that everyone knew were stupid. But when he told the class that Earth satellites stay in orbit by balancing between the gravitational attraction of the Earth and Moon, my calm demeanor vanished and I said something like, "That's idiotic." That got me a quick trip to the library (Oh, throw me in the briar patch, Mr. Detention).

Then there was the pop quiz on the Revolutionary War, where one of the questions was, "This man said, 'Don't give up the ship!'" Sadly, I knew that it was a dying quote from Captain James Lawrence during the War of 1812, and that said ship, in fact, was given up shortly thereafter (though the words became a slogan used in the Battle of Lake Eerie). R had, as so many before him, confused that saying with "I have not yet begun to fight," which was from John Paul Jones, the correct answer to the wrong question. I said, "I don't think you have the correct quote," and R said, "How do you know who I'm talking about?" So I levelly answered, "All I know is that John Paul Jones never said, 'Don't give up the ship.'" My fellow students' pencils scratched the answer that R had been looking for, and I, once again, was ejected from a class that was trying very hard to make me know less than I already knew.

4 comments:

GL said...

Your Mr R sounds like quite a twit.

James Killus said...

Not all that atypical for a southern high school teacher in the mid-1960s, unfortunately.

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