Misty-Water Colored

A Twisted Family Tradition ~ The Lime Jello Brain

I remember my eighth grade teacher.  And my sixth grade teacher.  I’m having a harder time with the seventh grade teacher, because that time was in the south, and I never really fit in with those folks.  Truth be told, I never fit in anywhere, but in the south the outcast feeling was more pronounced.

My sixth grade teacher was a great guy.  Nice guy.  Fun teacher.  Sort of an easy-going, relaxed teaching style.  I learned a lot.  I’d be hard-pressed to tell you what subjects I had with him now, more than thirty years later, but I remember homeroom.  Does that count?

In eight grade I returned to the school from the deep south, from being outcast, from being the alien amongst the natives.  I need not go into the reasons why that was true, but it was.  I remember the gentle nature he had, how he was patient and encouraging.  I enjoyed my time in his class.  He taught math, I think.  The math teacher I’d had in sixth grade moved on to be dean of discipline for the high school I eventually attended.  But my eight grade homeroom teacher and math teacher, and a couple of other subjects as I recall, was as great a guy in a different way than the sixth grade teacher.

The seventh grade teacher was the upper grade science teacher.  So from fifth through eighth grade, he was your science teacher.  While I missed having him for homeroom, he was … different.  A portly man with a waddling throat and double chin, soft lard coated and more business-like than the others.  He took himself more seriously.  He was also part of a choir group at my parents’ church.  He had that unusual tenor voice heavyset men seem to have, and sang well.

Eventually, I grew up, finished high school, and set out on my long, winding and dusty road which eventually lead to continued failure and hardship.  As I wandered along this lonesome trail, I went out one night with a friend from school.  We both lived in the same crappy town, went to the same elementary school, but he went to the local public high school while most of my other “friends” went to the Catholic high school I attended.  I still saw him on a regular basis though, and one night I caught up with him and we went out drinking.

In those days, drinking was a specialty of mine.  I got warmed up at a place on the main drag of town, notorious among those of us who grew up in that particular burg for being a rough, edgy place of mafioso and drug dealers.  I wasn’t scared of anyone or anything then … not even bullets.  So we decided to go in and have ourselves a li’l drink.

It didn’t take a lot of liquor to loosen my tongue in those days, but it did take a fair amount to get me ripping drunk.  When I reached that point, my companion pointed out to me that our sixth, seventh and eighth grade teachers were sitting at a table not too far from us.  Well, I’ll spare you the gory details, but one whispered rumor led to another, led to another, and another.

Long story short, when my father roused me from my drunken slumber the next morning, I couldn’t find my glasses.  He was shouting about his truck — I’d borrowed his truck to go out because I didn’t have my own vehicle — and raging to know what I had done.  Then he stopped, mid-scathe, and gestured at my hand.

“What happened to your hand?”

I looked down.  My knuckles were scrapped, scabbed and red.  Both hands.  I quickly felt my face, then body … no bumps or bruises, no injuries I could find.  I looked at him helplessly, and shrugged.  “I don’t know,” I whispered, and realized I had no idea where my glasses were.

I don’t remember what happened that night, and I don’t know if I ever saw those men again.  I know I probably never will now, but I can tell you this — if there was an exchange of violence between us and them, they must have gotten the worst of it.  I found my glasses amid my bedclothes later, but never did remember what happened to my father’s truck or my knuckles.

It’d be nice to tell you that was the last time I ever got that drunk, but that’d be a lie.  I was just getting started and my inebriated escapades had only just begun.  But that’s the last time I couldn’t explain what happened to my physical person.

I still wonder after those teachers of old.  I wonder what they must think of me now, once a prize pupil, with their last memory (so far as I know) that of a raging, nasty drunk making horrible accusations in a full bar.  If they’re still alive, I hope they find it in their hearts to forgive me — but I wouldn’t blame them if they didn’t.

Not one bit.



8 thoughts on “Misty-Water Colored

  1. I’ll be surprised if your former teachers still remember you after some thirty years. I happened to cross path with my favorite middle school teacher the other day; I recognized her but she didn’t seem to remember me. I guess I was not special enough to be remembered and so life moves on.

    Indeed, the world moves on. I know those men are all into their 60s by now, but I would like very much to erase what I did. Or better still, have had the brains not to do it in the first place. 🙂

  2. You weren’t accepted in the south because you weren’t related to anybody in your class. You weren’t anybody’s brother or uncle or bruncle. You weren’t the result of inbreeding and well, to them, that’s just weird.

    Well, actually — I have no way of KNOWING I wasn’t anyone’s bruncle, but … still, it wasn’t that deep in the deep south. I think it had more to do with what they called my “Yankee Accent” and my olive-colored skin. Just a hunch.

  3. Oh dear. Not the best of memories, but you’ve come a long way since then.

    Well, thank you! I can only hope. 🙂

    I liked most of my teachers and they liked me. We got along better than I got along with the other kids for the most part. It bothered me a lot back then, but today I’m just really grateful that I got such a good education.

    I’m happy with my education too, but I can do without the crap I piled on it. And I wish I’d made better use of it while I had the chance!

  4. You are nut the chicken you suggested over at my place. Just saying. Very honest here. Give yourself more credit.

    I’m a bigger chicken than I let on. But I’m grateful for your encouragement. 🙂

    I grew up in the south. Born there. Never fit in. Who knows why. My dad is from New England and he has lived in the south for about 55 years and never had a spot of trouble with people. I don’t think he fit in exactly, but he didn’t care. He got along. And everyone but his second wife liked him. Go figure.

    Some folks are just better at that than others. I could tell you other stories of how I didn’t fit in where I was born too — including my household.

    Why don’t we fit in? Because we worry about it? Because we have some tick or trait that gets at others? I think this question is impossible to ever answer to our satisfaction.

    I’ve given up caring. I did care once, but that was quite a while ago. I just got to a point where I don’t worry about things like that anymore.

    If those teachers were thoughtful men, then they probably, (eventually depending on what transpired) felt sad for the bright student who seemed lost and they hoped (prayed?) that you would find that better self again one day.

    Oh, I can only hope so. And that nothing more than stupid words were exchanged.

  5. PS. I wrote a bit more of a response to your response on my blog.

    I’m grateful. I’ll take a look. (It hasn’t made it into my reader yet, though.)

    • I don’t know if it will make it into your reader because I edited my answer into your comment instead of as a new comment. Anyway, I like the conversation. Read when you can.

      Okay, I went and read, and I have to say thank you again. You’ve made me think about things in a different sort of way. I should respond to you but I want to take a couple of hours to think about my responses. You’ve made some thoughtful comments which deserve thoughtful responses; and please, you didn’t AT ALL offend me in ANY way. Have no worries about that. I’m grateful for the feedback.

  6. Oddly enough most of my teachers remember me, apparently I am the kind of person that leaves a lasting impression (ie emotional scars).

    I know your type, then. 😉

    It sounds like your drinking days were up there with mine. When I saw where it was taking me I managed to quit and I haven’t had a drink since 1991 or so. Just as well it really brought out my dark side.

    I wish it brought out mine. No, mine just brought out my stupid side, I’m afraid.

    Now during my kidney stone experience they put me on Oxycodone and while under its influence I insulted one of my daughter’s 9 year old friends enough to send her home crying.

    Ouch. That’s gonna be hard to explain to an upset parent. “Drug allergy” only goes so far, I’d think.

    I still don’t know exactly what or why I said what I did but it makes me afraid that I have such darkness lurking in me just out of sight.

    I can understand that. I’m capable of much more hatred than I’d like to admit to, and with the right releasing agent, things get ugly. My wife has stories, and I don’t remember any of ’em. But I certainly empathize with you on this one. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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