Sunday, 17 March 2013

LEXOPHAGIA

Don't tell the guys this, but I was the one who called Ceecee "fat" and got us all detention in Grade 7 that one day...although I guess what would be worse than them finding out is me continuing to say stupid things...which I still do, you vinegar-swilling foam-keeper.

Sorry, I can't help it.

The thing is, I liked Ceecee. He was gregarious, somewhat socially inappropriate, and had my brother and me over to his house once. We watched Robocop (I'll never forget the part near the end where the bad guy gets melted with acid, because that was pretty messed up). He showed us the closet downstairs where his dad kept his stash of homemade root beer (heavy on the "beer", less so on the "root"). I shot a water gun at his brother's bass drum, and instead of losing his shit, he just asked me to be careful because the drum skin wouldn't react well to the water.

Anyway, cool guy.

That's why it makes no sense for me to have said what I did. The words just kinda came out. There we were, my classmates and I, getting changed after gym class. Ceecee finished up first, then in typical Ceecee fashion he turned the lights out in the change room on his way out.

I actually thought it was pretty hilarious. Not a masterstroke of comic mischief, but still well-played. Instead of going with it, though, we all feigned outrage. Seizing the moment, I called out, "Aw, that fat..."

With those three words, I condemned our group to afternoon DT and myself to years of shame. Mister Whatsit, the gym teacher, had been standing right outside the change room door and heard what I'd said. He burst in, clearly pissed off, and demanded who'd dared to utter such inconsiderate tripe. Those weren't his words: "Who DARED to utter such inconsiderate tripe?" It was more like, "Who said that?" in a disappointed tone of voice. Double whammy: I'd let down the gang and the teacher.

I wanted to own up. I really did. I couldn't remember ever having shied away from taking my licks, although I'd never done something so stupid and hateful before. So I kept quiet, and it was curtains for my innocently positive self-regard.

It's kind of disconcerting for me to be able to pinpoint the moment in my life when I knew that I was completely responsible for my own shortcomings; when I no longer had the benefit of the doubt; when I couldn't claim ignorance, immaturity, or the folly of youth to rationalize my misdeeds. I beat myself silly with the business end of my conscience for many years after that.

You'd think I would have learned to be more careful with my words following this incident, but I still make a habit of eating them, or at least stuffing my foot firmly in my mouth every so often.

Take Grade 8. I know, Grade 8 generally follows very closely on the heels of Grade 7. I'm not a slow learner--just a fast forgetter. Anyway, our English teacher, Mr. Startree, assigned some homework to us: we were to write a poem glorifying ourselves. He was writing out some verse as an example on the chalkboard, and right as he's getting to his crowning stanza, the one where he's supposed to say, "[All the ladies] ask me for dates," I piped up, "...kick my butt."

Again, I liked this guy. He's one of my favourite teachers ever...WAAAAAAAAY better than that teacher who made an attempt on my life and took my virginity...or was it the other way around? Anyway, good teacher. I wasn't trying to embarrass him: I was trying to make a lame-ass joke.

He was livid. "I expect an apology from you, later," he said. I forget if I was able to muster up the courage to deliver my mea culpa after class.

What's that? You want something more recent? Well, I'd rather not say...all right. One Saturday a few weeks ago, I was bowling 10 pin with my best friend. He was rolling like a pro, heading for a great score. Last frame, he hits a strike and a spare. He's ecstatic: he hit 231, a personal best. He's walking back to the seating area, beaming and blushing with pride. He's not one to brag, but you can tell he's super-chuffed about the result. Standing up, hand extended for a congratulatory shake, I await his approach. As we lock hands and eyes, instead of proffering the sportsmanlike adulations to which he's clearly entitled, I can't help but say, "You're a big fat poo-head, ya damn dirty poo-head."

I haven't slept a wink since.

I'll never learn.

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