Tuesday, April 13, 2010

A bedtime story

I'm chuckling about a humorous tale from Junior High school. I was basically chased off school property by two future convicts and when they caught me they threw my bookbag in the millpond and then one of them picked me up (WWF was big then) and bodyslammed me. I'm glad I can laugh about this now because it wasn't funny at the time. I may have expanded on this incident in my book but I can't remember. I'm sure I called one or both of their mothers a whore to deserve this beating.
"Hey Kevin, I fucked your mom last night. She is such a disgusting slut!"
"Why you...you know my mom is dead."
"I don't care. I still fucked her. That whore!"
"Get him! Get Oggy!"

I would estimate that 97% of my time at PJHS was wasted. I would've been better off panning for gold in North Conway all winter. I wouldn't wish Junior High School on my worst enemy. And whatever I learned during tennis class wasn't enough to keep me from hitting the ball over the backboard. Will someone please come over and give me some competition. Take a day off from work. It won't kill you!
good night

Knives and Hippies

“Bring the blade through the carrot. Don’t chop. Slice.”
Kim demonstrates Food Not Bombs approved cutting techniques to Oggy, who watches mesmerized with a long knife in his hand and a pile of potatoes and carrots in front of him, seated on a box of community supported propaganda.
“I got it,” says Oggy. He wants to please these sophisticated organizers. They radiate an aura of togetherness that he has never encountered. They are actually working for no money, no reward, with no leader or schedule or funds. It feels improbable that these men and women would voluntarily choose to dig through dumpsters and flee the police not for a better meal for themselves, but a better meal for others. The little slice of their lives that Oggy has seen has touched him deeply. Robert, Kim, Gar, Bob and others were proving that an unconventional community could be grown, intentionally, consensually, peacefully without the benefit of electricity or a car or even the blessings of the state. Abe always cautioned Oggy against defining these conflicts with sports terminology, but he can’t help it. These Food Not Bombs volunteers are fighting a battle against all odds, all ideology, financial, cultural, emotional, legal and metaphysical odds…and they’re prevailing here at the corner of River Street and Levee Spur Road on a patch of browned grass with half blind homeless cripples carrying buckets of water from the river to the wilting community garden. They are prevailing over the state police and the local judges who blockade their efforts and the Mayor’s henchmen of assassins disguised as city council members. They’re winning and Oggy has not been part of a winning team since Middle School cross country track. For the first time in many years he is proud of his company, these revolutionaries, these iconoclasts, especially Robert with his quiet demeanor and soft, unobtrusive humor, never bullying another, merely pointing out his observations. Robert, a walking St. Francis of Assisi, healing the sick and oppressed, carrying buckets of soup across town to the hungry street denizens of Santa Cruz, And Kim compliments her lover Robert because she is assertive, direct, not afraid to offend, never backing down, loud, emotional, slightly embarrassed by her crooked teeth, an anomaly in California, a woman who spends no time on her appearance. He admires this first couple of grassroots organization. He loves them, especially Kim who is slender and gentle and recycles glass and plastic automatically, and washes out plastic bags to reuse, and always composts food.

10 Serving 40

Martin didn't show up today so it was me against the backboard. I think the backboard won. The junior high school kids stole two of my tennis balls. Does anyone remember when it was funny to say, "Give me back my balls."
"Mr. Henderson! Tommy is touching my balls!"

I get to overhear the conversations and I'm not as horrified as I expected. The kids are children, raised by overwhelmed parents and clueless teachers and administrators who now make growing up a legal matter, like bullying. With a few recent suicides that were related to harassment the schools have taken a proactive approach. Man, I wish there were an easy answer but there isn't. I bring this up because I could tell by some of the comments yelled across the court that the middle school has some kind of zero tolerance policy. Basically, if you can prove a kid was intimidated by another kid then the bully is getting suspended. Now, this is a serious thing for a 13 year old to absorb. In fact, the middle school has grades 6-8 and that means kids who are 12 or 11 with kids who are 14 or 15. One of the kids at the tennis court sort of freaked out and started hiding behind gates and squeaking like a dog caught in a trap. He was about 4 feet tall. The racket was like half as big as him. I'd say he was 11 years old.
What's my point? I think it's up to all of us to make public schools tolerable. I'm sure they serve some useful function, though I'm not sure what that function is, but they shouldn't also be a place of torment and fear, in my opinion. A school-wide bullying policy is a start, but it's like expecting the police to prevent crime. The only thing they prevent is repeat offenders, which doesn't help the first victim much. It's important to be positive role models. Most kids just ape the actions of their parents. Some have loose screws, like me, and can't be helped. This will all be sorted out in the next million years I'm sure.
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Man in the Van by Oggy Bleacher is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.