Sunday 22 May 2011

Can Young Men Be Sluts

I think that it was the summer between grade nine and grade ten that I discovered the secret of getting by in school. No, it isn’t study and hard work, although looking back that might have been a good idea, but simply that there is really nothing that anyone in authority can do to you. I mean really, no one is going to put burning bamboo shoots under your fingernails or whip you with a cat-o-nine tails. The absolute worst that they can do is to suspend you which at the time didn’t seem like a punishment at all. What a revelation!

This realization came the same summer that I discovered the benefits of non liquid intoxicants. There may have been a connection. Be that as it may, I began grade ten with a light step and an even lighter heart. Bring it on! It turns out that freedom from worry isn’t the same as knowledge. I was still way over my head scholastically but I just didn’t care. Yes, that was the fatal flaw. I spent quite a lot of time in extra curricular activities called detention. I thought that I was funny and unfortunately so did my classmates. The teachers may have appreciated the humour, but not in their classrooms.

Most detentions were pretty much the same, put in an hour or so doing homework or some writing of lines or even just sitting for an hour. Not so Mr. Crawchuk the science teacher. The man was a true innovator and dare I say it, a genius! I am pretty sure his name was Crawchuk , not that it matters. His detentions were quite simple; all that you had to do was stand facing the wall and remain perfectly motionless for one minute. Cool, I’ll be out in two. Unfortunately it was Mr. Crawchuk that was deciding if I were motionless or not and people that he wanted to stay, did just that for as long as he wanted. The longer you stand in one place the harder it is, unless you happen to be a Beefeater. I can remember one time about twenty minutes into the one minute detention a girl named Jan Vincent who was tall, quiet and really just one of those invisible people came in with a binder in her arms and walked up to the front of the room where Mr Crawchuk was.

The next thing we saw or should I say heard was Mr. Crawchuk screaming “You ignorant slut, get out!” and her binder hitting the floor and sliding across the floor coming to rest beside Don James. We all turned to look and saw a crying Jan gather up her binder and run out of the room. Our eyes went collectively towards a red faced and very angry teacher who told us we all had another detention tomorrow for moving and to get out of his sight. Now, from what I understand Jan got an apology and probably a pass for the year. Lucky girl!

The reason I tell you this is to demonstrate just how little I cared. We had a major project that was worth 50% of the terms grade and were given three months to complete it. My buddy Ken and I were lab partners (bad idea) and had decided to build a model of James Watts steam engine. Pretty ambitious, but we did have three months after all and I am sure that  Mr. Watt didn’t take that long to build his. Well, the day before it was due, Ken and I went to the library and realized that a day and evening might not be enough time. We needed to scale down our plans.
We collected all of the tin cans from both our houses and bought a can of silver spray paint, collected a few pieces of wood, string and dowelling and in next to no time we assembled a model of James Watts steam engine. We re-wrote what the encyclopedia said about the steam engine (triple spaced for ease of reading) and even photocopied a couple of pictures. This is going to be great! I guess in retrospect we should have waited until after we were done to begin celebrating.

We dropped our project off first thing in the morning and were confident that come last period today we would be recognized as scientific geniuses. When we walked into the class, the room was lined with science projects of all shapes and sizes, all of them assembled except for ours. Once everyone was in class and sitting in place Mr. Crawchuk came over to Ken and I and said “ I managed to put everyone’s project together to save time, but for the life of me I couldn’t figure out what this is.” I looked at him and told him “It’s a steam engine of course.” I think I realized  that we were in trouble while he was laughing. You should always be careful when a teacher is being overly polite . “Oh, please put it together for us.”
We got up and arranged the dowel and string holding the can lids (pistons) over the cans (cylinder) and the large soup can (boiler). The whole time we were setting it up Mr. Crawchuk was giggling and rocking back and forth. I thought that he was beginning to lose his mind. He looked it over and took the minute to read the triple spaced report and said “In all my time as a teacher I have never seen anything quite like this. I’m not going to keep you in suspense, but will grade this right now! You get 20%! That’s 20% each which if you look at it one way is 40% which is just a hop, skip and a jump from a pass.” We still couldn’t believe what was happening! All of a sudden it was like the sky cleared and I saw the project from his perspective, it was figuratively and actually garbage!

“I’ll tell you what I will do boys.” He said with what can only be described as the look of the truly insane, “ You have till class tomorrow to do another project and I will add the marks for that and the marks from today together. What do you say?”

“Well, what do we have to do the project on?” We said a little sheepishly.

“You can do anything you want, and since it last period of the day you can leave early to get a head start on it.”

Well, you can’t ask for a guy to be any fairer than that. I mean he could have called us ignorant sluts. Can young men be sluts?


 The saga of The Man Eating Worm...

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