When I was in high school, I was bored. Some of the classes intrigued me and I went to those, but the ones that bored me, I skipped. For those, I would just show up on test days and take the test. I still scored well on the tests so my immature teenage mind didn’t see a problem with it. Apparently, to the mature minds of the high school staff, I was wrong. I spent a lot of time in detention for skipping classes.
I had one class called Advanced Math that covered Trigonometry and Calculus. The teacher was about as boring as a teacher could get. He had various nicknames like “Cowboy Kiley” or “Deputy Dog.” All I know is that he just went along with the book so I figured I could read the book just fine without him. I just showed up for tests. What made it funny was he never took attendance and never seemed to notice I only showed up for tests. What’s even funnier is that he was the Cross Country and Track Coach and never seemed to put together that I would show up for practice, but not for class. The funniest part is, I got an “A” in his class.
Teachers like that made it easy. Some teachers weren’t so easy. I remember my Physics teacher who always took attendance. His class was right after lunch and there were times when I really just didn’t want to go. He was the cause of many of my detentions. Personally, I thought he took it personally when someone lit a joint and passed it around during a particularly boring movie we had to watch. It was do that or sleep. Of course, he blamed me. That was the only class I ever failed.
That same Summer, his son was one of my merit badge seekers at Boy Scout Camp. He was a good kid and a smart kid and I passed him with no problem. On Parent’s night, you could imagine the horror on his father’s face to see me. I politely told him his son was wonderful and went on my way. It wasn’t the kid’s fault his father followed all the rules…and that I was too immature to follow them.
All of my truancies finally caught up with me when my parents received a letter from the school to meet with the Vice-Principal for what was to become a pre-expulsion meeting. My mom wanted nothing to do with it so it was only my dad and I that went. My dad was very angry with me, but I was still his son and he was prepared to fight for me.
We went into the office at the set time and sat in the chairs in front of the Vice-Principal’s desk. I was a little nervous because the reality of my choices was finally settling into my thick head. I was a smart kid, but even smart kids who don’t have a high school diploma are limited with what they could do with their lives. I screwed up and I knew it. Then the meeting began.
VICE-PRINCIPAL: What We have to talk about is very serious.
ME: My dad said…
VICE-PRINCIPAL: You need to be quiet. I’m talking to your father.
So I shut my mouth and let him talk. He talked about all my truancies, how I was wasting everybody’s time, and my disrespect for the school and the teachers. He went on for about ten minutes non-stop. Then he finished with asking my dad if he understood. My dad responded by pulling out a notepad and writing into it. He ripped out the page and handed it to the puzzled Vice-Principal. The note said, “I am deaf. My son was supposed to interpret for me, but you told him to be quiet. Can you write everything you just said down for me?” Then the Vice-Principal said something very stupid.
VICE-PRINCIPAL (looking skeptical): So you’re having me believe you’re deaf? Then why isn’t your son deaf?
I told you it was stupid. He basically suspected that my dad was lying. I tried to crawl into my chair because I was afraid of what my dad might do. I shouldn’t have doubted my dad’s handle on the situation. My dad turned to me and in his booming voice that was obvious with his speech impediment asked me to confirm what was just said.
DAD: Did he just say what I thought I saw he said?
I nodded my head in answer.
VICE-PRINCIPAL (looking a little worried since he heard my dad speak): What did he say?
I couldn’t help myself.
ME: So I’m allowed to speak now?
This was followed by a stern look and then he started writing on a pad of paper and handed the sheet to my dad. My dad nodded and we left. When we got to the car, my dad handed me the sheet of paper with a slight smile on his face. It said, “We will give your son another chance. I’m sorry for the misunderstanding.”
DAD: Don’t mess this up.
I didn’t mess it up.