At one point, I imagined myself standing in front of the podium after winning an Oscar for Best Actor in a motion picture. I already planned my speech, it went like this:
“Thank you so much for this honor. I grew up watching and revering some of the people who have won this award before me and am in awe of standing in front of my heroes. It is truly amazing that a kid from a steel mill town, armed with nothing more than a chip on his shoulder and a desire to perform, can be honored tonight. To all of you who helped me, and you know who you are, I say thank you. For those of you who doubted me, I say thank you. This award goes to Mr.B, my American Literature teacher, who told me in high school that I would be wasting a college’s time, and that I would never amount to anything….you can kiss my ass!”
Mr. B was balding, wore glasses, and looked like a hobbit with a half-ass make up job. Better still, when he spoke he sounded like Elmer Fudd. He said this was a result of not learning to speak until he was four. (I wish he never learned.) Mr. B was a very intelligent man; trust me he would tell you just how intelligent he was. I knew nothing of him prior to being in his class, but my opinion was swayed when his first words to me were, “Whatever you do, never call yourself a student.” Then went on a fifteen minute tirade about how that word was designated for those children who actually engage in study. Basically he just called us a bunch of hapless morons.He then began to take roll and found my name. I remember him pausing for a second. He asked me if I had older brothers. I told him that I did and said their names. “They were both idiots. Chances are you are no better than your family.” I don’t know about you but that makes me want to be successful in his class!
I loathed that man with every fiber in my being. If it wasn’t his sharpshooting my family, it was his pot shots at kids in the class. He told one girl that she
would be better off working the streets than trying to look for a job. He looked at us as if we were the unwashed masses, because we were not AP students. Honors and AP students, were treated far differently by him. I remember seeing and hearing them enjoy his class while the rest of us had to suffer through his abuse. I remember the day that he espoused his summation of me and my prospects. I had just come back from a college fair in St. Louis and was browsing through some of the college material that I received. At this point in my life, I had no direction when it came to post high school education. I figured I’d serve in the military and then figure it out later. But I was fascinated about going to college. Leave it to Mr. B. to support me in my endeavors.
“Why are you looking at Universities?” He asked.
“Trying to figure out what my options are and where I might want to go.” I said.
“It would be better if you left college to those who are actually going to matter.” He retorted.
“You would be a waste of a university’s time and resources. Why take that opportunity away from another young person who could actually do something with their education?” He then took the pamphlets from my hands, tore them in half, and threw them in the waste can. He asked why I was angry? Saying, “Your never going to matter anyway.”
It took everything I had not to knock the arrogance right off his face. I knew that if I did, I would prove everything he ever thought of me to be true. So, I sat in my rage. It became the fuel for my fire. Igniting a fire in me that developed the chip people tend to see on my shoulder. Some would say that he was hard on me because he believed in me. I call bull@#$% on that one! No one is ever motivated by abuse. That’s like throwing racial slurs around claiming that it motivates people to rise above. Those who believe in tough love usually don’t confuse compassion and contempt. The only thing Me. B showed me was that he was a classist snob. He was a bully, a gutless coward hiding behind his desk entranced with the meager trappings of power that came with it. I wish I could say that his words had little meaning in my life. But the abuse that man spewed on me on a daily basis had a profound effect on me.
“Kiss my ass Mr. B” I said when I got my high school diploma.
“Kiss my ass Mr. B” I said when I received my Bachelors’s in Theater.
Kiss my ass Mr. B” I said after getting my second Bachelors in Secondary Education.
“Kiss my ass Mr. B” I said when I walked across the stage gaining my Masters in Educational Leadership.
“Kiss my ass Mr. B” I say every day I stand in front of a classroom full of kids.
Like I said, it had a profound effect.
As always, Thank you for reading Tales From The Red Pen. Until next week, I bid you Adieu.