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By Jack H. Smith
Three Forks Voice 

Column: Stallin(g)

 


For pretty much the entire final semester of high school, I spent my first-hour class sitting in a chair in the attendance office. To this day, I say it was just a tremendous misunderstanding, but nobody wanted to hear my side of the story.

I should probably preface this story by saying when I was 17, I was fun to be around, but I could also be a little too loud and a bit obnoxious. Whenever I’m out in public and see someone that reminds me of myself in 12th grade, I cringe and almost feel like I should sit down and write apology letters to every one of my teachers in high school.

I still remember my poor creative writing teacher, who looked like she wanted to run out of the classroom when I crumbled up my test, jumped on my desk, and proclaimed that I was done with the school system and wanted to be a lumberjack. The class went nuts, and while it was a fun little tribute to Monty Python, my poor teacher might have ended up quitting after a full year of teaching me.

When the final semester came around, I didn’t end up taking a full schedule and would spend the final couple of periods at home or goofing around somewhere.

I was excited that I had Drama 2 as my first-period class and had what I thought was a decent relationship with the teacher. I was one of the leads in the school play the semester before, and he had finally calmed down about me adlibbing for about five straight minutes at the opening of the production.

Straying from the script was probably my first “strike” with my teacher, and the second is one that I still can’t believe I got in trouble for.

It was in first hour on a day when the drama teacher was absent. He always had the exact substitute, and she had her positive moments. Still, she was also very moody and peacocked around that she was important because her husband was a cosmetic surgeon like she was the one doing the operating.

We were on stage in groups doing rehearsals, and I had not memorized my lines. I was so sick of school that I was trying to do as little as possible. The sub finally called us for our performance, and I didn’t come over. She asked me what I was doing, and I told her, “I’m stalling”. I was trying to get a few more seconds to go over the lines in my head, but she ended up hearing something different. I’m not sure there is such a thing as a Southwest Wyoming accent, but if there, it involves people dropping the g at the end of the word. I’m going fishing, I’m going hunting, and I didn’t do homework and am stallin – if that makes sense.

As soon as I shut my mouth, she instantly started screaming and told me to go to the office. The whole time I was walking out of the auditorium, she claimed I had called her “Stalin.” This might have been the dumbest misunderstanding I’ve ever been in. I just wanted more time, and instead, she thought I called her a murderous dictator. I had a lot of names I could have called her, but that one would have ever come out of my mouth.

I got a stern talking-to by the principal even though I pleaded my case. This was strike two.

A few weeks later, the teacher was teaching us a technique he called “masking.” He explained that sometimes a script has a word that might need to be changed, like s**t to shoot.

He asked for an example, and I uttered the word in slow motion “buck”.

I thought it would be loud and clear what word I was referring to, and he would get a kick out of it.

It was like time stood still.

He turned red. He threw down his clipboard and marched me the 100 feet or so to the office.

He told the principal I had told him off using that famous four-letter word.

I could see how he would be mad in any other circumstance, but I had not actually said the word, told him off, and was simply following directions.

Once again, nobody listened to me, and I almost got suspended. Instead, they decided to make me spend an hour in a chair in the office where I would daydream. It was once again like time stood still.

Even though I meant no harm or disrespect, I tried to apologize, and he acted like a child.

This went on for months. I finally got back into the class, but he wouldn’t speak to me.

A few years later, one of his kids threw a house party and invited me when the parents were out of town.

As payback for my time in the office, I made myself a lot to eat and drank a lot of beer from the fridge.

I figured we were even now.

 

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