Sunday, April 12, 2009

That's Not a Threat, That's a Fact.

When I was in high school, my sophomore year US History teacher was Mr. Young. Mr. Young was, in fact, not particularly young. He was a middle aged black man whose favorite saying about his male pattern baldness was that he owned his own personal island. That's not the only thing Mr. Young bragged about. His tales usually included talking about his "lady friends."

For most of the year, majority of us in seventh period US History were convinced that his lady friends were high class whores. Regularly, Mr. Young decided to forgo the lesson plan (who needs to know about Kennedy's assassination anyway?) in favor of regaling us with his adventures in Ladies Man Land. We girls were usually offended, while the boys took it as an opportunity to suck up and go for a few extra credit points. One day after class, I asked my friend Hunter about it.

"Hunter, do you really think that he has that many women interested in him?"
Hunter laughed, "No. He's full of it. There's no way. Would you go for a guy like that? Of course not. He's totally making it up to be cool. But as long as I'm on his good side I'm going to pass. So, play along."

Play along we did. How much a teacher makes in a year, I don't know but it can't be much. Still, Mr. Young was sure to tell us how much he paid for his haircut ($65.00) and his shoes ($210.00). There were also regular degrading stories. The most memorable involves him loaning a dollar to one of his lady friends, who bought a lotto ticket, which won (not the jackpot, but a decent amount). Mr. Young instructed her to give him some of the money. (Asshole). So, when she left his house, he found three-thousand dollars on the nightstand.

Mr. Young was a typical pompous ass in all forms. His statements were usually followed by "That's not a threat, that's a fact!" even though it was usually his opinion. Marijuana should be legalized, "and that's not a threat, that's a fact!" His grammar was notoriously poor as well. It wasn't uncommon to enter the class room and be told to place your homework on the "opodium". Opodiums, a distant relative to the Opossum, are rare. So, it was natural that Mr. Young would have one.

His temper was volatile and legendary around the campus. Even after she had graduated and moved on, stories still circulated about Lindsey. Lindsey had graduated with my older sister, two years before myself. Legend has it that one day Lindsey couldn't take it anymore. With her mother breathing down her neck about getting the good grades to get the good scholarships to get to the good colleges, Lindsey was under a lot of pressure. Naturally, Lindsey was worried about her future, and the utter failure that was sophomore level US History was not going to get her anywhere. One day, in the middle of a story about his lady friends, his haircut, and his shoes, Lindsey snapped.
"What are we learning?" she asked. A valid question.
Mr. Young was flabbergasted. "What?"
"What are we learning in here?" Lindsey repeated. "As far as I know, this is US History. Not Mr. Young's Show."
Mr. Young stared in silence, his mouth agape.
"I don't care about your lady friends, or you 'two hunnerd ten dollah' shoes!" Lindsey loudly proclaimed.
The next day, she was in a different class. Against her will, and her mother's wishes.

By the time the end of our sophomore year of high school came around, Mr. Young had changed drastically from the original "fun-loving" guy he once was. Now, he slurred when he spoke often went off on tangents that were not in his usual repertoire. And then, there was the day of the famous trip.

On the floor of Mr. Young's classroom lay a small white tablet. Fifth period made sure the whole school heard the story. When asked what the pill was, the class didn't know. So, Mr. Young did the only thing that made any sort of sense. He took it. As the class period went on, Mr. Young's behavior became erratic at best. He raged about the classroom, and was finally escorted out by a security guard when one of the students ran to the office for help. By the time we arrived for seventh period, a substitute was firmly in place with the instructions to not answer any of our questions.

Eventually, we found out more about Mr. Young. He spent his lunch hour parked in his Celica in the neighborhood across the street drinking. What had sent him over the edge nobody knew. At the end of the semester it was blatantly obvious that Mr. Young's contract was not going to be renewed. Though we'll never know the real Mr. Young, a lunchroom discussion led us to a unanimous decision. Despite his talk of lady friends, partying weekends, and good friends, Mr. Young was really just a lonely older man with no real friends or love of his own. We felt pity for him, but at the same time we found it interesting that he would strive for approval from a bunch of sixteen year olds. Heaven knows he couldn't have picked a tougher group of people to try to get acceptance from. While we may feel a little guilty, when I do see my friends from high school now, we still joke about Mr. Young and speculate on where he ended up. And that's not a threat, that's a fact.

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