A number of the Associated Yahoo faithful will recall that, a few days ago, there was a content call issued for a most momentous back-to-school memory. When I saw the solicitation, I did the cyber equivalent of raising my hand and waving it around, saying, “OOH! OOH! OOH! DIBS!” For whatever reason (possibly having to do with my being on a computer other than my own) I was, like some famous guy in the Bible, thrice denied.
Well, no matter. The wonderful thing about this site, that almost makes up for the…um…”modest” pay-scale, is that a member can spout off about any damnfool thing that comes into his or her head and earn up to a nickel. That being the case, I am going ahead with my back-to-school article, william-nilliam.
The horrible situation came about at the start of my sixth-grade year. To understand the cause of my anxiety, though, I have to take you back to the previous grade.
I think it was an arithmetic book. As fifth-graders, we were far too young for that branch of the science of numbers I generally call Useless Math. No, this text dealt with every-day practicalities in the use and function of unadorned numbers.
Late in the year, we came to a lesson in the book about time zones. Since America is a very wide country, we have a goodly number of them. In fact, America possesses over 20% of the entire world’s time zones, yet our balance of payments gets worse and worse.
Be that as it may, we went through the lesson and came to the ever-popular questions at the end that school children love so much. When I saw the first question, I realized I had a solemn duty as an eleven-year-old boy to add to the world’s supply of puerile humor.
The question read: “Have you ever had to set your watch backward or forward on a long trip?” Out came my trusty pen, and, before I knew it, the words “set your watch” had been scratched out. In their place was a similar-looking, but far from congruent phrase. The end result was the all-important question: “Have you ever had to let a fart backward or forward on a long trip?”
I thought it was a real stitch at the time, then forgot all about it for the rest of the summer…that, is, until the week before school was to start back up. It was then I realized that a textbook, formerly in my possession, contained a filthy, dirty word. I had visions of the next student issued that book-probably some girl-turning right to that page, then running off to tattle on me.
Before I knew it, I would be standing before the icy stare of the most dreadful figure in my entire educational experience: Old Lady McNamara, the school principal. Now, that part was not idle paranoia. It wasn’t only the children who were scared witless of her; so were the teachers and the parents. For all I knew, President Eisenhower feared her as well.
I spent that week wondering if this might not be the time to finally run away from home, as all children threaten to, time and time again. Life would be hard on my own, but it could not possibly be any harder than dealing with Old Lady McNamara. Come the start of school, for my sixth grade year, I lacked only a prison guard by my side calling out, “Dead man walking!”
Of course, in my blinding panic, I didn’t pause a moment to think the situation through. There was no way the school would know which of those textbooks had been the one I used the previous year. And, even if they knew, the student who discovered the entry (even a girl) might just as easily have gotten a good chuckle out of it and gone on with the lesson…which apparently is what happened. As I received my rinky-dink diploma for getting a sixth-grade education, not a word of the altered text ever came to my attention. Whew!
Some defaced textbook