January 7, 2018:
I felt for those picked-on kids. They hated recess as much as I hated class. Later in high school I visited one at home, a nice kid named Jeff who was helpless with sports. There I learned why. His mother wouldn't allow him to leave the house after school until he'd completed his homework. So he spent the valuable daylight hours with books instead of in the street with the neighborhood boys. It was the stupidest fucking thing. There was utterly no reason he couldn't do his homework after sunset forced the kids to end their day. He could have been more properly socialized, although like me he'd still be the kid who went to the special school. Still. It would have been a more full life for him. To this day I still can't fathom how heartless and clueless that mother was. She deprived her child of entire dimensions of his human existence. I'm sure he went on to fortune in Silicon Valley. Google says he lives in Palo Alto so that's about right. It also says he makes far less money than I do, so, there's another strike against his mom: it really didn't pay off after all. Why are parents so fucking inept?
In other ways they were profoundly foreign to me. I visited a kid in La Jolla whose home sat on property as large as my neighborhood park. I couldn't believe some family owned that much ground. His parents were professors; he was constantly bragging. "My mother speaks fluent French. I'm writing a novel." He was genuinely brilliant — he's now a professor at Oxford. I imagine he grew up to be a decent human being. It was the context of that abhorrent grammar school which made him a monster.
It astonishes me that as adults those kids look back at that school with fondness. I suppose it shouldn't: they had a very different experience to mine. After all it was designed for them. They were white collar boys and girls, I was the blue collar tough guy. The horrible fourth grade teacher Mrs. Schulman got it right when she said to me, "I know your school. I taught there as a substitute. You're lower class." Dead on about that, she was. I remember my mom telling me Mrs. Schulman had cancer. If true it does go to show that Life has a sense of justice. I hope she fucking fries.
I'll tell you a story which illustrates just how truly horrible those teachers were. In Mr. Brozewich's class the kids took turns bringing in vocabulary words for the class to learn. There was one little girl whose name I don't recall — she was only there for a short time, in sixth grade. The word she brought was "highball". Mr. B. asked her, "Where did you learn a word like that?" She answered, "My mom taught it to me." He told her, with a sneer in his voice I can still hear, "Your mom would teach you a word like that." She was gone immediately after. Either her mom pulled her, which would have been entirely appropriate. Or Mr. B. evicted her 'cos he didn't like her mom. I like to think it was the former but I have no idea. Whatevs. Can you imagine speaking to a child that way? In front of the class?
He was a John Bircher and he was nuts. He'd spent World War Two alone on an island garrisoned by Japanese soldiers who knew he was there. He was a meteorologist responsible for transmitting readings to the fleet, and he expected to die any day. You really have to think the experience altered his brain chemistry. His favorite game that he taught the kids was "goose" — you'd stick your hand up some other kid's asshole and shout, "Goose!" That brought him no end of amusement. I blame the island.