Saturday, October 6, 2012

Withering Heights

So, here's the scene. A nondescript American 80's middle school; beige walls clad in high-gloss cinder block and red brick. Standard classrooms, with metal framed windows, the lower planes louvered out to precisely 14 degrees to let in just a swoosh of air. Thirty hormony kids, clad in jeans, Van Halen T's, corduroys, chamois button downs. Lots of bangs... First column, seventh seat back, three from the rear of the room.

I can still see my 7th grade English classroom and Mrs. B.  Although, truth be told, I imagine all of this through stylized amber-lensed glasses, and thus my memories are not meant to displace fact. My most honest, clear reflections can not be skewed by nostalgia; I never really studied or did much more to prepare for English other than attend. When I think back on it, I'm not sure I even read the books assigned for class. Suffice to say when tests or quizzes came along, I was less than ideally prepared. More to the point, I only gave a shit on test day and the day we got the test back.

Most days in 7th grade, I sat back in the corner praying to God for a snow day. And yes, I prayed for snow in October. In January, God may have listened, but I was asking for a awful lot when the leaves were still on the trees and Halloween was two weeks in the future. My prayers were generally along this theme; Lord, I willingly shall trade a snow day - today, right now - for the following; I will study/read/practice RIGHT NOW and for your effort - for this holy gift also known as a miracle - I will commit some future day to completing a good deed. Think "feed the poor" or "nurture the infirmed" or "take out the trash with out bitching to my mom about it". Apparently, God bargains hard and expected more, as I'm pretty sure my seventh grade year was a snow-free year. In fact, I think it hardy ever clouded up.

I asked God for other possible minor miracles, in case the weather thing was too ... mundane for His Munificence. I prayed for fire drills, teacher absences, teacher abductions, principal heart attacks, Communist invasions, and locusts. When I began to suspect God either didn't give a crap about my lack of effective study habits or was too busy busting up Apartheid, I started to wish to be imbued with my own magical power. I figured Big G could pass the heavy lifting off to me -- just give me a perk of two -- and I would miracle my ass into an A in English. Maybe I'd show some humility and just take an A-minus.

So the little attribute I began to wish for? Nothing major, just ... time stop. Yes, the ability to s-t-o-p freaking time. Hit the breaks, freeze the clocks, halt movement, instant "statuation" of Mrs. B. and all of my classmates. The way if figured it, I'd use the time while everyone else was frozen like Adonis to read the damn book assigned for class, or write the damn essay, or grind the damned vocabulary...
The hell of it? I swear God heard me loud and clear and granted my wish. But his gift to me was far more subtle than time time STOP. He granted me time SLOW, 'cause those English classes never quite stopped, but they sure as heck dragged.

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Please don't take me too seriously.