All my life I have suffered for my mutant abnormality, my friends. And at no time was my suffering worse than during my experience with the Conspiracy Indoctrination Institution known as the Public School System.
Most young mutants are ostracized early – weeded out like unwanted growth on a prized lawn, shunned and shamed into the fringes of the culture of the clicks -- all because their abnormality wouldn’t allow their square pegs to fit in someone else round hole.
Friends, I never even made it that far.
I was fortunate enough, however, that my experiences took place well before the practice of pushing mind-altering, zombie inducing medication like Pez became standard.
However this only meant that the alternative was an ever maddening repetition of segregation, isolation and loneliness.
Upon entering first grade, it became apparent I was to suffer for my mutation.
Due to what appeared to the taskmasters to be my refusal to assimilate into the machine, my academic career was to become one of compulsory solitude.
The reality was these teachers just couldn’t stimulate me enough.
Yes, friends – I demanded more stimulation than they were willing to serve!
I was simply bored with their teaching techniques – the method of flinging abstract facts and figures at a room full of kids – expecting it to stick in their brains, to be regurgitated onto standardized test.
It wasn’t that I was a disruptive child – I didn’t get into fights or backtalked teachers, nor did I go out of my way to cause mischief. I could sit in my head for the length of the class period and be perfectly content to not move or utter a sound. I was no class distraction by any means.
I simply didn’t do my work. I was still learning however, as long as I was in the class, I still absorbed the information the teachers were flinging at me. But it didn’t matter to them – to them I was a disruption that needed to be removed.
So for the first 5 years, ‘higher education’ for me meant being locked away from the classroom.
Eventually to be locked up in what was essentially a prison cell – 4X4 cinderblock walls, one overhead bulb and a big, heavy door with a tiny window so they could watch me.
Or on occasion they would shake it up and put me on display with other ‘deviant’ children in a type of Carnival freak show. “Come see those who will be pumping your gas and filling our prisons in a few show years!”
For years, I thought this type of treatment was ‘normal’ – In three different schools in 5 years, the same thing went on. Utterly convinced that this was ‘normal’ schooling procedure, I never voiced my feelings to my parents.
Eventually they found out anyway, and finally put an end to the practice. In fact, they made such a big stink that the practice was altogether abandoned in at least one of the schools.
However the damage had been done on both sides. The schools, furious with me for daring to disrupt their perfect system ostracized me for the remainder of my academic career.
And as far as I was concerned, I came to understand just how good and fucked I had been all that time. And had about as much contempt, distrust, and loathing towards an institution one 10 year old could muster.
Any child in this situation would probably have pulled a “Trench coat Mafia,” or a “’Ginny Tech” at this point.
And yet, all was not a total loss – for “Bob” works in mysterious ways. No one knows for sure just how – or even ‘if’ the Sultan of Sale’s mind works. But I am convinced it was an agent of “Bob” who came to the aid of this young and impressionable mutant, preparing him for the trials he was about to endure.
During my first two years of Conspiracy torture and solitude, I had the good fortune of having an art teacher, who I shall refer to as ‘Teacher Joe.’
Teacher Joe was the kind of guy who would pull out his glass eye to keep the kids’ attention.
Teacher Joe was the kind of guy who plastered his classroom walls with posters of films his students weren’t even old enough to see.
A few items that stand out in my mind were a full sized “Alligator” marquee, a 12 inch Boba Fett doll in a birdcage, and the face of J.R. “Bob” Dobbs hanging next to his desk.
Teacher Joe actually made learning a fun experience. His wild and zany personality not only stimulated my brain, it led to ability in art and cast me into the ocean of creativity.
Teacher Joe took a special interest in me, seeing my inherent mutation and being aware of the solitude I was enduring on a daily basis. He would even go out of his way to ask the other teachers keeping me confined if I could assist him in whatever excuse he could come up with as a way of freeing me from that damn cell – even if only for a little while.
In reality, we would end up hanging out in the boiler room of the school, telling dirty jokes and stories to each other while I drew and he smoked cigarettes and graded papers. Imagine that happening to today and the stink it would cause in the community. It was my only salvation from the torture I was enduring.
Although he was my teacher for only two years, it was with his guidance that I managed to find the strength to keep my mind from cracking under the strain of all those years of solitude. With his teachings, I found the courage to defy the plans the Conspiracy had laid out for me – like whoring my talents to the highest bidder for some dipshit pink propaganda firm, designing the most recent titillating beer commercials.
Or ending up some fuzzy headed drink of pink piss on PBS – painting happy trees and contented mountain ranges. Or becoming just another stuff shirt, white collar designing the latest vertigo inducing monstrosity, or monuments to modern self absorption and spiritual abortion.
Through Teacher Joe’s help, I found the strength to do what I wanted to do – to hold on to my Slack – no matter the consequences.
I am convinced that Teacher Joe is/was a follower of the teachings of “Bob” Dobbs, coming to the aid of a young mutant in his most desperate hour – giving him the tools to use later in life in his quest to know true Slack.