Growin’ Up: Part 3–Why I Pushed My Beloved Into a Pile of Dirt

This is the third in what I hope becomes an entertaining series of adolescent recollections.  You see a lot of stuff when you’re young–some good, some bad, some happy, some sad.  Some involve pushing the girl you like onto the ground because you don’t know what else to do.  

One fateful third grade day, in the chaotic moments just before class ended and students were allowed to gather up their belongings (i.e. manically stash all their shit in their desks), Mr. Saddler, chrome-domed and four-eyed “teacher” extraordinaire, took it upon himself to plunk his ample Montgomery Wards’ slacks-clad bum on the desk next to mine, scoop up my unguarded yearbook (I had, in the commotion, momentarily stepped away) and peruse it as if it were his, not my, personal property.

Combing through our class’ section (the annual was organized not just by grade but by teacher), he noticed the heart I had carefully and affectionately drawn (with my best blue pen, I might add) around the lovely image of my beloved, Jennifer Drury. Seeing this, a wholly private expression of intense, longing emotion, old Saddler-bags himself slovenly sat there chuckling and giggling.  CHUCKLING & GIGGLING!  This drew the attention of one Eric Marcaccini, who I knew to be fleet of foot but only then realized was snakelike too, who peered around the chubby, shiny headed, cheap-loafer wearing “educator” who was illicitly enjoying my intimate secret (I hadn’t yet revealed my “like” to Ms. Drury or anyone else).  Is it me, or is that, like, a serious breach of teacher protocol? Continue reading

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Growin’ Up: Part 2–The Flexed Arm Hang is the President’s Evil

President Lyndon Johnson foresaw the end of th...

LBJ: Purveyor of Gym Class Horrors (Image via Wikipedia)

This is the second in what I hope becomes an entertaining series of adolescent recollections.  You see a lot of stuff when you’re young–some good, some bad, some happy, some sad.  Some involve gym class humiliation.

The Presidential Physical Fitness Challenge, designed to get kids up off the couch and to the highest realms of (alternately) glory or embarrassment, was a popular gymnasium fixture in the elementary school days of my youth. A minor part of President Lyndon B. Johnson‘s sweeping Great Society programming, and measuring performance in a variety of activities such as the 50-yard dash, pushups, and other displays of speed, strength, and agility, the Presidential Fitness Challenge was to the young “husky” boy an unadulterated manifestation of evil incarnate.

Most humiliating of all, at least for 8 year old me, was the “Flexed Arm Hang.” The idea was simple! Grab the chin-up bar, pull yourself up, and hang, for as long as humanly possible, with your chinny-chin-chin all the way up above the bar. Little Eddie so-and-so, who never struck me as the athletic type but did on second look have an unusually muscular upper chest, held it for 59 seconds just prior to my turn, setting the flexed arm hang “bar” high. I still set mine low, thinking if I could hoist my considerable mass up that high for a solid ten seconds I could claim if nothing else at least moral victory. I sidled up and hoped for the best. Continue reading

Growin’ Up: Part 1–Why Did Ed Ronson Make Rich Heschle Eat Dog Poop?

This is the first in what I hope becomes an entertaining series of adolescent recollections.  You see a lot of stuff when you’re young–some good, some bad, some happy, some sad.  Some involving pooch caca.  

All right, I’ll admit it, Rich Heschle was kind of a tool.  What was with the wavy, Hasselhoff-esque hair?  Dude, you’re 12!  And those braces…man, those metal works truly put the “brace” in “brace face.”  Still, he was just trying to do his thing, trying to eke out an existence in one of the least popular families in the greater Beaver Lake Area (his sister Nelly, though also considered “different,” would turn out, improbably, to be really kinda freakin’ hot).

But this poor bastard had to face the grief every, single, day, of, the, week, and often from Ed, who would sit right behind him, intrusively and loudly uttering “Ri-itch” in one ear, then the other, and adding to the ritual perhaps a sharp flick of the earlobe (or five) for painful good measure.  It got so bad that on more than one occasion I saw Rich tearfully flee from the bus.

One lovely and warm spring day, Ed appeared to turn over a new leaf.  Continue reading

Oh, the Persistence of Early Sexual Imagery: The Power of Charlie’s Angels

When the schlocky ‘70s action series Charlie’s Angels debuted in 1976, I was a tender and impressionable boy of five.  I responded immediately to the show’s good-gals-always-win plots, whereby the three foxy angels (magnificently played originally by Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith, and Kate Jackson, though Diane Ladd would replace Fawcett by season two), tackled crime with the force of specially trained super-agents and the style and panache of the most refined debutantes.  These hard-working ladies of law and order did triple duty: protecting Southern Californians from the dregs of society, providing incredible eye candy, and breaking down conventional gender stereotypes for one of the first times in television history.  Young as I was I had no conscious awareness of any larger societal theme, but as it turns out, those darned Angels have persevered in me while other wonder women have come and gone.  

During the show’s five year run, my interest grew larger and larger.  I was intrigued by the mysterious “Charlie,” the never-seen but richly-voiced proprietor of the Charles Townsend Agency, for whom the angels went to work after growing frustrated by their drab police desk jobs.  There was also Bosley, the angels’ liaison to Charlie, who didn’t often get into the thick of the action, but was always available to have a good chuckle after another plot was busted by the buxom threesome.  But mostly I was fascinated with those angels…how they managed to keep such perfect hair regardless of the situation, how they were able to perform incredible martial arts moves in high heels, and the way their derrieres looked in their tight-around-the-butt but flared at the ankle synthetic slacks. Continue reading