I spent most of the day putting out office fires and rifling through all of my childhood memories like a Rolodex. Who uses one of those anymore? The embarrassing ones always seem more vivid. Shame was used to keep children in line. Remember “Another Brick in the Wall”?
When we grew up and went to school
There were certain teachers
Who would hurt the children anyway they could
Instead of the teachers, in my case, it was the students.
Masses. Everywhere. Animals. Inmates. Terror.
The best thing for a kid like me to do was to blend in and not get noticed by the unchecked, vicious little bastards teachers would do little to stop.
Public servants. 30 and out. Make no waves and live to be paid another day.
In classic, tragically-humorous fashion my younger years were wrought with fear and anxiety. I think it made me question life far sooner than my contemporaries, as it simply seemed surreal. One of the more laughable things I began to panic about was the thought I was the only person on the face of the planet with flatulence. Yes, I thought I was the only human being that could fart. How I arrived at this supposition was an evening of balancing myself, end up of course, against my parent’s rust-colored couch. After finally being able to put my feet on the ground over my head without rolling over, I quickly celebrated with a trumpet fanfare from the posterior section of my body.
What was that noise? Oh, God, why does it smell?! My child brain raced to remember if this had happened elsewhere. No. There were no other recorded cases of this phenomena before. Please don’t tell me I’ve been “gifted” with this ability. I want a refund! Surely, I had never heard anyone else break wind before. I was the first case in my experience. This was not good. This was mortifying.
So, months went by and I kept that little paranoid gem to myself. Sneakily, I was trying to pull information out of other people to see if it was something common to humans will little success. My speech skills aren’t stellar, and interrogation was never my strong suit but I couldn’t let any of this top secret information out. I would never have a moment’s rest from the little savages that sit next to me for 8 hours a day. After several awkward conversations, I became discouraged. How was I going to cope with this gigantic, red F carved in my chest?!
For a long while, I was able to keep things under wraps, until the mythological tricksters of the school decided to change all that in Mrs. Shadel’s Social Studies class. I remember the subject because the books were so ridiculously thick. How were we ever to get through all of that? Anyway, I was called on to read a passage from the book. This wasn’t possible, since it was stored neatly under my seat on the suspended wire rack. Little did I know I was about to demonstrate to the world my musical “talents.”
I leaned over and put a hand on that brown-paper-bag-covered textbook only to let off a noise that would make a foghorn jealous. Frozen. I couldn’t move. A tear formed in the corner of my eye, as if I watched the ending of He-Man & She-Ra the Movie: Secret of the Sword (shut-UP, I loved that movie ಠ_ಠ). A commotion started with jeers, laughter, chiding, and all sorts of hate directed at me: the easy target. The stooge. The not-good-enough. The reject. The scapegoat. All the noises began swirling in my head and I shut my eyes to black out their faces, until I heard a voice silencing them all.
What was this? A reprieve? Was it over? Can I go back to thinking about social studies now? Not quite.
“All right,” said Mrs. Shadel, “I’m going to count to three and you’re all going to get it out of your system.”
Fuck… it’s a firing squad.
At least the noise was uniform, albeit painful. After about five seconds the teacher cut them off and went back to the lesson. I can’t remember what it was. I was too preoccupied to function. The day was ruined, and I just wanted to go home. There were a few stray insults after that, but the simple minds finally got distracted with something else. I was free to disappear… and forget… until now.