Untotaled: Stepping 40 (May 19th, 1967) Last Day of School ’67… November 15, 2014

 Jonathots Daily Blog

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(Transcript)

How does one describe the last day of school?

I suppose I could use the word “rapture” if it weren’t so entwined with the religious phenomenon.

I could use “orgasm” if it wasn’t so linked with what would be misconstrued by prudes.

So I guess the best word would be “carnivale.” Not that I’ve ever been to one–I’m just assuming the wild, abandoned glee over not having any more pressing responsibilities pushing in on you, realizing that there are a full eighty-eight days of summer ahead.

I never liked to be the first one to leave the school on the last day.

I liked to hang around for a few moments to walk the empty halls, with little clumps of dust still tumbling along, and discarded papers left to the discretion of the overworked janitor.

So by the time I headed home, everyone was pretty well gone, and it wasn’t until I got to my front door that I remembered I had forgotten to pick up an English book which my mother had insisted I bring home, because she had paid eleven and ninety-nine to purchase it because I had misplaced the provided copy.

So I had to weigh my options. My mom’s anger, or returning to the school I had just gloriously abandoned.

I walked back.

The door was still open and as I entered, there was an eerie sensation which crept down my spine at being in this empty edifice of learning, now so silent that you could hear the creaking hinges on the door.

I made my way down the hallway to Mr. Marshall’s English class, which also, miraculously, was still unlocked.

I crept through the door and walked to the storeroom where I knew he kept the books. I gently turned the knob, crossing the fingers of my other hand, hoping that it, too would be accessible. It was.

So I flung the door open in glee, only to discover that in the shadowy confines, not yet lit up by the overhead bulb, was Mr. Marshall, shirt unbuttoned, kissing Miss Crowley, the biology teacher, who had her top off, showing her “booba-toobas.”

(I developed the name “booba-toobas” in an attempt to be unique and humorous, and even though it was silly, I persisted in the terminology since a cheerleader once giggled upon hearing it.)

Honestly, in my entire life’s journey, I have never seen three people so frozen in time. Mr. Marshall, Miss Crowley, and dumb me, peering at one another.

No one knew what to do.

Finally, Miss Crowley grabbed her blouse to cover up her left “tooba” and said, “Jonathan, what are you doing here?”

I gasped, “I came to get my book.”

“You want a book?” she inquired.

Apparently my quest for knowledge was more surprising to her than being found in a closet with her paramour.

Mr. Marshall disconnected himself from the human apparatus, put his arm around me and walked from the room out into the hallway. He stood there looking at me for a long time. I wanted to say something but everything that popped to my mind seemed dangerous.

At length he sighed and said, “Well, Jonathan, we have a situation here.”

I nodded.

“Tell you what I’m going to do,” he continued. “I’m going to treat you like an adult. I’m gonna believe that you’re going to walk out of here with your book and never say another word about what you saw.”

Leaning in close to my face, he punctuated, “Because if you did, Miss Crowley and I would probably get in a helluva lot of trouble.”

I knew he meant what he said because no teacher would ever use the word “hell” in front of me unless he felt I was worthy to join him at the local bar for a drink.

All I said to him was, “I won’t.”

With this, I took flight out the door, running as fast as my fat legs would carry me.

I know he must have thought he was sunk, but on the way home I felt so grown-up.

I was trusted.

For the first time in my life, I was to be taken at my word without the threat of punishment.

And you know what?

I never did tell.

Even a month later, when my friends came over to sleep at the house and we watched “Chiller Theater” and everybody was getting real honest, I bit my lip and the side of my cheek, and stuffed a lot of pizza into my mouth to keep from blabbing.

When I returned to school that fall, Miss Crowley was gone and I heard she had gotten married over the summer–but not to Mr. Marshall.

The grown-up world is very confusing.

I never told anyone until this day, even though I have used memories of Miss Crowley’s “booba-toobas” to stimulate a few sessions in youthful lust.

 

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Mistaken Identity … November 28, 2012

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It happens–just never twice in the same night.

But last evening I got a double dose of mistaken identity. It began with a lady coming to my table and asking that frightening question. “Do you remember me?”

I always dodge it by saying, “You look familiar,” hoping that the person will fill in the details. She did. She was quite convinced that I had been the DJ at her son’s wedding. As I contemplated how to contradict her assertion, she launched into details about the reception, the recent birth of children and what name these offspring referred to her as when lovingly addressing their grandma. We were in the full swing of a mistaken identity–one which I had no idea whatsoever how to escape. So please pray for me–I went along with it.

She came back two or three times, reminding me of certain aspects of the evening which she felt we had shared in common, and once even brought along the sponsor of the concert, to share the irony of our re-crossing paths. He looked a bit bewildered as she told her story and squinted at me for either confirmation or denial and I just sat there with a blank look on my face–similar to someone who just discovered he was one number away from winning the lottery.

On the heels of my proposed DJ performance, another man came to the table and said how glad he was to see me again, because he had enjoyed me so much last year when I was performing at the Lexington Civic Center. Once again, before I could jump in and point out that I had never been to the Lexington Civic Center, he recited the details of my performance, including a duet I had sung with a young black boy. Once again, I was unable to escape and found myself in the midst of a great nod-fest.

Mistaken identity. I know I probably should have corrected these folks, but you see, at the heart of this particular event is a blessing. People meet you for the first time and really want to establish a connection, so they go ahead and manufacture one based on a similar experience they once had with someone who might have resembled you. I think it’s just a way of saying “I love you” without having to mouth the words.

Matter of fact, maybe the world would be better if we had MORE mistaken identity. If all bigots believed that black people were Denzel Washington and Oprah Winfrey, maybe there would be less prejudice. Those who have problems with the gay community may wish to project that all gay men and women are Rock Hudson and Ellen DeGeneres. How about politics? That’s easy.  All Republicans are Abraham Lincoln and all Democrats are Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

It may be a bit embarrassing when we do discover that all people with long hair, playing guitar are not the Beatles, but in the meantime, it might increase our toleration for one another and project some love out into a world that is starving to death for some of that good stuff.

I occasionally get mistaken for someone else.  Last night it was a DJ and a performer at a civic center. That’s not bad.  It has been worse. One night long ago in Michigan, a guy was convinced that I was the janitor at the local Goodwill store.  By the way–that one I denied. Sometimes people project that I’m Orson Wells or Dom Delouise or any one of a number of fat, aging men. Interesting though–so far, no Brad Pitt.

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