Oh, OK, I suppose, "We're going to have to amputate your penis" might be worse. Also, "Man, we were so drunk! Remember that girl from last night? I think it was your mom!" However, those would be specialized situations not affecting the entire population. Back To School was for everybody.
Now, I realize there will be some lunatic in the crowd who will opine, "But, I loved school! Those were the best years of my life! I couldn't wait for school to start again each September!"
Shut up, you pervert. We're here to commiserate, not indulge your twisted memories.
The reason "Back To School" was so miserable a thing to hear was because "School's Out!" was the most joyous phrase ever uttered.
(Cue Alice Cooper!)
OK, maybe not THE most joyous phrase ever uttered. "We're not going to have to amputate your penis after all" and "No, that was your mom", etc., but still, it ranks right up there. Was there ever a kid who didn't know when the date of liberation was due? I used to mark it on the calendar in red ink. When I woke up on the morning of that final day in the school year, the knowledge that it would be the last time, for more than two months, when I would have to pay attention to an alarm clock, gave me a day-long orgasm.
(Yes, even when I was five. After I was past puberty, it only got more intense. On the day I graduated high school, knowing that I would never again be compelled to sit in a classroom, I had to change my pants five times.)
I'll be realistic, but only for a moment. It's possible some of you found worth in your schooling. I, on the other hand, detested every stinking minute of it. The only thing I ever wanted to get out of school was me. It was unrelenting drudgery, with the occasional stunning embarrassment thrown in for good measure, and the only reason I endured it for as long as I did was because my otherwise wonderful parents were adamant about me getting my high school diploma. While they were intelligent and loving people overall, they had a warped view of what they thought that piece of paper would mean to my future. I think they envisioned it as the key to opening doors behind which I would be allowed to swim in rivers of cash.
Not quite. I can honestly say that having a high school diploma has never meant a damn thing in my life. There has never been a job I've held for which producing that diploma was integral to securing said position. And the things I actually learned in school? I have no doubt I would have learned them more readily, and with a better attitude, had I been taught them by my parents, my friends, and/or via my own reading and experimentation.
My Mom, bless her, taught me to read before I ever entered a classroom. I have no doubt that she and My Dad could have combined to teach me everything else I learned in grade school. And by the time I hit the latter years of my schooling, I was a voracious reader who often played hooky in order to go to the library.
It's true. While other kids were at the ballpark, or swimming, or stealing cars, I was at the library with my nose buried in a book. I learned more when I skipped school than I did when I attended. I'm now indulging in self-congratulatory hoo-hah, however, and my apologies for that. The original thrust of this piece (if you'll excuse the pelvic image) was to reminisce about how hideous it was to face the prospect of having to return to school each year. Let's get back on track.
I'd be sitting in our living room, watching TV, and suddenly an ad would come on screen touting a "Back To School Sale". My Mom can tell you that I would literally yell at the television to stop torturing me. I felt it entirely unfair that my reverie would be disturbed by thoughts of impending doom.
(Of course, the fact that the clothes being advertised were the most un-hip and disturbingly geeky items of apparel ever seen had something to do with it. The miniature cretins seen skipping and hopping into the schoolyard, idiotic grins spread wide on their fallow faces, did not make it easier to swallow. Also, My Dad was likely to see such an ad and feel obligated to buy something for me to wear that would completely mark me out as an outcast. He had marvelous taste in clothing for himself, but not so much for a kid. He liked to trick me out in full three-piece suits, a regimental tie with a Windsor knot, wingtip shoes, and perhaps even a handkerchief in the breast pocket, which is all well and good if you're the son of an English Earl, but not so much when you're the youngest one in your class and being picked on to begin with, even without the added ammunition of a Little Lord Fauntleroy suit.)
There are no doubt some women in the audience thinking, "Oh, but you were so cute!" Well, that's the point. Boys do not want to be cute. Boys want to be tough. "Cute" is for sissies. And even the sissies didn't want to be called sissies. If boys had their way, they'd go to school in a leather jacket, an eye patch, a good crusty scar in some noticeable place, fingerless gloves with studs on the knuckles, some sort of weaponry hanging from the belt, and sneakers. Even the nanciest of nancy boys would not choose wingtips, for goodness' sakes. I'm not saying that the grooming lessons My Dad gave me when I was young haven't stood me in good stead; they have. I know how to dress well. That I choose not to do so most of the time is also a direct result.
I could go on, but you all know the bottom line - school was dreadful. There was nothing that happened in school that wasn't better outside of school. Sports, for instance, were fun, but in school you always had some ogre of a gym teacher forcing you to climb ropes and do other uselessly silly shit like that, when all you wanted to do was run around or throw a ball through a hoop. Is either one more intrinsically valuable? No, of course not. But that bastard would make damned sure you climbed the rope before you got to shoot some hoops. Outside of school? Shoot hoops as much as you want and not a rope in sight. Same for every other activity. Nothing was better or more fun in school than outside of it.
(I will now go against just about everything I've said by naming a few teachers who were wonderful. On the off-chance that you are still alive, I will let you know that if you see your name on this list, I'll gladly remove it upon notification. Disavowing any knowledge of you having taught me is the least I can do to repay you for your kindness.
I think that's about it. I could name a couple more borderline cases, but why drag their names through the mud?)
One last thing. There are now an alarmingly large number of schools that resume classes in August. I realize that the summer vacation is a vestigial holdover from a more agrarian society where children worked the fields on farms, but still... I would have blown up my school before allowing myself to be dragged back to class prior to Labor Day.
Do you have some wonderful and happy memories of your school years that you'd like to share in the comments section?
Soon, with more bitter stuff.