So, you are wondering about question #5 on the Monday Mission, aren’t you? How exactly did it come to pass that I would be lighting a match in class “accidentally?”
Well, I remember it just like it was yesterday (cue the harp music and wavy lines….)
I am thinking it was 6th grade, and at that time I was into fire. Yeah, child of divorced parents, working mom, latch key kid, lots of un-supervised time alone, you get the idea. Remind me to tell you about the bush I set on fire that almost burned down a house. Yes, I was a troubled child. So, I liked to burn things, and in my backyard especially. Mom smoked, so lighters and matches were always available. I’d build plastic model cars then do my own car crashes. I’d position them, snap a pic, move them closer, snap, make a crash, snap, light them on fire, snap, and so on until I had my own stop-motion movie. Now that I think about it, when Mom had the film developed why didn’t she ask about those. Hmmm. Anyway. I had a matchbook and I had taken an Elect Alfred E. Newman sticker (from MAD magazine) and put it on the cover so it looked like it was an official campaign piece. OK, why I thought to do this I will never know. But to be safe, I covered the red tips of the matches with “Liquid Paper” so they
were totally white.
I took them to school. I played trumpet but was always last chair (yeah, I just hated to practice, and it showed. Oh I tell you, I fought hard to keep 7th chair). So I was showing these to a trumpet player who was just a little better than me (how else does one make 6th chair) and told him “No man, I covered them
with Liquid Paper, they won’t light.” Famous Last Words. So I decided to prove it, and swiped the match across the back.
You can not imagine my utter horror when it lit up!
It really was an accident, kinda, I had no idea the match would still light. And I didn’t set out to light a match in class. But there it was, on fire – in a classroom. I dashed it out. Now, hindsight is 20/20. I should have stuck the match in my mouth. Well actually, I should never have brought them to school. To make things worse, all of the band room doors were closed at the time. Now, anyone who has used matches knows the smell of sulphur in the air when you light one. It is unmistakable. And the band instructor was a smoker so it was only a matter of seconds. The band was playing and he smelled it. The stopped the class from playing instantly. He asked who the hell lit a match. And slowly my fellow trumpet players began to look at me. Slowly they turned. Then one of them pointed at me. Then all heads in the rows around me turned as the teacher shouted my name, ran over to me, jerked me out of my seat and tossed me into the hall.
He came back later and told me the options. He could call my parents or he would give me 10 swats. Um, gee, let me think. Hell yeah I am gonna pick swats! But who was the one that made up the options he offered me? Him? Probably. As a teacher he surely knew what any kid would pick. Maybe he liked giving swats.
We went to the music room next door, and I was scared as hell. He pulled up a chair, swung it around and had me assume the position. I had jeans on, and that is probably what kept me from totally loosing it. But yeah I cried. It stung. It hurt. It hurt like hell. The paddle similar to those you see in the movies used
in frat houses, but it was plain wood and had these holes drilled in it. I don’t know if that made it sting more or fly through the air faster, but the whistling sound it made before impact is one I have never forgotten. Ten swats later I was in tears and he told me to stay until I felt like I wanted to come back to class.
Yes, the entire class knew what was going on. They probably could hear the swats. But when I walked back in with bloodshot eyes and sniffle-y nose, I was greeted with several looks of sympathy. Those that dared to talk to me after class said they would have taken the swats too. I am sure they would have. It would have been nothing compared to what would await me at home.
Still, he should have called my parents. What I did was so stupid, I totally deserved the swats as well as the Wrath of Mom. Honestly, what would have been best for me would have been making my folks aware of this problem. He really did me no favors in the long run. At the time I was glad to take the short term hit rather than face the music. But maybe a lot of my later delinquent activities would have been thwarted. Or maybe not. Maybe I would have shop lifted, vandalized, and been drawn to the dark side anyway. I will never know.
Not that my Mom didn’t get called to come get me. Remind me to tell you about the time I brought a tin of nasal “s n u f f” to school to show my friends.