May 27, 2009

When I was back there in middle school

I loved this book when I was a kid. I can't wait to read it again. For free. On my Kindle, baby! Also available as a free audiobook, if that's the kind of thing you go for.

I don't remember much about it, so it will be interesting to see if I can remember why it spoke to me or what it said when it did.

What I remember most about middle school is hating middle school. I remember a kind of creepy PE teacher who, in my imagination, looked and talked a lot like Col. Kilgore. Rumor was, he was still going overseas and flying missions on the weekends.

We didn't have recess; we had "Recreation" every other Wednesday, and it was a pubescent version of the prison yard. There was a kid who was called "Dirt Ball," and he had a game named after him. Somebody would yell "dirt ball!" and everybody would pelt him with footballs, basketballs, baseballs, whatever. And he would cry. I don't know if he was dirty, but I'm pretty sure his family was poor. Ah, the innocence of youth.

Not my scene, even though I wasn't Dirt Ball. I hated it, so I asked Kilgore if I could spend recreation in the library instead. He looked at me as if I were a pathetic, greasy-haired little punk in clothes his mom made him. Which, to be fair, was not far wrong. He let me go, though, probably because I was beneath his considerable contempt.

As an aside: this was recreation, not PE. PE was worse, because Kilgore could not tolerate lazy, idle little schemers who wore their underwear under their shorts rather than a jock strap. There were spot checks. And he was very concerned with cleanliness. After PE, the communal shower was excruciating, and if there was horseplay in the shower, the punishment was to assume the pushup position, unpleasant enough at the best of times, even worse when you're twelve, in shower with twenty other twelve year olds, in six inches of plugged up drain water, holding yourself in the "up" pushup position and hoping your hands didn't slip out from under you in the scummy water. There wasn't a lot of horseplay in the shower under the watchful, watchful eye of the PE teacher.

I loved the library though. The librarian was a younger guy, soft-spoken, patient, tolerant. Polite but not personally friendly. I and a few other unathletic types would sit there and listen to records ... Bill Cosby and Elton John are ones I remember. Once we "accidentally" pulled out the headphone jack while "The Bitch is Back" was playing, and this got us into a little obligatory trouble.

I signed out books by the armload and spent as much time in the library as possible. The librarian let me spend a ton of time in there and made sure I picked books that would make me want to read more books.

For this I am truly grateful.


Michael said...

Liking "It's Like This, Cat" and dreading gym--who knew we had so much in common?

JB said...

Reread it last night, and it holds up ... call it Salinger lite. The only problem is that it just ends--even more distracting because in the Gutenberg edition, the last 10% or so is Gutenberg fine print. I thought I had a lot of book left.

Michael said...

I'm reading my first Kindle book and the % thing is weird. I guess I could get used to it, but I'll always think in pages, as I still think in "sides" for albums from the vinyl years (e.g., for me, "Lovely Rita" will always be on side 2 of Sgt. Pepper, even though now there is only 1 "side" to the disc).

JB said...

I've taken to the Kindle, I have to admit. There are new releases I want to read but don't want to buy in hard copy ... so I wait.

Having basically every novel that's in the public domain at one's fingertips is pretty nice though.