By Anthony Quinones*
I was having a bad day in school and during art I had words with my teacher. She was having a bad day as well. I remember being held by the shirt collar as this woman with no sense of humor walked me through the halls of John F. Kennedy Junior High School, the whole time telling me how much trouble I was in. That’s like having your ass kicked by a guy while he announces it blow by blow.
I had enough and pulled away from her grip. She grew incensed and grabbed me again, as she took me to the vice principal’s office; by now she was holding me by the hair. Once there, she insisted that I be punished and dramatically recreated a simple situation and turning it into a Greek tragedy, describing it as a brutal attack upon her person. Once in front of the man in charge of discipline, his first comment was, `Well, now you’ve done it. Have a seat young man.’ He called his secretary for my father’s phone number, the whole time saying that once he reached my father I was really in trouble.
(Another in a series of stories on “Surviving Pop” by Florida writer Anthony Quinones, with more on the way in coming weeks.)
I almost felt sorry for this pimple of a man who got his kicks paddling young boys. I did my best to talk my way out of what was going to happen. Sir, I’ve learned my lesson; can’t we just forget the whole matter? I promise that it won’t happen again. With a resounding no, he continued dialing my father’s office, repeating how much trouble I was in. I kept talking, hoping that in some way I could save him. He had no idea that my father would never agree to allow his son to be touched by anyone, especially this power mad midget.
Finally he got through to my father’s office and asked to speak to my Pop. Once on the line with him, he told my father the story and his plans to paddle me. There was silence and his face went pale. He looked at me. His eyes grew glassy. Panic best described the look on his face. The conversation continued, it was very one-sided and when my father had finished telling this man the manner in which his death would come, he politely said thank you and hung up. I had tried to warn him but he was too excited at the act of disciplining such a felon.
The blood started to flow back to his face and he suggested that I wait in the outer office; that my dad would soon be here to collect me. He walked me to his office door pointing to the bench where I should wait. I sat next to all the other young boys waiting to be punished at the hand of this brave man. He slowly closed the door behind me; you could hear it lock from the other side.
I only had to wait ten minutes when my father entered. He looked at me.
“Where is he”?
I pointed to the door with the sign Vice Principal written across it. My father went for the handle but couldn’t open it. He began to bang on the door screaming “motherfuckers,” and “cock suckers” through the door, daring him to show his face. Every student in the office started laughing. All the secretaries were gasping and holding their chests.
My father asked if that asshole had touched me and I told him no. The head secretary asked that my father leave or she would be forced to call the police. He turned to her and screamed “Suck my cock!!!!” He looked back at me and asked if I was ready to leave. That was my last day of public school. We walked out laughing, all the way to my father’s car.
Well, maybe we should find another place for you to go to school, he said. I don’t think they’re going to let us back in there.
You might be right pop.
I remember that my parents argued that afternoon. Later that evening my father and I boarded a plane for the Bahamas, where we spent the weekend. Come Monday morning I went for an interview at a local prep school, and started the next day.
Several days later a friend called me and asked what had happened? The rumor mill had been abuzz with all kinds of stories, everyone claiming to have witnessed the riot personally. The vice principal stayed in his office for hours. His reputation waned and he never commanded the same respect. I can still picture him cowering under his desk.