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Dedicated to Mr. B

24 Aug

This is in response to a comment I made in regards to today’s blog post at Lessons from Teachers and Twits.

I wrote that I had a teacher who pushed me to do my best, and challenged me to go above and beyond.  I also wrote that I had an awesome teacher who let me cheat on my final in freshman English.  I was asked to provide some details, so here they are:

My freshman year of high school I had quite possibly the best English teacher I’ve ever had.  Mr. B wasn’t a great teacher, inspiring me to write, to read, or to actually learn the material.  He was a good teacher.  He was a great drama teacher, a great director of plays, and an all around great guy.  I read some awesome books in his class, and did learn quite a bit, mostly about life rather than about English.  Sure we had to read a bunch, write papers, etc.  I think that’s the basic requirement of English class.  We also had vocabulary tests.  He would give us a list of words from some stupid vocab book and require us to learn each definition and how to use the words in a sentence.  Now, my vocabulary was pretty darn good, but HAVING to learn vocabulary words is BOOOOOOORING!  I hated that part of class.  Let me read a book of my choosing and write a paper on it, I can do all day long.  Make me actually have to learn new words?  Fugetaboutit.

So let’s skip forward to the final.  It’s one of the last days of school and I’m about to head off to camp to work for the summer.  I have visions of white water rafting, waterskiing, boating, etc in my head, not some stupid English test.  Our final consisted of 50 vocabulary words which we had to define and use in a sentence and a couple of essay questions.  What. A. Bore.  At the beginning of the test he asked that we all pass our vocab books up to the front of the class where he would collect them.  My best friend (who of course I sat next to) kept his.  I don’t know why, I don’t think he needed to cheat on this stupid test.  As I recall, he had great grades in English (compared to my solid B-).  I saw the book sitting there between the two of us and grabbed it.  I lift it up, show it to Mr. B, and proceed to open it and copy word-for-word each and every definition / sentence for each word on our final.  He looks up when I show him the book, shrugs, and goes back to doing whatever it is that English teachers do when a test is going on.  As I finish, I pass the book to my bud who does the exact same thing as I did.

Years later, when I was a tutor for an alternative education classroom, Mr. B was teaching English.  I sat in our office with the teacher grading math or something like that when Mr. B walks in and shuts the door.  We’re all looking out at our students, some of whom are cheating.  “Look at that!”  Mr. B exclaims.  “Those kids are blatantly cheating!  Eric, did you ever cheat in high school?”  “Yeah.  In your class for the final and in Biology.”  “WHAT!  What do you mean?”  So I refresh his memory about how I had cheated on the vocab portion of the final.  “Oh.  Yeah…  I guess I just didn’t care about what the two of you did.”

Here’s to you Mr. B.  For not caring what I did, and allowing me to pass your final with flying colors.  Any bets on how long before my mom calls to yell at me for something that happened 16 years ago?

How to not get caught sneaking out after curfew

20 Jul

Time for another summer camp story.  Back when I was 13 I started working during the summer at Camp-of-the-Woods.  I worked there for six summers.  I came away from there with a greater sense of independence and a bunch of awesome stories.  My last summer working there, I was a Boat Guy.  What does that mean?  Basically it means I was a slave to a girls camp on the island in the middle of the lake, I gave sailing and boating lessons to people who probably had no business being out on the water, and I taught waterskiing.  I also learned that if you look like you are on official business, people will leave you alone.  Part of catering to the island’s every whim entailed carrying  a radio to be at their beck and call 24 hours a day.  While I hated having to carry the radio, it did have its uses.  My buddies and I loved late night boat rides and hanging out on the lake smoking cigars.  What better way to accomplish this than to leave our bunk house at midnight walking right past the curfew checkers and explaining that you were needed on the island and your buddies were going along to watch for rocks, logs, etc?  Nine times out of ten they didn’t have a radio, so there was no way for them to check up on us.

So kids what can we learn from this?

  1. Sneaking out after curfew is fun.
  2. Hanging out at night in the middle of a lake on a brand new ski boat is awesome.
  3. If you look like you are on official business, you probably won’t get caught.
  4. Make sure no one talks.
It’s that last one that will make or break you.

In which I become a hustler

13 Jul

Big surprise, huh!?!?

Growing up I had a tournament size pool table in my basement.  I learned how to play when I was 9 or 10 years old.  I learned to hustle pool at 11.  We always had family friends, bible studies, high school kids, etc hanging out at our house.  People were always playing pool at our house.  It did not take long for me to realize that high school students are dumb and usually have cash on them.  It was very easy to get them to bet me a quarter or fifty cents that I could not make a shot.  Usually I did.  I raked in a good bit of dough playing pool.  To a 11-12 year old kid this was awesome.  Even more awesome was that a CVS just opened up a quick bike ride away.  I bought so much candy it’s a wonder I have a single good tooth left in my head…

Fast forward a couple of years:

So now I’m 16 and have just gotten my license and have to figure out someway to pay for gas.  I worked all summer to pay for my insurance and to have some spending money throughout the year, but this was quickly drying up.  What’s a guy and his best friend to do….  Why not hang out at the local bowling alley / pool hall?!?  It was very easy for us to drive over (even though it was right next to the CVS which a few years ago I was riding my bike to), grab a table, and pretend we didn’t know anything.  Eventually one of the guys playing at the other tables would challenge us to a game.  We would of course say yes, but only if we could put money on it.  Not a problem for those guys, they were going to beat us hands down, we didn’t know what the heck we were doing.  We’d usually let them do pretty good for a while.  Then we’d start getting them to bet on our shots.  That’s when we would switch from no-nothing shlubs to pool hall junkies.

I can’t count how many times we got kicked out of pool halls.  I was even banned from the one around the corner from my house.  I would show up, and the guy on duty would kick me right out.  Still, I managed to keep gas in my car, and a smile on my face as some dupe would take our bait.

The funny things we say and do

17 May

The following are just some of the funny short stories and sayings from my family:

“Do… Do I poop on the law?”  – The Boy when told that it was the law that he be completely potty trained by age 4 (yes, he’s a late bloomer).

“Damn it!  Damn it!  Damn it!”  – The Girl when she was 2 or 3 and told to put 6 or so stuffed animals onto her bed.  She instead tossed them from her room adding a “Damn it!” to each throw.

“I didn’t want an Ian.  I wanted a Court-a-knee!”  – Me, age 3, when we brought my brother home from the hospital.

“You bought WHAT!”  – Usually Mom.  Occasionally The Wife.  Never from me, or my dad, unless directed at a purchase my dad had foolishly made.

“I’ll just light one more match.  Then I’ll stop.”  – My brother, to be featured in an upcoming blog post entitled, “Playing with Fire.  Part 2”.

“Mom will never find out.”  – Either me or my brother.  She always does….

“BOYS!!!”  – Mom.  See, I told you she always finds out.

“No dad!  Not the knife!  Not the Knife!”  – See yesterdays post

“Mom, we’re play fighting.  We really do love each other!”  – Usually me, as I was beating the crap out of my brother.

“Yeah, you can make it.  No problem.”  – Usually me encouraging my brother to do something stupid.

When my brother was little, he had a terrible temper.  I swear I saw his eyes go blood red on many occasions.  On one of our ski trips, he wasn’t having a great day.  He had fallen and his boot had come off, he had been kicked off the bunny hill for being awesome, etc.  My dad was filming most of these things.  So my dad, being his oh so supportive self, decides to poke the bear.  He taunts my brother about his day, about his falls, etc all while filming my bro.  Funny thing about bears, they poke back.  I think we all almost wet ourselves when my brother grabbed his ski pole and jabbed my dad in the gut.  Watching my dad double over, then fall in the snow was hilarious.  We should have sent it into “America’s Funniest Home Videos”.  We would have won for sure.

Let’s here some of your family’s crazy stories, quotes, and/or sayings.  Leave a comment below:

In which I pull a prank at summer camp.

12 May

For 6 summers I worked at Camp-of-the-Woods in the Adirondack Mountains of New York.  I, along with many others, pulled countless pranks during the long summer months.  Mom, if you’re reading, you may want to stop doing so by the end of this paragraph.  Some were innocent, some not so innocent, all where hilarious.  Some I got caught, most I didn’t.

Working at Camp is always a trip.  You’re away from home, in a new environment, and you’re meeting new people all the time.  Some of my best friends I met while working at Camp.  We still keep in touch, sharing stories of the stupid stuff we did as kids.  We did the usual stupid stuff, like streaking, pouring cold water in the head of the dude in the shower, and sneaking out after lights out.  This is not one of those usual stupid things.  This is MONUMENTALLY stupid.

I lived in a small cinderblock room with three other guys.  We all got along well enough.  Sure we pulled pranks on each other, but they usually weren’t too bad.  There was a time when we made the smallest roommate we had sleep on the floor (which was gross, btw) because we turned his bed into a sculpture.  Then there was the time we did something that was really bad.  Once again, involving our poor smallest roommate, we first duct-taped him to his mattress.  “Big deal” you’re probably thinking.  Well, I’m not done yet.  After he was duct taped to his mattress, we duct taped his mouth.  Couldn’t have him screaming, could we?  Then we dragged him down from our hillside room to my boat at the docks.  Once we had him on the boat, we took off to the swim dock, a little floating platform at the end of the swim area.  Making sure he couldn’t get out of his sleeping bag, we un-duct taped his mouth and took off.  All of the campers were already at breakfast, and then they would head directly to chapel, so no one was around to hear him scream.  I think he was found close to lunch time.  We never did get caught, and he never told.  He was a good guy, and very smart.  The retaliation would have been awful.

Did you ever work at a summer camp?  Have you ever pulled a stupid prank?  Share your stories in the comments below.