Thursday, December 18, 2008
In 3rd grade I got into trouble for joking around during an educational film. If memory serves correctly, the film dealt with a smart ass kid who ran up a freeway overpass with a boulder in his arms. He then waited for the right moment to drop it onto an unsuspecting car in traffic below.
I remember the kid bursting with joy as he let the massive chunk of granite slip through his fingers. It landed on the windshield of a small yellow car. The unsuspecting driver was a bald man wearing a white shirt and a striped necktie. As soon as the boulder made contact with his windshield, 'Baldy' was splattered with glass, causing blood to spurt from his face. It was quite graphic.
I wondered how a special effects team could pull off such a vivid sequence. Perhaps it was real and a camera crew was simply filming life as it happened.
At any rate, whose idea was it to show this type of film to a group of innocent 3rd graders? Odd. I suppose it did teach me a valuable lesson. In fact, to this day I never wear white shirts or neckties. Lesson learned.
The film went on to show the driver crashing his car on the side of the road due to the glass and blood in his eyes. A teenage couple saw the whole thing and leapt into action- the girl running to the yellow car to make sure the driver was alright while her goofy-looking boyfriend chased the young prankster and tackled him to the ground.
The teenage girl asked ‘Blood-Face’ if he was OK, but all the man could do was moan and gurgle. The teenage boy shook the younger kid and asked, “Why did you do it? What were you thinking? Why? Why? Why?” over and over again.
The kid’s stuttered response was, “I don’t know. I’m sorry.” He seemed distraught.
I suppose the film was meant to discourage us from senseless youth crime, but all it did was give me ideas. To be honest, I was horrified at the thought of anyone dropping a stone onto moving traffic. So when a few of the kids around me began laughing and make fun of the movie, I was relieved and joined in the merriment.
I was so enthused that I got a little too loud with a buddy of mine. We were laughing it up and giggling and so forth. You know how it is. Laughing in the face of evil and all.
When the film was over, a couple of teachers took us aside and scolded us for our disruptive behavior. They stressed the seriousness of the film and demanded to know what we learned from it. I remember trying to form the right words to express how horrified I was, and how sorry I felt for creating a disruption.
But as I started talking, I farted. It was audible to everyone in the general vicinity and my friend covered his mouth to keep from laughing. The expressions on the teachers’ faces were stoic, except for a slight wrinkle in the corners of their mouths.
They asked me again to verbalize the lesson, and once again I tried to explain myself, but instead… I let another one rip. What can I say? I was just a kid and I held it in as long as I could. The second one was stinky.
It was pointless to continue the conversation. Both teachers burst into fits of laughter. My friend had tears rolling down his cheeks and eventually the giggles got a hold of me too.
After several minutes, one of the teachers apologized to me and placed his hand on my shoulder. “I’m sorry, Jake,” he said, “I didn’t mean to laugh at you. It was just so funny.” He chuckled again and gently patted me. “You can go now.”
I realize how much that moment defined my life. No matter how horrible or crazy life can be, I like to think there is always room for laughter, no matter how inappropriate. Also, when I find myself in trouble with authority, sometimes it’s a good idea to fart.
And of course, let's not forget the most valuable lesson of all, one that can be handed down from generation to generation: Never wear stuffy white shirts or neckties for they will eventually kill you. And, of course: Don't fling boulders onto car windshields for a punk teenage kid might tackle you to the ground and shake you over and over again.