Tuesday, March 18, 2008

School Daze

Of all the things about high school that sucked, PE class was way up there on the list. The girls' coach was the stereotypical, manly-looking, semi-pro volleyball-playing bulldyke bitch, but she was nothing compared to Coach Marissey. Marissey was the absolute archetype of late 1970s high school coaches, an asshole, sadistic, self-important and imagined ladykiller. A real-life John Kreese, head of the evil dojo in Karate Kid who demanded all address him as "Coach" instead of "Mister".

I relived a little piece of hell almost three decades behind me last night in a dream, and woke up to a realisation.

At least I'm sleeping again, but I'm once again dreaming vividly, usually reliving something out of my past. Winning a pinball tournament is great; sitting in school not so much so. Marissey had called me out of class to his office.

Since I didn't like sports, Marissey didn't like me. My school was freaks and jocks and my PE class was freaks and geeks. I wasn't even that high on the social ladder. I was a freaky, geeky loner. There's nothing worse in the mind of a team sports coach than an individual.

Coach: Canine!
REC: Yeah?
Coach: You're playing football this afternoon. Be on the field at 2:00p.m. Here's your class absence note for 7th period.
REC: But I play chess, not football!
Coach: Don't get smart with me! I'm in charge of school intramurals and you're playing football. Today.
REC: But I don't even know how to play!
Coach: You'll learn on the field. You're going to be a linebacker.
REC: What the hell is a linebacker?
Coach: You block the other team from running into your line.
REC: But I only weigh 127 pounds!
Coach: Here's some pads.
REC: Coach Marissey, I'm still wearing a knee brace from tennis last month! I have a doctor's note.
Coach: Your doctor's not here and he's not in charge of intramurals. Your teammates should help prop you up.
REC: What?!
Coach: Be on that field at two or you've got a month of detention.

And when I woke up, clipped on my access badge and headed for the Subway, it dawned on me. I'd been wrong throughout high school. It really does prepare you for real life. You only have to know where to look. Marissey would feel right at home here assigning me another ticket from some customer suffering constant core dumps in a Solaris system.

Le plus ├ža change...

Oh, and since someone's bound to ask, I didn't go on the field and I didn't play linebacker. I did probably the most fuckwitted thing possible. Instead of attempting to gain Marissey's respect by at least suiting up and trying to participate just for one play, I went to the school library and got the Policies & Procedures book. Armed with the exact policy I went to the vice principal and told him I'd be damned if I was doing a minute of detention for not playing stupid football.

The day my doctor's note expired Marissey had me running laps for the entire PE period. Every day. For the rest of the school year. Rather suddenly there were only nine spots on the intramural chess competition roster, down from the original ten. Guess who didn't get to compete at County or State. "Budget," said Marissey with a grin.

Enough self-delusion through the fog of 20-some years of adult experience. Marissey wouldn't have found any respect for me. He would've laughed at my ass being bulldogged, then screamed at me for being a pussy and not playing anymore. He was such a dick.



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