I managed to get expelled from three schools in my life. Apparently that's a-lot. Throughout my school career I'd bounce from honors classes with kids whose parents made a-lot more money than mine to continuation school with kids who had criminal records and drug problems and more often than not kids whose parents made a whole lot less money than mine. My dad, after seeing my fellow students, told the principal of one of these continuation schools, "Keith doesn't belong here. These guys look like adult convicts in a prison yard and Keith's just a kid with a big mouth." Here are four of my favorite occasions when that mouth got me in trouble.
4th Grade, GATE (Gifted and Talented Education)
The substitute teacher told us there were 24 hours in a day. I raised my hand, like a good kid, and when called on I corrected her. "It's not exactly 24, actually."
She snapped back "Yes it is. Humans define words and a day is defined as 24 hours." and turned dismissively to return to her lesson.
I corrected her. "No, a day is defined as the amount of time it takes the earth to turn 360 degrees on it's axis and that is approximately but not exactly 24 hours." I then added. "Are you sure you're qualified to be teaching our class? You know this is a GATE class right?" I spent the rest of the day reading OMNI Magazine while sitting on the walkway outside of class.
The Science teacher told us that objects in space attracted one another and I thought, quite sincerely, that I'd come up with a perfect example. I raised my hand, like a good kid, and when called on I asked "Is that why the last Cheerios always stick together in the bowl?"
The other kids laughed hysterically and assuming that I'd been intentionally funny, which was giving me way too much credit, I was sent to stand outside.
The choir teacher was very disappointed in the whole class for our lackluster recital of the pledge of allegiance. He decided to inflame our patriotism with an inspiring tale. It seems he'd had the opportunity to visit West Germany. While there he dined at a restaurant where he sat on the veranda granting him a view over the wall into East Germany. We heard vivid descriptions of the stark contrasts between the bright, lively, beautiful west and the drab, gray, eerily empty and silent east. He paused to let us soak it all in.
I raised my hand, like a good kid. Mr. Horace was sure he'd reached us and looked forward to my confession of understanding and national pride! When called on I asked. "Yeah, Mr. Horace, on which side of that wall do you think they're more likely to force kids to pledge their allegiance?"
"OUT! OUT! OUT!"
I still have no idea why a story about West Germany being beautiful is supposed to make me pledge allegiance to the US. It kind of made me want to check out West Germany before making any hasty decisions.
For once I wasn't one of the students riding Mr. Herr. I was more distracted by the back of Andrea Posey's head. The back of her head was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen, I mean other than the front of her head. She was heavy metal video kind of pretty but knew the words to Violent Femmes songs. I was sure we were destined to be together. If only I could get up the nerve to talk to her.
Then I heard Mr. Herr say those amazing words "You can't make me mad. I'm sorry but you can't. I wish you'd just quit trying so we could move on with class. I'll tell you what, let's get it out of the way. Go ahead and try to make me mad. I'll give any of you a free shot. Get it out of your system and we can get on with things. You can insult me all you want but no cursing."
Four hands shot up, one of them mine. Mr. Herr called on Sean. "Yeah, why are you called Mr. Herr when you're bald."
"Oh, am I bald? I hadn't noticed. I get up every morning and look in the mirror and shave and somehow never noticed I was bald. Oh how wounded I am. Nice try Sean."
Three more hands shot up, one of them mine. Mr. Herr called on David. "Are you gay?"
"No. And neither is my wife. Anyone else?"
Only my hand was up. I think Doug was going to ask the question David had already just asked. I was the only one with his hand raised, like a good kid, and when called on...
"Yeah, Mr. Herr, I was wondering why I got a C on the last test even though I copied all of Andrea's questions exactly and she got an A. Then I noticed that you always call on her when there's work to be done on the board and I'm pretty sure I've seen you checking out her butt."
"OUT!" he yelled as he turned crimson.
"WHAT?! No! You can't kick me out!"
"You said we had a free shot!"
"I DIDN'T CURSE!"
"OUT!"I sat in my seat defiantly, incensed. Mr. Herr pulled out a referral slip and started pressing a pen hard to it. I approached his desk. "This is bullshit!"
He kept writing. I pulled the slip away and tore it up. He pulled out another and wrote "2nd copy, student tore up 1st."
I pulled it away and tore it up. I was hoping I could get him to hit me at this point.
He started a third slip. "3rd copy..." I grabbed it.
"I can keep doing this all day Mr. Jensen."
"Me too, Mr. Herr!"
He stopped writing. "Get out."
I walked outside the class, holding in tears and wondered how the hell I'd win this one. I knew I was right but I knew the advantage was his. Another student came out carrying my fourth referral slip. I saw "4th copy..." written on it.
"Hey Juanita, let me have that slip."
"Okay, but you have to tell him you took it or I'll get in trouble."
I agreed, Juanita handed me the referral. I noticed for the first time that she was kind of cute and then I ran back into class, tore up the referral and yelled "Fuck yourself Herr!"
Goddammit, that wasn't gonna help me win the battle. It sure made the class laugh though. I looked at Andrea Posey. She wasn't laughing. Shit!
I ditched Herr's class for the next week while keeping a low profile in my other classes until finally I was called out of PE to the office. I was expelled which is the furthest out of class you can be kicked. I hope Mr. Herr's still alive out there somewhere. I hope this story circulates. I hope, against the odds that it gets back to him. In his defense, I was looking at Andrea Posey's butt too.