Monday, September 8, 2008

Dumb Times at Dorsey High

Before I get into today's entry, you few who have actually been reading this blog, do you play the YouTube videos I throw in at the end? Please do! They're like the soundtracks..

Today is a hodgepodge of thrown-together memories from my clock-watching Dorsey Don days, in no particular order. Just some things that came to mind.

The first teacher I had at Dorsey was Mr. Rothblatt. It was during summer school, between the 9th and 10th grade, before I, the outsider from Foshay who had moved into Audubon Junior High's district, knew very many people. He normally taught at Grant High in the Valley but was at Dorsey for the summer. What do I recall about him? He seemed a lot more casual than the teachers I was used to. And the only thing I remember him teaching us was "mir y druzbah," which he told us meant "peace" in Russian.

A few years later during my working days in the UCLA student store, Fern Martin, one of my co-workers who had attended Grant told me he had gotten busted for smoking pot on campus. Haha, I wasn't very surprised.

Paula Chin was an interesting person. At least I thought so. We had some good conversations although my memory can produce only a couple of things she said. "Don't you feel sorry for Godzilla?" she asked me once.

"Uh, well, I never really thought about that," I told her.

"He didn't know he was doing something wrong, and everyone was attacking him just because he was acting his natural way," she explained.

"Well, yeah, I see your point," I admitted.

The other thing she told me was that she would rather run over a person than a dog. A person should have enough sense to get out of the way but a dog doesn't.

Now I know those two things sound strange but I am honestly not being sarcastic when I say she and I had interesting conversations. It's just that these two in particular stick out because of their bizarrity (I think I made that one up.. you can go check).

Since it's been such an eternity since high school I can tell you now that my buddy Duane didn't much care for her and would refer to her as "Jellybelly" and say she was a hypocrite. Me, I think high school was too confining for her. After we graduated I would see her mom at their restaurant on Jefferson, Chin's, and she'd ask me how I was doing and she'd tell me how Paula was doing. Her mom was nice.

Later on I heard Paula was an editor for People's Magazine. That doesn't surprise me in the least that she became successful in journalism.

Another thing she told me was that I talked too fast. I listened and made a conscious effort to slow it down from 78 to 33. I got pretty good at it, too - I would talk more slowly and deliberately and try to enunciate my words.

I sat next to David Mosely in Mr. DeLuise's English class. One day he told me, "Man, you talk really cool. I like the way you talk so slow and calm all the time." David talked pretty cool himself. I was flattered. I silently thanked Paula. I've long since gone back to my old habits, though - I don't talk that slowly anymore and when I get excited I go from 45 to 78, so look out. I guess my degree of passion is directly related to the velocity of words flying out of my mouth.

By the way, Mr. DeLuise told us that he was Dom DeLuise's brother. I don't know if he was kidding or not because he insisted that was true, but I found that hard to believe mainly from physical appearance. They looked nothing alike, including their physical build. Were it to be true, that would greatly surprise me.

Mrs. Griffin was my English teacher during my senior year. A few times the tables were arranged differently in class, pushed together to make an area large enough for the girls to lay out a dress pattern, which they busily worked on during class. The boys, meanwhile, had to read. Mrs. Griffin told us the girls were working on a dress for her "friend."

I was never one to watch where my foot went, so during one class while I sat reading what I thought was a totally boring book and enviously watching the girls having fun, I asked Mrs. Griffin why they got to cut out patterns but us boys had to study. She told me not to ask questions, and that the girls had to do this to help out her "friend."

I looked at the girls, then at the pattern and told her, "well, your friend must be really big." She gave me a look that shut me up and I went back to reading.

Poor Dean Kawasaki. During one of our read-aloud times, he recited a line of poetry that was supposed to be spoken thusly: Selling bullocks by the bay. Well you can guess what accidentally came out of his mouth - just cross those l's and you'll know if you haven't already figured it out. We all cracked up and he wanted to slink under the table - he wasn't the type to have done that on purpose.

We used to wonder why he would excuse himself from class so often, and later we found out it was because he had diabetes. Unfortunately he passed away several years ago. He was really a good guy.

By the way, I never read a single book in that class. Cliff Notes got rich off of me that year. I managed to get by, even with a glowing "A" for a book report on Vanity Fair along with praise for my truly insightful comments, all from synthesizing the material from within those yellow and black soft covers. But today I regret not having read many of the classics that were assigned to us.

One of those classics was James Joyce's Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man. I had a John Lennon sticker I had picked up as a freebie from Tower Records (it was just a black sticker with "John Lennon" printed in white) that I stuck on the cover of that book. Then Rob Karatsu and I made that copy even more unique by writing one lie or silly thing that one friend in particular had said on each page of the book. We had it nearly filled up, too. I wish I knew what happened to that book; finding it would be akin to digging up an archaeological treasure, to see a bit of history by reading what we had written inside. A true time capsule. Alas it has gone the way of our DTA tape, however.

As I wrote the foregoing, more memories came to mind so what I intended as an exercise on the shorter side now keeps getting longer and longer so this is what I am going to write next: to be continued.

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